Sourdough Rye

Ladies, happy International Women’s Day!  I know it’s not much here, but back in Russia you get showered with flowers, presents, dinners, songs, poems, romantic movies, and whatever else you can possibly imagine.  The rules are simple: every female gets to be admired on this one day, and every male gets to participate in accomplishing the task.

Early in the relationship I managed to train my husband to deliver on this holiday.  It started beautifully with a home-made cake (from a box) broken in half by an accident and drowned in chocolate pudding (also from a box) – the most romantic dessert I’ve ever had! It continued with shampooed carpets in our apartment in Houston.  It migrated to dates at our favorite restaurants.  And it finally arrived to “I’ll be home early for the holiday dinner”.

Ah, the honeymoon stage, where art thou?

Well, to remind myself of home, and the good times everyone is having there, I’m simply baking bread.  It doesn’t quite look as the black bricks we used to buy, but it surely smells and tastes like them. 

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  • 200 g leaven
  • 760 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
  • 40 g dark molasses
  • 170 g whole-rye flour
  • 830 g unbleached bread flour
  • 20 g salt

Yields 2 loafs


Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour.  Mix well, loosely cover the tope of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight.  Discard the rest of the starter.

Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.

Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix very well.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.

After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough.  Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.

After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two balls.

Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball.  Let rest on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.

Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface.  Fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf.  Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.

Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

To bake: place an iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C.  Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down.Cover the iron pot, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.

After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.

Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.

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  1. Sara says:

    What a beautiful loaf. I do love rye, it’s so hearty and straightforward. I never heard of International Women’s Day until I lived in the Czech Republic–though it sounds like the celebration is better in Russia!

  2. Sydney Jones says:

    Anastasia!! This looks incredible :) It turned out perfectly!! I don’t have experience with sourdough, but I am going to try this recipe it looks awesome!!! I’ll have to look into sourdoughs

  3. Michelle says:

    My husband was a Soviet History major in college—and so now I’m mad that he never chose to share the existence of this holiday with me! Your bread looks incredible, by the way.

    • Anastasia says:

      Thank you! He probably got a C- on the public holidays subject! Though, I completely understand – there are at least 15 official holidays that I know of (to compare to the 7 or so we get in the US… if we are lucky) ;-)

  4. dianeskitchentable says:

    Wait a minute! I’ve never heard of this day & believe me I take advantage of every special day possible. Your blog is going straight to my husband at the office so he can do something about this on his way home – thank you!

    • Anastasia says:

      Thanks, Barbara! Though, I must disagree – it’s repetition. It took about 6 months of constant baking before something eatable came out of our oven…

  5. maisondjeribi says:

    Children and bread and books and a lovely man : sounds a lot like my life. I love the crust of your bread, delighted to have found your blog, thanks for getting me here ! I used to make a very dark rye and honey bread, much denser obviously, I found the recipe in The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard. I’ll try yours though. Thank you.

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