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Crusty rye

with 9 comments

Boyo, rye sure ain’t revealing its nature instantly to the helpless home-baker like me. You have to put the dough into different states to find out about it, like in a scientific experiment. “Light rye breads suck”, I thought, ‘light’ not as in ‘with little rye flour’, but say breads made with more than 60% of rye and then let come to full volume in the final fermentation. These doughs will have a light crumb (and also spread if not baked in a tin, because the dough gets softer when a lot of gas has developed), but lose a quality, German bakers refer to as “Schnittfestigkeit” – resistance of the crumb against the force of a serrated knife. So with steadfast resolve I went ahead and underproved this one.


Pulled a light rye bread out of the oven. Nature is absurd, everyone knows she is… Apparently I had done the calculation without taking into account the combined leavening power of a yeasted poolish, rye sourdough and a very wet dough. I will never be a theoretical baker but that’s okay.

Crusty Rye Loaf


  • 65g strong white flour
  • 65g water
  • 0.1g fresh yeast

Mix and let stand covered at room temperature for 14-16 hours.

Rye sourdough

  • 135g whole-rye flour
  • 100g water
  • 1/2 tsp mature rye sourdough, hydration: 100%

Mix and let stand covered in a warm place for 14-20 hours.


  • 250g strong white flour
  • 45g rye flour
  • 150g water
  • 9g salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar beet syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground caraway/coriander mix
  • Rye sourdough
  • Poolish

Bulk fermentation: 20-30 minutes
Final fermenation: 30 minutes
Bake at 220°C for 30 minutes, for 190°C for additional 20 minutes.


Written by theinversecook

26 January 2009 at 22:58

9 Responses

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  1. As I am always following your lead or picking up your scraps, I noticed recently the poolish or vorteig thing going on, especially since I met Herr Süpke and Eva, amongst others. Is it typical to use this method and for how long has this been the norm in German baking, what I am getting at is the history of German baking, and how has it changed or evolved.
    We will have to research and talk more me thinks?
    I will try the Hamsterbrot again, or I may do a Jewish rye, perhaps a carrot bread, with corn soaker and seeds, I found them on a awesome site, check on my links!


    27 January 2009 at 04:47

  2. afaik prior to the advent of baking improvers like DATEM / DAWE the classic white German breakfast roll was made with a combination of a levain and yeasted starter and a long fermentation. And I’m sure it dates back a couple of decades before that.

    Typical – probably not today. But the slow food movement brings back a couple of gems from the past.

    The Flax Seed Rye from Jeffrey Hamelman in your linked pdf file looks really good.


    27 January 2009 at 20:48

  3. I actually baked it in a creuset pot, you could even heat and bake at higher temp I think, a more crusty loaf!


    27 January 2009 at 21:05

  4. Most beautiful! Where do you get sugar beet syrup? I just baked a rye with some barley malt syrup and enjoyed the flavor of it. Beet syrup would be something to try…


    27 January 2009 at 23:21

  5. @cbucholz: I live in Grafschafter country, so I am a bit spoiled by the sugar beet variations available (their thick tar-like paste from apples and pears is excellent too). I glass of real barley malt syrup would cost me 5 Euros though. So I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side of the town…

    Sounds good, Jeremy, all the breads I have seen baked in a pot had that extra springy fresh look. I wouldn’t feel comfortable handling a blazing hot creuset…


    28 January 2009 at 01:34

  6. Hmm… as with Jeremy, I’m becoming curious about the use of poolish in many of Süpke’s rye breads. A liquid preferment will see quite a bit of protease activity, and this increases the extensibility of the gluten. It makes the overall dough weaker in that the gluten becomes more extensible than elastic. It’s good for trapping gas, but the bread profile might suffer (ciabatta being a pretty extreme example of a wet, weak dough). In terms of dough strength, think that a stiff biga or a pate fermentee would be better to use as a Vorteig. There’s not much protease going on in a stiff biga (50-55% hydration), and in a pate fermentee, the salt will slow protease down considerably. Both bring in quite a bit of acidity and flavour, though. By the way, isn’t it true that Italian bakers often use a very stiff biga to compensate for their weaker flours?

    Süpke knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure, but I’m wondering what effect (if any) a stiffer preferment would bring to the table…

    Hans Joakim

    1 February 2009 at 17:51

  7. Thanks a lot, Hans Joakim! I always had a better result with pate fermentee. On the other hand, always had problems with doughs that had a big amount of a yeasted poolish in them. The “Pain rustique” in Hamelman’s book is one of those examples. Even when measuring out the tiny amount of 0.2% yeast by dilluting 2g in 100ml water and then take 10g from that mixture, the resulting doughs feel unresponsive and quickly develop an off-aroma. Half of the flour is mixed into a poolish, by the way.

    I think Mr. Süpkre recommends 10% of the total flour weight to be incorporated in a yeasted starter, and this is according to the guidelines of the Slow Baking Association. The aroma and the crust are somewhat anhenced. Another work-around may be to use a quick sponge of 2 hours or so.

    On American baking sites I see that poolishes are very popular. US flour seems a bit more forgiving in that respect.


    1 February 2009 at 21:43

  8. Jeffrey Hamelman used a lot of All Purpose flour, I would call it type 550? He told us when we queried that Bread flour was a no fault and lazy flour, not exactly in those words but to that effect.
    I am unabashedly using sour dough, some times if I have some yeast a sprinkle here or there can sneak in for a little boost or safeguard.
    More often then not I go sour!


    2 February 2009 at 05:11

  9. What do you prefer, Jeremy? Is all purpose flour all that different to bread flour? The laoves made from US bread flour seem to look a bit grainier. Did Hamelman endorse using all purpose flour? Because in his book bread flour is used. I prefer 1050 to 550 in robust breads, I have to say. Much better flavor.


    2 February 2009 at 14:29

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