The distinctive rich flavour of this bread is similar to the traditional sour-dough common in Germany. It requires a little more time than wheat bread but the result is worth it. The caraway is optional, but when I dared suggest this in conversation with an elderly man whose father’s rye bread had been his staple food as a child growing up in Czechoslovakia he put up his hands in horror as if I had blasphemed and cried “But you must use caraway: you can’t make rye bread without caraway!”.
- 500g wholemeal Rye flour
- 3 tsp dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 – 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 350 ml warm water (about 45°C)
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and add water gradually, mixing with the back of a wooden spoon until an even textured sticky paste is produced! Cover with a damp cloth or a loose lid and set in a warm place if possible although don’t worry if it does cool down. After 2 or 3 days the mixture will have fermented a bit and smell distinctly sour. It isn’t possible to knock the dough back by kneading, as you would a wheat loaf, so roughly fold the dough over on itself with the back of the spoon, adding a little more rye flour as you do until a stiff ‘putty’ consistency is achieved. Push this into a greased tin and put somewhere warm to rise. This may take up to 4 hours though the rise will still not be dramatic! Bake in a fairly hot oven for 30 – 40 minutes. When cooked the bread should come out of it’s tin fairly readily onto a wire grid.
This loaf can also be cooked in the microwave but you may have to experiment a little. Push the final dough neatly into a plastic lunch box and keep warm as above for a final rise. You can help the rise by using the lowest possible setting for 2 minutes to warm the dough up. My microwave is rated at 800w and I cook this for 5 mins. in the middle of the turntable and then 3/2 mins. pushed to one edge and 3/2 mins. at the opposite edge. This stops hard, dry spots forming but may just be a quirk of the particular machine! If the bread has pulled neatly away from the lunch box edges ease it out onto a grid to cool. If it wont fall out easily cook for another half minute. Try a slice hot with butter and honey! The bread is surprisingly light and keeps quite well. It is particularly good with thin sliced cold meat or cheese or toasted and spread with butter and marmite.