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Sourdough Dark Rye Bread

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Yelena is from Russia and this is one of her family's favorite recipes. This hearty bread is baked to accompany soups, breakfast or lunch sandwiches. This bread takes 4-5 days of planning ahead of mealtime. Keep in mind that rye dough can be sticky & gooey. It is not necessary to keep adding more flour to eliminate the stickiness. Sticky dough is normal in this recipe.

Ingredients for 2 Loaves

  • Rye Sour:

  • 1 package/2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (instant, not rapid rise yeast)

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 1/2 cups medium rye flour

  • 1 thick slice raw onion

  • Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water

  • 1 package/2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (instant, not rapid rise yeast)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose)

  • 1 cup water (boiling)

  • 1/2 cup pumpernickel or coarse rye meal

  • 1/4 cup cooking oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons coffee (instant)

  • 1/2 ounce chocolate (unsweetened)

  • 2 cups flour (medium rye)

Steps to Make It

  1. Rye Sour: Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water and blend in 3/4 cup rye flour. Stir in onion, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. Let the sour rise and fall back. After this, stir the sour twice a day for three days. Remove onion and add remaining 1/2 cup water and remaining 3/4 cup rye flour. Cover and set aside. When the sour has risen and fallen once more (probably 1 more day), it is ready to use.

  2. Activate the Yeast: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

  3. Make the Dough: Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the boiling water, pumpernickel, oil, salt, molasses, instant coffee and chocolate. When this has cooled, add the rye sour, yeast mixture, 2 cups medium rye flour and the remaining 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour. Mix until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, then knead 5 minutes.

  4. Let the dough rest, covered, for 5 minutes and then knead another 5 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it, turning once to oil the top. Cover and let rise until doubled. Probably about 8-9 hours.

  5. Punch down dough and divide in half. Shape each into a round or oblong loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until doubled. Another 2-3 hours. you can also bake them in a Dutch Oven to hold a rounder shape.

  6. About 15 minutes before you want to bake, place a pan on the lowest rack of the oven for 2-3 cups of water to be added to create steam. Place another oven rack directly above it for the bread. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

  7. When ready to bake, slash the loaves with a  bread-slashing tool or razor blade up to three times diagonally or once lengthwise and brush them with cold beaten egg whites.

  8. Bake 35-40 minutes or until your thermometer registers 195-200 degrees.

  9. Remove from oven and take out of pans. Let cool. Eating this Delicious bread warm could be gummy so be sure to let it cool well. ENJOY!