As I have mentioned before in other posts, Polish bread including rye bread (Chleb Ryżowy) has been a part of Polish cuisine and tradition for centuries. Being the important source of living for the Poles since ancient times, this food has been considered the most respected food of the cuisine. However, the increasing variety of breads easily available in the local bakeries and groceries has largely affected the worth of bread in Polish cuisine.
Bread making in Poland is a very traditional task that involves home-made breads as well as breads made in bakeries. Homemade breads are generally prepared with a sourdough starter that requires two-day fermentation.
Whereas most of the modern day bakery breads are fermented with yeast and baking powder, as these products produce quick rise of dough.
Rye Bread Experimentation is Completed
I wanted to share with everyone my most recent successful recipe experimentation. This is my 7th try at rye bread with my previous attempt in late May (2015). With the summer’s heat I haven’t done all that much baking and who would blame me. This time I got help from my older brother, Dennis, who has been baking a lot more than I have over the more than 10 to 15 years.
If there is something he’s great at cooking or baking it is, ummm… actually he’s great at anything he puts his mind to. He’s self taught in the kitchen and his expertise is computer engineering by degree and career from what is now NJIT. I tried his recipe and the results for the rising and shaping were similar to my past attempts but the flavor was a lot better and as good as any professional bakery in New Jersey.
I probably should have made the dough slightly stiffer but it wasn’t at all sticky to the touch. This latest attempt resulted in a bread even more full of flavor, a soft inside and with a crispy, flaky texture crust like I remember from New Jersey bakeries.
This is a free-form style rye bread meaning I didn’t use a bread dish or pan. The final rise was done directly on a full commercial size baking sheet. I also used whole grain (dark) rye flour by Bob’s Red Mills on Amazon.
The Rye Bread improver and Vital Wheat Gluten are not required but if you want that distinct flavor and a well risen bread you would be amiss if you omitted them. Rye flour is very low in gluten so adding the wheat gluten would increase your success.
Before you begin the recipe you will need to purchase additional items ahead of time which will increase the taste and texture of your bread. Unless you do a lot of various bread type recipes baking you might not have these items in your pantry. If you don’t know where you can purchase the items click on each below and you will be directed to a site which I used to buy them.
- 24 oz Warm Water
- 0.1 oz Instant Yeast
- 14 oz unbleached bread Flour
- 2 oz Rye Bread Improver
- 0.5 oz Vital Wheat Gluten
- 0.2 oz Instant Yeast
- 8 oz Unbleached Bread Flour
- 8 oz Dark Rye Flour
- 0.45 oz Salt
- 0.5 oz Caraway Seeds (optional)
- Weigh out and add 0.1 oz of instant yeast, 14 oz unbleached bread flour, 2 oz Rye Bread Improver, 0.5 oz Vital Wheat Gluten and add to a large non-metallic ( preferred) blend together.
- Add 24 oz of warm water.
- Mix well using a strong spatula or wooden spoon into a loose, waffle-batter-like consistency.
- Allow to stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hrs - at the end of the time you will see a lot activity.
- Stir down the sponge.
- To the sponge add the remaining ingredients; by weight 8 oz. Unbleached bread flour, 8 oz Dark (whole) Rye flour, 0.2 oz Instant Yeast, 0.45 oz Salt (about 1 Tbsp) and optional 0.5 oz Caraway Seeds.
- Knead 6 to 7 minutes with a mixer with a hook attachment (for 10 minutes by hand) or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides.
- Check the consistency of the dough and if needed add 1 Tbsp at a time more of unbleached flour from the reserve to make an un-sticky dough which should be a little tacky.
- The dough must be firm. For each addition of flour, knead for about a min longer. Total kneading by machine will be about 10 to 12 mins.The gluten must be properly created.
- When dough remains pulling away from the sides, turn off mixer and turn the dough ball onto a very lightly floured surface.
- By hand, flatten the dough into a square. From the front fold the dough in 1/3 to center of the square and again the remaining 3rd from the back to center - like you are folding a 3-fold letter.
- Make a 1 quarter turn, fold in half and using the palm of your hand knead the dough by pushing forward from front to back once.
- Stretch the dough, make another quarter turn, fold in half from front to back, and again, using the palm of your hand knead the dough by pushing forward from front to back once more.
- Repeat this process a few more times until the dough slightly springs back when you poke it with a finger and when you can stretch a piece of the dough so thin that you can see light through the dough with it not tearing.
- When dough is properly kneaded, flatten the dough into a square again, fold over opposite corners until you make it into a ball.
- Make the ball tight and place into a large pre-oiled bowl turning and coating the ball on all sides with oil.
- Place the seam on the bottom of the bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and top with a towel
- Set aside to rise at room temperature
- Allow to rise for 60-90 minutes.
- Remove risen dough by 'pouring' it on a lightly floured work surface. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN
- Divide dough in two equal pieces if using bread pans (half for free form) and stretch and fold the dough again like before.
- Using your fingertips, flattened dough and shape into a square about 6" wide, then tightly roll the dough into the shape of a log.
- Pinch closed the seam also and pinch & tuck the ends under as well.
- Cover and allow to rise again until almost 1 1/2 to almost doubled in size (about 45 mins).
- About 30 mins before the final rising is complete, preheat oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone or a large upside-down heavy flat cookie sheet put that on a rack during the preheating time on a center position. ALSO on the lowest rack in the oven place a deep empty iron pan or a metal baking tray which will be used during baking for adding high humidity.
- Have about a quart of hot tap water ready.
- When the dough has risen to the desired level carefully brush the tops (and sides on a free form loaf) with the egg/water.
- Using a very sharp knife or single edged blade, make 3 to 4 DIAGONAL 1/4" to 1/2" cuts along the tops of the loaves.
- Just before opening the oven, lower the temperature of the oven to 375°F
- Spray well the tops and sides of the loaves with room temperature water
- Place the loaves in the loaf pans or the baking sheet with the free form loaves onto the hot surface of the pizza/oven stone or over-turned baking tray. This will allow the bottoms to bake fully.
- BEING VERY CAREFUL and standing back, pour the hot water into the tray(s) at the bottom of the oven. AGAIN, BE CAREFUL AS THE STEAM CREATED WILL BE VERY HOT!!!!! Protect your face and hands.
- Bake for 30 to 45 mins at 375°F or until the centers of the bread reach 195°-210°F
- For a more crispy, chewy crust, at about 10 mins into the baking, carefully open the oven remembering to back away from the steam already produced. Spray each loaf with another coating of water.
- After about 20 mins, carefully open the oven and working quickly, do a 1/2 turn of the the loaves for a balanced baking while you spray once more all the sides of the loaves with water. If you have an oven safe digital temperature probe this would be a good time to insert the probe in the side of one loaf into its center. Quickly close the door and continue baking until the bread if fully baked.
- Immediately remove the baked bread from the pans or baking trays and place on a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool a minimum of 30 mins before slicing and 3 to 4 hrs before bagging or preparing to freeze. Bread will be good 30 days frozen, and about a week in a sealed bag or plastic wrapped at room temperature.
- I use Instant Yeast instead of Active Dry. Active Dry needs to be dissolved and proofed before using. Instant Yeast is finer in granulation and can be added directly into the flour.
- Rye Bread Improver helps to increase the flavor and texture of a rye bread.
- If you have a pizza or oven stone or a large upside-down heavy flat cookie sheet put that on a rack during the preheating time on a center position.
- When possible, use non-metallic bowls or containers when working with wild yeast and propagated lactic acid bacteria (sourdough starter) since the metal might interfere with chemical balance.
- Instead of "punching down" the dough after each rising, pour the risen dough from its container onto a lightly floured surface and by simply pressing down and stretching the dough you basically will expel the (CO2) gas produced by the yeast.
- Stretching also helps build the gluten needed during the final rising and the making of the loaves.
- If the dough was kneaded properly and gluten formed, making the slices across the tops of each will not deflate the loaves.
- NEVER refrigerate bread of any kind. Leave at room temperature or freeze when completely cooled. Placing bread in a refrigerator causes the starches in the bread to crystallize giving the bread a stale texture.