In a moment of enthusiasm a while ago I bought a bag of rye flour but then I had no idea what to do with it as I was pretty sure it wasn’t as simple as chucking it in the bread maker instead of my usual bread flour. Browsing through my cookbooks I was reminded I’d bought Paul Hollywood’s book How to Bake and not used it yet. It is a lovely book that probably includes every type of bread you might ever want to make and of course it includes a recipe for Rye Bread (actually it includes 5 Rye bread recipes). This is the basic Rye bread recipe from his book and it is as delicious as any Rye bread I’ve ever eaten in Germany. It does take effort and is best started in the morning as there is lots of proving but it is surprisingly easy despite the long list of detailed instructions.
- 500g rye flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp salt
- 2 tsps yeast
- 20ml treacle (optional)
- 350ml cool water
- olive oil for kneading
- Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the treacle if using and 3/4 of the water and turn around the mixture with your fingers. Continue to add the rest of the water a little at a time, until you have picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
- Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knewad. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft skin. You will find the dough feels different from a conventional wheat flour dough – less smooth and stretchy.
- Put the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 4 hours.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold it repeatedly in on itself until the air is knocked out. Form the dough into a smooth round cob by turning it on the surface and tucking the edges underneath until the top is smooth and tight. Generously dust the inside of a large round proving basket (I used the same mixing bowl) with rye or white flour. Put the dough into it with the smooth side down.
- Leave to prove for 2-3 hours; the dough will double in size eventually but will take considerably longer than wheat flour breads. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up. Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone paper (I greased and floured a baking tray and it was fine).
- When your loaf is risen, invert it carefully onto the prepared tray. Slash a deep crosshatch patter on the top with a sharp knife. Pour hot water into the roasting tray to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. To test, tap the base of the loaf – it should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.