Spiced dark rye sourdough bread

Now, let me just say that this mini loaf of bread wasn't prepared for consumption. I mean, yes, it was, but it was made primarily to test the liveliness of my whole wheat sourdough starter.

Moreover, to date, the dough of this bread loaf was the most hydrated that I had personally handled and bakedabout sixty-six percent, in terms of baker's percentage. Indeed, it's no where near seventy or eighty percent, but I'm slowly progressing.

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In summary, this lil' rye fellow introduced me to the world of sourdough and higher hydration breadstwo of my top interests since the inception of this baking blog.


The primary objectives for the spiced dark rye sourdough bread we're the following:

  • firm, dark brown crust
  • fairly dense, open, medium soft crumb
  • faint to mild spicy odour
  • moderate to strong wheaty odour
  • faint to mild tangy taste, with little or no sharpness

Ingredient List

Adapted from the website Bread Cetera, the following adjustments we're made to the original recipe:

  • proportionately decreased recipe amount
  • decreased salt amount
  • decreased all-purpose flour amount
  • increased rye flour amount
  • added spices
  • implemented several different techniques and procedures

Additionally, if available, I've listed brand names of the food products I used in the tables below. Disclaimer: This isn't an endorsement. I'm simply indicating the names of the branded products used in my baking experiment.

Yield : 1 spiced dark rye sourdough bread (loaf)

Total Prep Time : N/A

Total Bake Time : 55 minutes

N/AN/AFennel seedsN/AN/ACorianderN/AN/A16 gN/AWhole wheat flour, Chilled48 gGold MedalMineral water, Room temp.48 gMiner126 gIreksAll-purpose flour / Plain flour / Type 55 flour, Unbleached, Chilled126 gTop BudgetWhole wheat sourdough starter, 100% hydration, Room temp.99 gN/AMineral water, Room temp.149 gMinerTable salt< 5 gN/ASpice mix< 5 gN/AN/ACampagneTap waterN/AN/ABaking SodaN/AArm & HammerRice flourN/ADouble Squirrel

Equipment List


Warning: Do not attempt my "recipe" (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen utensils and equipment, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.

Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes:

  • scrubbing unglazed tiles with a solution of tap water and baking soda
  • inserting the dried unglazed tiles into the countertop oven on the lower rack
  • feeding and resting the sourdough starter at above room temperature (approx. 30C / 86F) for approx. thirteen hours
  • lining the sheet pan with parchment paper

Step 1 : *Yawns*

*Looks at clock across the room.*

Insert lengthy cussing here.

My starter had passed it's prime, now receding in it's container and starving for flour. With dutiful promptness, I scurried to and fro, performing this and that, and assembled the following materials: dark rye flour, type 55 flour, strainer, and mixing bowl.

Step 2 : After sifting the flours into the mixing bowl, I hurriedly fetched the sourdough starter and mineral water.

Step 3 : Pouring the starter and a portion of the water into the mixing bowl, I mixed and stirred the ingredients with my bare hands.

"That's definitely not enough water."

Subsequently, I poured the remainder of the water into the mixing bowl and proceeded to hand mix the dough until just combined. Thereafter, the dough was autolysed (i.e., rested) for approx. thirty minutes at above room temperature.

Note: Sometime during the mixing process, I began using a plastic spatula to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl.

Step 4 : After thirty minutes had elapsed, I used the spatula to pry the sticky dough onto a cutting board, where I initiated the French kneading method for thirty-five minutesnot continuously, of course. I was agitated by the warmth and humidity of my kitchen (i.e., bedroom) and repeatedly turned my air conditioner on and off.

"Why not leave the air conditioner on?"

That's what I asked myself, too. Unfortunately, based on prior experiences, the air conditioner dehumidifies the air too quickly, causing the dough to form a dry skin, which prevents it from expanding.

Step 5 : At the thirty-five minute mark of kneading, I fetched the spice mix and salt, sprinkled it all onto the dough, then continued the kneading process.

Note: While kneading, the cutting board was periodically scraped with the spatula to collect and merge stray pieces of dough.

Step 6 : *Exhales in frustration.*

"Okay, the dough isn't behaving Just let it be, man. Just let it be."

After kneading the dough for a total of forty-five minutes, I merged the dough into a single mass, then applied a thin coating of olive oil to a separate mixing bowl.

Step 7 : Reflecting on advice from a YouTube video ("wet tools don't stick to wet dough"), I coated my hands with olive oil by sliding my palms against the oiled mixing bowl and rubbing my hands together.

To my pleasant surprise, as I handled and shaped the dough into a ball, the dough did not adhere to my hands.

It's a miracle, I thought.

Once satisfied with the shape of the dough, I placed the dough seam-side-up into the oiled mixing bowl, turned the dough seam-side down, covered the mixing bowl with an inverted sheet pan, then bulk fermented (i.e., rested) the dough for a total of two hours.

Step 8 : As demonstrated in this video, I stretched and folded the dough once after one had hour elapsed.

Subsequent to that, I liberally dusted the linen table cloth (laid upon a bowl) with more rice flour.

Note: The table cloth was heavily dusted with equal ratios of all-purpose flour and rice flour several weeks beforehand.

Step 9 : After two hours of bulk fermentation (where the dough was stretched and folded midway), I coated my hands with olive oil as described in step 7, shaped the dough into a boule, placed it onto the bowl lined with the linen table cloth, then proofed (i.e., fermented) the dough for approx. two hours.

Further, upon the passage of an hour, the countertop oven was preheated to 250C / 482F for the remainder of the dough's proofing period (i.e., one hour).

Step 10 : Prior to placing the dough into the oven (atop the unglazed tiles on the lower rack), I executed the following:

  • carefully transferred the dough onto the parchment lined sheet pan
  • set water-filled tart tins onto each corner of the sheet pan
  • reduced the oven's temperature to 200C / 392F (convection mode switched on)
  • scored (i.e., sliced) the dough with my homemade lame (i.e., razor on a stick)

Step 11 : Rise! Rise!! RISE, I SAY!!!

*Cue evil laughter then girly giggle.*

The dough was baked for a total of forty-five minutes. However, I rotated the sheet pan to ensure even baking, following the below schedule:

  • First rotation: 15 minutes (removed water-filled tart tins)
  • Second rotation: 30 minutes
  • Third rotation: 37.5 minutes

Funny storyalthough, not reallyI was careless the first time when I rotated the sheet pan and scraped one of my knuckles against the very, very hot tiles. Yes, I hollered in pain, but only temporarily. I had to abstain from whimpering and quickly close the oven's door to retain the internal heat of the oven. Only after that could I proceed to whimper.

Step 12 : Baked for forty-five minutes, I removed the mini boule from the oven, then attempted the "thump test" by tapping the bottom of the bread for sounds of hollowness (which indicates doneness).

After repeatedly muttering "ouch" while handling the hot loaf, I was unable to determine the doneness of the bread. Consequently, I baked the bread for an additional ten minutes at 200C / 392F (convection mode switched on).

Following that, the mini boule was again removed from the oven, then cooled on a wire rack for more than two hours.

Step 13 : Hey, that's not too bad. I only had to wash a small pile of kitchen equipment that evening.


After an hour of being baked , the crust of the loaf was very firm and chewy, most notably the crackled bottom crust. Moreover, the crumb of the loaf was slightly moist and highly resilient. In regards to odour and taste, the loaf emitted a faint spicy and wheaty aroma, and tasted mildly tangy, punctuated with a mildly sharp aftertaste. (The distinct taste of the spices we're also detected but to a very slight degree.)

After twelve hours of being baked , the crust of the loaf remained very firm and chewy whereas the crumb was somewhat dryer, particularly along and near the crust. The odour and taste of the loaf remained largely the same, with the exception of the stronger tang and sharpness.

Note: The spiced dark rye sourdough bread was stored at above room temperature; furthermore, the photo above was taken on the next day after baking the bread.


My afterthoughts: I believe I could do three things to substantially improve the volume of my rye bread: 1) shaping the dough into a tighter and more cohesive ball; 2) deactivating the convection fan during the first fifteen minutes of baking / steaming; 3) preheating the unglazed tiles (i.e., baking stone) at a less intense temperature.

The crust of my loaf was too stiff and rigid, likely caused by excess high temperatures, which may have hindered the dough from rising to it's fullest potential.

Nevertheless, I'm fairly happy with the open crumb, as it signifies that my starter was well and alive.

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Posted in Landscaping Post Date 03/27/2017






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