A “classic” rye bread will use a sourdough starter for a base and be allowed to rise over night. Me, I don’t especially like the sourness of sourdough. But, as my wife, Cindy, is from Northern California, she loves it, so I do keep a sourdough mother (or starter, as some folks call it) on hand. But for this loaf, I went with two parts bread flour to one part rye flour, with no sourdough involvement. Also, I wanted to make this in a single day (or half day), so didn’t have to wait for the sourdough to help the dough rise overnight (thus the “quick” part of the title for this article), but instead used dried yeast.
I probably made my first loaves of rye about 25 years ago, using a bread machine. To me now, that would seem like cheating, as you just buy a mix off-the-shelf, add water, set the machine, and away it goes — fast, quick and easy, but it doesn’t really seem 100% home made. Another awkward part about bread-machine loaves is that stupid hole the paddle always leaves in the bottom of the loaf. Also, the crust never seemed to get nice and crisp, the way you can get it in an oven.
This loaf of rye bread, though, definitely benefited from that previous experience, as I knew how to tweak a “normal” recipe to get the dark, flavorful results I wanted. The Southern Maryland part of this loaf comes from the fact that it was made using the Abruzzi rye flour from Next Step Produce, which I got on their farm in Newburg, MD last week. To give it color, as well as more depth of flavor (as compared to a typical rye loaf), I used coffee instead of plain water, and molasses instead of honey. Another trick I used was to put a pan of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven; this helps make a crisper crust, and substitutes for the steam-ovens that professional bakers use. Using the convection setting on our oven also helped keep the temperature even, and the kitchen a bit cooler by lowering the temperature a shade or two.
What follows next is the formal recipe. Below that you’ll find a photo gallery illustrating the steps.
Quick, dark rye bread
Yield 1 loaf
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup light rye flour
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 teaspoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 ¼ cups lukewarm coffee
- Mix (using a whisk and/or the dough hook) the two flours In the bowl of a stand mixer, together with, salt, caraway seeds, and yeast.
- Put 1¼ cups lukewarm coffee into a small bowl and stir in the oil and molasses.
- Using the dough hook attachment, put your mixer on low speed and gradually pour in the liquids. Mix just until a ball of dough starts to form and no signs of dry flour remain, perhaps 2 or 3 minutes (you may adjust the dough by adding small amounts of flour or coffee as needed). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go, to insure complete mixing of wet and dry. Then cover your bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Set your mixer on medium-low and use the dough-hook to knead it until smooth and free of the sides of the bowl, perhaps 7 – 9 minutes. The dough should be neither dry nor sticky; again, if needed, adjust the texture by adding small amounts of flour or coffee.
- Prepare a medium-size mixing bowl for the next rise by lightly oiling. Move the dough to a floured surface and knead 30 seconds to a minute; shape the dough into a round, smooth ball. Place the dough seam side down in the bowl you prepared with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough to deflate it and place on a floured surface, forming it into a into a loaf about 6″ X 4″.
- Lift and fold top edge of dough into the center of the loaf and gently press to seal. Turn and repeat, making at least three series of folds and seals of the loaf. (It can be difficult to describe how to form a loaf. I recommend you search for “forming a bread loaf” videos on YouTube.) Turn the loaf seam side down and carefully place it on the perforated pizza pan (may substitute foil-covered baking sheet or pizza stone for pizza pan). You should have a loaf about 4 inches by 8 inches; shape it with your hands as necessary. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until loaf increases in size by about half, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, place a rack at the bottom of your convection oven, and another just above it. Heat the convection oven heat to 425° (450° in a regular oven). When the dough has risen, make 3 deep slashes across the top, using a sharp paring knife or razor blade. Place a pan of ice on the bottom rack of the oven for steam. Place the perforated round pizza pan with dough in the oven just above the pan of ice, reduce heat to 350° (375° in a regular oven) and bake until deep golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan once during baking.
Courses Loaf bread
Rye bread photo gallery
Sliced and toasted, this is a wonderful loaf. The crust is excellent, which shows the results of using the ice bath in the bottom of the oven. ♦