This recipe, for a very dark Polish and/or Lithuanian-style rye, diverges from most in that it uses neither espresso powder nor cocoa for color. That’s the upside. The downside is that you have to special order both dark rye flour and rye meal to execute it. Happily both are available on Amazon via Bob’s Red Mill.
Notice that this recipe, while very “Old World” in that it uses starter and is built in several stages, is still “spiked” with commercial yeast at the end to prevent it from becoming a complete brick. God love the modern world and neo-traditionalist bakers! This recipe is adapted from Inside the Jewish Bakery by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg. It makes one large free-form loaf or two smaller 11″ x 4″ sandwich loaves. I may well adapt this to fit a pullman pan at some point in the coming week.
For the Sponge
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) rye starter
3 ounces (scant 1/3 cup) water
2 ounces (1/2 cup) dark rye flour
Combine the ingredients and allow them to sit about 4 hours or until it’s about 50% larger in size and bubbly.
For the Dough
18 ounces (2 1/4 cups) boiling water
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dark rye flour
5 ounces (generous 3/4 cup) rye (pumpernickel) meal
the sponge from above
Next, combine the first three ingredients in a bowl (do NOT add the sponge right away, as the boiling water will kill it) and set aside to cool until just warm. Add the sponge to it and allow it to ferment about 4 hours until it’s about 50% larger and bubbly, then refrigerate it overnight.
For the Finished Dough
cold dough from above
5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dark rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the dough, flour and salt in a bowl or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead for about three minutes, then sprinkle in the yeast and knead about three minutes more.
Shape the dough as you prefer, into an oblong round shape is the classic, and place it on the back of a sheet of sheet pan on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the loaf with a cloth and let it proof about 90 minutes. Meanwhile, place a baking stone in the oven as put a pan on the very bottom (or very top) rack that you’ll use to generate steam, and preheat your oven to about 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the loaf is about 30% larger and a few cracks appear on it, brush it with boiling water and slash the top. Slide it onto the stone, still on the parchment paper. Carefully pour a cup of water into your steam pan and close the door. Add another cup at 3 minutes, then another at 6 minutes. After the steam fest is over (about 10 minutes) turn the oven down to 275 degrees and bake another 2-2 1/2 hours.
Remove the finished loaf from the oven and brush it again with boiling water (this helps give it a shine). Let the finished loaves sit for a full two days before cutting.