I love rye bread. I love the deep flavors and the taste of caraway. Rye bread makes for some killer sandwiches. Rye bread isn’t always easy to find in the US, unless you are in the east coast or in a town with a high Jewish population. I solve that problem by making my own. I’ve been making light rye bread for years, but have been wanting to develop a darker rye. The flavors are a bit more intense in a dark rye which I absolutely love. This makes a killer sandwich and an amazing piece of toast. I call it a medium dark rye bread because it isn’t super dark in color. If you want a darker rye replace the warm water with brewed coffee. That’ll give it a darker tone.
The key to making great bakery-style bread at home is all in the method. Bakeries use steam ovens to get that wonderful chewy crust. You can create your own steam oven by placing a shallow pan of water in the oven with your bread. The water will evaporate in the heat, filling your oven with steam.
Using a baking stone or pizza stone is vital to creating both the perfect crust and the perfect crumb. Bakeries use fancy ovens of the masonry variety. See, the oven in your house cooks using radiated (the flame or the electrical elements) and convected heat (the air moving around the oven. A convection oven has fans to assist in the circulation of the air). A masonry oven is able to use conduction on top of convection and radiated heat. Masonry ovens utilize stone, just as their name suggests. Stone retain heat really well. When you put a loaf of bread directly on a hot stone, the stone transfers its heat to the bread through conduction. So when you use a pizza/baking stone, you are literally adding a third heating method into your oven. Isn’t that awesome? There’s your science lesson for the day!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: 2 loaves
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup rye flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch + 1/4 cup hot water
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, yeast, salt, caraway seeds, molasses, unsweetened cocoa powder, and rye flour. Mix on a low speed using a dough hook until combined.
2. Add in 3 cups of the all-purpose flour and knead until combined. Continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise 90 minutes.
4. Preheat a pizza/baking stone in the oven to 450 degrees. Place a shallow pan on the rack below the baking stone.
5. Divide dough in half and shape each into a loaf by stretching the dough from the top center of the dough ball over the edges, and then underneath. It should look and feel like you are holding the loaf with two hands and are pulling the dough inside out with your thumbs. Give several of those pulls with your thumbs. This should only take about 30 seconds.
6. Dust a pizza peel or wooden cutting board with cornmeal. Put the loaf on the prepared board and let it rise for another 40 minutes.
7. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/4 cup water. Microwave for 45 seconds. Brush the cornstarch liquid on top of the loaf and cut several parallel lines on the top.
8. Bake the loaf directly on the stone. When you put the loaf in, pour a tall glass of water into the shallow pan below. It’ll pop and sizzle and steam, so watch your hands. Close the oven door and bake for 30 minutes.