Sunday, March 25, 2012

Swedish Rye Bread

This month the Bread Baking Babes bake Swedish Rye Bread. Astrid of Paulchens Food Blog is the host who baked this bread. She found it in Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest.

Tassajara Bread Book is the first book I found on baking bread. But first I found the movie: How to cook your life with Edward Espe Brown. A Zen priest in San Francisco and cookbook author who uses Zen Buddhism and cooking to relate to everyday life.

Baking with the Babes works like a mirror. I’m just one year in bread and already accustomed to a certain way of baking bread. All the different kinds of bread offered by the Babes help me to keep an open mind on baking bread. And baking bread is the same as living your life.
So, when I started, I immediately wanted to add the ingredients in the mixing bowl, mix until medium gluten development, autolyse for 30 minutes and add salt. And ….. (you know how it works).
But, this time I had to follow the recipe because it asked for a different approach
Although I had to make two small changes;
1. because I didn’t had any orange peel in the house, I added delicious homemade orange jam
2. I wanted to make one loaf and divided the amounts in half.

Because I followed the recipe I had to pay attention to the different way of kneading. It kept me focused. Thank you Babes and thank you Edward Espe Brown for meditation during bread baking. When I started baking bread, I loved the way I could combine meditation with all those steps which lead to a delicious and beautiful loaf of bread. Meditation is the same as keeping your mind focused on what you are doing. During these last few months I’m experiencing menopause, it’s making my mind jump like a monkey. Jumping up and down and following everything. It’s hard to keep focused for now. Luckily this will change too.

The bread smells different from all the other loaves I’ve baked. It has a nice light crumb. Just a bit of fennel and anise seed gives it a fresh flavor. Last week I baked another dark rye bread: Dutch Regales Finnish Rye. Not quite the same rye as this one.
a nice crust with a nice crumb
This is what I used: (I actually used half these amounts)

711 gr or 3 cups lukewarm water
14 gr or 1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast (= 2 packets)
111 gr or 1/3 cups honey
67 gr or 1 cup dry milk
grated peel of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons anise seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds = fennel
500  (530) gr or 4 cups unbleached white flour

After the first rise you add:
4 teaspoons salt
62 gr or 1/4 cup oil
540 gr or 4 cups rye flour
135 gr or 1 cup whole wheat flour (for kneading)

This is what I did: (this is the original recipe)
Dissolve the yeast in water. Add the honey and dry milk plus the oranges (I added orange jam) and seeds.
Add the flour to get a thick batter.
Add one cup of flour at a time, stirring good after each addition. The more flour you add the more you need to go into a beating mode with your spoon. Best way is to stir up and down in a circular mode from the bottom of the bowl to the surface of the dough. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time. After the 4 cups of flour you should have thick mud-like dough.
Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes).
Continue to beat until you have smooth dough. Again pull your spoon under the dough and bring it up to the surface again in a circular mode. The batter will be more elastic while you are doing this as more and more air gets incorporated.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.

Fold in the remaining ingredients.
Do not stir! Do not cut through the dough, this will improve the elasticity and strength of the dough.
Sprinkle on the salt and pour on the oil.
Stir around the side of the bowl working carefully your way towards the center. Rotate your bowl a little with every stroke you do. Repeat until all of the salt and oil is incorporated.
Sprinkle the flour 1/2 a cup at a time onto the dough. Again fold it in while rotating your bowl.
Continue until the dough comes away from the sides of your bowl.

Now the dough is ready to give it a good knead!
Plop your dough on your kneading board and scrap all remaining from the bowl onto the dough.  Keep in mind that your surface should be floured enough to prevent the dough from sticking too much on the board.
Flour your hands and the top of the dough. From the middle of your down stretch it away from you and then fold it back onto the remaining part of the dough. Continue to push down and forward.
Turn the dough a quarter turn. Again continue with the pushing and folding.
Turn, fold and push. Rock it forward. Twist and fold as you rock back. Be careful not to stretch the dough too much and tear it. Add flour to the boards as needed.
While you continue with the kneading the dough will become more and more elastic, smooth and shiny.

When you are finished, place the dough in your lightly oiled bowl smooth side down and turn it over so the dough ball is covered lightly with oil. This will prevent the dough from forming a crust on the top while rising.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel again and set aside to rise in a warm place for 50 or 60 minutes until it doubled in size.
 Punch down your dough with your fists steadily and firmly about 15-20 times.

Let rise again 40-50 minutes until doubled in size again.

Preheat your oven at 176°C or 350°F. I couldn’t help myself and pre paired the oven for steaming.
Turn your dough onto the board again.
Form the dough into a ball. Cut the dough into two even pieces and form smaller balls again. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Knead the dough and fold it about 5 times, this gives the dough added spring. After the final push turn the dough a quarter turn.
Roll up the dough into a log shape. Seam at the bottom, flatten the top of the dough. Square the sides and ends. Turn the dough over and pinch the seams all the way.
I didn’t want to use the pan and shaped it into a battard.
Put the dough seam side down into your pan. Press it down into the pan with your fingers.
Cover and let rise again. This will take 20-25 minutes.
Cut the top with 1/2 inch deep slits to allow the steam to escape.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame if you want!

Bake for about 50-60 minutes. I baked the loaf for 12 minutes with steam and 50 minutes without.
Remove from pan to cool down completely.

This loaf has a very nice flavor and taste. We liked it with cheese and freshly made strawberry jam and orange jam.

I send this loaf to Babe Astrid of Paulchens Foodblog 
I send this to Susan’s YeastSpotting and Heather of Bake Your Own Bread 


  1. I think I would really enjoy this loaf with cheese, as well. I have the Tassajara Bread Book...but haven't seen that film (though I've been wanting to). Lovely loaf!

  2. Oh Connie what a very beautiful write up. I'm always fascinated with bread baking! Simple ingredients delight all senses at each step. Menopause and mind monkey jumping, yes it does get better/different, reorients too. I love grandchildren!
    Thanks so much for baking with us again!

    1. Hi Tanna,
      it's always a joy baking with you Babes.
      The good part is that nothing stays the same. The sad part is that we want somethings to stay the same.

  3. Lovely. Lovely.

    I particularly like that you used orange jam when you found that you didn't have any oranges in the house.

    Thank you for baking with us!

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      living in a small village, far from the big shops makes us resourceful and this helps with my frugality.