Nov 082010

Polish Cottage Rye Sourdough LoafI have a confession to make.  The primary reason for building a rye sourdough this year was purely and entirely selfish.

I wanted a sandwich.

A good one.  A good pastrami sandwich with some homemade sauerkraut and spicy mustard.

My dad cures his own pastrami.  Makes his own spice rub, allows it to season/dry-age for several days in the rub, then smokes it for several hours.  Oh, and did I mention?  I love pastrami.

Seriously, how gorgeous is this yummy, nummy pastrami?

Dad's homemade pastrami
I made a deal with him that if he made a new batch of his pastrami to be ready when we arrived to visit in Colorado a few weeks ago, I would bring a German rye sourdough and bake him fresh bread to go with it.

It was win-win for everyone.  As this picture proves.  Even the pickle was homemade and lacto-fermented.  A perfect meal.
Pastrami sandwich on Polish Cottage Rye
This first rye sourdough recipe should hopefully be a success for you.  It was for me.  Since it has a large quantity of wheat flour it has a lovely rise and will feel more like baking bread if you’re used to wheat baking. . . a primer on baking with rye flour to come . . .

Polish Sourdough Cottage Rye

makes one large loaf

lightly adapted from Local Breads by Daniel Leader

8 to 12 hours before you are going to bake, you will be refreshing and making a rye sourdough for your bread.  Scrape

  • 3 Tablespoons (30 grams) of German rye sourdough into a large mixing bowl and stir in
  • 3/4 cup (175 grams) of tepid water, then add
  • 1 cup (175 grams) rye flour (Leader recommended a white rye flour, however I used a medium ground dark rye)

Stir to make a smooth, thick paste.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand to ferment at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees) for 8 to 12 hours.
After feeding, night before

It will nearly double in volume by morning.
Morning of baking - rye sourdough
While you’re at it, feed the remainder of rye sourdough starter in your cache, though no more than 1/4 cup of starter, with 1/4 cup of tepid water and 1/4 cup of rye flour.  Allow to stand at room temperature for one hour before storing in the fridge.

When ready to make the dough, several hours later, stir the rye sourdough, it will equal about 2 cups, with a rubber spatula to break it up and soften it.  Add :

  • 1 -1/3 cups (325 grams) tepid water
  • 3-1/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached bread flour, preferably high-gluten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) sea salt

Knead the dough.  Normally I knead most of my breads by hand because, well, I don’t have a mixer!  However rye breads tend to have a much higher water absorption rate than wheat and are a much stickier dough.  Since I was visiting my parents (my mom has a lovely Bosch mixer older than me!) I took advantage of using the mixer to knead!  And it was funny, because after all the mixing was complete my mom looked at the bread and said, “Shouldn’t we add more flour?  It doesn’t look like dough.”  The answer, no.  Trust the recipe. I’ll give you directions for both kneading options below :
If you’re kneading by hand: Lightly dust the counter with rye flour.  Scrape the dough out of the bowl and knead it with long, smooth strokes until it becomes smooth and springy, 15 to 18 minutes.  The dough will be very sticky. Keep your hands floured but resist adding extra flour.  Use a bench scraper to collect the dough every now and then.

If you’re kneading by machine : Use the dough hook and mix the dough on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid, I kept it on the low option on the Bosch) until it is smooth and springy, 12 to 13 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape the dough from the hook and sides of the bowl.  The dough will be sticky and will not clear the sides of the bowl on it’s own.

Do not add more flour!

Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl or container with a lid, a minimum of 2-quarts in size.  Cover and leave it at room temperature until it rises one and a half times in volume, roughly 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  It will feel less spongy and less sticky.

After the first rise, you will shape the round.  If you are lucky enough to have a banneton, lucky you!  It’s on my Christmas list.  Seriously.  You know you’re a real food foodie when you ask for things like banneton’s and Santoku knives for Christmas, right? So anyway, heavily dust a banneton with rye flour OR you can make a make-shift banneton with a towel-lined colander.

I use the colander option quite often for most of my recipes (rye and wheat).  A few tips.  First, use a narrower colander rather than a wider one, if you have the chance. It will make for a taller loaf. Make sure that the colander you choose will allow for you to have your dough double in size.
Second, use a very clean linen or non-fuzzy dish towel and heavily flour the towel.  As in, use the back of a spoon to rub that flour in.  Get all those nooks and crannies.  Because if you miss?  The dough will stick and your lovely risen dough will deflate in a sad little heap.  It is very sad and has happened to me several times.
Colander lined with Dishtowel
Why use a colander and not a bowl?  Because a colander, and the towel, will allow for air to flow through and lightly dry the dough (much like the woven banneton will do), which will allow it to release from the make-shift banneton easier.  A bowl will keep the moisture and humidity in and will make the dough stick.
Makeshift Banneton
Cover the banneton or colander with plastic wrap and leave the loaf to rise at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees) until it doubles in size, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  As it has a large quantity of wheat flour, it will look airy and soft.

About 1 hour before baking, prepare the oven.  Place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and a cast-iron skillet or jelly roll pan on the lower rack.  Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet.  Uncover the loaf and gently tip the banneton or colander onto the peel or sheet, guiding the loaf with one hand and light fingers onto the parchment paper.  Remove the towel very gently from the loaf if it came out with the risen dough. As you can see, mine wasn’t quite centered on the paper. Doesn’t matter. Don’t try to move it or it might deflate.
On the parchment paper
Score the bread deeply (as the oven rise is quite profound; I didn’t score it as deeply as I should have in the photographed loaf and it broke open a bit on it’s own on one side) and then quickly slide the parchment paper from the baking sheet to the pre-heated baking stone.  Immediately place 3/4 cup of ice cubes in the skillet or pan to produce steam.  Close the oven door and don’t open it to peek for at least 30 minutes!

Bake until the round is dark reddish brown, 40 to 50 minutes.
Polish Cottage Rye Sourdough Boule
Cool the loaf completely on a wire rack, at least 2 hours, before slicing.  Store the round at room temperature in a brown paper bag for up to 5 days or freeze in resealable plastic bags for up to 1 month.


This post is written in conjunction with the Whole Foods for the Holiday’s Progressive Dinner, Breads edition, Yeastspotting and the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop.  Interested in more sourdough baking recipes?  Check out my sourdough recipe index here. . Please go and visit the other contributors!

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 November 8, 2010  Posted by  Autumn, Baking, Sourdough Tagged with:

  10 Responses to “Polish Cottage Rye Sourdough Bread”

  1. Wow, I don’t think you can beat a sandwich like that. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have every component fresh and homemade. This all sounds delicious and that bread looks perfect. By the way, I’m holding a CSN giveaway on my blog and you’re welcome to come by and enter.

  2. What a beautiful bread and a simple but decadent sandwich!I m a big fan of home made breads..or may be the aroma that fills the house while they bake 🙂

  3. Looks wonderful! Cannot wait to atempt this. BTW any chance that your dad can post how he make his pastrami? Please, please, please?

    • Thank you! I’ll see what he can do, but in the meantime, here’s a recipe and technique very similar to what he uses. My dad used London Broil for the above pic, but is planning on making it from brisket from now on, and he’s got my husband on board to make a batch soon as well . . . I’m a lucky girl! Luckily, I’ve got another rye bread recipe I’ve been dying to make which would go beautifully with pastrami (again.)!


  4. Oh my goodness that bread looks like a little bit of heaven! I can just about smell it coming out of the oven. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
    Miz Helen

  5. I’m a celiac, and I don’t often miss bread, but looking at that sammy, with all homemade ingredients, gotta say, I’m missing it just a bit. What a delight to be able to have a sandwich made with all the best. Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  6. This is such a nice blog. I’m a new follower, following from a blog hop.

  7. I’ve made this bread twice now… following the recipe to a tee. The flavor is FABULOUS! However, my loaves rise nicely in the “banneton” and they turn out w/o sticking to the towel, but as soon as I take the colander off the dough is so wet still that it just oozes. It won’t hold shape. It doesn’t so much deflate as just spreads on the peel and then doesn’t rise much in the oven.

    I mill all of my grain into flour – is this a factor? Should I increase the flour a smidge? Most recipes that call for packaged flour need to be increased by 1/2 cup for every 2-4 cups of flour in the recipe. I only increased it by 1/4 cup. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Michelle!

      Did you mill the rye too? That takes commitment! Good job!

      Rye does not have the gluten power that wheat does so rye breads tend to rise less in the oven than wheat ones, even those that include wheat in them, like this one does – but it does sound like (since it’s not deflating due to sticking to the towel, which is generally my main problem! 🙂 maybe you should add a little more flour to increase the body of the dough. I don’t have a grain mill so I don’t have any experience working with very freshly milled flours, but that sounds like it would do the trick! Rye is an interesting medium to work with after focusing primarily on wheat and wheat strains (like spelt) – it doesn’t behave the same way! 🙂 Let me know if you try again and what works!

      And thank you so much for the thoughtful, useful comment! I appreciate you!


  8. […] and want to make a little. Perhaps you want to enjoy your sauerkraut with homemade pastrami and rye bread(and want to season it accordingly.  Yes, I admit to making homemade condiments specific to […]

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