The first time I baked this bread, I followed the recipe (Breadtopia) very carefully, as I usually do on the first time, and I was not pleased. The taste was really good, but I had to bake it far beyond the 40 minutes stated in the recipe. So far beyond that the bottom crust was burned beyond edibility. The hydration was very high (82%) and I guess my dough development skills were not up to the challenge.
But since the taste was so good, I tried again, reducing the water and increasing the flours. In the site’s forum, some others were discussing the same issue and I followed some of their suggestions for modifying the recipe. It took three more loaves for me to get it just right, for me anyway. If you want to bake this bread, and I strongly recommend you do, I suggest you try it as I did, following the recipe. You can then decide if you need to modify it.
Also on the Breadtopia site, Eric has posted several very good videos on this recipe. If you’re a sourdough beginner as I am, you will learn much from this website. His name for the bread is Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread. I told him he should rename it, OMG Rye Bread, since that’s what many have said with the first bite. I only added the Swedish to the name because I’ve seen many rye bread recipes with orange zest, molasses, caraway, fennel, and anise that were called Swedish Rye, or Limpa.
My modification was to increase the flours to 510 grams and to decrease the water to 340 grams, for a 67% hydration. The 510 grams of flours include 42 grams of vital wheat gluten, for which I deducted from the bread flour. The next time I will go with 380 grams water, for a 75% hydration. At 67% the dough is pretty stiff, and it’s fun to experiment.
The modified flours list: 255g whole grain rye flour, 213g bread flour, and 42g vital wheat gluten.
I bake in a La Cloche stoneware baker and do not remove the cover as stated in the recipe. The recipe states to remove the cover after 30 minutes for browning. Mine browned just right with the cover on. I look for any excuse to keep from handling that 475 degree cloche in the oven. I was getting a little overcooked on the bottom crust so I placed the cloche on a pizza stone. Problem solved.
Some notes on timing of this bread. As it requires a 12-14 hour bulk ferment (BF), you can start it in the evening. I usually start at 8pm, but if my timing is off with my starter, i.e., my starter peaks earlier in the afternoon, I go ahead and mix and put it in the fridge, covered. I take it out at 8pm. It will be ready for stretch and fold and shaping the next morning around 8-10am. Or, you could start early morning and bake it in the same evening. Adjust these times according to your schedule.
Addendum. Sharing some research on rye flour that explains my issue with the first time I baked this bread. I should have let it sit longer. Now I have to give the original recipe another try. The below excerpt is from The Fresh Loaf. Go there to learn more.
“The dough in these breads will feel different during mixing, tending to be stickier. The temptation is to add more flour, but this should be resisted. When hand kneading sticky rye doughs, using rapid, light strokes – minimizing the time your hands are in contact with the dough – decreases the amount of dough that will stick to your hands. You may also find that wetting your hands with water or lightly oiling them helps.
Breads with over 50% rye flour are another story. All the special considerations due to the chemical differences in rye become more important as the proportion of rye increases. Typically, these breads have a short bulk rise and, once baked, should be allowed to rest for several hours before slicing, so the crumb can set up properly. In the case of breads with 70% rye or more, a rest of 24 hours, even up to a couple of days, may be required.”