Black Rye Bread/Juoda Ruginė Duona (Lithuania)

Juoda_slice

Rye %: 90%
Stages: Scald, Sponge, Opara, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture
Start to Finish: 24-28 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One 2 lb. (900 g.) loaf

I love Russian and Baltic rye breads for their intensity. So when, a few months back, I found some imported Latvian breads at my local international grocery store, my heart skipped a beat.  Although I’d baked several different Baltic ryes while researching recipes for The Rye Baker, I’d never had the opportunity to taste the real thing, and so I immediately snapped up a loaf of the “Classic Rye Bread.”

Before I even sliced the loaf, I was struck by its density and the intoxicating sweet-sour perfume that enveloped me as soon as I unwrapped it – an aroma that I hadn’t experienced in any of the Russian or Baltic ryes I’d baked until then.

The crumb was dense, dark and firm, and the flavor – citrusy-sweet with hints of licorice, finishing with a clean bright sour – blew me away. I wanted to bake that bread, but had no idea where to find the formula. Predictably, the list of ingredients was no help: it simply told me that the bread contained rye flour, wheat flour, malted rye, sour culture, salt, honey and sugar.

So I was stuck, until I baked this beauty of a bread, which I found in a Lithuanian blog. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect, since the formula was typical of the region, consisting of a red rye malt scald,  a well-ripened rye sour sponge; an opara (compound sponge) and a final dough whose only non-rye flavoring agents were small amounts of salt, sugar and honey.

As the loaf baked, an incredible sweet-sour perfume filled the air, hinting to me that I’d found the twin of that elusive Latvian beauty. And so it was: as with that store-bought loaf, the crumb was tight and dark (and more tender than the imported bread), the flavor seductively sweet-sour. I’ve been so taken with this bread that I’m content to eat it with nothing more than a light film of sweet butter.

NOTE: If you can’t find whole rye flour, use a blend of 2/3 medium and 1/3 dark rye flour.

Sponge (Day 1, Morning):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Whole rye flour

70

2.45

100%

Warm (105°F/41°C) water

70

2.45

100%

Rye sour culture

10

0.35

14%

Scald (Day 1, Morning):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Red rye malt

35

1.25

100%

Hot (170°F/77°C) water

200

7.05

571%

Juoda_sponge-scald

Mix the sponge ingredients by hand until incorporated, cover and ferment 10-12 hours at room temperature (68°-72°F/20°-22°C). The sponge will be very bubbly, have a clean sour smell and will have doubled in volume. In a separate container mix the scald ingredients by hand, cover and let stand 10-12 hours at room temperature.

 

Opara (Day 1, Evening):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Whole rye flour

150

5.30

100%

Sponge

150

5.30

100%

Scald

235

8.30

157%

Juoda_OparaRawCombine the sponge, scald and flour and mix by hand into a very stiff dough. Cover and let stand overnight, 10-12 hours, at room temperature. The sponge will become very bubbly, have a sweet-sour smell and more than double in volume.

 

 

Final Dough (Day 2, Morning):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Opara

535

18.90

Whole rye flour

230

8.10

Bread flour

50

1.80

Warm (105°F/41°C) water

100

3.55

Salt

10

0.35

Sugar

25

0.90

Honey

21

0.75

JuodaMix

 

Dissolve the honey in the water, then combine the final dough ingredients in the mixer bowl. Use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed to mix into a stiff dough that leaves the sides of the bowl, 6-8 minutes.

 

 

Juoda_shapedTurn the dough, which will be slightly sticky, onto a dry work surface and use wet hands to form an oblong loaf about 10″/25 cm long and 4″/10 cm wide. Place it on a well-floured peel, if using a baking stone, or parchment-lined sheet pan, cover and proof at room temperature until the loaf has expanded to 1½ times its original volume and shows cracks on the surface, 2- 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C with the baking surface in the middle. Use wet hands to smooth the surface of the loaf, turn the temperature up to 445°F/230°C and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 390°F/200°C and continue baking for 25 minutes.

While the bread is baking, prepare a glaze by boiling 1 tsp. of potato or corn starch in 1 cup/8 oz./225 ml of water until it thickens, then let cool. Brush the loaf with the glaze and continue baking until the loaf thumps when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, 5-10 minutes. Rest a minimum of 24 hours before slicing.

Juoda_loaf

Baker’s Percentages

Ingredient

g

%

TOTAL FLOUR

500

100.00%

   Whole rye flour

450

90.00%

   Bread flour

50

10.00%

Water

370

74.00%

Salt 10 2.00%
Rye sour culture

10

2.00%

Red rye malt

35

7.00%

Sugar

25

5.00%

Honey

21

4.20%

TOTAL FORMULA

971

194.20%

Flour prefermented

220

44.00%


22 Comments

  • Gay

    March 13, 2016

    I can’t wait to try this! I have been searching so long for a recipe for the Laci Riga rye. My favorite of theirs has caraway (they call it cumin) in it but your photos look just like their loaves. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Maija

      August 23, 2016

      Latvians don’t call caraway cumin, but the Latvian name for caraway is “kumeles”. And oddly enough, being Latvian, I don’t like them much…go figure!

      Reply
      • Gay

        August 23, 2016

        Hmmm, that’s interesting because on the Laci bag ingredient list it lists the word “cumin” but does not list caraway. When I did some research I found out that in some areas caraway is called cumin. I love it, in bread, sauerkraut, lots of things!

        Reply
  • Karin Anderson

    March 16, 2016

    I never had a Lithuanian bread, yet. Nice loaf.

    I like your new lay-out, Stanley, it’s very clean and readable.

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      March 18, 2016

      Thank you on both counts.

      Reply
    • Maija

      August 23, 2016

      I am from Latvia, and always long for “real” Latvian bread, preferably Laci brand. Now you give me hope that I may be able to bake a reasonable facsimile. If this comes to pass I will be forever grateful. One question: how do you make rye sour culture? I only have experience with baking white/whole wheat breads. Looking forward to baking. Maija

      Reply
  • Tortoise

    March 18, 2016

    Hi Stan,
    I was intrigued by your formula using the red rye malt as well as the potato water wash so I gave it a whirl. For the whole grain rye I milled my own with my Komo Fidibus classic. All went well with the sour builds and scald until I mixed the final dough. I found it very slack, similar to a pan baked 2 stage detmolder 100% rye that I often make. It was a thick paste that never left the sides of the bowl of the mixer. Even though i knew that it would spread I soldiered on shaping it free-form on a sheet of parchment as per your instructions. After the 2 1/2 hour proof I baked it off and sure enough, out came a pancake. A delicious pancake but a pancake non the less (I would send some pics of the loaf but I see no way to attach them). Could the problem have been using fresh ground rye?

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      March 18, 2016

      Since the rye appears to have been the only variable, that’s the likely explanation. In general, I think that flours need to season for at least 2-3 weeks in order for the internal moisture to evaporate and for the starches to start oxidizing. Try the recipe with older flour and let us know how it goes.

      Reply
      • Tortoise

        May 13, 2016

        Second bake update. I ground some rye flour and aged it for 4 weeks in a thick paper bag. I proceeded with your formula but I still had to hold back 25 grams of water. The bread turned out beautifully. The flavour is outstanding! I will attempt it again using fresh ground and adjusting the water but before I do I want to tackle your Deconstructed Saison Rye. The process looks fascinating. Now I just have to head to the local brew supply store to pick up the malts.
        Thanks again for your excellent post.

        Reply
  • Mark

    March 20, 2016

    As I was in the process of making this bread I read these comments and got worried, since I’m using freshly milled rye. So I initially cut back the final 100g of water to 25, holding the rest in reserve. But in the end I ended up using the entire 100g, as the dough was clearly pulling away from the bowl with less. Perhaps I should have left out 10-15g as once the final dose of water went in (I did this 25g at a time) the dough stopped pullIng away. But I had no trouble shaping the loaf, no slackness, and no problem with oven spring. My loaf looks much like the pictures, except that my cracks are a bit bigger. So, Tortoise’s slackness could be due to the specific batch of rye used, but I don’t think one can say across the board that freshly milled rye can’t take this hydration. I can’t wait to taste my bread, but I know I must be patient!

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      March 20, 2016

      Good point! Thanks so much for your input and please let us know how it turned out.

      Reply
  • Mark

    April 8, 2016

    My apologies – I forgot to let you know results. Anyway, the bread was excellent. I really enjoyed it and will have to make it again. Thanks for the formula. : )

    Reply
  • Paul McCool

    June 16, 2016

    This bread finally made it into the baking rotation last weekend and it is a real treat! Fabulous flavor, fragrance, and texture!

    I made a two-loaf batch and used my 7-quart KitchenAid mixer for the final dough. The dough never cleared the sides of the bowl. Whether that was because of the flour (Hodgson Mills Whole Rye), the hydration, the quantity of dough, or the bowl size, I don’t know. Or maybe all them played a role. No problem, though. I just kept pushing the paste back into the path of the dough hook instead of letting it press against the bowl wall.

    Should the potato or corn starch quantity be a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, perhaps? Or was I reading to much into the “until it thickens” statement? The glaze did not really thicken when boiled. Since this was my first round with the recipe, I proceeded as directed. The crust on the finished loaf has a very low gloss, which is more attractive to me than if it had been shinier. And, the glaze stayed liquid as it was applied, rather than seizing up in starchy blobs.

    Could you perhaps update the recipe to indicate a recommended time for applying the glaze?

    Have you experimented with using steam in the oven for the first 15 minutes or so? I wonder if steam might cut down on some of the cracking by keeping the crust more supple.

    Thanks for posting this recipe. It’s a keeper!

    Reply
  • Henrik

    August 15, 2016

    What sugar do you use, Stanley? Brown or raw/white?

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      August 15, 2016

      I prefer organic raw sugar (Turbinado), which isn’t really “raw,” but is refined white sugar that has molasses added back in. Still, I like the musky, burnt notes the molasses adds. When I want real “raw” sugar, I buy Mexican piloncillo, which comes in cones and has to be grated. Most of the time, I use it to make my baking syrup.

      Reply
  • LB

    October 23, 2016

    For the record, I’ve made this a few times and it doesn’t matter if I use aged or fresh ground rye, as long as I use 25g less water in the final dough. Any more and it’s a pancake and would only work in a loaf pan, but I take out that 25g and its easy to handle and holds its shape through the bake.

    This is one of the best rye breads I’ve ever tasted.

    Reply
  • Ross Warren

    November 14, 2016

    Building the Opara.. I had to add 50g more rye flour to get a “stiff” dough. Cant wait to try this!

    Reply
  • Lazy Loafer

    February 3, 2017

    Hi Stan. I’d love to try this one for a friend who can’t have any wheat. Can I use something else (say, barley flour) in place of the 50 grams of bread flour? He might be able to tolerate spelt but it would be whole spelt (or sifted). And also, can I use malted, toasted barley in place of the red rye malt?

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      February 6, 2017

      Barley certainly could work and so could substituting more rye for the wheat flour, which is so small a percentage of total flour as not to make, IMO, any real contribution to the bread.

      Reply
  • Delaine Faulkner

    February 11, 2017

    If the trouble with using wheat flour is from the gluten, then gluten is also in barley.
    However, having spent 3 months in Provence, where the local bakery produces sourdough bread, my gluten intolerant husband was able to eat their bread with no discomfort. When we asked about their bread baking method we were told that their use of sourdough alone without added yeast would explain his ability to eat bread with no discomfort.
    I don’t know if using barley in sourdough bread would have the effect of causing discomfort or not.

    Reply
  • Tanya Briggs

    March 16, 2017

    Can this bread hold up to freezing for those of us who bake for 1? 2 lbs is a lot of bread for me unless I have company. While I prefer not to freeze I’m sure that a 2lb loaf would be too stale before I can eat it. My rye breads with a high percentage of rye last for a long long time, but reality is I prefer to eat it within a week.

    Reply

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