|Stages:||Sponge, Scald, Scald-sponge, Final dough|
|Leaven:||Rye sour culture|
|Start to Finish:||11 hours|
|Hands-on Time:||40-50 minutes|
|Yield:||One 2¼ lb/1.0 kg loaf|
I’d been meaning to make Vitebsk Rye for some time – ever since I found it in Mike Zhuravel’s magnificent Russian-language bread blog, O Khlebye. The result made me wonder why I’d waited so long: this is a truly splendid Belarusian rye bread.
Vitebsk is in northeastern Belarus, very close to the Russian border but also near enough to the Baltics to show their influence as well. Like another Belarusian classic, Minsk Rye/Minskiy Chleb (see The Rye Baker, pp. 266-269), it consists of 100% white rye. Unlike that bread, however, Vitebsk Rye features a pale rye malt scald and scald-sponge, and uses an 85°F/30°C proofing box to accelerate the sponge ripening, scald development and scald-sponge fermentation.
The formula also calls for dark molasses (which gives the loaf its golden-brown color) and a tiny percentage of ground anise to create contrast against the delicate sour background, while complementing the sweetness of the rye scald with subtly musky and aromatic licorice notes.
Add to that an open, tender crumb and you have an extraordinarily complex, satisfying loaf that pairs wonderfully with cold butter, cheeses and cured meat and fish.
Sponge (Bake time minus 10.5 hours):
|White rye flour||80||2.80||100%|
|Rye sour culture||60||2.10||75%|
Scald (Bake time minus 9.5 hours):
|White rye flour||190||6.70||100%|
|Hot (160°F/65°C water||380||13.40||200%|
|Pale rye malt, ground and sifted||30||1.05||16%|
|Ground anise seed||4||0.15||2%|
In a separate pre-warmed bowl, combine the scald ingredients by hand into a thick porridge, cover and let it sit alongside the sponge for 3 hours. It will loosen considerably and have a very sweet taste.
Scald-Sponge (Bake time minus 6.5 hours):
|White rye flour||104||3.65||100%|
Final Dough (Bake Time minus 90 minutes:
|White rye flour||290||10.25|
Cover the loaf and proof at room temperature until the surface shows cracks and/or broken bubbles and the loaf has visibly expanded, 25-30 minutes.
Use wet hands to smooth the surface of the loaf and let stand 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500°F/260°C with the baking surface in the middle. Bake without steam for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 460°F /240°C and continue baking until the loaf thumps when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 200°F/93°C, 25-30 minutes, then brush the loaf with water and bake an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let stand 24-48 hours before slicing.
Note: My high-tech oven has a “Proof” setting that allows me to keep it at that temperature. If yours doesn’t, use a proofing box or preheat your oven to 100°F/38°C, then turn it off, repeating every 60-90 minutes.
|White rye flour||664||100.00%|