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Yesterday, I found a recipe online for a Finnish all-rye sourdough bread (scroll down the comments to hansjoakim, who translated this from the Finnish), which I have extracted and executed. Here it is, expanded with notes that I hope prove helpful to you:

Finnish Rye Sourdough Bread

Yield: Two round loaves, roughly 8" x 2" (20 cm x 5 cm).
Time: Prep, including all rises: at least 14 hours. Baking: 1 hour. Cooling: at least 8 hours. Sourdough will teach you patience.

Note: Not only mass-based-only, but almost all metric, to boot. And yes, that is a full kilo--two and a quarter pounds--of flour.


For the Sponge:
800 g room-temperature non-chlorinated water
450 g rye flour
50 g all-rye sourdough starter

For the First Sour:
350 g rye flour

For the Second Sour:
200 g rye flour
4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

For the Shaping
more rye flour for dusting


In a large (4 qt/1 L) bowl, place rye sourdough starter and pour in water. Whisk briskly until starter has mostly dissolved, then start adding flour, continuing to whisk as you do so. When all 450 g of rye flour are added, mixture will be roughly pancake-batter consistency. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or lid) and allow to rise in a warm place overnight. The batter will have more than doubled in bulk.

First Sour:
Stir the sponge briefly to collapse the bubbles, then stir in the next 350 g of flour. Replace the cover and return the sponge to the warm place for at least another two hours (mine went four). Dough will again double or more in volume.

Second Sour:
Mix remaining flour, salt, and caraway seeds (if using) in a small bowl. Extract dough and, once again, stir briefly to collapse bubbles. Scrape into bowl of stand mixer, add flour/salt/caraway mixture, and mix on low speed (#2 if using KitchenAid) for twelve minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Dough will look fairly shaggy and wet, especially if you're used to very smooth, firm, barely-tacky hearth breads. Replace dough in rising vessel, replace cover, and return to proofing chamber for at least another two hours (again, I went four). Dough will, once again, have doubled or more in volume.

Scrape dough onto a well-floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Do not knead; rather, dust each piece liberally with sufficient rye flour that you can shape the dough without succumbing to Club Hand, and shape into two round loaves of roughly 880 g each. Dust these with rye flour (don't forget the bottoms), place on a baking sheet, and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise until small holes are visible in the surface, at least one hour. The loaves may settle and spread slightly during this last proofing; ensure that they have not grown into one another. As this bread does not have a firm "skin", slashing is not necessary: a network of cracks will develop in the top instead.

If using a baking stone or similar, one hour before baking, place stone in oven and preheat oven to 445°F (230° C). Ensure that stone is well-oiled. NB: a stone is not called for in the original recipe, but I am fond of them.

Once loaves and oven are alike prepared, bake at 445°F (230° C) for approximately sixty minutes.

The original recipe does not cover a specific cooling regimen. However, I suggest the following, borrowed from Swedish limpa bread, of which this appears a close cousin:

When the loaves come out of the oven, wrap each one firmly in a tea towel and set upon a wire rack to cool v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y: overnight is best.

Many rye bread recipes recommend altus brat (lit: "old bread")--the scraps of another loaf of rye bread--to be added to the current bread at the last stage. I will have to test this now that I have an all-rye loaf to test with.

I have yet to actually eat any of this, but it looks proper and sounds right when I thump it. *grin*

Sourdough breads keep longer, and better, than conventional yeast breads. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that the lactic (et al) acid provided by the sourdough's bacteria do a happy little denaturing number on the proteins. Thus, a loaf I made for count_geiger and I back on Thursday isn't stale yet--so, do not worry about it being day-old, or even longer, as long as the loaf remains sound.

Happy Baking!

-- Lorrie

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