There are many things I like about this Finnish Rye. It’s dense but moist, chewy and a bit crunchy, rich in whole grain flavor but a little sweet as well. It’s very good, although not what I’d want to eat every day.
The thing I love about this bread is how an incredibly simple technique – rolling the underside of the dough in coarse flour during the last turns of the shaping, and baking with that flour-dredged underside on top – produces such a striking crackled crust. If I were ever to open a bakery (which I never will), this bread would definitely be one of the ones front and center in the window.
The combination of the dark-colored dough and light-colored flour here makes for an especially beautiful contrast, but the same technique could be used with just about any boule-shapeable dough and any coarse topping such as semolina, cornmeal, bran, or even small seeds.
(adapted from SFBI formula)
Yield: 1.1 kg (2 loaves)
- Soak soakers: at least 2 hours
- Mix final dough: 15 minutes
- First fermentation : 1 hour
- Divide, preshape, and rest: 35 minutes
- Proof: 1.75 hours
- Bake: 1 hour
Desired dough temperature: 77F
Cracked Wheat Soaker Ingredients:
- 79 g cracked wheat
- 79 g water
Flax Seed Soaker Ingredients:
- 49 g whole flax seeds
- 74 g water
Final Dough Ingredients:
- 175 g whole wheat flour
- 88 g finely ground whole rye flour
- 88 g flour
- 210 g water
- 1 g (1/3 t.) instant yeast
- 12 g (2 t.) salt
- 53 g molasses
- 193 g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
- All of the cracked wheat soaker
- All of the flax seed soaker
- Coarse rye or whole wheat flour for topping
- In a small bowl, mix the cracked wheat soaker ingredients until just combined. Cover the bowl and let the soaker rest at room temperature for 2 – 12 hours.
- Do the same for the flax soaker.
- Place the final dough ingredients, except the soakers and about 10% of the water, into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add water as needed to give the dough a medium consistency. The dough will be very sticky at this point.
- Continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This might take about 6 minutes, but will depend on your mixer.
- Add the soakers and mix in low speed until they are evenly incorporated into the dough, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled container.
- Ferment for 1 hour at warm room temperature (73F – 76F), or longer if the room is cooler. The dough should increase about 50% in volume.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces of about 500 g each. Preshape the pieces into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Shape the dough into tight balls by rotating it (as usual) on the countertop while using the edges of your hands to tuck the edges of the dough underneath. Most of this is done on an unfloured counter to provide friction needed to get the ball tight, but do the last couple of turns in coarse rye or whole wheat flour. Do not try to pinch the bottom seam closed.
- Place the loaves seam-side-down on a board that has been dusted with the same coarse flour. Slip the board into a large plastic bag.
- Proof for about 1.5 hours at warm room temperature, or a little longer if the room is cool. The loaves should increase in volume by about 75%.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 440F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- When ready to bake, turn the loaves onto the peel so that the floured side is up. Do not score the loaves.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 410F. Bake for 10 minutes with steam, and another 40 minutes or so without steam. Leave the oven door cracked open during the last 15 minutes of this time. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves in, with the door ajar, for another 10 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.