Lumpy and knobbly, painted black with treacle, studded with sultanas and encrusted with barley, oats and seeds, this is a very easy and a very endearing loaf of bread.
Rye here, rye now
Rye breads are lovely, they keep well and slice even better. Their only fault is that you can’t slice them warm.
You get this lovely loaf out of the oven, looking brilliant as they tend to crack less than their wheat brothers, tempting like anything - but no, you gotta wait! Quite like a Victorian fiancée: wait till the wedding night.
Fortunately, with the rye bread it’s only a day’s wait.
It's fully worth the wait though. Did I mention rye bread is an angel to slice thinly? And it’s by no means just lox or pastrami you want to have with it: try simply butter and honey. Try anything, in fact.
New Year's Day loaf
This loaf isn’t gluten free but can easily be if you swap the white bread flour for white spelt, in which case possibly replace dark rye with light, so the texture isn’t too ‘short’. Alternatively, use a gluten free bread flour mix.
Either way, it is a feast not only for the taste buds but for the gut too, with the wholegrains and the seeds in the content.
This bread was the first thing Nigel Slater baked in the New Year 2017, and I soon followed suit.
I did add the shaping stage though since Nigel’s nonchalant ‘transfer it to the (…) baking stone (…), reshaping it into a round loaf as you go’ sounded slightly alarming. Shaping will also make it look neater though alas! not as rustic.
How to make the treacle rye dough?
This is the bread dough that is made like cake batter. You can use your standing mixer with a dough hook attachment if you like, but it’s not really needed. A wooden spoon will suffice since, as Nigel admits, the dough it too sticky to work with your hands.
The flour mix is half and half, dark rye flour and strong white bread flour. It is ideal to ensure the loaf has the rye-ish darkness and lovely stodginess in it, bit isn’t quite like a lump of mudcake.
The barley flakes rolled oats and the multitude of seeds make for a beautiful texture – it’s pretty too, not just good for the gut.
The mix of flours, flakes and salt in a bowl, the treacle dissolved in warm water with added yeast in another, you simply mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones, like in a cake.
Adding all the seeds makes the stirring/working the dough a bit harder but just do your best – Nigel thinks this is virtually a no knead bread, so there.
Proving, baking, eating
After an hour in a warm place, the dough will significantly expand. I do believe it needs to be shaped now, just roughly, and placed in a floured basket for half an hour.
As I said above – the ‘shaping as you go’ does sound like a recipe for a disaster. If you shape it and then turn it out onto a baking stone or a heavy baking sheet, it will be less lumpy and easier to slice too.
I agree with Nigel though that it ‘keeps like an old friend’. Store it in a linen or cotton bread bag – I recommend – or a plastic bag for a week and it will just need to be sliced a little thinner as days go by.
Possibly lightly toasted in the end of days, thickly buttered each day, it is a real delight.
More rye recipes
Not just bread: Mokonuts’ cranberry, chocolate and rye cookies are a revelation. If you thought you knew all there was to know about cookies – you were wrong.
Scalded rye and honey loaf with a hint of cinnamon. Scalding flour works as dough enhancer, softening the crumb and prolonging the life of a loaf.
Rye crispbread, Swedish knäckebröd style thins, full of flavour and quite easy to make. Inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe, mine is twice baked to make it crunchy but not burnt.
More seeded baking recipes
Seed crackers are a crunchy, cracking snack; mixed seeds baked to a crispy sheet, then broken into shards to crumble over your salad or to pair with a chunk of cheese for a moreish bite.
Soft and airy but full of wholemeal goodness, brown seeded bread rolls with molasses make me ponder on the dinner rolls conundrum: is one ever enough?
Light seeded rye bread, easy to bake in an afternoon, best on the next day and fantastically good for gut health. It goes with cream cheese or fish pate, or just a lick of butter and honey.