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.
Rye vs. wheat bread
Rye bread is a totally different story than wheat. Where wheat bread is fluffy, rye is stodgy. While white loaf is crusty, rye is practically all crumb. Wheat is best fresh, rye has to stand overnight in order to even slice it neatly.
A thick and thickly buttered slice of wheat bread vs. a paper thin wafer of rye with a smudge of butter. Rye bread won’t tolerate fancy sandwich fillings and will even object to being sandwiched – open top is the only way to go.
It is grim, stodgy, dense and not a little miserable.
Rye bread is good for your gut!
But it's refreshing to bake and eat every now and then bread that is dissidently different. It is also wonderful for gut health and more tolerable for people sensitive to gluten. Plus all those seeds: it's a true massaging brush for the gut!
Rye bread keeps well too; in fact it keeps so well it's better eaten after twenty-four hours. Rye bread needs to settle after baking: straight from the oven it will be impossibly crumbly and a little dry.
Once you have acquired taste in rye breads, you must try rye sourdough. The naturally fermented version of this loaf is my seeded rye sourdough and it's glorious.
You might also try your hand at the Tsar of rye breads: borodinsky; a bit of a challenge though.
What is seeded rye bread like?
Dan Lepard, whose old recipe from The Guardian inspired me, says it’s a little like a blonde pumpernickel but I think it doesn’t have the pumpernickly sourness. It's lighter too with the addition of some wheat flour: a little wholemeal and a little white.
I love it sliced quite thinly, with butter and honey. It obviously goes extremely well with pastrami and gherkin, or salt beef and mustard. Any fishy toppings are excellent too: cream cheese and smoked salmon, crab paste or potted mackerel.
Seeded rye is easy to make
Making the dough is really no different to making mud cakes - and it resembles them too. No need for a mixer or food processor: you can use a wooden spoon or your hands.
After a statutory first proof, shape a loaf with your hands dabbed with water not oil. Butter the loaf tin: rye dough tends to stick more than wheat and hard fats create a better non-stick lining for the tin.
There is a considerable amount of yeast in the dough so the final proof should not be longer than an hour; or until it has risen almost to the rim of the tin. It bakes in the medium-hot oven, fan assisted if possible, turning the heat down a little for the last quarter of an hour.
It will emerge, smelling so gorgeous that it will be hard indeed to let it rest until the next day, without sampling. But trust me - it will taste all the better for it.