Perhaps the one good thing about having a cooler summer thus far, is that we don’t mind turning on the oven. This is particularly good when it comes to baking bread. I’ve been tinkering with a new sandwich bread recipe over the last few months and, so far, we’re loving the results! This soft rye sandwich bread is quickly becoming our new favourite bread.
I love making bread. I love the smell of yeasted dough, of watching the dough transform from a shaggy mess into a smooth ball, and shaping that dough for buns or bread or cinnamon buns (mmm, cinnamon buns).
When I was little, I remember my mom showing me how to form bun shapes, by pushing a small chunk of dough through the hole formed by my thumb and forefinger. I remember the taste of grandma’s freshly baked cinnamon-raisin bread, smeared with a general helping of salted butter. My father-in-law’s whole wheat bread was, when paired with his homemade raspberry jam, a thing of beauty.
Often what I like best about making homemade bread is the reaction of those around me when they smell it, fresh from the oven, or take their first bite of it. Perhaps it’s for selfish reasons, but I do love it when others get the same enjoyment I do! Maybe it’s because people don’t make bread at home as often it always seems a treat? Homemade bread has become a (very tasty) novelty, which is a shame since it beats anything store-bought, hands down.
The Sourdough Cheats Route:
Rye bread is a bit of a tricky little fellow. Because rye flour is quite soft (the gluten content is relatively low), it helps to pair it with unbleached bread flour, to boost the structure of the bread (we use Anita’s Organic Mill flours for all of our baking, and really like that they’re a BC company). Many rye bread recipes call for a mother-starter, which means mixing up a bit of rye flour and water and yeast, and let that hang out in the fridge for a day or two, to give it that distinctive rye / sourdough taste.
To mimic that classic taste, without the time effort, I’ve done something super fancy (cough, not really), and added yogurt to the dough, or a drop of plain white vinegar if I’m out of yogurt. And you know what? I think it tastes just as good as the mother-starter method! And this version is much quicker, which is sometimes what a person needs when baking bread 🙂
A few things to keep in mind when making this soft rye sandwich bread:
- The stand-mixer is your friend. This dough can be fairly loose, so kneading by hand is most-likely not an option. If you don’t have a stand-mixer, just use a spoon to mix everything together well.
- When you start to handle the dough, make sure your hands are well-oiled or wet them with water. This makes sure you don’t end up with scary dough-hands.
- The quantities I’ve posted, seem to work in my neck of the woods (altitude, humidity levels), but keep in mind that you might need to add a bit more flour or less liquid. It’s all part of the fun bread-making process!
- Make sure to let the rye bread cool completely before slicing it. Trust me. Even if your husband begs and pleads, to slice the bread up sooner, don’t listen to him! The rye needs time to fully cool in order for the crumb to set properly. If you give into temptation, you risk a gummy loaf. Just be warned 🙂
To make our lives easier, we will cut up the entire loaf of soft rye sandwich bread into thin slices, then freeze the lot. This way, you can easily pull out one or two slices, without having to saw though a frozen bread brick.
So give this bread a try! It’s awesome toasted, with a bit of honey and butter, or as a classic sandwich filled with your favourite things, or just on its own 🙂
- 150 g rye flour
- 300 g unbleached bread flour
- 5 g (1 tsp) instant yeast
- 5 g sea salt
- 275 g water, very warm
- 45 g molasses
- 30 g non-fat greek yogurt (or 30 g milk + ½ tbsp white vinegar)
- In a stand mixer bowl, sift together the rye flour, bread flour, instant yeast and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together very warm water and the molasses until combined. Add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. If you don't have yogurt, use milk plus ½ tbsp of white distilled vinegar instead.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and, with the dough hook attachment, mix until the dough is just incorporated. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, to allow the flour to fully hydrate. Then start to mix the dough at medium-low speed for 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should be quite smooth, but still sticky to the touch. Increase the speed of the mixer and knead for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high speed. If the dough is still extremely sticky, add a bit more flour.
- Liberally dust your work surface with flour and, using wet or well-oiled hands, turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Fold the dough over itself (top over bottom, side over side), then cover the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat this twice more, allowing the dough to rest 10 minutes in between. After each stretch and fold session, the dough should start to feel more firm. Make sure to keep your hands wet during this, and sprinkle flour over the dough, if necessary.
- Line an 8x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, and lightly mist with oil. Shape the rye dough into a log shape and place into the prepared pan. Cover and leave to rise until the dough just starts to dome over the top of the pan.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the bread half-way through the baking time. Once fully baked, the top should be a deep golden brown, and the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when thumped.
- Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before serving. This is very important, in order to give the rye bread time to fully set.