Sunday, August 16, 2015

Babes Bake Italian Rye

As I write this, I am munching on a piece of buttered toast, made from fresh Italian rye bread, otherwise known as L'Otto di Merano.   Thanks to Elizabeth of blog from Our kitchen, for selecting such a delicious bread for the August Bread Baking Babe challenge.

The biggest challenge, actually, was finding the malted rye berries.  Take heart!  It was much easier than expected.  Just locate a shop that sells supplies for brewing beer.  They are everywhere now, due to the popularity of home brews and microbreweries.  The nice people will also crush the berries for you.  And, a little goes a long way.  I purchased a quarter pound, and will have plenty of berries for many loaves.

That said, I have made this bread twice.  First time around, I followed the directions (for the most part).  Always a good thing to do because you get a feel for how the recipe is supposed to work while simultaneously thinking about how to prepare it differently the next time.

Which I did.

So, the first time, I did the fermenting, the slapping in the bowl, the requested shaping.  I did this in July, so I'm trying to remember how the process played out.  I believe I used caraway seeds, too.  One thing I do recall is that I didn't much care for the way the bread was kneaded in the bowl.  I kept adding flour, then water, then flour to get a good texture.  The resulting dough was more slack than I prefer, and the baked loaf was on the flat side.

The second time, which was only yesterday, I followed the directions up until the kneading part.  I put all the ingredients in the bowl of my sturdy mixer and treated it like most other breads.  I also used fennel seeds this time.  And, instead of the traditional shaping, I wanted something more useful, so I turned it into a loaf (9x5).  Perfect for sandwiches and toast.

One recommendation I have concerns the overnight fermenting stage.  Be sure and use a large bowl because the mixture really does expand.  For my third time, I intend to do the fermenting part in my mixer's bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.  This will prevent any spill-over and use one less bowl.   I'm all for efficiency.

Basically, this is an easy and delicious bread, full of healthy ingredients.  I know every Babe will have a different experience, so be sure and check out their blogs.  

Find your local brew supply store and then, most definitely, bake away! 

The Bread Baking Babes are:

L'Otto di Merano


300 g water at 100 degrees F
1/8 tsp active dry or instant yeast
25 grams crushed malted rye berries
75 g dark rye flour
100 g unbleached all purpose flour

Final Dough

All of the starter
60 g water, plus more if the dough is too dry
 2 gramsactive dry or instant yeast
27 grams/2 Tbsp olive oil or lard
flour mixture:  300 grams all-purpose flour, 85 grams whole wheat flour, and 15 grams ground flaxseed
10 g Kosher salt
2.5 grams caraway or fennel seeds


  1. The night before baking the bread, in a medium-to-large bowl, combine the dry starter ingredients, then add the water, stirring until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature over night.  You can also place it into the oven over night, leaving the light on for warmth.
  2. The next day, combine the remaining dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the oil and fermented starter.
  3. Using the dough hook, slowly add the water and mix until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Add additional water if necessary.  Knead for about 10 more minutes on medium speed until the dough is soft and supple, but not sticky. 
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1.5  hours. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other, and shape each half into a ball. Place the shaped balls snugly next to each other on the parchment paper, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  ( Or, alternatively, shape into a loaf and placed in an oiled 9" x 5" pan.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the covering and spray the dough lightly with water. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack (use a baking stone if you have one).  Immediately, turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake the loaf for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is about 200 degrees F. Cool completely on a wire rack.


Karen Kerr said...

I used a mixer too, and love your idea of doing the starter in the mixer's bowl.

Cathy W. said...

I baked mine in a loaf pan as well. I liked the result. Loved the fennel seeds.

Elle said...

Great loaf and I love that you baked it twice different ways. If I get to make this later I'll be sure to allow enough room for the dramatic rise.

Baking Soda said...

I also used my mixer, and used caraway seeds although I was tempted to use aniseeds... but didn't, not this time.
Yours look great!

Elizabeth said...

Ha! I'm glad to hear that a.) you tracked down some malted rye and b.) the bread dough can be just as easily mixed with an electric mixer as by hand. (I bet it took longer to clean the bowl though.... ;-))

Both versions, the eight and the cube, look wonderful!

Katie Zeller said...

Twice? Well done. Your's looks perfect for sandwiches

Lien said...

Well done for finding those malted rye kernels! glad your bread got some hight the second time around!