Our supermarket bakery used to make a Polish Sourdough Rye Bread, żytni, that was our favorite. It was dense and most, sliced very thin, about a quarter of an inch. They package a 2 or 3 inch section of a loaf, so it was always fresh, even with just the two of us in the flat. It was a darker rye than the flour I’ve used here. So now, I’ll have to start experimenting with different flours. I picked up one at the organic market this morning that is a coarser grind, but it’s doesn’t seem to be darker.
I found this recipe on a Polish website by searching google.pl for żytni przepis (recipe). I’ve put their recipe into google translate and will give you my edited version of the results below. They also have a nice video of the process. The audio is in Polish but if you’d like more visual clues, check it out.
We’re about to start on our second loaf, and I have another batch of starter “cooking” on the kitchen counter. I had wondered what to call this mixture of equal weights of rye flour and water. I had hoped it would be a poolish considering the Polish roots of the term and this bread, but no. According to the King Arthur website, this preferment, because there is no commercial yeast added, it is a German style sour dough starter. Which also makes sense; this area used to be part of Prussia.
- 1.2 kg of rye flour type 200 (about 12 cups), divided
- 850 ml of warm water (4¼ cups), divided
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 200 g of sunflower seeds (1 cup)
- Mix 50 g (1/2 cup) of flour and 50 ml (1/4 cup) of warm water in a glass vessel
- Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 24 hours
- Repeat this process for the next 3 days, stirring in 50 g of flour and 50 ml of water each day
- Your sourdough starter will be growing for 4 days
- On the fifth day, transfer your starter to a large bowl and add 500 g (4 cups) of rye flour and 500 ml (2½ cup) warm water (44 C or 110 F), mix and cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 8 hours or overnight
- To the dough, add 150 ml (3/4 cup) water and the salt
- Next add 500 g (4 cups) rye flour and seeds
- Knead the dough lightly; it should still be a little sticky
- Divide dough into two parchment lined loaf pans
- Lightly score the top of the bread diagonally, in both directions giving a criss-cross pattern
- With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the loaves with boiling water*
- Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours
- Preheat the oven to maximum temperature for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 200 C or 400 F Brush loaves again with boiling water,* put in the oven and bake for 55 minutes
- Cool before slicing
- Bread stays fresh for about a week
- Yield 2 - (8 or 9 inch) loaves
|Be sure the glass vessel you use for your starter has room for the daily additions of flour and water as well as room for a little growth – 1 liter or 1 quart should be fine|
* I believe the boiling water is to set the crust, much like cooking bagels in water before baking. It keeps the top from expanding and gives you a denser loaf.