Loaf 1: scalded rye from Lithuania

litho scalded rye 2

The first of my 100 loaves is this Lithuanian scalded rye bread, so called because you pour boiling water on the flour. It’s meant to keep better and rise more slowly than un-scalded rye. I wanted to make it because I watched this and thought it looked amazing.

First, for those who didn’t spend enough time at uni playing Traveller IQ, here’s Lithuania:

europelarge litho

Lithuanian cuisine is broadly Eastern European, with some Scandinavian similarities and Ashkenazi influences. Gourmantine describes the food as rich and creamy, with lots pork, potato and cabbage. Dark rye bread is a central food, both practicallty and ritually, almost to the point of reverence.

The recipe in the video belongs to Karaway Bakery and they understandably ain’t sharing. So I used this. It reads like it’s been scribbled down by a Lithuanian grandma who’s been making it for so many years that parts of the recipe seem too obvious to state. Quantities are missing. Certain states are not explained. Frankly, recipe turned out to have too many unknowns for even my liking.

First comes a sticky mass of rye flour, puffed up in the scalding-hot water. The grainy, semi-translucent texture is reminiscent of glutinous rice or wallpaper paste.

litho first stage

After a whole day of fermenting, half a day of rising and 2-hour bake, here’s the finished loaf, as heavy as a club.

litho scalded rye

Taste test: As powerful-tasting as you’d expect from a 100% rye loaf, and dense enough to make slicing it feels like sawing through wood. I’m still too much of a rye newbie to judge the taste of this confidently. I’m pretty sure that deep crack across the top is not meant to be there, though, so I’d add a little more water next time.

Observation: rye bread could never play the role in a meal that white bread does; it’s too interesting and attention-seeking.

Here’s the recipe with my tweaks and clarifications.

[EDIT: I'm leaving the recipe up as a record, but I wouldn't bake this bread again. Something wasn't right: too dry and crumbly.]

Ingredients

1kg rye flour
800ml water, boiling hot
3tbsp caraway seed
2 tsp salt
a good blob of active rye starter
dried cabbage or maple leaves to line the baking tin (for optional authenticity – I used non-stick tin instead)

Then you do something like this

1. Take a third of the rye flour, pour over the boiling water and mix well. Cover and let it rest in warm place for about half an hour.

2. Dissolve the starter in a little warm water. Add to dough and mix well. Cover it and let it rest in warm place for about 24 hours. During this time, the dough needs to be beaten 4 or 5 times to incorporate more air.

3. When dough has reached full fermentation, add the remaining flour, the caraway seed and the salt. Knead for about ten minutes, by which time the dough should be smoother and a lot less sticky to handle. It started getting more sticky again with me, which I think means I over-kneaded it.

4. Cover and let rise for about six hours.

5. Put in a baking tin and bake in preheated oven at 400F/180C for about 2 hours.

6. Take the bread out of the oven, leave it in the tin and cover it with a damp tea towel until it’s cool.

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