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Borodinsky Rye Bread


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I have long wanted to make Borodinsky Rye Bread, having read about it in Andrew Whitley’s excellent book ‘Bread Matters’. He, of all people is at the heart of the Real Bread Campaign, and if you’re not a member yet, do join.  They are all about sharing the pleasures and benefits of locally-baked Real Bread.
I had a very enjoyable afternoon at the Real Bread Festival in Spitlafields a couple of weeks ago and bought a fair bit of bread (not something I usually do), but how could I resist when a number of my favourite bakeries had stalls. I came across a bakery I hadn’t heard of before called ‘Karaway Bakery’  http://karawaybakery.com and they had little samples of various loaves- all completely delicious. I decided that my favourite was Russian Borodinsky, so I bought a loaf and even though my family has said they don’t generally like rye bread everyone couldn’t get enough of this one.
So I thought it was time to have a go at making it myself. According to Andrew Whitley this bread gets its name from  the battle of Borodino when the Russian army  fought with Napoleon, just outside Moscow in 1812 and the wife of the Russian general decided to bake some bread with crushed coriander to encourage the troops.
I’ve basically used Andrew Whitley’s recipe, with a few minor changes. He makes it in two stages. The first is the development of the ‘production sourdough’ – which is a similar process to the first stage of making my prize winning sourdough (see my recent blog). It involves mixing your sourdough starter with equal quantities of rye flour and water.  The second stage involves  adding more rye flour, water, salt,  molasses and barley malt. The latter adds both a dark colour and a little sweetness.
I’d always thought this was a complicated loaf to make- but really it isn’t. You just have keep in mind that it takes a while. I started it by making the production sourdough on Friday night and then mixed the final dough on Saturday midmorning and put it in the oven by about 6 in the evening.
Making the Production Sourdough
Ingredients
1/4 cup of my white sourdough starter ( if you want to be purist then start refreshing your white sourdough start with rye flour until you have a rye starter)
1 1/4 cups dark rye flour
1 1/4 cups water at 40 degrees C
Method
1.Mix everything together until you have a soupy dough
2.Cover and leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours (I left mine in a warm kitchen)
Making the final dough
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups  Production sourdough
2 cups  Dark rye flour
1 tsp  salt
2 1/2 tsp  Coriander seeds
1 tblsp  Molasses
2 1/2 tsp  Barley malt extract (if you can’t get hold of this just omit)
1/3 cup +  1 tblsp water at 35 degrees c
One small bread pan greased with butter
Method
1. Put 1 1/4 cups of the production sourdough into a medium sized mixing bowl and stir in the water
2. Add the molasses, barley malt extract and coriander seeds and stir in
3. Mix the salt with the rye flour and then stir that in too.
It will now be a lovely dark brown colour and very soft and wet
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4. Sprinkle a few coriander seeds inside the buttered bread pan
5. Spoon the dough into the bread pan and gently smooth over the top with a wet dough scraper or knife. Mine comes about half way up the pan. Andrew Whitley says don’t be tempted to push it into the corners, it will find its own level
6. Leave it, covered,  for about 6 hours at room temperature, until it has risen nearly to the top of the pan and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C
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7. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn oven down to 180 and bake for another 35 minutes
8. It can get quite dark, so keep an eye on it towards the end and cover with a large piece of baking parchment near the end
9. It should begin to shrink away from the sides at the end of baking
10. Take it out and put it on a wire wrack to cool
11. You are supposed to let it cool completely and then wrap in plastic or grease proof paper and not eat for 24 hours (I have only been able to make it to 12 hours, before we had to dive in)
I’ve just had it with strong French honey and lots of butter- yum!
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