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Rustic Rye's blog

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Rustic Rye


I began baking bread when I was unemployed and feeling pretty down and out in life. I was searching for something beside triathlon to give me some purpose. Some people turn to church; I turned to my oven. My inspiration came from seeing these beautiful artisan loaves on Instagram and wanting to give it a try. How hard could it be?

I began with basic sandwich loaves made with dry active yeast, then moved on to experimenting with putting herbs or nuts in the dough. I was very pleased with the results since it all tasted really good. But something was missing.

A couple months after I began baking, my girlfriend Sam and I were visiting a couple friends in New York and I mentioned my recent headlong dive into bread. It turns out one of our hosts had a sourdough starter and she was willing to give me some. I was thrilled! We talked through the process and how the process differs from using commercial yeast.

After making a few sad, dense, bricks that were best suited for construction, I started to figure out the process. I can still recall the amazing smell of my first good loaf, and my state of complete wonderment that the natural yeast and bacteria could create this incredible product. Ever since that eureka moment of biting into my first successful loaf, I have been on a sourdough journey to continue experimenting with flavors and flour blends to create healthy and delicious naturally leavened bread.

I found that baking has been a great distraction from triathlon and another activity besides the good ole swim/bike/run/day job. Bread is also a great creative outlet where I can express myself through different scoring patterns or blending flours to create a wide variety of delicious bread. Just like triathlon, the more I learn about bread making, the more I enjoy it and want to continue honing my craft. Conversely, there will never be a world championships with bread making so I'm not really chasing professional performance and I'll never be butting elbows with the best in the world. But that's part of what makes bread so much fun. It's just bread.


Rustic Rye's picture
Rustic Rye

I have made a few iterations of a naturally leavened whole wheat loaf with nuts and seeds. This loaf was inspired by Maurizio's 50/50 loaf ( but I took the liberty of adding some seeds. As for the flavor, I can't get enough of it. I will find any excuse to eat a slice; whether it's a seed butter and jelly sandwich, a soup accompaniment, or with avocado and egg, it's a real treat. Despite the high proportion of whole wheat, the crumb opened up wonderful for a light and airy loaf. I think this is my favorite loaf to date because it has so much flavor and I know it's fairly nutritious since it contains all the add ins - ground flax seed, rolled oats, and sunflower seeds. 

As my favorite British personality, Mary Barry, would exclaim, "it's just scrummy."


I would also like to give a shout out to 88 Acres seed butter for the wonderful pictures and yummy spreads to enjoy with the bread. I have been enjoying their seed butter spreads to great delight. 

-Rustic Rye

Rustic Rye's picture
Rustic Rye

I have been dipping my toes into breads with added goodies recently. My favorite part of bread with goodies is biting into a slice and getting a little surprise of olives/raisins/nuts/ etc. I think it adds a nice textural variance to the bread. I haven't made a loaf with olives yet, so when I found this recipe in Hammelman's Bread and had to give it a try. The loaves are about 65% hydration, 20% olives, 10% whole wheat, and naturally leavened. I ended up making a fougasse and a batard. Please excuse the large chunk of fougasse missing here. I couldn't resist. :)

I have a few take aways that might help YOU in your next baking endeavor:

1. I did not develop sufficient dough strength since the batard spread out all over the baking stone and didn't have much rise. I either needed to slap and fold more after mixing or get more stretch and folds in during the bulk ferment.

2. Cutting the fougasse before baking needs to be done on parchment paper before loading onto the hot baking stone. Then baking it just enough to make it crispy, but still soft inside. Texture is everything here. 

3. Cut the olives in half but keep the large chunks since those are great to bite into. Next time, I would like to add some garlic and ground pepper for more flavor. 

Happy baking.
-Rustic Rye


Rustic Rye's picture
Rustic Rye

Sharing is caring. So for one of my holiday gifts this year, I made some bread gifts for my family.

Since I enjoy making nutritious bread, I made two loaves of naturally leavened 80% whole wheat along with a loaf of challah, just for good measure. Since I was traveling from Massachusetts to Colorado to see my folks, and thus unable to easily travel with my starter, I contacted one of my parent’s neighbors whom I am long time friends with. Luckily, they had a sourdough starter that I subsequently used for the bread. Why not commercial yeast, you may ask? Because sourdough is just so superior in taste, nutrition, satisfaction, etc. Need I go on?

The scoring could have been a little prettier on the batard and boule since the cuts didn’t open to the extent I was looking for. Perhaps that could be solved with making the cuts deeper and longer? But I didn’t steam the oven so that could have contributed to lack in expansion. But now I am home and excited to try using lava rock for the first time. I am eager to compare rocks to my dutch oven and see how they compare. Overall though, I was very happy with how they turned out aesthetically, and they tasted pretty good too. It sure is nice when you can give bread as a gift and enjoy eating it too! Happy baking!


-Rustic Rye

Rustic Rye's picture
Rustic Rye

Hello Fresh Loaf Community,

This is my first post on the site after reading recipes and browsing for the past several months. I have been really inspired and impressed by all the amazing bread I have seen here on TFL and want to join the conversation. 

The loaf was made using spent beer grains obtained from Somerville Brewing (Boston, MA) and naturally leavened thanks to Stefano, my sourdough starter. 

A few months ago, I took a bread making class at the brewery where one of the owners lead us through making a spent grain loaf with rosemary. That was tasty, but I wanted to improve the results using my starter. After taking some spent grain home and finding a great recipe on The Perfect Loaf (thanks Maurizio!) I began experimenting. 

During the beer making process, the grain is mashed, boiled, then separated from the liquid. The byproduct, "spent grain," is either thrown away of fed to farm animals. Instead of letting it go to waste, this batch of grain will instead go to feeding this animal, aka me, and feed my voracious appetite for artisan bread. With that in mind, baking with the spent grains gives me a deep satisfaction knowing that I'm putting something to practical use which would normally get thrown in the bin. 

I was pretty pleased with the crumb, which turned out light and airy, while maintaining a tender, chewy texture. This was a moderate hydration dough (80%) that produced a pretty light loaf. It had a nice nutty flavor from the grain, similar in character to a loaf with lots of whole whole wheat, but without any bitterness. Lately, I have been working on getting a consistent airy crumb with good rise and pronounced ears. This loaf seemed to have all three. Horray! 

Here's how I made the loaf:

Yields 2 large loaves. 

1. Levain build: 50 g starter, 50g whole wheat (WW), 50 g bread flour (BF), 65 g 90˚ F water. Let stand for ~5 hours in a warm area. 
2. Autolyse 2 hours before levain is ready: 100 g WW, 50 g rye, 850 g BF, 700 g 90˚ F water
3. Mix: Dissolve starter in ~60 g water then add to autolysed dough. Slap and fold for about 7 minutes then add about 20 g salt and slap/fold a few more minutes to achieve medium dough development. 
4. In 30 minutes increments, fold the dough a few times. Add 250 g spent grain right before the second round of folding. I found my dough needed 3 sets of folds, your dough might need less or more depending on the efficiency of your slap & folds after mixing. 
5. I let bulk fermentation go for about 3 hours, since the dough was progressing nicely. I let the dough sit for an hour after my last set of folds. 
6. Divide and preshape. Let sit for 20 minutes after preshape and before final shaping. Then into the fridge for the overnight rest.
7. The next day, preheated the oven to 500˚ F for about 45 minutes with my lodge combo cooker. I turned my dough into the shallow side, scored it, then baked with the lid on for 30 min, then removed the lid and decreased the temperature to 450˚ F for another 15 minutes.

Happy baking everyone,


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