The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Breadnik's Russian Coriander Rye - With Levain

lief's picture

Breadnik's Russian Coriander Rye - With Levain

When I came across breadnik's Russian Coriander-Rye recipe, I knew I had to make it! However, I don't do much baking with commercial yeast these days, so I converted the recipe to one that uses a levain. Given my lack of experience with breads that use a large percentage of rye flour and the fact that that I didn't even attempt to make the recipe as stated first seemed a little risky, but I can be fairly adventurous when it comes to baking and cooking :-)

                                                                    The finished product, yum!


I made a few minor modifications to use the ingredients that I had on hand, but the overall amounts of flour and water are very similar to breadnik's recipe.  I should also note that the mother starter I used is a white bread flour starter, since I do not currently maintain a rye starter.

Starter build 1: (fermented for ~11.5 hours)
mother starter (bread flour based @55% hydration) 14g
dark rye flour 22g
water 12g

Starter build 2: (fermented for ~5 hours)
starter 1 (from first build) 48g
dark rye flour 50g
water 28g

Final dough: (fermented ~10.5 hours)
starter 2 (from second build) 126g
dark rye flour 194g
white bread flour 80g
spelt flour 80g
vital wheat gluten 80g
sea salt 12g
ground coriander seeds 4g
honey 60g
molasses 60g
canola oil 30g
water 234g

1) Bring the starter to maturity in 2 builds. Due to the lack of gluten in the rye flour, the starter doesn't really expand like I'm used to so it is difficult for me to gauge the starter maturity. The fermentation times I used were fairly similar to what I might use for a non-rye flour dough.

2) For the final dough, mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk to ensure a good distribution. I was feeling too lazy to grind up coriander seeds, so I just used pre-ground coriander from the spice rack. Add the levain then the wet ingredients, with the water last, as specified in breadnik's original recipe.

3) Mix the dough until ingredients are combined and all flour is hydrated. Autolyse for 20 minutes. Strictly speaking, I'm not sure this step can be called an autolyse, because the levain and salt are both in the dough. However, it still helps to develop the gluten.

4) Knead the dough for 20 minutes. It will NOT pass the window pane test. Perhaps this is a useless test for high percentage rye breads? The dough should be a little tacky. It is also quite stiff and difficult to knead.

5) Let the dough ferment! I let the dough ferment for almost 10 hours after kneading. This seems on the long side to me, but as I mentioned earlier, it is difficult for me to tell when this dough has reached maturity. Any comments on good maturity indicators for high percentage rye breads?

6) Shape the dough into two small batards and immediately refrigerate. I refrigerated for almost 8 hours.

7) Remove the batards from the refrigerator to let them warm and proof. In this case, I let it go for five hours! Again this seemed long to me, but I was able to apply the "poke test" to this dough and it didn't seem unreasonable from that perspective.

8) Spritz the batards with water and sprinkle them with slightly crushed coriander seeds. Then put them in the oven, preheated to 410-415F (my oven is not that accurate). I used a baking stone and steam, but the steam may not be necessary since the batards were spritzed with water. After 10 minutes, remove the steaming device and turn the oven down to 380F. Rotate the batards after another 10 minutes.

9) After 37 minutes of total bake time, remove the batards from the oven and allow them to cool (somewhat) before devouring ;-) This bake time may have been a little high as some parts of the bread seemed a bit darker and crustier than it should be.

Despite all of the uncertainty I had around the timing of this bread, it turned out great. The taste is complex, somewhat sweet, and all delicious. Not much oven spring. The crumb is fairly dense (sorry, no photo), but not as dense as most rye breads I have had. This is the second time I've made this bread and I'm fairly certain it will be popping out of my oven very now and then for a long time to come.


The original recipe that breadnik posted can be found here:


nicodvb's picture

and very interesting build: I had never seen such a  dry rye starter. It must taste delicious!

lief's picture

Thank you, nicodvb, it was indeed delicious.  Regarding the low hydration level of the starter, I more or less treated this recipe like I would any other general sourdough recipe.  In this case it seemed to work out OK.  Indeed, the original recipe seems to be aimed at creating a rye bread that handles more like a non-rye bread.  That is what made it seem like such a good rye bread recipe for me to start with.


Your comment made me realize I did not specify that my mother starter was not rye flour based, so I updated the blog entry to reflect this.

hanseata's picture

Looking at your formula I wonder at the very high amount of vital wheat gluten in your bread. It contains about 266 g of dark rye flour (lttle, but still some gluten), 80 g white (bread?) flour (apart from your white starter) and 80 g spelt, which both contain gluten (though spelt a little less than wheat), so the rye part is about 62%.

Vital wheat gluten affects the taste and makes the consistency more rubbery and chewy. Therefore I use in my dark rye breads either none or very little of it. 




Crumbly Baker's picture
Crumbly Baker

What is 'vital wheat gluten'?


I'm in the uk - is there a Brit equivalent?


Great looking bread, btw!

lief's picture

See the comment below for some tidbits on vital wheat gluten.  As for a British equivalent, I don't really know.  Sorry!

hanseata's picture

Vital wheat gluten "is the natural protein found in wheat. It contains 75% protein. A small amount added to yeast bread recipes improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. This is often used by commercial bakeries to produce light textured breads, and can easily put the home bread baker on a par with the professionals. Vital Wheat Gluten can also be used to make a meat substitute known as seitan." (quote Bob's Red Mill website)

"Gluten provides yeast bread's structure, and helps it rise and stay risen. Vital wheat gluten provides the extra gluten heavier, whole-grain loaves need to rise their highest. A tablespoon or two added to whole wheat, rye, oatmeal, or other whole-grain breads strengthens structure while lightening texture and promoting a good rise". (quote King Arthur Flours website).

The recommended amount of vital wheat gluten, if used, is just 1 - 2 tbsp per loaf = 7 - 14 g)!

According to Peter Reinhart - who lists vital wheat gluten only as optional ingredient in very "gluten challenged" breads (like 68-100% rye or flourless sprouted wheat breads) "too much gluten results in a "rubbery, chewy texture" and a somewhat "harsh" flavor.

Commercial bakeries are much more in need of all kinds performance enhancing additives because their breads are usually prepared and baked on the same day.



lief's picture

Thank you for replying to the previous comment about vital wheat gluten :-)

I totally agree that the amount of vital wheat gluten in this recipe is quite striking.  I just made sourdough bagels this weekend (didn't blog about it... I'm a bit behind!) and I only added 14g of wheat gluten to that recipe, and I like my bagels *chewy*.

That being said, my intent with this bread was to stay fairly close to the original recipe, but not use commercial yeast.  The first time I made it I wasn't sure what to expect, but the results were quite nice so I didn't see any reason to change it.

It would be an interesting experiment to exclude the vital wheat gluten and see how it changes the results though.

breadnik's picture

Beautiful breads, lief! I'm very honored that you decided to give my recipe a try.

Re vital wheat gluten. I'll share a secret with you: when I first developed this recipe I knew a whole lot less than I do now and, specifically, I did not have a very clear idea of how and when to use VWG. So I assumed that the more the better, especially considering that it was rye, which is very low in gluten.

Since then I have learned a thing or two and have tried to modify the recipe to reduce the amount of VWG. It can be done but it changes the texture quite significantly. I don't like working with the resulting dough as much as with my original one, and my customers don't seem to like the "less gluten" bread as much.

So for better or worse I decided to keep this recipe in its original form. For whatever reason it seems to work.

aka Breadnik

lief's picture

Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for sharing your recipe!

If you have already experimented with reducing the amount of VWG in this recipe and found the results to be inferior, then I guess I don't need to :-)  Despite the large amount of VWG in the recipe, I don't feel like the resulting bread is chewy or unpleasant in any way.  It does make for a dough that is very strong and tough to knead, like a bagel dough, but it also seems to make the dough very easy to shape and handle after the kneading is done.  The taste and texture of the finished product is very nice.

I think you said it best, for whatever reason, it seems to work well with this recipe.  Thanks again!

breadnik's picture

In my experience "tough to need" is pretty typical for the doughs that contain high percentage of rye -- they are pretty sticky and somehow heavy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not so much the VWG that makes the dough this way but the rye. In my experiments with lower VWG content the dough was just as sticky but not nearly as elastic, and tended to crack or burst in the baking, even with sufficient proofing. The texture was lighter, but lighter was not what I was after. This bread is supposed to be rather dense.