The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Rye Sense of Humor

GSnyde's picture

A Rye Sense of Humor

Having just begun what could be a long adventure with rye breads, I may not be an expert yet.  But I've developed a formula that replicates the texture of 40% rye dough.

800 g warm water

750 g rye sour

150 g quick set cement

50 g Epoxy

1/2 cup Altus (optional)

1 Tbsp Caraway seeds (optional)

Once you mix the ingredients (I recommend a mason's trowel) and scrape as much as you can off the spatulas, your hands, the bowl and the work surface, you have enough for a small dinner roll.




hanseata's picture

go to bed on a happy note, visualizing you mixing your rye mortar.

I remember too well wrestling with monster doughs that stuck to everything with sticky tentacles.




davidg618's picture
davidg618 an acceptable replacement for the epoxy. The benefits are:

1. One vs. two containers--no premixing required.

2. Gorilla Glue expands, so reduce the amount needed to 25g

3. Because it expands it aids volume development, i.e., faux oven spring, badly needed in rye breads.

David G

GSnyde's picture

There's always a veteran willing to share knowledge to help us newbies make better masonry.

Thanks, David!


dmsnyder's picture

The Torah tells us that one of the abuses Pharaoh inflicted on our ancestors was forcing us to mix mortar without straw as we built the pyramids. Of course, this made the mortar less coherent and adherent. I'm sure if your recipe had been known to Moses, we would still be slaves in Egypt.

Do you suppose this has anything to do with our affection for rye bread?


GSnyde's picture

Pretty good odds because you so often are.

But if they had not had the bricks-without-straw issue, I'm pretty sure the Jews enslaved in Egypt would have found another reason to bring on some plagues.  Otherwise, Charlton Heston woulda looked pretty silly.

I never before realized the origin of the term "mortar and pestilence".

I do imagine that, had the history of Jews and grain been a little different, Hamelman might have a formula for rye bread in the shape of a pyramid.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that instead of altus, sand or vermiculite be used?  I'm also keen on crushed glass.  Could even roll the loaves in it.  Might make for interesting centerpieces.  Mirrored glass might also add an elegant touch for special occasions.   What do you think of an addition 100g iron oxide pigment?  

pmccool's picture

wait until you get to the really sticky stuff: ryes above 50%!  You may also want a pressure washer!


pjaj's picture

Pardon my ignorance, but what is Altus?

There are several definitions in Wikipedia and other on-line resources, but none of them (an air-force base, a fictitious god, a brand of flute etc) seems even vaguely applicable to rye mortar and brick laying.

You don't need rye or straw to make bricks - just a poor second rise and no oven spring!

EvaB's picture

but altus is day old or older rye bread crumbed and added to the starter for the next loaf or loaves, or that is what I understand it to be. I could be wrong, and it could be an angel choir trying to raise the bread with song, but whichever it really is used in rye bread.

Candango's picture

Glen and David and Mini  Thanks for the advice and comments.  And laughs.  I made two loaves of George Greenstein's Jewish Rye Bread (with 750 g of rye sour as a starter) this weekend.  It was not far off the consistency described by Glen.   I rolled the dough into two batards and supported them on parchment with a rolled up kitchen towel under the parchment in the middle.  Very happy with the results.

But as all of you have commented, cleanup can be a challenge.  The usual resort of using a scrubber sponge is relatively useless, unless you have many shares in the company that makes them and are prepared to spend megabucks to replace all the gummed up sponges.  A small plastic pot scraper usually works well to get most of the big stuff off the hands, but the real winner can be found in the Lee Valley gardening catalog.  It is a surgical sponge.  It gets the mortar chunks out from under the nails and cuticles without getting itself gummed up.  A nice treat.

Just a note, though.  If you order them, get the dozen instead of only two.  You get a nice discount and the shipping cost is the same.

Thanks again for the mortar lesson.




hanseata's picture

This is such a high-level, edifying discussion!

Thanks, David G., for your advice on how to make a slacker rye dough get his lazy butt out of the pan! Mini Oven - inspirational as ever - sharing her innovative ideas with us less creative TFLers! And then Paul with his absolutely cool, no-nonsense approach to dough mixing!

I'm utterly wowed!




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ended up under my new rain barrel!  Didn't go for the fancy bits,  it just had to be level (no yeast or sourdough.)  The terra cotta look to the barrel adds an interesting crowning.  Sorry, no crumb shots but it is as hard as cement!  (believe me!)   Oh, ... and I topped it with wash pebbles.  Love those natural hues!  Have an endless supply of salads and herbs in the garden growing.  Have to send you some pictures.