The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Caraway Light Rye Sourdough Bread

bakingbadly's picture

Caraway Light Rye Sourdough Bread

My nostrils flared, vacuuming the air with rapid snorts. 

"What's that smell?" I thought.

Convincing myself that my mind was playing tricks, I turned the knob of my kitchen sink and continued rinsing the dishes.


Fifteen minutes had elapsed and my countertop oven had finished steaming. Wary of the hazards of hot water vapour, I slipped my arms into my long-sleeved oven mitts and removed the baking tray from the oven.

"Ahh dammit, I burnt the towel!"


This loaf was an adaptation of Hamelman's 40% rye bread with caraway seeds. If you're interested, the original recipe can be found here on Steve's blog called Bread Cetera. (Very awesome, by the way.)

In my version of Hamelman's 40% rye bread, I slightly decreased the starter and water amount, and ommitted the instant yeast and caraway seeds, sort of. The night prior to the bake, I soaked the caraway seeds in water, rested it overnight, strained it, and used the caraway-flavoured water to hydrate the dough. (This wasn't done out of preference but out of experimentation.)

Further, with tips and suggestions from DA (dabrownman), I implemented Sylvia's steaming method. Yeah yeah, I know, it was poorly executed but it worked---like a mini-sauna, it was!



I panicked and needed a solution---fast. While steaming, the top of my loaf throttled itself towards the upper burners of my oven, attributed by the large oven spring. The loaf was, in other words, at risk of being scorched. 

Subsequently, I re-positioned the middle rack lined with clay tiles, where the dough laid upon, into the lower slot of my oven.


You know what else was new for me? Slashing a spiral into dough. With a razor blade clamped between my thumb and index finger, I paused amidst scoring and thought, "What the heck am I doing?"

Seriously, how do you score a perfect spiral into a large ball of dough?


After being cooled for more than twelve hours, the crust of the loaf was somewhat firm, yielding slightly to the pressure of my fingers. Wafting a light aroma of caraway, the crumb was modestly soft, cool, and faintly moist to the touch. As for the taste? The flesh of the bread was subtly sweet and nutty, accompanied by a gentle but pleasant tang.

Next time, if I were to re-make this loaf, I'll aim for a bolder bake and incorporate grounded caraway seeds into the dough. Not surprisingly, I missed that faintly bitter, licorice taste imparted by caraway.

:) Take care and have a happy baking, all. 



Janetcook's picture


Sounds like you are having fun in your kitchen :-)  I am impressed with your spiral.  All I have had the courage to do is a half spiral - actually 2 half spirals - a design Khalid pictured on one of his blogs awhile back.

This sounds like it turned out to be a nice and tasty bread.  Certainly has a nice crumb.

Take Care,


bakingbadly's picture

It was a tasty bread, indeed. Could be improved but I'm rather satisfied with it.

And yes, it was fun making this loaf! Trying a new steaming method, scoring a spiral, testing "caraway-flavoured water"---ahhh, the joys of experimentation and learning new things. 

Wishing you the best,


FlourChild's picture

Zita, despite steaming hijinks, your bread looks great- nice even, aerated crumb.  I've done the burnt towel thing as well- now I make sure to err on the side of too much rather than too little water.

bakingbadly's picture

Thank you, FlourChild.

Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has burnt a towel during steaming. From this point forward, I'll do what you've done and soak my towel with too much water rather than too little.

Have a happy baking,


P.S. Your Forkish breads are absolutely stunning. There's not much else I can say about them. :)

dabrownman's picture

is the nicest spiral loaf of bread I have ever seen.  What a great slash job!  I see some blisters in the bloom too.  Sylvia's steam works wonders in a mini oven.  Confined space lots of steam!  Beautiful crumb for such amounts of rye in the mix too.  Sometimes the top element can get the top middle of a boule a little dark with good spring in the loaf but no worries- that is the part that will taste the very best.  You got all the spring there was in that boule and hit the right mark to bake spot on.

Happy Baking in 2013 Zita!

bakingbadly's picture

Thank you for the high compliments, DA. You're too nice. :)

And you're right. The browned top part tasted the best! Makes me wish other regions of the crust browned as well, but I'm still learning.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The first thing that comes to mind is (you don't need instructions, your spiral looks great!) making a compass from a tack, a piece of string and a pencil. That works for circles but for a spiral, one wants the string to wrap around a center pole to shorten or lengthen the string as it travels around the center. (For explaining purposes lets use a chop stick and a pencil.)

Lets switch out the tack with a something about the thickness of straw or a chop stick, a finger tends to be too thick. Tape a foot (12 inches or 30cm) long string onto the chopstick about 1/2 inch or almost 2 cm from the end. knot a loop in the free end, big enough to slip over your pencil or cutting tool.

Get a big piece of paper, nothing too heavy or two pieces taped or glued to each other is fine.

Wrap the string around the base of the chop stick until only the loop is left. stick the pencil in the loop shorting the sting and holding them next to each other, side by side. Position the chopstick in the center of the paper where it should stay stationary (not turn) and draw a spiral as you move around and at the same time unwind the string from the chop stick.

Now you can either imitate the same motion or make a stencil and cut both sides close to the spiral line with a scissors leaving a channel to score. The spiral separates somewhat as you drape the stencil over the dusted rounded risen loaf making it easy to score lightly between the openings. Remove paper and deepen the scores.

A small cardboard disc could also be taped to the chopstick to serve as a base, and the pencil could be switched for a cutting tool to work directly on the loaf.

bakingbadly's picture

:) Thank you, Mini Oven! You're so helpful. When the opportunity comes I'll make a stencil as described and give it go. Hopefully it'll turn out great.

Thanks again, Mini Oven.



varda's picture

The way you did it.   Really beautiful scoring.   And lovely bread overall.   Yes, you have to keep your towels away from all the surfaces.    How do I know this?    The same way you do.   Nice baking!  -Varda

bakingbadly's picture

Thanks for your kind comment, Varda. I appreciate it.

Also, seems like burnt towels are common when using Sylvia's method. Hooray, I'm not alone! :)



breadsong's picture

Hi Zita,
This is a very pretty loaf with the spiral scoring - I think it looks great!
I wonder how it might work out if you placed the boule on parchment paper, then transferred to a turntable - turning the turntable and holding the blade/angle steady, to score the spiral?
Happy baking,
:^) breadsong


bakingbadly's picture

Haha, that's a neat idea. Using a turntable as a scoring device, who would've thought?

Thanks for the compliment, Breadsong. Greatly appreciated. :)