The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mistake Bread

varda's picture

Mistake Bread

It was late.   I had three breads to prepare for.   This meant two starters, two soakers and a biga.   My eyes drooped.   I was almost done - once I made the second soaker, and then the biga, I could go to sleep.   Yet something was wrong and I didn't know what.   I looked down.   Instead of holding a bag of whole wheat flour, I was holding a bag of whole rye flour.  And I had already made the biga and the soaker for whole wheat sandwich bread with rye instead of wheat.   No rest for the weary.   I placed the mistaken soaker and biga in sealed tubs in the back of the refrigerator, and made the biga and soaker again - this time with wheat.    

What a difference a day makes.   My three breads prepared, I thought, hmmm.   Wonder what I could do with that rye soaker and biga?   I had extra starter.   That's always a good place to start.   But isn't it the case that wheat doesn't raise rye?   That's what I have believed for the last three years.   And yet.... extra starter, misbegotten biga and soaker.     I pulled the rye soaker and biga out of the refrigerator.   They both had taken on the texture of cement during their overnight stay.  Not very promising.    I'd probably be throwing good flour after bad.   But really, what did I have to lose?

So I mixed up the soaker, biga, starter, added some extra bread flour, salt and water for good luck, and had a dough of some sort, not sure what.   Then went through sort of half rye, half wheat bread steps, as I wasn't really sure what I had.    Then baked it.   It came out of the oven looking surprisingly pleasant.   As it cooled, I finally sat down to write down the formula of what I had in front of me.    More rye than wheat, percentages reasonable given that I did all the computations in my head at the counter.   And not enough rye that I had to wait until next day to cut.   All it needed was to cool down. 

I cut.   Hmmm.  

Really not that bad looking.  I tasted. 

Pleasant, mild, rye bread, without the sour tang that comes from leavening with rye sour.   A bread that many people might enjoy.   A bread that I would like to make again.  But on purpose next time.


Formula and method:

Mistake Bread
























































Total Flour



Total Dough






Scald milk


Make biga and soaker night before and refrigerate


After 15 hours mix all.


Dough is pasty but relatively firm


BF 1.5 hours


Shape into boule


Proof 1.5 hours


Bake at 450 with steam for 40 minutes









pmccool's picture

A bread you like and want to make again is a pretty good pay-off, I'd say.  And it looks good from here.


varda's picture

Hi Paul,   I was surprised at what came out.   I was baking a Schuster loaf at the same time, and this one came out looking better than that.   Still scratching my head.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

isand66's picture

Very nice Mistake....usually my mistakes end up in the compost heap or feeding the squirrels so I would be very happy with your kind of mistake :).

Sounds like it turned out to be a nice almost deli light rye.


varda's picture

Hey Ian,  Well I've made plenty of coyote food myself, and thought that was where this was headed.   As for taste, absolutely nothing like a deli rye.   All the rye breads I have made in the last few years have all or most of the rye flour from rye sour.   If you smell the rye sour you get a pretty good sense of what the bread is going to taste like.   This is more like a whole grain bread where you taste the grains very clearly but not the fermentation.   It's really quite nice.  And quite different.  Thanks as usual.  -Varda

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

very original! Beautiful.

Clearly shows the advantages of using bakers math, and your virtuosity and intuition.

A work of art.


varda's picture

Who would have thought that a milk rye soaker would work out.   And yes, assuming you don't get your arithmetic mixed up while standing at the counter, baker's math is great when you're making things up.   Thanks so much.  -Varda  

FlourChild's picture

Looks great, must be very tasty! Isn't it wonderful when a mistake turns out to be a great new recipe?  The overnight in the fridge probably created enough sugar to take some of the bitter edge off the whole grains.  Now you have me curious to try milk+rye :)  

varda's picture

If you told me that a 56% rye could taste so mild, I wouldn't believe it.   Several people I know find high rye breads too strong.   I'm thinking they might like this.   And the milk sounds all wrong, but maybe it's right.   Let me know if you try milk+rye.  Thanks for commenting.   -Varda

FlourChild's picture

re: mild rye flavors, I've learned that I can only enjoy rye content up to a measly 4% without a source of sugar.  It can be a Pain Ancienne-style overnight autolyse, or a spoonful of sugar, or a handful of raisins, or a little malt syrup, etc..  I think I must be sensitive to bitter tastes or something, but that's how it works for me.  

varda's picture

I am still trying to unlock the rye puzzle - that is why certain people whom I think should like some of the rye breads I make, don't.  And it isn't always caraway.    I want to spring this on one them and see what they think.   By the way, it is keeping very well.   Still fresh after a couple days.  -Varda

FlourChild's picture

Mmmm, still fresh, that sounds nice :)  Good to know it keeps well.  

Forgot to add onions (preferably caramelized) to my list of sugar sources, they often do the trick and blend so nicely with rye.

I read a book a while back that talked about how the ability to taste various flavors differs from person to person and across age categories (tweens love acid, elders need more salt, etc.).  It was partly due to how densely packed the tastebuds are, but there are also many refinements on top of that- for example, there are a number of people that can't taste a certain bitter chemical at all, while others are keenly sensitive to it.  It made me appreciate how challenging it is to craft recipes that appeal to a broad range of tastes, and how valuable it is to have a group of taste-testers.  But I digress... 

dabrownman's picture

won'r raise a rye bread? Don't tell my apprentice that :-)  I think your bread looks great, love the dark crust and open crumb.  It has to taste different that an all rye bread but still really good.  Nice baking Varda.

Nothings so sweet as a mistake that makes the grade!

Happy Baking and enjoy the Memorial Weekend

varda's picture

Hi DA, When I was trying to figure out how to make Tzitzel I found that everywhere I looked ryes were raised with rye sour.  Hamelman's 80% (german) rye has some of the rye in a soaker and the rest in the rye sour.   Russian ryes - the same - all in the rye in the levain.   I think there is a rule somewhere.   So this is bread is definitively breaking that rule.   But with all the rye in either a soaker or a biga, at least I'm not dumping raw rye flour into the final dough.   I'm guessing that wouldn't go well.  This bread has a completely different character.   It tastes very whole-grainy but nothing like the jewish/german/russian ryes I know.   Quite pleasant in its own way.   Have a nice Mem weekend yourself.   Raining.   Darn!  Puddles in the grill.   -Varda

Mebake's picture

What an unexpected pleasant surprise, Varda! I bet you learned something new with this loaf.

The loaf does look appealing. A few tweaks to the formula and you'll have a lovely bread.


varda's picture

Hi Khalid,  I guess it wouldn't have occurred to me to try to raise a 50%plus rye with wheat starter,   But it worked and made quite a different loaf of bread.   It seems to me that the soaker and the biga were needed to take the edge off the rye in this setting, where the rye wasn't in the starter.    How to modify?   Don't know.   May have to wait for another mistake.   Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

ananda's picture

It looks lovely Varda,

Reminds me of the simple wholewheat and rye sour bread I make on holiday with high hydration and lots of S&F.

But yours is obviously a more complex formula; tasty tho, I bet!

Very best wishes


varda's picture

Hi Andy,  This was quite tasty.   Actually still is.   It's also a good keeper.  Quite fresh on the third day out.   I'm interested to see how non-rye lovers react to it.   Thank you for your comments.  -Varda