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Rye and duck cookery: Part 1

hansjoakim's picture

Rye and duck cookery: Part 1

Some urgent matters (i.e. doctoring and trying to save a dying (possibly contaminated) sourdough starter) kept me away from blogging last weekend, so I'll try to make up the lost ground with a two parter this week. Due to the, ehm, subject matters, I think dividing this into two parts makes a whole lot of sense. (The starter made it through in the end (yay!), so I've put the stetoscope away for the time being...) First up: The bread bits.

Having the rye starter all pampered and fired up, I wanted to bake some filling rye breads this weekend. I particularly enjoy baking in the pans I brought back from Kharkiv; much as I like eating the free form rye breads that are shaped and proofed in bannetons, there's also a place close to my heart for the dense, often seeded rye breads that remain moist for more than a week.

When asking for chorny khlib in Ukraine, I was usually given rye bread that reminded me of the Borodinsky rye in Whitley's "Bread Matters". This is a rather straight forward rye, that's notable for being slightly sweetened and flavoured with crushed coriander. Coriander can be an acquired taste (well... come to think of it, I guess rye really is an acquired taste too...), and is rather dominant in terms of flavour, so this is not a bread I would enjoy eating day in and day out, but it's a particularly good companion to sharp blue cheeses.

As the taste of the coriander ryes from Ukraine is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to have a go at recreating it at home. I mixed up an 80% rye that was flavoured with a bit of honey (4.5% of the total flour weight) and crushed coriander (0.75% of the total flour weight). I think that whole rye berries, soaked overnight and then cooked al dente in the soaking water, add a lot of character to rye breads, and I tend to include at least a healthy sprinkling of them in my breads. For this one, the rye berries weighed in at roughly 15% of total flour weight. They'll plump up and add a lot of weight during cooking, so the weight is referring to unsoaked, uncooked berries. 30% of the flour came from a rye sourdough that had been fermenting overnight. The mixed dough was rather wet and loose, but easy to shape with wet hands. Baked off after roughly 2 hour proof:

I was very happy with the flavour of the bread. The crumb is quite light, as it's not a 100% rye, and the flavour of coriander was just right for me. I wouldn't go over 1% with the coriander, but then again, I am a bit...boring/conservative/cautious when it comes to spices in bread ;)

Another idea I've had for a rye bread, is for a free-for-all style muesli bread. So rather improvised and "what sounds good goes in", the mixing bowl turned into a bit of a mess:

Starring (clockwise from top-left corner): Diced apples, pumpkin seeds, some lemon peel, soaked raisins and dried apricots; toasted hazelnuts and walnuts; rye berries (soaked and cooked); rye sourdough. (Flour and salt underneath.) This was mixed together to a shaggy mass with a spatula, given a rest to properly hydrate the flour, and then mixed on 2nd speed for 3 mins. Panned and proofed just under 2 hours:

The bread had a lovely smell while baking, and a burst of fruity scents arose when I first sliced into it. Very moist and I'm sure it must be healthy. I'm a bit reluctant to be very sophisticated when it comes to toppings on slices of this muesli bread - either as is, or gently blanketed with butter is about as far as I go. That said, it's wonderful with most cheeses as well (both fresh and aged ones), but save the pickled herring and cornichons for another loaf.

In the rubble left after the duck cookery (stay tuned for part 2), I realised I had some odds and ends left in the fridge with nowhere in particular to go. This included some pastry cream, homemade ricotta, a dash of heavy cream, a couple of eggs and 3 limes. It all came together somehow, in a tart filling. The limes were used to make a lime cream (the lime equivalent of the lemon curd), which was folded into the pastry cream. This was combined with the ricotta and eggs. A nice buttery crust sounded like the way to go to "cut" the tanginess of the lime, so a pâte brisée (unsweetened, flaky and crisp tart base) was pre-baked, and filling poured in. Briefly baked to set the filling. To tell you the truth, it didn't turn out that bad, all considered... It was a bit tangy (just a touch too lime-y perhaps), but I ran out of pastry cream and ricotta that could mellow it out. Anyways, I'm not complaining.


SylviaH's picture

duck!  The meals and breads are fabulous.  Your efforts certainly paid off.  Now you have all those lovely and not so long dinners to prepare quickly and to enjoy!  So many memories your duck dinner brings back!  Thank you!



dabrownman's picture

especially the mixed up rye muesli rye berry soaker/ scald.  The tart is supposed to be tart right?  In the SW we put lime and zest in just about everything so we know we would like it limey.

Nice baking.

hansjoakim's picture

Both the lemon meringue pie and Key lime pie are staples of the Southern pastry selection, right dabrownman? You have a good point regarding the tart; if the tart is not tart, it's not a tart. Thanks for your compliment!

Janetcook's picture


I have come to look forward to your posts because it is obvious you are a very thoughtful and gifted cook/baker.  'Simple elegance' is the phrase that comes to mind even with the complexity of your muesli loaf.  Boy would my daughter love to bite into that!  She loves breads with all of those ingredients as they are like a meal unto themselves.....I do toss a lot of stuff into loaves I make with her in mind and now you have given me yet more ideas to toy with :-)

Take Care,


varda's picture

and of course wouldn't turn down a slice of the tart.      Given the light color of the top loaf I'm guessing you didn't use rye malt for color and flavor?   -Varda

hansjoakim's picture

Thanks! The tart turned out alright, but I was more relieved to actually put the leftovers to some use, as I hate throwing good food away. It's also true what you write about the coriander flavoured rye, there's no rye malt or molasses in the dough that would produce a darker crumb. I used to honey to give the bread a slight hint of sweetness. The Ukraine Borodinsky-style rye were almost black in colour, but still rather light and airy. It's probably very common to use rye malt in this bread. I lost it during my relocation from Trondheim to Stavanger last year, but I believe Whitley makes a point about using rye malt in the Borodinsky formula he has in his "Bread Matters" book, right?

ananda's picture

Hi Hans,

Lovely panned Rye Breads; the first one appears a very tall light loaf for high rye.   Evidence that your treatment of the sick rye sourdough was successful.

If it helps, I have found that the whole rye grains take up about the same weight in water during the soaking and cooking process.   I agree they bring great texture to "Pumpernickel-style" loaves.

I just checked what Andrew Whitley says about Rye Malt, as we always used Barley Malt Syrup and Black Strap Molasses in combination when I was at Village Bakery.   Andrew refers to "Suslo" which is a rye malt syrup he equates to having the texture of engine oil!   Nowadays I have sourced Crystal rye malt from online Homebrew Shops which come in crushed form.   I grind this to a coarse powder in my blender and use that with some Dark Rye, Molasses and spices in the "boil-up" part of the recipe.

I'm looking forward to making more All-Rye breads this week sometime.

All good wishes


hansjoakim's picture

Yes, the starter made it out in the end, fortunately. I'm still puzzled by the near-death incident, as it's been remarkably reliable and active previosuly. Right now, I blame it on whole rye flour from a different supplier than my usual one. Going back to the regular brand of rye flour, combined with some warmth and a slightly higher hydration than usual, got it back on its own two feet again.

Thanks for reminding me about the malt information pertaining to Whitley's Borodinsky rye as well! Out of curiosity, what kind of breads did you turn out at the Village Bakery? Are the formulas in "Bread Matters" representative for the varieties, you think?

Thanks again, Andy, and I'll be looking forward to seeing some of your rye loaves in the days to come! Have a nice week :)

ananda's picture

Hi Hans,

We made both "Rossisky" and "Borodinsky" breads at Village Bakery as formulated by Andrew Whitley.   The Rossisky process did mutate somewhat over time, but the Borodinsky doesn't seem to have changed much, even compared with the formula in the book

The Rossisky did include a "boil-up" of Light Rye flour which was then cooled and innoculated with rye sour to form the fermenting part of the final paste.   Dark Rye, Salt and water wered added to the ferment.   The boil-up had already gone when I joined, a couple of years after he had expanded into the bigger bakery to supply into Waitrose.   Eventually he dropped Light Rye from the loaf altogether, so it became 100% wholegrain, with the flour in sour making up 37% of the total flour.

The big change with the Borodinsky seems to me to be in water levels used, particularly in the sour culture.   The Bread Matters formulae call for 200% hydration, but at Village Bakery we always used 167% hydration, which I continue to use today.   I still cling on to hydrating the final paste at 85%.   The Moscow Rye I have been baking was so thirsty, largely due to the gelatinisation in the "scal" stage, I believe.   I adjusted hydration to 96%!   But I've since returned the formula to 85% because I just cannot get the loaf to bake out, or to keep structure during a long bake in pans with lids.   It's too much to ask; so I'll stick with 85%!

We also used to make a "Raisin Borodinsky" loaf, which was the Borodinsky paste mixed with plump soaked California Raisins, and made up the most wonderful type of Tea Bread you can imagine, and it was fat-free!

Very best wishes to you



hansjoakim's picture

Thanks for very nice pieces of information, Andy - your reply made for very interesting reading. I've also had some issues with very wet rye doughs and problems baking them out properly. It's difficult to avoid slightly cake-y/soggy parts of the crumb (baking at very high temperatures early on could perhaps help, but I agree with you that it's probably wiser and beneficial for the overall result to aim for more modest hydration levels). An 85% overall hydration sounds about right for my flours too - that was what I ended up with for the honey and coriander rye in the blog post.

Wow! Raisin Borodinsky. You know, that could probably work as a bread to be sold during Christmas time or similar celebrations! Like a Borodinsky bread deluxe redux. The thought of the raisin Borodinsky reminds me of wort bread, a traditional Christmas bread here in the western parts of Norway. It's roughly 50% rye, and contains soaked raisins, molasses, spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves, and some soft butter. I'd definitely opt for your raisin Borodinsky, though, Andy. And I think I'd take it with a smear of butter on top, just to avoid it being fat-free ;-)

Thanks again, Andy!

rossnroller's picture

That rye crumb, in particular - so open and even! I just want to bite into it. Right with you on keeping the spice element subtle in breads, BTW.

Difficult to imagine the "rubble" left over from the duck dish being put to better use than that mouth-watering lemon tart.


hansjoakim's picture

Thanks a lot for your kind comments Sylvia, Janet and Ross! They are inspiring and very much appreciated!

Syd's picture

Your muesili bread looks fantastic Hans!  That crumb is perfect and all those ingredients must make it moist and fresh for days.  Another superb loaf!


nicodvb's picture

Hans Joakim, I really like that colorful muesly rye bread! It must be very pleasant. I'm as conservative as you about spices: they end up having an overwhelming taste that masks that own of rye.

The tart is fantastic!

hansjoakim's picture

Thanks for your kind words, Nico!

pmccool's picture

but a dollop of sour cream smeared on the tart will moderate the tartness of the limes without smothering their brilliant flavor.  You could even stir a sprinking of sugar into the sour cream, if you wanted.

One of my favorite pies is nearly identical to a lemon meringue pie.  The difference is that a cup of sour cream is stirred into the filling after it comes off the stove and there is no meringue layer.  Good stuff!  It's often referred to as a lemon icebox pie.

That tall rye is impressive!


dmsnyder's picture

Duck is one of my favorite meats. I'm thinking I shouldn't read Part 2 on an empty stomache. ;-)


PiPs's picture

Hi Hans,

The 80% rye has a gorgeous crumb ... and I like the sound of your 'bit too lime-y' tart ... thats the way I like them :)

Really lovely bread ...