Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sourdough Beer Rye Bread

I LOVE this bread. It's the perfect rye bread, not too heavy or sour, but still hearty and with a lovely chewy crust.

The recipe is from The Cheese Board cookbook. The Cheese Board is a shop in Berkeley that sells a dazzling array of cheeses, but they also have a bakery where they bake sublime breads, pastries and pizzas. It's a must-stop location for us any time we're near Berkeley.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, though I did add some hemp and flax seeds in addition to the caraway. Oh, and I didn't have any cracked rye so I added extra oats.

This is a sourdough bread so you'll need to have a starter to make it. If you want a starter recipe, e-mail me and I can send you one. Or you can buy dried starters online very inexpensively.

Sourdough Beer Rye
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup medium or dark rye flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cracked rye
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 cup sourdough starter
1 12-ounce bottle dark beer
1/4 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta

In a small bowl, whisk the yeast into the water until dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add the flours, oats, cornmeal, cracked rye, salt, and seeds to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture, sourdough starter, and beer to the bowl. (Note-you can also mix and knead the dough by hand.) Mix on low speed for several minutes until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes, until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth and shiny.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl. Coat the dough lightly with oil. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until increased in size by one-third.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of cornmeal and put the remaining cornmeal in a medium bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a large round. Using a spray bottle, mist the loaves with water. Rolls the loaves in the bowl of cornmeal to coat them. Place the loaves on a prepared pan and slash each loaf. Cover with a floured kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until a finger pressed in the dough leaves an impression.

Fifteen minutes before the bread has finished rising, remove all but the middle rack from the oven. Place a metal roasting pan on the floor of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Mist the loaves again with water.

Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a measuring cup and add enough ice cubes to bring the volume to 1 cup. Working quickly, place the baking sheet in the oven and pour the ice water into the roasting pan.

Bake for 5 minutes, then prepare another round of ice water and repeat the process. Bake 15 minutes longer, then rotate the baking sheet front to back. Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, for a total time of 40 to 45 minutes. The bread should be deep brown and sound hollow when tapped. Mist the loaves one last time and bake for an additional minute. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. This sounds yummy. I bet your brother would love this bread seedless. Sounds wonderful.

  2. Another delicious and healthy looking bread!!!

  3. The crust looks wonderful! This would be a great one for me to make because I can't stand caraway and it always turns up in store-bought rye bread. If I made it myself, I could leave it out.

  4. What a picture-perfect loaf of bread, Michele! You are some baker. :)