Rye, raisin, carraway and molasses bread

rye raisin carraway bread

Food shared with good friends always seems to taste better.  Just over a year ago I was in London sharing this bread with my dear friend Carolyn. We’d jumped on the tube and trekked across town to the Islington Farmers Market not knowing quite what we’d find when we came across Flour Power City. Their selection of sourdough bread caught our eye. We’ve both had our moments of obsession with trying to grow our own sour dough starters and resolved that it’s something best left to experts. Carolyn picked the Dark Rye Bread with Caraway and Raisins. I was sceptical, I’m not a fan of sweet and savoury combined. I don’t like fruit with my cheese or pineapple on my pizza. So, would this work?

At breakfast the next morning all expectations were surpassed. The sharpness of the 100% rye flour combined with caraway, fennel and the sweetness of raisins, honey a molasses. It was rich, just sweet enough and densely filling. A single thick wedge was enough to keep me full for most of my morning rambling around Hyde Park.

A year later and the molasses jar has been creeping to the front of my pantry. A tiny drizzle in my morning quinoa adding an extra dimension. Somewhere a food memory was triggered. I wonder if I could make a rye bread with a hint of molasses in it?

I found these instructions on making a rye sourdough starter. They seemed much easier than past efforts for wheat sourdough. This gave me a lead time of 3 or so days to figure out the next step. Tabs started to  span across the top of my browser as I compared notes from different baking website. It was clear I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The Fresh Loaf was a huge help. Especially this recipe on 100% sourdough ratios.

This loaf was made in my oval Le Crueset pan

The terminology of bread baking and all of the technical bits and bobs are still lost on me. And I’m sure I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I am really enjoying this bread. Plus, I’m no longer convinced bread making is for ‘someone else’.

You will need:
a little less than 1kg rye flour
a little less than 1 Litre filtered water
½ cup raisins
14g salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp honey

(Thursday) Morning- Day 1
Place 50g of flour and 50g of filtered water in a large, clean, glass jar. Stir with a chopstick until combined. Cover with a lid and place somewhere warmish (25ºC or so), such as a window sill.

(Thursday) Evening- Day 1
Add another 50g of flour and 50g of water to the jar. Stir, cover, put back on the window sill.

(Friday) Morning- Day 2
Small air bubble should be starting to form today.
Stir in another 50g of flour and 50g of filtered water. Use a whiteboard marker to mark where the slop fills the jar to. Cover and leave in your warm place.

(Friday) Evening- Day 2
Your started should have risen a bit and have bigger bubbles.
50g of water, 50g of flour, stir. Mark jar with marker. Rest.

(Saturday) Morning- Day 3
Hopefully your starter will have nearly doubled in size overnight. Their should be nice big air bubbles in the mixture at around 5mm in size.
If it’s not ready yet, repeat the ‘feeding’ process for another day.

In a large mixing bowl combine
150g of your starter
525g of water.
Mix until the starter has mostly dissolved. Then add
625g rye flour.
Mix using wet hands and a wet spoon until combined. Cover and rest for about an hour.
Place the raisins in a large bowl and cover with boiling water to soak.
Add in the salt, spices, molasses and honey and mix again with a wet spoon and wet hands.
Place in a greased ovenproof saucepan. Cover and allow to rise for 2-4 hours, or until nearly double in size.
Adjust your oven racks so there is at least 40cm height on the middle shelf. Heat your oven to 200ºC.
Your bread will still need plenty of room in the saucepan, if it doesn’t have nearly double the height still left in the pan, remove the lid and use a second saucepan or bent foil tray as the cover for the pan. Having this height will allow steam from your dough to get trapped and help with the moistness of the bread.
Place the saucepan(s) in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid, reduce the heat to 180ºC and bake for another 75 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and rest for about 15 minutes. The bread should come away from the edges of the pan and be easy to tip out.
Rest on a wire cooling rack until cool.

For the first day, or two, the bread will be quite cake-like and soft. A good rye bread should be left un-cut for at least 24 hours. However, you’re a stronger willed person than me if you can resist that long. Over the next few days the bread will develop a sourer taste and a firmer texture even if you have cut it.

Leftover Starter
You will have a bit of sour dough starter leftover. Feed it another 50g of flour and 50g of water and after 8hr pop it in the fridge. The (Friday) night before baking day take it out from the fridge, feed it again with 50g of water, 50g of starter and you’re ready to begin (Saturday) baking day the next morning.

A note on saucepans- The first time I made this I used my large, oval cast iron Le Crueset pan and didn’t need a second saucepan. The bread came out not as tall and more oval shaped. The second time I made this I used 2 20cm Circulon saucepans stacked on top of each other. The bread was the height of a regular loaf and would have been better for toasting, if I hadn’t decided to eat it ‘naked and raw’.

About Michelle

Michelle is passionate about showing people how easy it is to prepare food that is healthy and packed full of flavour. She has just completed her first recipe book, Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. She began sharing her love of food in 2007, when she produced two series of the online cooking show ‘Healthy Helpings TV’, making fast food healthy and healthy food fast. In 2008 she competed in bodybuilding as a novice figure shaping competitor and she remains passionate about physique sports. She was a 2009 Australian Masterchef semi-finalist, and contributes articles to Oxygen Magazine Australia. Michelle lives with her husband on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, where she loves to search out new ingredients and food ideas from local farmers markets, health food shops and ethnic grocers, and take her two dogs on long rambles through the vineyards. Find out more about Michelle's book