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Bohemian Rye Bread

Sometimes it's called Deli Rye, sometimes it's called Bohemian Rye, but either Peter Pan Bohemian Rye way it's a light grey rye bread filled with sourness, caraway seeds, and flavor. Peter Pan Bohemian Rye Hickory Farm stores and deli's everywhere sell this bread. It's a rye bread so good it will make your toes curl. Slice it thick, slice it thin, cover it with meat and cheese, cover it with lox, it will be a delight. I've heard reports that some people even eat Nutella on it. (Actually, I've been known to do that. It's a lot better than it sounds. In fact, I do like it.)

This recipe is from Beatrice Ojakangas's Great Whole Grain Breads, modified to use sourdough starter.

Since I posted this recipe, it has become very difficult to get medium rye flour. If you can't find medium rye flour, you have a problem. Light rye doesn't deliver the flavor we are looking for. Dark or whole rye flours handle very differently. As a result, I've reworked this recipe to use whole rye flour and posted it as New Bohemian Rye Bread. If you want to make this bread but don't have medium rye flour, I strongly suggest trying the New Bohemian Rye Bread recipe.

This recipe is for two 1 3/4 pound loaves. Please be aware that the cups and gram measurements are approximations of one another. Most people who measure in grams do not want to weigh out 1,234 grams. 1,230 is close enough. Nor do people using cups want strange cup measurements like 3/16 cup. So, please don't think that, for example, 90 grams of flour is 1/2 cup.


Volumetric Measure Ingredient Grams Bakers Percentage
1 3/4 cup active Sourdough Starter
(see note 1, below)
420 grams 53%
2 cups Water 470 grams 53%
2 2/3 TBSP Butter (softened, but still solid) 38 grams 4%
3 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 470 grams 53%
4 1/8 (1) cups Medium Rye Flour 420 grams 47%
1 TBSP Salt 17.8 grams 2%
1 TBSP Caraway Seeds 7 grams .75%

(1) This isn't a typo. A cup of sifted wheat flour weighs about 125 grams, a cup of sifted rye flour about 102 grams. Method:
If you are weighing your ingredients, put all the ingredients in your mixing bowl, stir until the mixture is too thick to comfortably stir, and then skip to the paragraph that starts, "Next, pour out..."

If you are measuring by volume, put the starter, all-purpose flour, water, caraway seeds, salt and softened butter into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the rye flour a half cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to mix.

Next, pour out the dough onto a kneading board, cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will let the flour absorb moisture, and will make kneading easier. You should let the dough rest, even if you are kneading with a machine.

Next knead for 10 minutes or so, until the bread is smooth and satiny. Try not to add very much additional flour, but you may need to adjust the liquid/flour mix.

Form the dough into a ball, wash the mixing bowl, oil it lightly, put the ball of dough in the bowl, and turn the dough over to make sure it's covered evenly with oil.

Cover the mixing bowl, and place the loaf in a warm place (80 - 90F) to rise until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down, knead it a few times, and cut it into rough loaf shapes.

Let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes or so.

Complete the loaf forming. You may want to put this bread into a banneton or brotform.

Cover the loaf and let rise until almost doubled.

Preheat your oven to 450F. Once it's at temperature, put the bread in the oven, put a cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven, and bake 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F. Bake another 45 minutes or so.

As with most rye breads, this is better, and easier to slice, the second day than the first.

1. I use a white flour starter for this bread. You may use a rye starter and adjust the amounts of rye flour and white flour called for to compensate for the difference.