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New Bohemian Rye
or Edie's Bread

I was in a panic. I was having some serious cravings for Bohemian Rye Bread. The tangy rye, the balancing caraway, the deep rich tastes were calling me. And - the grocery store didn't have New Bohemian Bread - Edie's Breadthe medium rye flour I needed! They had whole rye. I'd never used whole rye, but I'd heard it had a great taste but reduced the rise of the finished loaf.

Since then emails with other bakers revealed that few grocery stores still carry medium rye! I really liked medium rye. I'd been told it handles better than whole rye and it has more taste than light rye. However, since all the local stores are carrying is whole rye, it was time to figure out how to use whole rye. And that lead to my New Bohemian Rye, or Edie's Bread, a variation on my Bohemian Rye Bread.

A closer view of the New Bohemian RyeIn talking about the Bohemian Rye, I said, "Sometimes it's called Deli Rye, sometimes it's called Bohemian Rye, but either way it's a light grey rye bread filled with sourness, caraway seeds, and flavor. 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.)" In making the New Bohemian Rye Bread, I wanted to maintain the wonderful characteristics of the Bohemian Rye, but to make it with whole rye flour. If you are curious about the different types of rye flours, I have added a page that goes into a little detail about rye flours.

To make this bread with the whole rye flour, I had to change the recipe in a number of ways. I started by cutting back on the amount of rye flour. The whole rye flour has a lot more, and a lot stronger, taste than the medium rye so I dealt with this through the simple act of using less of the whole rye flour.Crumb shot New Bohemian, larger loaf

Next, the strength of the whole rye flour is not as good as that of the medium rye, so I built it up as much as I could by using all the rye flour in the recipe in the sourdough starter.

Finally, to make sure my starter was vibrantly healthy, I built it up over a day and a half in what is referred to as the "Detmolder three stage process." Detmold is a town in Germany which is the home to the German Federal Institute for Grain-, Potato- and Fat Research (Bundesanstalt fuer Getreide-, Kartoffel- und Fettforschung (BAGKF). Their scientists have developed several techniques to get the most out of rye flour. Each phase of the starter growth is carefully controlled with regards to time, temperature and hydration to help the starter be all it can be. I tried several other approaches to building the starter, and this was, hands down, the best approach. I was able to use starters out of the fridge that were not in ideal condition, run them through the three stage process and the process still worked to make a bread that was well risen and very flavorful. Because this process may be new to many people, I will explain it a bit.

Another crumb shot, new bohemian rye, larger loafIf you want more information about the Detmolder 3-stage process, there are two good readily available sources of information about the Detmolder 3-stage process. One is in Jeffery Hamelman's excellent book, "BREAD, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes," the other is on Samartha Deva's excellent web site. In addition to his own work, Samartha has an excerpt of Mr. Hamelman's book available. I'll summarize... the first, or "freshening", stage encourages the development of the yeast in the sourdough starter. To encourage this, we have a 150% hydration batter and a 5 to 6 hour process time at 80F.

The second stage us called the "basic sour" and it is a dryer dough (60 to 65% hydration) and a longer development time of about 24 hours at 80F. This stage develops the acetic acid potential of the culture, which eventually imparts the sour tang associated with sourdough bread.

The third, or full sour, stage develops the lactic acid in the starter, which will provide a smooth and mild acidity to the finished bread. In this stage we mix a 100% hydration dough and allow it to ripen at about 80F for 3 to 6 hours. At the end of the full sour stage, the rye sourdough has reached its final development and is ready to be used to make dough. As with all sourdough processes, the baker normally holds back a portion of the full ripe sourdough to make the next batch of bread.

If you look at the published literature, there is a fairly tight temperature range for the three stages.  In a class Mr. Hamelman gave I was surprised - and delighted - to find that he was a lot more laid back about the times and temperatures than one would think from reading the literature. I find that putting the culture in an oven with the oven light on is usually quite close to the desired temperatures. You can use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature of the oven with the oven light on, just remember to remove the thermometer before you turn on the oven.

In going through the three steps, have faith in the process. The three stages have a wide range of hydrations and are using 100% rye flour, so they will not behave in the ways you are used to seeing with lower hydrations doughs made with wheat flour. The first stage is at 150% hydration, and this wet a batter is not very likely to rise, not even if had been made with a high gluten wheat flour. So, go through with the three stages of the Detmolder process and then make the bread. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Detmolder 3-stage process 

Let's start the process at 6:00 AM on day 1. You may adjust the start time to meet your needs, however, the stage to stage timing should be kept close to the times given, and you should go directly from the Detmolder process to making the final dough. In other words, don't refrigerate the Detmolder starter or hold it. The first stage is built using your regular sourdough starter. It can be a white flour, wheat flour or rye flour starter. In the second and third stages, use the starter from the previous stage.

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.

This recipe makes two 1 3/4 pound loaves. The bakers percentages are calculated for each stage of the 3 stage process, and again for the final dough.

Detmolder Three Stage Process:

StageTimeHours into the processLength of this stageStarterWaterWhole Rye Flour
Freshening - First
Day 1, 6:00 AM0 hours6 Hours5 grams
(1/2 tsp)
14 grams
(1 TBSP)
10 Grams
(4 tsp)
Basic Sour - Second
Day 1, noon6 hours24 hoursAll from above
91 grams
(3/8 cup or 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP)
130 grams
(1 1/2 Cups)
Full Sour - Third
Day 2, Noon30 hours5 hoursAll from above
290 Grams
(1 1/4 Cups)
290 Grams
(2 7/8 Cups)

  1. In many recipes I like to use all-purpose flour. Not here. The weak rye flour needs something stronger to hold it together. I suggest something in the 12% protein and up range. I have made it with GM's All-Trumps (unbleached and unbromated), and Rocky Mountain Milling's Columbine.  GM's Harvest King should also be fine as should Central Milling's ABC and King Arthur's Sir Galahad or Sir Lancelot.

The Final Dough -  About 5 hours after the last stage was started, it is time to make the final dough. Again, the full sour should not be refrigerated or otherwise held over. Schedule the process so that you can work straight through.

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
All of it - about 3 1/2 cupsDetmolder 3-stage rye starter from aboveAll of it - about 830 Grams123%
1 1/8 CupsWater270 Grams41%
2 1/2 tspButter, cut into smallish pieces37 Grams5.6%
5 1/3 CupsBread flour (1)670 Grams100%
4 tspSalt22 Grams3.2%
2 TBSPCaraway Seeds14 Grams2%
I strongly suggest that you use mixer for this bread. It is a very wet New Bohemian Rye Breadand sticky dough, and you'll be less likely to add too much bread flour if you use a mixer instead of making the bread by hand. Weigh, or measure, your ingredients into your mixer's bowl. Set up your mixer to knead, and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough should come together pretty well, though it will seem too liquid.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. This will let the flour absorb moisture from the dough. At the end of the 5 minutes, scrape the mixer bowl to dislodge any ingredients that stuck to it so they will become part of the bread.

Next knead for another 5 minutes or so, until the dough is fairly smooth. The whole grain rye will guarantee that the dough will be coarser than many doughs. The dough should have body, and resist your fingers when you press it. But it will be a liquid dough.

Once the dough is mixed, remove it from the mixing bowl, cut it in two, and then form the lumps of dough into rough loaf shapes.

Let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes or so.

Complete the loaf forming. There are two schools of loaf forming with rye doughs. Rye doughs tend to be sticky, and some people prefer to shape them with wet hands. Others prefer to shape them with absolutely dry hands - they will dust their hands with flour to insure they are dry, and remove any dough that adheres to their hands between forming loaves. Try both and see what works for you.

This is a wet, soft dough and it is not a good candidate for rising and baking as a free form loaf or with a brotform. You may want to bake this in a bread pan, or you may prefer to put the dough into a banneton.

Dust the tops of the loaves with flour and cover them with saran wrap. The flour will help keep the saran wrap from sticking. Let the loaves rise until almost doubled in size. This will be around 2 hours, depending on the activity of your starter.

Around 1 1/2 hours into the rise, start preheating 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.

And now a reading and cultural awareness test - there is a bit of a joke in the alternate name for this bread.  I'll give a free full sized copy of any of our cookbooks to the first person who lets me know through the Contact Us page what the joke is.  If you're the second person, a digest size printed copy.  The third person just gets an electronic copy.  After that, I'll end the contest and just explain the joke.

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