A bit of surprise to see the ingredients to make this sourdough rye bread. It is the most interesting bread I have made all my life. The recipe calls for instant coffee and unsweetened chocolate among others.
Russian Rye Bread
The book suggests to have the bread with a thick soup and I made minestrone which I think is quite hearty. I don't sprinkle the soup with shaved Parmesan because my children are allergic to dairy products. The bread itself is quite solid and a bit bitter with molasses and instant coffee. It's the taste you would never find unless you're in Russia or a Russian.
Source: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
“Doughs made with rye flour and/or molasses tend to be sticky. Although the dough should be fairly stiff, don't continue to add flour to try to completely eliminate the stickiness. You can't. It's just the nature of this kind of dough”. [p.535]
½ cup warm water (warm to the wrist),
2 Tbs or packets active dry yeast,
1 tsp sugar,
6 ½ to 8 ½ cups (King Arthur) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour,
2 cups boiling water,
1 cup pumpernickel (or coarse rye meal) (I don't have it, so I just use the finely ground rye flour),
1 cup shortening or vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil),
1 Tbs salt,
½ cup molasses,
3 Tbs instant coffee,
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate,
3 cups thick rye sour,
2 cups medium rye flour (I use the finely ground rye flour)
Activating the Yeast: In a small bowl combine the ½ cup warm water, yeast, sugar, and ½ cup of the unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel and set aside for about 15 minutes, until bubbly.
Making the Dough: In a large bowl, combine the boiling water, pumpernickel, shortening, salt, molasses, instant coffee, and chocolate. Mix to blend. When this mixture has cooled, add the rye sour and the yeast mixture. Add the remaining rye flour and then the unbleached all-purpose flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
Kneading and Rising: Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead, adding only enough flour to prevent sticking, for 4-5 minutes.
Give the dough a rest while you clean out and grease your bowl. Continue kneading for another 4-5 minutes, adding only enough flour to prevent sticking. Place the dough in your bowl, turning the dough to oil the top surface. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk.
Shaping and Baking: When it's fully risen, punch the dough down and divide it into quarters. Shape each quarter into a round loaf and place on a cornmeal-covered (I use rice flour) baking sheet(s). You can also use four bread pans which should be greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the dough rise until it's almost doubled in bulk.
About 15 minutes before you want to bake your bread, place a baking pan on the oven bottom (0r on the lowest rack) and preheat your oven to 375F (or 190C). Just before the loaves go in, slash them once across the top (with a sharp knife) about ¼ inch deep (I just did a few slashes, and brush with cold water.
Pour 2-3 cups of water into the pan in the oven to create steam and bake for 35-40 minutes. When the loaves are done, cool them on a wire rack.