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The Hirshon Russian Black Rye Bread - черный хлеб

The Hirshon Russian Black Rye Bread – черный хлеб

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • Rye Starter:
  • 2.5 ounces (70 grams) whole grain rye flour, preferably organic
  • 2.5 ounces (70 ml) warm water (105°F or 41°C)
  • 1 package Russian sourdough starter
  • Days 2 to 7: Refresh the Rye Sourdough Starter
  • 2.5 ounces (70 grams) whole grain rye flour, preferably organic
  • 2.5 ounces (70 ml) warm water (105°F or 41°C)
  • 2.5 ounces (70 grams) Sour Starter from the preceding day
  • Days 8 and Beyond: Maintain the Rye Sourdough Starter
  • 2.5 ounces (70 grams) medium or whole-grain rye flour, preferably organic
  • 2.5 ounces (70 ml) warm water (105°F or 41°C)
  • .25 ounces (7 grams) rye sourdough starter
  • ***
  • 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons sour pickle juice
  • 1 cup pumpernickel or rye flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of ripe rye starter
  • 2 tablespoons King Arthur Rye Bread Improver
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons black cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds, ground
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion flakes, ground
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur First , divided
  • ***
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup COLD water (*icy* cold, Russian cold!)


  1. Day 1: Make the rye sourdough starter
  2. Start with equal amounts of organic rye flour and water by weight. Dump them in a nonreactive (glass, porcelain, stainless-steel, plastic) container with the Russian sourdough starter, mix by hand into a stiff paste, cover, and let stand at room temperature (68 to 72°For 20 to 22°C) for 24 hours.
  3. Days 2 to 7: Refresh the rye sourdough starter
  4. The next day, discard all but 70 grams of the culture and mix the remainder with the refresh ingredients, cover, and let stand. Repeat each day, discarding all but 70 grams of the preceding day’s culture.
  5. The most important point to remember at the early stages is to feed the sourdough starter, or culture, daily. Even when it shows no apparent fermentation, the yeast is busy multiplying and consuming nutrients at a very high rate. By the second or third day, it will swell, show bubbles, and give off a clean sour smell.
  6. Over the next few days the activity will become more and more vigorous and the smell more intense. Occasionally the yeast normally present in whole grains fail to establish itself in a new culture; if, after 3 or 4 days, the culture darkens, develops a mold, or smells bad, dump the whole batch and start over.
  7. After a week, the culture, or sourdough starter, will be ready to use or to be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for a couple days. [Editor’s Note: If storing the sourdough starter for more than a couple days, you’ll need to maintain it, which we explain how to do just below.]
  8. Days 8 and Beyond: Maintain the rye sourdough starter
  9. In a perfect world—or working bakery—sourdough starters are refreshed daily. That said, daily feedings demand both a degree of dedication and abundant flour supplies that are impractical for all but the most committed home bakers. The author suggests refreshing your starter every 36 hours or so.
  10. Mix the rye flour, water, and rye sourdough starter by hand until incorporated. Cover and ferment at room temperature (68 to 72°F or 20 to 22°C) overnight or for 10 to 12 hours. The sponge will be very bubbly, have a clean sour smell, and will have tripled in volume. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and it will last indefinitely.
  11. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 cup (4 ¼ ounces, 121g) of the bread flour. Mix to make a thick batter-like dough. Don’t worry how wet the dough seems at this point; it’ll become more dough-like when you add the remaining 1 cup of bread flour.
  12. Mix in the remaining cup of flour and knead for 7 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic, but may still be somewhat sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. After the first rise, shape the dough into an oblong loaf. Place in a greased 9″ x 5″ or 10″ x 5″ bread pan, cover with greased plastic, and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.
  14. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the dough has almost doubled, brush or spray the top with water, dust with pumpernickel or rye flour, and score (slash) the top.
  15. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thump the bottom.
  16. Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and the ice water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just starts to boil; continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  17. As soon as the bread is at the 30 minute mark, brush the cornstarch mixture over the top of the loaves. Return the bread to the oven and bake for another two or three minutes, until the glaze is set or the inside measures 205°F on a digital thermometer. Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.
  18. Store bread well wrapped at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
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