Recipe: Spiced Rye Bread

This is based on a recipe for Heidelberg rye bread from Bread: The Universal Loaf, by Tamara Milstein.  I was going to make the actual recipe, but first I found myself mostly out of molasses, so I had to use honey, and then I found myself out of caraway seeds, but I did have a jar of St Nicholas Spekulaas Spice from Gewürzhaus, and I realised that this could be a rather wonderful thing combined with rye, just a little treacle, honey and brown sugar.

And it is.  The bread is dark in flavour with a lovely aroma of spices, and the perfect foil for – you guessed it! – honey!  Though jam is also excellent.  I should have come up with this years ago.


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1 cup water (you may need a little more to get the dough right at the end)
1 tbsp (20 ml) treacle
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tsp yeast
1 cup rye flour
1 1/3 cups bread flour
3-4 tsp Spekulaas spice, or any good mixed spice

Now what will you do with it?

Bring the water to the boil, and add the treacle, honey, sugar, butter and salt. Pour into a large bowl and let cool to warm room temperature.

Why did I take a photo of this?  Even I don't know...

Why did I take a photo of this? Even I don’t know…

Add the yeast, rye flour and bread flour, along with the spices, and use a spoon or your hands to mix to a dough.  You are aiming for a dough that isn’t sticky, but isn’t too tough, either – I found I had to add a little more water as I kneaded to get to the right consistency.  Basically, kneading shouldn’t be incredibly hard work – if it is, you need more water.  But if it looks like a mud pie, add more flour (incidentally, add water 1 tsp at a time – you have no idea how fast dough can take up water and go from absurdly dry to ridiculously sticky.  Be wary!).

Knead your dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and homogenous.  It won’t go quite as silky as a dough made from pure bread flour, but it will definitely have a more elastic, smooth texture than when you started.

This is seriously the prettiest photo of bread dough I've ever seen.  Then again, how many photos of bread dough have I seen?  Actually, more than you might think, but still...

This is seriously the prettiest photo of bread dough I’ve ever seen. Then again, how many photos of bread dough have I seen? Actually, more than you might think, but still…

Put your lovely bowl of dough into a clean, oiled bowl, and bat it around a few times to coat it in oil.  Cover the bowl with glad-wrap or a clean tea towel.


Let rise in a warm, humid place for an hour or more, until it’s doubled in size.  This dough can take forever to rise, so if you are doing this late on a work night like me, and if you are fortunate enough to have an oven with a keep warm function, I recommend turning this to 40°C and putting the bowl in there, with a bowl of water next to it to keep the oven from drying it out.


Line a small loaf tin (about 7 cm by 16 cm in the base), or a flat baking tray, if you want a free-form loaf, with baking paper.  Punch down the dough, and form it into a loaf shape or an oval.  Slash it a few times because we all love slash.  Also, it looks pretty.


Place the dough in its tin or on its tray, and let rise for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.


When the bread is risen again, bake at 200°C for 30 minutes or until it is well risen, golden brown, and sounds hollow when you topple it out of the tin and tap it underneath.


Eat for breakfast.


This bread is, of course, egg- and nut-free and vegetarian.  It’s dairy free (and vegan) if you replace the butter with margarine or canola oil, both of which work just fine.  It’s not low-fructose or gluten-free, but I think you knew that already.  It’s glycemic index isn’t brilliant but isn’t terrible, either.  You could always substitute in some oats for some of the rye and bread flour, to bring the GI down a bit.

In terms of flavour, you could do all sorts of things with this.  It’s tempting to take out the spices and add a handful of dried cranberries.  I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that dark rye with cranberries would be amazing.  Caraway seeds are another obvious substitute, and you could probably make a lovely seedy bread with caraway, fennel, and perhaps cumin seeds through it, along with some stealth hemp seeds or chia seeds for bonus health tricks.  I’d then sprinkle sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds on top, just to show off.  Yum.  And very good for you!



Two years ago: Recipe: Chocolate for Breakfast
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