Monday, February 22, 2010

Dutch Oven Sourdough Rye

"While the Cat's Away..." Part I

My wife went out of town this weekend, so I took that as an opportunity to cook a couple of things that she normally doesn't like very much, but which I, myself, really love.  One of those is a big ol' loaf of Dutch Oven Sourdough Rye Bread, so I can make my infamous braunschweiger and cheese sandwiches.  The other is the Dutch Oven Kofta bi Tahini that I cooked up soon after starting up this blog.

I really like a nice, sweet, flavorful white bread, but once in a while, I get rebellious.  I love the edgy, sharp flavors that a good rye bread brings.  Add some good, tangy meat and sharp cheddar, and you get a sandwich that bites back.  Yum!

While I pretty much followed the original recipes in the links, there were a few things I did differently.  As a result, I'm going to rewrite the recipes and processes here in these posts. As always, I recommend reading my Dutch Oven Bread Baking Lens fiirst, for good basic information.

Dutch Oven Sourdough Rye Bread

12" Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
18-20 coals above

The "Sponge"

  • 1 Cup Sourdough Start
  • 2 Cups Dark Rye Flour
  • 2 Cups White Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups warm water (just almost hot to the touch)
  • 2 Tbsp Vital Gluten
  • 1 Tbsp Dough Enhancer (optional, but I always add it)

The Dough

  • 1 Cup plain Yogurt
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Roasted Drink Powder (like coffee, Postum, Cocoa, or Pero)
  • Liberal shakes of caraway seeds
  • 1 cup white bread flour

  • Up to 1-2 additional cups white bread flour during kneading

It started up the night before, when I took my sourdough start out of the fridge.  I poured off the "hooch" and mixed in some more flour and water.  I needed to "feed" it to reactivate it.  A few hours later, it was frothy and bubbly with yeast bugs.  I scooped out about a cup, and put the rest back in the fridge.

I put the frothy start in a bowl and mixed in all of the ingredients in the sponge set.  If you check out the original recipe you'll notice one change.  I moved the yogurt to the dough phase.  I've been hearing/reading that fresh (unscalded) milk and milk products contain enzymes that can inhibit the rise.

I covered it with plastic wrap and set it aside on my kitchen counter for the night.

The next morning (not too early, though), I mixed in all the ingredients of the dough set.  I used Pero for the roasted powder.  I really like the flavor of it.  I like the flavor cocoa brings, as well, but this time I chose Pero.  Postum is good, but I think it's not being made any more.  Between the rye, the powder and the molasses, it gets a nice, rich, dark color.  Not black, just a deep brown.

Then, I kneaded it on a floured tabletop, and kept adding flour until it got to the right stickiness, and until it made a good windowpane.  I set it aside to rise, oiled and covered in plastic wrap.

I'm getting this pattern established when I'm making bread and I go to set up the bake:

  1. Let it rise, and watch until it has almost "risen enough".  Usually, they say to let it rise until it has doubled in bulk, so just before it gets there, I go to the next step, which is...
  2. Go outside and light up the coals.  Mix them occasionally to make sure they all light pretty evenly.
  3. While the coals are lighting, I come in and degas the bread dough, and shape it.  Now, most of the time I'm making a boule, so there's not much "shaping" going on, but sometimes I'll do rolls or four smaller boules.  I used to like doing a braided wreath, but it's been a while since I've done that. 
  4. Oil the inside of the dutch oven and set the bread in to proof.
  5. Once the coals are ready, I take the dutch oven lid outside and pour a lot of coals on top of it, and set it aside to preheat.
  6. When the dough is proofed in the dutch oven (meaning it has risen some more), I do any decorating or topping, and slicing of the top.
  7. Finally, I take the dutch oven out. I take some of the coals off the lid to make the undercircle of coals and I set the dutch oven with the bread on the circle.  I put on the lid, and mark the time.
  8. Every fifteen minutes or so, I rotate the lid and the oven to prevent hot spots.  I check the temperature by holding my hand over the top of the oven and use that as a guide to see if the coals need replenishing.  I'll check the underside coals to see how they're burning.
  9. After about a half hour of baking, I'll open the lid and check on it.  At that point, I'll usually stick a thermometer into it and close up the lid.  I try not to have the lid off for very long.  A few seconds really.
  10. The next time I rotate the lid, I'll lift it for a few seconds and check the bread's internal temperature.  180 is "gettin' close".  190-200 is "done!"

So, I followed the pattern, brought it in, and let it cool on my new cooling racks (I don't know how I did bread before I had those).  Delicious stuff!  Just check the pictures!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


  1. What does the coffee or the coffee substitute do?

  2. It adds darkness to the color and richness to the flavor. At least in my opinion, it does! :-)

    Thanks for stopping by!


  3. I think cocoa powder or mocha can be a good substitute to coffee too. :)



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