Marble Rye

Judging from photos on the interwebs, there are a number of ways of producing a marble rye like the one immortalised in the Seinfeld episode The Rye. My memory of the one in the show was that it was a plaited loaf, a challah, so I decided to try that. Yesterday, I dipped my toe by making a couple of two-strand loaves, using a viking loaf dough and a lighter, unseeded, half. It worked quite well (and was delicious), so I decided to try a 4-strander of enormous proportions, but with no seeds.

The first attempt – a 2-strander

The dark half

I started the dark half with 150g of wholemeal rye flour mixed with just 50g of wholemeal wheat, half a teaspoon of yeast and enough water to form a dough. I left this overnight.

As with all overnight sponges made with dark rye flour, it didn’t do much – didn’t form a dome or anything, although the lump of dough itself expanded and did ferment. The following morning I added 100ml water, then 140g of wholemeal bread flour, 140g of French bread flour (the Flour Bin’s Type 55), two teaspoons of fast-action yeast, two tablespoons of cocoa (for colour), a tablespoon of treacle, one and a half teaspoons of salt, and about 20g of butter. I started the mixer, and added another splash of water, and kept adding water until I had a good sticky dough. It mixes for a long time before the gluten starts to develop. I added a little more water now and then, until I was happy with the consistency of the dough (sticking to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides).

I left it to rise.

The light half

For this I used the same method, but substituted the Flour Bin’s lighter rye flour and used white bread flour instead of wholemeal. There was no cocoa, and I used a teaspoon of sugar instead of treacle. Again, I added enough water to form a stretchy dough that stuck to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides.

Plaiting and baking

The 4-strander before the oven

When both halves had proved for an hour or so, I divided each batch into two and then created some long strands for plaiting. I’ve almost never done this kind of thing, and had to look at a youtube video to get the method right (4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3, repeat). I left this to rise with a clean cloth over it, and when it started to look right, turned on the oven. I left it on the standard “baking” setting, 205°C with the button set to the bread icon.

I brushed the top with an egg-water glaze for shininess, then put the loaf in the oven. It was almost too big for the width of my oven, even though it was on the metal tray that is its own shelf.

This is what it looked like when it came out:

Shut up, you old bag!

But the proof will be in the tasting. Got to wait for it to cool.

UPDATE: Tasted great. Eaten with home-made butternut squash and celery soup, or just on its own with or without butter. Delicious.

Home-made viking loaf, attempt #1


In France over the summer, I became enamoured with the Banette Viking, a very dark seeded loaf that only seemed to be in the bakery occasionally. It turned out that they only baked them on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and even then only made around four. On the last Saturday, I bought all four, and brought some home with us, but they’re all gone now.

The Viking is clearly related to Scandinavian/Russian black breads. It’s obviously got Rye flour in it, as well as sunflower, sesame, linseed, and millet seeds. It also has something to give it that dark colour. Rye flour on its own is more grey than black/brown. A sniff revealed the presence of cocoa – and probably treacle. No wonder it was so delicious! Unlike most heavy rye breads, it had a light, airy sourdough-type texture, which might explain why it was only in the shop every couple of days.

When I have time, I’ll have a go at a two-day bake, but for my first attempt, I wanted to mix ingredients and go for flavour/colour before tackling the sourdough texture.

I mixed:

  • 150g dark rye flour (Doves, I think, from Tesco)
  • 250g white flour (I only had pizza flour in the house)
  • 50g wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 tsp vitamin C powder
  • 3 tsp fast-action yeast (about 10g)
  • 1 tbsp black treacle (or molasses)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (added to the dough once already stretchy)
  • 1 tsp Diax
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 40g softened butter
  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower seeds (all I had available)
  • 1-2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 300 ml water

I let the mixer run for about 10 minutes, and adjusted the amount of flour slightly because it was a wet dough. Ideally, you’d add the water in stages.

I put it to rise in a warm place because I was in a hurry, and after an hour or so, knocked it back and shaped it into a loaf for a tin. I rolled it in oats before putting it into the oiled tin.

It rose quite well. Then I slashed the top and baked at 220°C for 30 minutes.

You can see the results above. It was actually pretty close to being the right colour, and tasted very close to the original (maybe I added a tad too much cocoa!). Just had a slice with a poached egg for breakfast. My next plan is to source some multi-seed flour from theflourbin and try it with that.