Sekowa Malted Rye Loaf
Makes 1 loaf
Mix up 12 hours beforehand
Useful Equipment & Ingredients:
Master Class Traditional Loaf Tin - 2lb
A recipe by Vanessa Kimbell.
The Germans are known the world over for their rye breads. They also have a hugely popular product called Sekowa, which is essentially a ferment not dissimilar to sourdough that they use to bake long slow fermented bread with. Unlike sourdough though, Sekowa is made using honey, organically grown peas, wheat and maize and the microorganisms are a result of spontaneous fermentation.
On the face of it a sourdough starter and the Sekowa Special Baking Ferment starter are very similar, but you get quite different results when you bake them side-by-side.
The first thing to note is that the Sekowa is faster and livelier than even my most active sourdough starter. If you are baking Sekowa and you are used to sourdough then do allow for this shortened prove. It also produces a considerably lighter textured loaf. The crumb structure is somehow drier and it has a lighter flavour than sourdough too.
Sekowa Special Baking Ferment can be used either by making up a jar of starter which is kept in the fridge - with no need to feed it, or, as I have done, it can be used to make up a pre-ferment before baking proper.
A deep dark malted rye loaf. This German style rye bread is not only beautiful, but it is really simple to make and requires no kneading. It is especially delicious sliced thinly and toasted with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
In a bowl whisk the Sekowa, water and flour together. Leave overnight on your worktop, covered with a damp tea-towel.
The following morning combine your Sekowa ferment with the water and mix well. Add the rye flour and salt, roasted barley malt (RBM) and dried malt extract and stir in a large bowl using a wooden spoon until all the ingredients come together into a large ball. RBM is also great used in other breads and bagels for a rich colour.
Shape your dough to about 9" across (23cm) and place on a silicone baking mat - which is perfect as it has no lip and so is easy to slide it off - dusted liberally with rye flour. Cover with cling film and let the dough rest in on your kitchen worktop for 12 hours.
Reshape your dough lightly by wetting your hands and gently putting pressure on the outer edges of your dough without moving it off the mat. I find holding opposite sides of the loaf dough with two hands and applying equal pressure to both sides works well. The aim is to pull the diameter back to 9" making the dough more compact before baking.
12 hours later reshape the dough again, which should by now have started developing some beautiful cracks in it, which are accentuated when baked. Leave for a further 12 hours. Reshape once more if necessary if it is spreading too much.
Reshape the loaf then put your La Cloche into your cold oven and heat to 220°C.
Take the La Cloche out of the oven and sprinkle the base a little rye flour. Gently slide the dough from the silicone mat into the base of the La Cloche, put the lid back on (there is no need to slash this dough). Bake for 30 minutes at 220°C. Turn the heat down to 190°C and bake for a further 45 minutes until you have a dark brown crust.
Allow the bread cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Best served thinly sliced and toasted with cream cheese and dill or tomato chutney.
Once cooled store in a linen or cotton bread bag or folded tea towel. This loaf does freeze well (freeze it pre-sliced).
Give the loaf a Scandinavian feel with 1 tbsp caraway seeds - or sweeten with 150g raisins.
For advanced bakers: make a much lighter rye loaf by substituting 30% of the rye with strong white flour but note that this will prove much more quickly.