Recipe: Rye Bread with Fennel Seeds

Photo credit: 18saughtonmains

I think of this bread as a next step in my development as a bread baker.  The basic recipe comes from a recipe book I can’t find on Amazon.  It is called Italia In Cucina and eldest daughter won it in the allotment show tombola a few years ago. At first glance it seemed like one of those fancy photographed cookery books that aren’t actually all that useful as recipe books but it is actually a good plain language, no nonsense overview of Italian regional cooking.  If you need 20 different ways to cook Polenta, this is the book for you.  I’m considering doing all the bread recipes over the next while, though the lard bread (which is the third bread recipe – no easing you in gently) scares me.

So I was thumbing through the book yesterday trying to decide what to make and I noticed this recipe.  It is apparently from northeastern Italy and I had some rye flour that could do with being used.  But on reading the recipe I didn’t like how much yeast they specified or how little salt was in it. And, for a more significant change, I didn’t like the lower water percentage as I’ve got used to French style wetter doughs.  So I, blind follower though I usually am with bread recipes, decided to wing it.  And it turned out amazing.  Especially with smoked salmon.  Which I ate all of, so no photos sorry.

Rye Bread with Fennel Seeds

350g rye flour
200g white bread flour
10g dried yeast
10g salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g water

Mix the flours, salt, yeast and fennel seeds together.  Add the water and oil and mix in the bowl until it all comes together.  Knead until the dough is smooth, though I found it dense and hard to judge when I should leave it – about 5 minutes seemed enough.  Leave to rest covered in a bowl for 2 hours.  Divide into half (being a geek I weighed the dough and halved it pretty exactly, but eye balling will be fine), shape each half into a ball.  This is when the texture was really weirding me out.  It is just so much more dense than majority wheat flour doughs and I couldn’t get that outer loaf tension that I aim for on white bread.  So I just shaped them roughly and put them in proving baskets.  Leave them for half an hour, turn them out, slash and then put on a bread stone in a preheated 250 C oven which I turned down to 200 after 5 minutes.  They were done after 20 minutes in my fan oven, a conventional oven might take 5 to 10 minutes longer.  Leave to cool before tucking in.

Submitted to Yeastspotting

About Nuala

Geeky feminist Irish woman living in Scotland. Has two daughters and a lot of yarn. Really likes hummus.
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3 Responses to Recipe: Rye Bread with Fennel Seeds

  1. Barbara says:

    Rye Bread is my favourite, and I use fennel seeds in my cooking, so I know I’ll love this bread.
    There is 1 used copy of ” L’Italia in Cucina ” published Jan 1967 ” available from for $30.00 ~ a good price if it’s a book that you must have, especially one that’s over 40 yrs. old. Thank you for sharing your recipes with Yeast Spotting ~ followers like myself truly appreciate it.

  2. Johanna GGG says:

    Sounds interesting – I used just a little rye flour in my usual bread recipe and it made a huge difference in being far more dense and heavy than usual – but I am interested in fennel seeds in cooking so have bookmarked this to try

    • Nuala says:

      When I started the kneading the dough I was pretty nervous at how heavy it was, but I’m glad I kept going as the final result is good solid bread without being a doorstop.

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