A delicious honey and rye sourdough bread inspired by a recipe from the modern Polish recipe book Wild Honey and Rye by Ren Behan. It has a lovely sweetness from the honey, especially in the caramelized crust. The crumb is soft and light from the milk. A delicious loaf!
Once you get into the habit of making sourdough, you will never want to eat any other sort of bread. We do keep a packet of bread yeast for emergencies, but nothing beats the long slow rise of sourdough for flavour. Admittedly, it does take a while to make, but it’s a mainly hands off process; just leave the dough to do its own thing and get on with something else. You will be rewarded with a delicious loaf that is infinitely superior to the mass-produced fast-rise bread that is sadly sold everywhere.
Learning to work with sourdough takes time and practice. You need to get to know the process and get a feel for how your starter behaves. Your location and the seasons can affect your loaf, so bakers need to learn to adjust. The majority of our recipes are fuss free and easy for the less confident cook, but for sourdough we really do recommend you take the time to do a course, and get hands-on with some dough.
This honey and rye sourdough bread is made with a 50:50 mix of rye and white bread flour; the liquid is a mix of milk and water at the same ratio. Cutting the rye flour with white bread flour makes the dough much easier to handle than one of 100% rye. Avoiding wholemeal wheat flour gives the loaf a lighter crumb and adding milk to the liquid helps with this too.
How to Make Honey and Rye Sourdough Loaf
1 – Measure out the water. Reserve 20 ml. Dissolve the honey into the remaining water.
2 – Whisk the honey water through the ripe rye leaven.
3 – Add the flour. There is no need to premix the flours. Just slowly add them to the liquid, mixing to form a rough, shaggy ball of dough. Leave for an hour.
4 – Add the salt to the reserved water. Then sprinkle the salt water over the dough. Stretch and fold the dough 5–6 times to incorporate the salt water into the loaf. The dough will still be very underdeveloped, looking loose and with the characteristic slightly gel-like rye consistency.
5 – Leave to rise for 4–6 hours, depending on room temperature. The dough is ready when it has visibly increased in size, and feels light and spongy to the touch. Our kitchen was rather cool on the day we baked, so this took about 6 hours.
6 – Form the dough into a loaf shape and rest it on the counter top (seam down) for 10–15 minutes. Coat the inside of a banneton (proving basket) with rye flour. Transfer your loaf, seam up, into the banneton to prove for a further 1–2 hours, again depending on room temperature. We cover our banneton with a shower cap. It’s ready when the dough starts to lose springiness.
7 – Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C/Gas mark 7 for 25 minutes with a dish of boiling water set in the bottom of the oven, or use a Dutch oven or preheated baking cloche.
8 – Turn the oven down to 200°C/Gas mark 6 for a further 20 minutes, and remove the lid of the baking pot. The loaf is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Honey and Rye Sourdough Loaf
- 150 ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 ml milk
- 2 tbsp honey
- 80 g sourdough leaven ((ripe, using equal quantities of flour and water). )
- 200 g rye flour
- 200 g strong white bread flour
- Mix the water and milk, and measure and reserve 20 ml. Dissolve the honey into the bulk of the liquid.
- Add the salt to the 20ml reserved liquid, and stir to dissolve.
- Add ripe leaven to the honey, milk and water mixture, and whisk together.
- Add flours to the liquid. Add both types of flour slowly to the liquid, mixing together form a rough dough. Leave for an hour.
- Sprinkle the salt liquid over the dough. Stretch and fold the dough 5–6 times to incorporate into the loaf.
- Leave to rise for 4–6 hours, depending on room temperature. The dough is ready when it has visibly increased in size, and feels light and spongy to the touch.
- Form the dough into a loaf shape and rest it (seam down) for 10–15 minutes. Coat
the inside of a banneton (proving basket) with rye flour. Transfer your loaf, seam up, into the banneton to prove for a further 1–2 hours. It's ready when the dough just starts to lose springiness.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C/Gas mark 7 for 25 minutes with a dish of boiling water set in the bottom of the oven, or use a Dutch oven or preheated baking cloche.
- Turn the oven down to 200°C/Gas mark 6 for a further 20 minutes, and remove the lid of the baking pot. The loaf is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow
to cool completely before slicing.
- Use up leftover leaven in our leftover sourdough leaven loaf
Wild Honey and Rye – About the Book
The recipe for this rye and honey sourdough bread was inspired by my friend Ren’s debut cookbook. Read about it here.
Ren was born in the UK to Polish parents, who taught her about her heritage and about Polish food. It is this heritage that makes the book so special and so accessible to a British audience. Her modern recipes are seasonal, fresh and tempting. They are also totally achievable with ingredients from the supermarket. The new twist on the classics she grew up with is refreshing and inspiring; this is food for the modern home and family.
The book covers everything Polish. There are traditional breakfasts, snacks, soups, hearty classics such as bigos, street food, puddings and bakes. There is even a chapter on flavoured vodkas. Some dishes are versions of old family recipes. For others, Ren takes inspiration from recent trips to Poland and the emerging modern food scene.
Core ingredients include grains (millet, buckwheat, barley), apples and berries, mushrooms, beetroot, leeks and cabbage. Caraway, poppy seeds and dill feature heavily. Many of the recipes are lighter versions of classics; the barley or buckwheat parcels look light and fresh. There are endless twists on pierogi, and the bakes and cakes will see you though afternoon tea and bake sales for years to come.
The book has a simple, modern feel with beautiful minimalist photos.
There are recipes for all tastes (including vegetarian options) and the vast majority of ingredients are easy to find in any British supermarket. A beautiful, personal book, full of family anecdotes and memories. You feel Ren is in the kitchen, chatting to you and guiding you though every step.
One for every keen cook and armchair culinary travellers.
We received a copy of Wild Honey and Rye from the Publisher, Pavilion. Price £20.