Minsk Rye from Belarus
Minsk is the capital city of Belarus. Minsk rye is a common rye bread in Belarus named after the city. And it is quite different to most of xUSSR rye breads because it is made using white rye flour instead of a more traditional dark wholegrain rye.
The recipe is known for quite a while now, I have it my Russian book from 1940, I saw it in many bread related blogs and it is present in Ginsberg’s The Rye Baker book as well.
Basic formula stays the same across all sources: 90% white rye flour, 10% wheat flour, water, salt, caraway seeds and treacle. The first thing that got changed over the years is that older sources use three stages of sourdough development, but later everyone switched to a single stage sourdough. 350 Varieties book suggests starting with a three stage sourdough and once it’s done, re-use last stage. So eventually everyone just switched to a single stage sourdough.
Hydration levels are also different across time. Previously Minsk Rye recipes called for 55-60% hydration, it recently rose up to 65%. Higher hydration makes the crumb lighter, but lower hydration allows for proofing without basket, which is a traditional way of proofing this bread.
And finally the amount of pre-fermented flour is different across ages. Older recipes pre-ferment about 45% of flour, more recent ones pre-ferment about 30%.
The following recipe is my variation which suited my taste and tastes of my friends.
If you want to adjust total dough weight or want to play around with the amount of pre-fermented flour, please check out this spreadsheet . Here’s my variation for 600g of dough which fits a small oblong 8” banneton.
Time required: 12 hour sourdough build, 1.5-2 hour bulk fermentation, 1 hour proofing, 40 minutes baking ~= 16 hours including mixing and shaping.
Warm up water to +35C, mix in starter until dissolved completely, then mix in rye flour. Cover the container and leave for 12 hours at room temperature (about +23C). Sourdough should double in size and become very bubbly inside. Unlike wheat or dark/medium rye sourdoughs, this one will feel like a clay paste, which was quite unusual for me.
Warm up water to +35C, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until fully incorporated and no dry spots left. There is no need to knead the dough. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel and place in moist warm place at +29C to +30C for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Shape the dough into an oblong using dry shaping method. There’s no need to build surface tension, so just make it beautiful :)
If you are using low hydration variation, then you can proof on a bench under towel. Otherwise place the dough into a banneton or an oiled bowl of appropriate shape. In any case put it into a warm moist place at +29C to +30C for about 60 minutes for final proofing. The dough should raise and almost double in size, but the best proofing indicator is that its surface started getting cracks and holes. As usual with rye breads.
Make sure to pre-heat your oven to the maximum temperature. The best temperature to start baking with is +300C.
Put the dough on a tray, wet its surface and prick three vertical holes. I use a chop stick to do that. The holes should go all the way through to the bottom of the loaf.
Put your dough into the oven and spray water inside to provide some steam. Bake at the highest temperature possible for 8-10 minutes. Then set the temperature to +210C and open the door slightly for about 10-20 seconds to release excessive heat. Never open the door completely or cold air might result in your loaf collapsing. Bake for another 25-30 minutes. The bread is ready when its internal temperature reaches +92C and it sounds hollow when thumped from the bottom.
When the bread is ready, spray its surface with water and put back into the oven for 5-10 seconds. That will make the crust semi-gloss.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let it cool down and rest for at least 12 hours before cutting.
This is one of the simplest rye recipes which results in an incredibly tasty bread. Minsk Rye is less sour than sour rye, so it should be more palatable to people not used to super sour breads common in Northern Europe.