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A Journey Into Bread Baking World

Borodinsky rye bread from 1934

This is the very first standardised (OST NK №1) and published Borodinsky bread recipe. It differs from modern variants in flavour, aromatics, presentation and some technical aspects, yet it is very similar to modern Borodinsky in many ways. All variants of the bread share the same dough development principles and all of them are mostly wholegrain rye.

First part of Borodinsky bread history can be found here and wholegrain variant of this recipe is here.

To make real Borodisky bread you MUST obtain fermented rye malt! If it is not readily available in your country please check my post about malts to get some ideas about where you can buy correct type of malt.

Original recipe

Let’s take a look at original recipe first and I will explain some very small modifications that I made later on.

First ever Borodinsky bread recipe from Bread Baking Technologies by L. Ya. Auerman
(Технологиии хлебопечения, Л. Я. Ауэрман)

Keep in mind that this is a very old book, and it was written for professional bakers and baking technologists.

Overall formula is:

Ingredient %
R2500 50%
R1370 50%
Sourdough Starter 15-17%
Fermented Rye Malt 5%
Anise or Caraway Seeds 0.1-0.2%
Salt 1%
Sugar 2.5-6%
Water 65-68%

It also notes that 2% of black treacle (molasses) can be optionally added.

As this is a very old recipe it is using kilograms to measure everything, but the amount of flour is 100kg, so it can be converted into baker’s percentages easily. A sourdough starter is treated as an ingredient, not a stage and doesn’t count towards total flour and water amounts.

The amount of salt is unusually low, but this is in line with all old Russian recipes. Another thing to remember is that salt in Russia tastes about 30% more salty than salt in Western countries. I have no idea why, but this is the observation many Russian home bakers and cooks made if they moved abroad, including me.

Proof time in this recipe is super short and sugar is added to help yeast to work a little bit faster.

Scald formula:

Ingredient %
R1370 25%
Fermented Rye Malt 5%
Anise or Caraway Seeds 0.3-0.4%
Water 65-68%

Somehow scald formula says to use 0.3-0.4% of seeds instead of 0.1-0.2% in overall formula. I believe this is an error in overall formula. Most of Russian bakers attempting this recipe today are using 0.3-0.4%.

Scald process is very old school and impossible to replicate at home. It is based on a very slow cooling down which is only possible when using over a hundred kilograms of ingredients. In home baking when using maybe just kilo or less of ingredients our scald will cool down very fast (in minutes, no hours) and won’t saccharinify. But here’s the translation of original method:

All malt and seeds are mixed with 7-8% of cold water, then flour is mixed in and scalded with 55-60% of boiling water while stirring constantly. Scald is stirred again after 2-2.5 hours and let to cool down to +30C which should take about 12-16 hours.

Once scald is ready, sourdough starter (15-17%) is mixed in and this mix should ferment for 4 hours at +30C.

Final dough formula:

Ingredient %
R2500 50%
R1370 25%
Salt 1%
Sugar 2.5-6%

Bulk proofing should take 10-30 minutes at +30C. Dough is then divided and shaped into either boule or batard using wet shaping method. Profing is done for 15-20 minutes at +31C to +34C. Dough surface is sprayed with water before baking. The bread is baked at +240C to +250C until done.

My variant of 1934 Borodinsky

My alterations are minimal. I’ve increased salt content by 30% as British salt is not as salty as it should be.

I’ve also added separate sourdough stage. Russian rye starters usually have hydration around 70-80%, but most of Western home bakers use starters at 100% hydration. Lower hydration increases acitidy of a starter which is very important for rye breads. Another way to increase starter acidity is to use hydration levels over 150%, such approach is usually called “liquid sourdough” (жидкая закваска) in Russian.

Scalding process is also changed to be more home friendly. As described above, small amounts of scald will cool down too fast and that will ruin the flavour and structure of the bread.

And last change I did is that I decided to shape the dough straight away. As I’m baking one loaf at a time I don’t need to divide my dough. Combined bulking and proofing made my bread slightly less dense. If you want to improve bread crumb and don’t care about baking 100% authentic 1934 Borodinsky, then you can increase bulk fermentation time to 90 minutes and proofing time to 75 minutes as suggested here.

Overall formula

Ingredient % Weight
R2500 50% 204.50g
R1370 50% 204.50g
Fermented rye malt 5% 20.45g
Sourdough 17% 69.53g
Anise/caraway 0.3% 1.23g
Salt 1.3% 5.32g
Sugar 4% 16.36g
Water 68% 278.12g
Total 800.00g

#1 Sourdough

Ingredient Weight
Starter 25.75g
R2500 25.75g
Water 18.03g
Total 69.53g

#2 Scald

Ingredient Weight
R1370 107.36g
Fermented rye malt 21.47g
Anise/caraway 1.29g
Water (+100C) 292.02g
Total 422.15g

#3 Sour scald

Ingredient Weight
Sourdough 69.53g
Scald 402.04g
Total 471.57g

#4 Final dough

Ingredient Weight
Sour scald 471.57g
R2500 204.50g
R1370 102.25g
Salt 5.32g
Sugar 16.36g
Total 800.00g

Spreadsheet for this recipe is available here. To modify total ingredient weight, your starter hydration and buffer size for a scald, either download this spreadsheet as XLS file to edit in MS Office or copy to your Google Drive to edit in Google Docs.

Step 1: sourdough

Mix your starter with flour and water and let it ferment for about 5-6 hours at +29C. You can use different flour to starter ratio to slow the process down if needed.

Step 2: scald

Some scald will stick to your cookware, but it contains all water from the recipe. It is crucial to make slightly more. I recommend making 5-10% more than required in the recipe. You can adjust this buffer size in the spreadsheet if needed. The formula above lists ingredients weights for 5% buffer.

To make this scald at home, reserve about 10% of required flour amount, then mix all dry ingredients apart from reserved flour. Add required boiling water to dry ingredients in three stages mixing everything very fast to get rid of lumps and without letting your mixture to cool down excessively. Once mixed with all water, wait for your scald to cool down to +65C and mix in 10% of flour you have reserved previously. Cover tightly and let it do its thing at +65C for about 2-3 hours. Cool it down to +30C and make sure your sourdough is ready by this time.

Step 3: sour scald

Mix your sourdough and scald, let the mixture ferment for 4 hours at +30C. It should become bubbly.

Step 4: final dough

Add remaining ingredients to you scald and mix well until no dry spots left. If you’re making a single loaf, then shape straight away and let the dough proof for 50 minutes at +34C. You can also either follow original method or longer process to improve crumb structure and rise.

Step 5: baking

Spray the surface of your dough with water and bake at +240C to +250C until done. The book doesn’t specify time, but it should take about 30-40 minutes. Once baked, let it rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours on a wire rack.