I believe that every bread should have a great crust. But different types of breads will have completely different crusts and their development techniques differ. Rye breads benefit from steamed baking just like wheat breads do yet steaming regiment is a bit different. If one tries to steam rye bread the same way it’s done with wheat breads, the end results might be unpleasant.
The best rye crust I’ve ever had in my life was on a coarse rye from small family owned bakery called Bemberi located in a small town of Saulkrasti, Latvia. Crunchy, slightly sweet and full of rye flavour!
Some of the techniques used by professional rye bakers are virtually impossible to replicate at home. This post covers the methods I’m using at home to get quality crust with common household tools.
Rye dough can be discouraging — it’s sticky, it’s heavy, it’s hard to deal with. And while it doesn’t require kneading for gluten development, proper mixing is very important. If the dough is not mixed properly there might be dry spots inside and uneven distribution of sourdough and flavouring agents like salt and seeds will result in poor bread quality and taste. The importance of mixing quality grows with the ratio of rye flour and its wholeness: dark rye is harder to mix than light rye and 100% rye is harder to mix than 50/50 rye/wheat combination.
I’ve tried multiple different mixing techniques and I’d like to share the one which made my life a lot easier. This technique is based on a method provided in an old Soviet book called 350 Varieties Of Bakery Products by Plotnikov and Kolesnikov. In its basic form it doesn’t require any tools except for baker’s hands, but I’d also like to note a few tools which make my mixing a lot easier.