3-Day Sourdough Rye

Nothing is more fun than taking a few ingredients and making something special out of it. I have been reintroducing myself to bread baking lately and I went to my old standby bread cook book, "Farm Journal's Homemade Bread." I wanted to remake a favorite recipe, Sourdough Rye bread. You create a yeasty starter with rye flour and yeast. Then you let it sit at room temperature for 3 days, and then use it in the recipe to add a tart, sour flavor to the dough. The recipe appears here as it is found in the book, with a few asides from me.

Sour Rye Bread

2 pkg active dry yeast
1-1/2 c warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 c dark rye flour

1 Tbl. sugar
¼ c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 c. beer at room temp (I used a stout)
1 egg
2 Tbl. shortening
2 tsp. salt
1 to 2 Tbl. caraway seeds
6-1/2 to 7 c. all-purpose flour

1 egg white
1 Tbl water
Caraway seed for top

In medium size glass or ceramic bowl or jar, sprinkle one package of yeast over 1-1/2 c. warm water. Stir until dissolved and then stir in the rye flour until well mixed. Cover with plastic wrap, and secure it with a rubber band. (I just used sticky saran.) Let stand at room temperature for 72 hours. (It seems to double in volume, and then deflates a little).

What it looks like after a couple hours, day 1.
It stays bubbly but will deflate a little after a day or two.
The starter will create a little clear liquid, and will smell like rye bread. 
To make dough, sprinkle remaining yeast over ¼ c. warm water, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add beer, egg, shortening, salt,  up to 2 Tbl. caraway seed, 2 c. all-purpose flour and stir. Add rye starter. (The original recipe calls for a mixer, so I will give those instructions. I just used a wooden spoon and mixed it by hand.)

Using a mixer at low speed, mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. Add 1 c. flour, increase speed to high and mix 1 minute more. Stir in enough extra flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning over to grease top. Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

You should get a smooth, silky dough.
Punch dough down, divide in half and cover with a cloth or an inverted bowl while it rests for 5 minutes. Shape each piece into an oval loaf. (Instead, at this stage I made two round loaves, and placed them top down in floured wooden brotforms to rise.) Place 4” apart on large greased pan. Cover and let rise for about 45 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (I placed a shallow baking pan in the oven and filled it with water to create steam.)

Diagonally slash each loaf 3 times. In small bowl, beat egg white and 1 Tbl water to create an egg wash. Brush over top of loaves and sprinkle with caraway seeds.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped. Immediately remove from pan and cool on rack. To retain crispness, store in paper bags.