• A Recipe: Portuguese Rye

    A Recipe: Portuguese Rye
    We tend to associate rye loaves with Northern European and Scandi baking cultures. But rye is not just a cold-weather grain - it is incredibly versatile and also grows in Portugal's arid landscape. In fact, you will often find a dense, sticky rye loaf in bread-baskets across the country. After living in Lisbon for two years, I developed my own version of a traditional sourdough rye loaf (centeio in Portuguese). I have used carob syrup and erva doce, (sweet anise) to balance out the earthy flavour of rye, which I would buy from Portuguese mill, Paulinho Horta. Though carob syrup is actually pretty difficult to get hold of in Portugal, as it is exported rather than used in cooking, carob trees grow everywhere throughout the country, and the syrup is a really good rich, vegan alternative to honey. Erva doce on the other hand is native to Souther Europe, it is like a much lighter version of anise seed or fennel. Here's the recipe. 
    2x 410g rye loaves
    225g water
    275g sourdough starter (you can also use 275g leven for a less sour flavour)
    25 g carob syrup (substitute option: honey)
    325g rye flour
    5g flakey salt
    1 tsp erva doce/sweet anise (substitute option: aniseed or dried fennel)
    1. Add carob syrup, sourdough starter and water together and mix. 
    2. Add flour, salt and erva doce to the wet ingredients and mix until the colour of the dough is a coffee colour and its texture is smooth, without lums of flour. It will take at least 10 minutes for the dough to reach a smooth consistency and it will have the texture of cement, so get ready for an arm workout. 
    3. Once the dough is smooth and creamy, flour a banneton or baking tin with A LOT of rye flour. Take your dough and, using very wet hands, shape into a smooth, oval shaped ball. It will feel a little bit like you're working with ceramics. 
    4. Plop your ball of rye dough into the floured banneton/tin and cover the dough with more rye flour to stop it from drying out. 
    5. Leave to proof for at least 3 hours, or until cracks start forming in the flour. When there are a lot of cracks in your dough, your bread is ready to bake. 
    6. Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go. If you are using a banneton, tip the dough out and onto a floured baking tray, then place in the oven. If you are using a tin, you can put the whole thing straight into the oven. 
    7. As soon as your rye loaf goes into the oven, turn the temperature down to 200oC. Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. 
    8. Leave your rye loaf for at least 12 hours before cutting and eating as it needs time to set. 
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