Caraway Fennel Rye Sourdough

Caraway Fennel Rye Sourdough

This loaf is based off of our basic 85% Extraction Red Fife Sourdough, but uses 20% whole grain rye. It's flavoured with fennel and caraway and looks beautiful coated in black sesame and fennel seeds. We recommend watching the dough carefully as it ferments to prevent over-fermentation and excessive breakdown of the elastic gluten network in the dough, as this can happen more easily with heritage and ancient grains. We have found that erring on the side of slightly under-proofing provides better oven spring and structure. 

Once you have read through the recipe and understand the times required in each step you can adjust to suit your schedule.

Makes 2 loaves


1 Tbsp mature starter

200g warm water (24C)

200g Whole Grain Rye flour


200g leaven

780g warm water (24C)

800g EX 85 Red Fife flour

200g Whole Grain Rye flour

2 Tbsp fennel seeds

2 tsp caraway seeds

20g fine sea salt

Black Sesame and Fennel seeds for coating


Day 1 (morning):

Make the Leaven: Discard all but 1 Tbsp of starter. Add warm water, stir to dissolve starter in water. Add 200g Rye flour. Stir to combine, cover and let sit at room temperature 6-8 hours. In should look aerated with tiny bubbles throughout, will have increased in size by about 60-100 percent, and should be able to float on water. It should also smell sweet, rather than sour.

Mix the dough: Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 200g leaven and stir to combine. Add the flour, fennel and caraway and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 45 minutes.

Bulk fermentation: After the rest (autolyze), sprinkle the salt over the dough and pinch and squeeze the dough through your fingers to disperse the salt throughout the dough. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and let rest 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes stretch and fold the dough: Using a wet hand, grab the underside of the dough, stretch it up, and fold it back over the rest of the dough. Repeat this 3 or 4 times so that all of the dough gets worked. This is considered 1 turn. Cover, allow to rest 40 minutes and then complete another turn. Repeat until you have done 4 turns. After the 4th turn, cover the dough and allow it to rise until it has increased in size by 20-30 percent, about 1 hour. If your kitchen and dough is cool this final rise time may increase.

Pre-shape and bench rest: Using a wet hand, gently turn the dough out onto your bench and divide into 2 equal portions, about 1000g each. Fold the dough in half, and using your bench scraper and damp hand shape the dough into a tight ball, seam side down. This begins to develop surface tension in the dough. Do the same to your second portion of dough. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

Shape and final proof: Line 2 9-inch proofing baskets or bowls with clean kitchen towels and sprinkle with a mix of Red Fife flour and whole rice flour. The rice flour acts like ball bearings and will prevent the dough from sticking to the towel. Lightly flour the surface of one dough ball, and then flip it over onto a lightly floured surface. Gently pat it down, being careful not to deflate it too much. Fold the bottom third up toward the centre, followed by each of the sides and then the top. Finally, fold the bottom third up again, this time using this movement to flip the dough over so that the seam is on the bottom. Repeat with the second pre-shaped loaf. Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes to help seal the seam. While resting, mix a blend of black sesame and fennel seeds on a plate. Take each loaf and gently press the top onto the seeds. Alternatively, the top of each loaf could be misted and the seed mixture can be sprinkled/patted on top. Place each loaf, seam side up, in one of the proofing baskets or bowls. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the dough has increased in volume but still seems slightly under-proofed. Transfer to the fridge, covered by a kitchen towel, for overnight cold fermentation.

Day 2 (morning):

Put a deep dutch oven/combo cooker in the oven and pre-heat to 500F for half an hour. Just before baking, remove one loaf from the fridge. Remove the base of the dutch oven from the oven and gently transfer your loaf, seam size down, into the shallow base of the dutch oven. Score (make one or more cuts along the top to direct the expansion of the bread), cover with the deep lid of the dutch oven and put into the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 450F and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes at until deep golden brown. Carefully remove the loaf from the dutch oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Allow the dutch oven to return to 500F before

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