Baltic Dark Rye Bread for Summer Solstice Celebration
Even though I moved to the United States many years ago, I still associate the month of June with the Summer Solstice celebration, one of the biggest holidays in Latvia that falls on the night from June 23 to June 24. It's the shortest night of the year full of fun traditions, amazing food, and time spent outside in nature with family and friends. That's why for my June recipe, I chose to bake a dark rye bread with caraway seeds that pairs perfectly with a traditional Latvian holiday cheese (which I will be attempting to make myself this year as well). Other traditional food includes pork kebabs, roasted baby potatoes, and fresh vegetable salad, with beer being the official drink of the holiday. Beer symbolizes life because it's made from live yeast; it also represents a union of the material and spiritual world.
One of the most important ingredients in this bread is caraway seeds that create a delicious aroma together with dark malt. Caraway seeds may be easily confused with Cumin seeds because they look very similar (I'm guilty of making this mistake myself), but they don't taste or smell the same. Both have a warm, earthy taste, but there is also a hint of fennel or anise in caraway seeds. Cumin seeds are a little lighter in color as well. Check the photo below to see the difference.
Wildflower wreaths for women and oak wreaths for men are a must for a summer solstice celebration in Latvia and other European countries. So, for this bread's design, I went with a daisy flower. I made a DIY stencil and used all-purpose flour and turmeric to fill in. The pattern cracked a little bit while baking because I didn't score around the edges of the flower, but I think it added even more of the rustic charm in the end.
Rice flour is the best for dusting the banneton to avoid the sticking of the dough.
Wet your hands while shaping the dough so it doesn't stick to your hands.
Use a linen liner with your banneton to create a smooth surface while proofing the dough, so your stenciled design stands out more.
Dust off any excess rice flour and mist the dough with water before applying your stencil.
Although it's not common to score this kind of bread, it may be necessary if you prefer to avoid tiny cracks, but I didn't mind them.
Check out another one of my favorite dark rye recipes here!
Have you tried this kind of bread before? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, the recipe has ingredients for 2 loaves, so you can bake 2 and share 1 as a gift. To make a single loaf, simply divide each ingredient by 2.
Ingredients for 2 loaves:
Levain 100% hydration
100 g Rye Sourdough Starter (I used Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye Flour)
150 g Dark Rye flour
150 g Water (bottled or filtered)
300 g Dark Rye Flour
500 g All-purpose Flour
400 g Water
60 g Sugar or 80
60 g Malt (I used Briess CBW Traditional Dark Malt Extract)
50 g Molasses
20 g Salt
2 tbsp Caraway Seeds
Rice Flour for dusting
Prepare the Levain (morning 8 am)
Feed 100 g of active rye sourdough starter with 150 g bread flour and 150 g water at 85-90°F, cover, and leave it on the counter to ferment for 6 hours (at room temperature 76°F). It should be bubbly by then.
Make the Dough (afternoon 2 pm)
Combine all of the levain with 400g of water at 85-90°F in a large mixing bowl and mix using a whisk until the levain is dissolved.
Mix in 60 g malt, 60 g sugar, 50 g molasses, and 20 g salt.
Then add 2 tbsp caraway seeds, 300 g dark rye flour to the mixture and mix with a whisk.
Use a strainer to sift through 500 g of all-purpose flour and mix the dough with fingers until all of the ingredients are well incorporated with no dry bits left. If necessary, add a little bit of water.
Cover and leave it on the counter for 3-4 hours.
Shape and Proof (evening 6 pm)
Mist the bannetons with water and sprinkle with Rice flour.
Gently take the dough out of the bowl, place it onto an unfloured surface, and divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
Wet your hands and shape the dough into the final round shape. Smooth the surface.
Put each piece in the banneton seam side up and dust the top of the dough with rice flour.
Place the bannetons in plastic bags and let the dough rest for 1 hour on the counter and 1 hour in the fridge.
Bake (8 pm)
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Carefully flip the dough out of the banneton into the dutch oven or a cast iron combo cooker (no need to preheat it.)
Dust off the rice flour with a brush, mist the bread with water.
Use a stencil if you want to add a design on the bread, or you can also score it with a razor blade (but not essential for this type of dough) and put the lid on. Bake it for 10 min at 475°F.
Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 425°F and bake for 40 min uncovered.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool overnight before cutting.
Tools I used: