This recipe was adapted from Please to the Table (Workman Publishing Co., Inc., 1990) by Anya von Bremzen. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Latvia was a Russian republic and this Latvian rye bread recipe fell under the umbrella of Russian cuisine.
It's easy to see why some people dispute this recipe as being truly Russian, and why Latvians bristle at the thought of it being anything other than Latvian. In any case, it's an easy rye bread recipe that requires no starter and no eggs and, even though this is made with pumpernickel dark rye meal (like Bob's Red Mill brand), it turns out to be a light-colored loaf that is ideal to accompany soups and stews or for sandwiches, toast, and even croutons for soup. And don't throw away stale rye—you can turn it into other delicious dishes.
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105 to 115 F)
- 2 tablespoons dark honey
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups pumpernickel dark rye meal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
Make the Sponge
Pour the water into a mixing bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the honey.
Stir in the yeast and rye meal. Set aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.
Make the Dough
Add remaining honey, salt, caraway seeds, butter, and all-purpose flour to the sponge, mixing until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
By hand or machine, knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky and this is as it should be.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to coat, and cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.
Shape the Dough and Bake
When the dough has doubled, punch it down and divide in half. Shape each half into an oval and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F and bake bread for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is dark brown and the bread registers 190 to 200 F on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove from oven and transfer from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.