bread · traditional Russian recipe

Borodinskiy Rye Bread

Sitting on the window sill of my room in Arkhangelsk, wrapped in two curtains (don’t tell the hotel staff!) & drinking hot chocolate – all to the best Greek music ever (!). You definitely need some warming up when there’s a nasty rain-snow storm outside and your shoes are wet. What can also help the situation is a good slice of black bread (already bought some dark rye Monastyrskiy bread and an oat ring and bulochki, or yeah) which I actually left home for my parents. As promised, I’m publishing a ‘report’ on my experiment – the first loaf with the use of rye malt. Although the recipe was found on a non-Russian website, I think – and my parents agree – the bread is great and doesn’t need to be authentic or not for that. As we are now having less and less daylight (though nothing compares to Arkhangelsk!), I asked my Mom to make some photos of the result while I was at work.

So… The quest was to create a real dark rye bread with rye malt, and after a short search I found a recipe on one of my favourite sources, thefreshloaf.com. Borodinskiy Bread is one of those things you should try in Russia. It goes oh so well with just about everything (and not necessarily borshch or vodka&pickled cucumbers. BTW, can you believe that on my flight from Syktyvkar to St Pete we had pickled cucumbers for our lunch? But what was even more ehm outrageous were CROISSANTS with pickled cucumbers when I flew to Syktyvkar in September!), it’s dense and chewy.

{mixture of rye flour & rye malt, I used regular rye flour}

There’s a beautiful legend that this bread was created by the nuns of the convent  built on the place where the famous Borodino battle took place in 1812 during the war with Napoleon. Of course the nun was a widow of one of the soldiers… However, there’s no evidence this bread existed before 1933 when the formula for the Borodinskiy bread we are used to eat nowadays was created. The same applies to the name. Well, I like the legend more, let’s stick to it, haha.

What is characteristic of Borodinskiy Bread is that it is a subtle combination of dark rye & malt flavours, honey, coriander (or caraway seeds, but I don’t like them)… It’s usually small and sprinkled with whole coriander seeds.

Authentic Borodinskiy Rye Bread adapted from www.thefreshloaf.com. Be sure to have enough time for this recipe and sourdough and rye malt… When following the link, scroll down for the recipe.

A year ago – no recipe, apparently…

My changes:

I used my rye sourdough starter and refreshed it with rye flour+water as I’m used to – resulting in somewhere about a cup of it in the morning the next day. I had to wait some hours more, though, before it looked all alive and bubbly.

For zavarka (the mash, in Russian zavarka means also the condensed tea from tea leaves) I used the rye malt I brought from Kirov. I have no dark rye flour , so I just mixed in my regular rye flour and some not freshly ground coriander. The smell of the scalded malt, I admit, is wonderful =)and also promising! So hey, do what the author suggests, gather the entire family and smell it, ahha =))

When mixing the dough, I had an inspirational idea to throw in some pine nuts, the parents said it was also a good idea =) The recipe required more hours for the third stage, but I didn’t have that many so I had to cut on the hours of fermentation. My mesh+starter mixture was not that active, well, it was hardly active at all, but I stubbornly continued on with the recipe.


I also cut on proofing time. I didn’t even BAKE the loaf the required 1.5 hours, only just over 1 hour at 180’C. When baked, I wrapped it into a towel and left overnight.

The result: I didn’t bake a real-100%-authentic-true Borodinskiy bread (those pine nuts! what do they have to do with Borodino?! =) but what matters is that it’s very tasty. The crust is, well, CRUST, I mean, it’s crunchy and a pleasure to chew, haha (kind of hedonistic, I know). The crumb is wonderful; the overall combination is … ok, no more eulogies. If you want to try it you can still be on time to snatch the last slice at my home.

{my Mom said she even tried to eat her soup with this traditional wooden spoon but you need a deep plate then. Did you know that a person who’s being lazy is said to ‘bit’ baklushi‘ – as that  was considered the easiest part of the making of the spoons, baklusha being a wooden piece ready for the further processing}

So, although considered as a traditional Russian recipe, this is actually a Soviet recipe but I think that there should have been something of the kind before the Soviet thirties. when the industrial formula of this bread appeared. One more thing – don’t believe those ‘Russian’ recipes where cocoa or coffee is required for the colour of the bread – we do NOT have cocoa trees round here =) But we do have lots of rye, hence the Northern pies with the rye-wheat or even entirely rye base. I’m sure though, you can substitute rye malt with barley malt or whatever of that sort is available where you’re.

Hope you’re all cozy and happy and perhaps even having your pleasurable ‘bit’ baklushi‘ moment.

G.

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