Wild Onion Rye Bread (BBBwB)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for wild onion rye bread (rye bread flavoured with onion and caraway seeds and made with wild yeast); weighing the ingredients on a digital scale; YeastSpotting and BBBwB post; information on Bread Baking Babes; click on images to see larger views and more photos

I’m destined to be a

Bread Baking Babe/Buddy wannaBe (BBBwB)

wild dark onion rye bread Once again, I’ve miss-timed and am hopelessly late in my attempt to become a BBB.

Even though Mary very kindly gave me an extension!

But, well, what can I say? Here it is August and … I have no valid excuse.

By the middle of July I was already hopelessly late, but I was still determined to make the bread. My starter – sorry, BBBs, it remains unnamed – is extremely active these days.

Although, on second thought, maybe I have named it. I persist in calling it a “floor”. From misunderstanding the wine-making term “flor” – all I really knew was that it had something to do with captured yeast and the term “floor” made perfect sense to me…. Ha. How wrong could I be?

flor […]

Although this is literally the Spanish word for “flower,” in wine terminology flor refers to the off-white yeast that develops naturally on certain wines after they’re fermented. […] [T]he wine barrels are not completely filled, so there’s enough surface area for air to get to the wine [… and allow the] flor to grow, creating a gauzy white layer that protects the wine from further air contact and subsequent oxidation.

excerpt from the Wine Dictionary at Epicurious.com

Yup, even though I know that a flor is a flor, I still call our wild yeast starter “my floor”. But you can see how I got confused. Yeast is the foundation of so much of our bread: the floor …errrrm, well, maybe you can’t see how I got confused…. :lalala:

Whatever the bubbling sludge is called, I used it to make the BBB June bread (of course, I used my shiny new digital scale to weigh the ingredients!)

(click on image to see larger view and more photos)

wild dark onion rye bread Here is what I did:

Dark Onion Rye
based on Breadchick’s Dark Onion Rye with thanks to Jude and Ulrike

makes one large loaf – a two day affair (if the wild yeast is already captured)

wild yeast starter | 1st day: feeding | 2nd day: bread

Day 1: feeding the floor (starter)
1st feeding: AM

  • 50gm wild yeast starter (I think)*
  • 120gm water**
  • 76gm unbleached all-purpose flour

2nd feeding: early evening

  • Half of the above (put other half in the fridge)
  • 120gm water**
  • 76gm unbleached all-purpose flour***

3rd feeding: late evening (about 4 hours after 2nd feeding)

  • 250gm active starter
  • 100gm dark rye flour***
  • 100gm bread flour***
  • 120gm water*

Day 1: preparation

  1. 1st feeding: AM Put the 1st feeding ingredients into a small bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon. Cover and leave on the counter (out of any drafts).
    • Keep the starter going: In another small bowl, mix together 28gm (2Tbsp) water, 28gm (2Tbsp) wild yeast starter and 28gm (3Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave on the counter for about an hour then refrigerate until time for next regular feeding (3 days).
  2. 2nd feeding: early evening Divide the starter in two and put one half away in the fridge in yet another covered small bowl. (Realize that there was no need to make so much in the morning. Wonder what you’re going to do with all that starter that’s in the fridge.) Using a wooden spoon, mix remaining bubbling sludge with water and flour. Cover and leave on the counter (out of any drafts) for about 4 hours.
  3. 3rd feeding: late evening Measure 250 gm of the above wildly bubbling and foaming mixture. Realize that there was REALLY no need to make so much in the morning! Put the extra into the bowl in the fridge (the one from the early evening) to use for pancakes (or something) the next morning. Using a wooden spoon, mix in water, rye and bread flours. Cover and leave on the counter (out of any drafts) overnight.

Day 2: making the bread

  • all of the starter from the 3rd feeding
  • 32 gm blackstrap molasses
  • 42 gm honey
  • 30 gm butter, softened
  • 9 gm salt
  • 1½ Tbsp freeze-dried onion flakes
  • 130 gm dark rye flour***
  • 75 gm bread flour***
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds

Day 2: preparation

  1. Put all the Day 2 ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir with wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are roughly incorporated. Cover and leave for about 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes has passed, scatter the tiniest dusting of flour on your board for kneading the dough. Turn the dough out onto the board. This is quite a stiff dough.
  3. Wash and dry your mixing bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  4. Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes . As you knead, add as little flour as you dare to stop the dough from sticking. Keep scraping any dough that is on the board so the board is always clear. Because this dough is stiff and may be difficult to knead, pick it up and throw it down on the board. Squeeze, push back into a ball and throw it down again. Continue until the dough surrounding the seeds is smooth and silky.
  5. Put the dough in the clean mixing bowl. (It is entirely unnecessary to oil the rising bowl!) Cover and allow to rise in a no-draft place for 1 to 1½ hours. When the dough has doubled, you can shape the dough. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to wet your finger and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.
  6. Shaping: To shape the bread, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board. Fold it in half and then half again until it starts to look like a boule. Pick it up and keep pulling it in on itself to make a tight ball (but not so tight that the outer skin breaks). Place the shaped loaf seam side down on a parchment covered peel. Sprinkle with rye flour and cover with a damp tea towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise again to almost double (about an hour). To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
  7. Baking: Twenty minutes before you are going to bake, put the stone on the middle rack and turn oven to 425F.
  8. Just before putting the bread in the oven, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife. Spray the top of the loaf liberally with water. Slide the bread onto the stone. Immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes until it is around 210F inside (or hollow sounding on the bottom). You will probably have to turn the bread around once to account for uneven heat in the oven.
  9. Remove bread from oven and allow to cool completely on a well ventilated rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. It is still continuing to bake inside!***
* I foolishly did NOT record how much starter I began with on the pencil notes I scrawled as I was making this bread. I’m guessing at the amount from looking at Mary’sm Jude’s and Ulrike’s recipes.

**Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.

Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

*** The all-purpose flour is “No Name” unbleached (about 11.5% protein). The rye flour is “Five Roses” Dark Rye flour (no idea how much protein). The bread flour is “Robin Hood” ‘best for bread’ flour (about 13% protein).

**** If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

wild dark onion rye bread This bread turned out so incredibly well. When I started to make it, I was sort of sneaking around about it. It was a bit warm outside (around 28C) and I wasn’t absolutely certain that turning on the oven would be a big hit. Not to mention that T doesn’t necessarily love rye bread.

But as it happened. My fears were unfounded. T did love this one. We both did. And no wonder. It was fabulous!

It was equally delicious on its own, or buttered, or toasted and buttered. And it made the most stellar Reuben sandwiches (made with home-made red cabbage sauerkraut)! Did we take photos of the sandwiches? Ha. Of course not. We were too busy stuffing them down our gullets.

I was particularly thrilled with the slashes on the bread. I’ve never managed to have slashes stay so well defined. I only hope I can reproduce this! I can’t wait until we have enough freezer space so I can make it again.

I’m still not absolutely convinced that the onion is a necessary addition. It doesn’t add a lot to the flavour – although there was a nice hint of onion when we sliced the bread.

For next time:

  1. I may try Tanna’s method of using sweated onions.
  2. I’ll build up much less starter; I’m not making bread every day and don’t need nearly so much sitting in the fridge. For the morning feeding, I’ll start with
    • 60gm water
    • 28gm wild yeast starter
    • 38gm unbleached all-purpose flour.

    Then in the early evening, I’ll simply add all of that mixture in the second feeding.

  3. I will definitely exchange some of the bread flour for whole wheat flour. I like the idea of the bread being just a little grainier.
  4. Because I like to play with fire, I may just try using unbleached all-purpose flour instead of bread flour…. :-)

Yes, indeed. We’ve got to clear out the freezer so there will be room for more bread… my floor is bubbling beautifully these days and begging to be used again!

Bread Baking Babes/Buddies wannaBe

BBBwB One of the greatest regrets I have about my tardiness at making the June bread is that Sher (What Did You Eat?), who was one of the real BBBs, will not be waltzing in here to comment. Like so many others, I will sorely miss seeing all of Sher’s joyful posts and comments. I still cannot believe she is no longer with us in this world.

Mary (Breadchick of The Sour Dough) hosted June’s Bread Baking Babes task. She wrote:

June 23rd, 2008

Bread Baking Babes: Starters and Rye Up Neat

I’m hosting this month’s edition of the Bread Baking Babes and I have us playing with starters and my favourite flour, rye because this month we are baking from a recipe I created and have been working on for about a year using my starter, a Dark Onion Rye boule

[…]If you want to have a go at this bread and be Bread Baking Buddy this month, here is what you need to do:

  1. Make a starter […]. For those of you who have your starters from my recipe already to go, you can move right to step 2!
  2. Make the bread, take some pictures and blog about it.
  3. Email [Mary] by July 6 [2008]


[E]ven if you make this bread after the Bread Baking Buddy [deadline], please let me know your results. I will add them to my research and your experience will help me if the recipe needs further refining!

For complete details on how to become a BBB, please go to:

Here are the people who made the bread on time:



Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of blog posts having to do with bread. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf (ejm)


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9 responses to “Wild Onion Rye Bread (BBBwB)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Bread is never late when it brings such joy! Delighted you enjoyed this one. Rye is one of my very favorites and this is really a great loaf. You did get gorgeous slashes – I know just what you feel they haven’t come easy for me either.

  2. MrsBrown

    Lovely bread. I had some lovely bread in a San Francisco bakery where their wild yeast starter is 150 years old…or so the sign says.

    Am I to understand that the floor/flor is named? like Esmeralda? Flora? Molly? or Spot?! yes, Spot would be an excellent name for your floor/flor. Perhaps you could have a contest called “Name My Flor” and the winner (that would be me!) would receive a loaf of excellent bread!!!!

  3. Baking Soda

    In addition to MrsBrown I would suggest Spotless is a nice name for your floor! (I wouldn’t like to see spots in my starter yuck! but a spotless floor…yessirree!). I like floor, a lot, I mean it makes a lot of sense if you think about it… the base of the bread yaddayadda…
    Anyway, this is a gorgeous loaf of bread! I love the way the crumb peeks through the slashes, well done!

  4. CAM

    mmm, your rye bread sounds heavenly! I like the idea of a “name the flor” contest. But if your mind already says “my floor” it may be too late. Perhaps two names – a formal name and an informal name (your “floor”) – like a race horse.

  5. Jude

    Wasn’t it delicious? very nice scoring on the bread. I avoided scoring this bread when I bake it because it usually deflates right before my eyes.

  6. ejm Post author

    While “Spot”, “Spotless”, “Esmeralda”, “Flora” (oh my!) and perhaps even “Floor, sired by Dark Rye and Wild Honey” are very fine names, I’m NOT naming the floor! At least nothing else besides “the sludge” or “that bubbling slop”. :stomp: (Please stop making me laugh, MrsB, BakingSoda and CAM.)

    A 150 year old starter! How cool is that? Did you ask them what its name was, MrsBrown?

    Thank you Susan, Tanna, Karen, Jude; I really hope that I’ll be able to get slashes like that again. It was the most thrilling sight when I went in to turn the bread half way through baking. Talk about oven spring!

    Jude, I’m guessing that you’re letting it rise too much if you’re afraid to slash. (That’s usually the case with me. I’m constantly forgetting to check loaves AFTER they’ve been shaped. I’m really not the best candidate to be a bread baker. I’m way too scattered.)

    Of course, Jeanne. How many loaves shall I send? :-)

  7. Breadchick Mary

    Now that is an excellent looking loaf of bread and ehrm…. I have plenty of room in my freezer if you want to store a loaf or two here! No promises that they will still be here when you come looking for them!

    And as Tanna said, you are never late! Excellent job on the Dark Onion Rye.

    Thank you. But you must take the credit for developing such an excellent recipe. And what a very kind offer! Can I send you more than two loaves, Mary? I’ll box them up at the same time as I send Jeanne’s. :-) -Elizabeth


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