A Sunny Rye Bread with the BBB

Many thanks to Cathy of Bread Experience for choosing this sunny loaf for August!  Okay, confession time.  Other than one test piece for hubby, I ate the entire loaf myself.  It did take a few weeks!  But I am the big rye and caraway fan in the house and this was so good, that I simply had pieces toasted for breakfast, with butter or ricotta and jam, until it was sadly all gone.  I made this recipe back in July (at the same time as the July challenge bread) when we had a cool weather break, but it was so good, I might be willing to turn on the oven even in hot weather.

I baked this loaf on the same day I baked the sourdough panmarino, so it really wasn't a lot of extra work, even with the shaping. I did a combination of yeast and sourdough, my own little experiment of a 50% sourdough/50% yeast leavened half batch, because this makes a HUGE loaf, even my half batch was 14" in diameter. Note that rye dough is quite sticky, even when using bread flour for strength. I added a lot of folds in to build structure, and rolled my dough ropes out on a well floured towel.

Each of those spiral rays can be broken off as a very hearty serving or even two per ray, and the center spiral is easily four servings. I really can't say which I preferred more, the butter and jam or ricotta and jam. I usually had one half with butter and one half with ricotta! And it kept me very full and satisfied for hours. Love this bread.

I am including both the original formula with yeast, and the sourdough modification that our host kitchen provided for us. I had already baked mine with the half sourdough/ half yeast since I baked so early. And if you aren't keen on shaping a sunshine, though it is totally cool looking, you can always make a large round or oval and get creative with your slashing. I do recommend a half batch unless you intend on freezing one loaf right away. And it is fabulous bread, so I can totally see myself doing that next time. My pieces were wonderful toasted after slightly thawing and slicing out of the freezer.

We would love for you to try out this recipe and join in as a buddy baker this month! If you like rye, you will love this bread. Definitely worth making, and eating. I did after all, demolish almost an entire loaf myself, in a reasonable amount of time of course. You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to Bread Experience by the 29th of this month. Be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month. New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Sunshine Loaf
makes one very large or two medium loaves

4 tbsp lukewarm milk
4 tbsp lukewarm water
¼ oz. (7g) fresh yeast (2.8g active dry or 2.3g instant yeast)
scant 1 cup bread flour

½ oz. (14g) fresh yeast (5.6g active dry or 4.6g instant yeast)
generous 2 cups lukewarm water
4 cups rye flour (I used fresh ground whole rye, sifted)
2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp salt
milk for glazing
caraway seeds for sprinkling

For starter:
Dissolve yeast in milk and water, then stir in flour.  Cover and let rise for 3-4 hours until it has risen fully and started to fall. Dissolve yeast for dough in a small amount of the water, then stir into remaining water.  Mix into starter, then mix in rye flour to form a smooth batter.  Cover and let proof for another 3-4 hours until well risen.
Stir in the bread flour and salt to form a dough.  (Mine was quite sticky.)  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface.  Cover and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch down and divide dough into five equal pieces.  Cut four pieces in half and roll into 8" long ropes.  Place in a circle on a large, parchment lined baking sheet, spaced equally apart and leaving a small gap in the center.  Curl the ends around.  Roll the remaining piece into a 20" long rope and coil into a spiral and place in the center of the sun "rays".  Cover and let rise in a warm place, around 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Brush the top of the bread with milk and sprinkle with caraway seeds.  Place in oven and turn down temperature to 400º.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and hollow sounding.  Smaller loaves will bake quicker.  (I kept an eye on it and took it out when internal temp was around 212-215º.  It didn't seem quite ready at 208-9º and I wanted to develop just a little more color.)

Sunshine and butterflies?

Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling before slicing.

Here are the directions for making an all sourdough loaf, as provided by our host kitchen:

Makes: 1 Large Loaf or 2 Smaller Loaves
The directions below are for shaping one large loaf. Adjust accordingly to shape 2 smaller loaves.

15g / 1 scant Tbsp. active sourdough (100% hydration)
60g / 4 Tbsp milk, lukewarm
55g / 4 Tbsp water, lukewarm
125g / 1 cup all-purpose flour

250g / 2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (I used stone-ground bread flour)
440g / 4 cups rye flour (I used freshly milled whole grain rye flour)
480-550g / 2 cups + water, divided (I started with 2 cups (480 grams) water and gradually added more as I was mixing the dough. The whole grain rye soaked it up.
16-18g / 1 Tbsp. salt
Caraway seeds, or the seeds of your choice, for sprinkling
Milk or water for glazing

Day 1: Prepare the Starter
Mix the starter ingredients together in a medium bowl and stir thoroughly until there are no dry bits of flour. Cover and let rest on the counter at room temperature overnight until it is well risen, bubbly and starting to collapse; about 8 to 12 hours.  I mixed the starter at 10pm and let it rest at room temperature until noon the next day (14 hours) and it worked fine.  If your kitchen is hot, it may take less time to fully activate.

Day 2: Final Dough
The next day, when the starter is ready, add about half (1 cup / 240 grams) of the water to the starter and stir to break it up. 
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the starter over the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate.  Add in the remaining 240 grams of water and mix thoroughly to incorporate. 
Add in more water (or flour) gradually, if necessary, to achieve a workable dough. It is sticky dough so it’s best to use wet hands. I started the mixing process using a Danish dough whisk, and then switched to using wet hands and a bowl scraper.
Cover and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.  Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl using wet hands.  I added in a little more water at this point because the dough was tearing.
Cover again and let the dough rest at warm room temperature for 6 hours.  Perform stretch and folds every 45 minutes to an hour (using wet hands) for the first 4 ½ hours. Then let the dough rest undisturbed for the final hour or two. 
Continue with shaping the loaf or place it in the refrigerator overnight to cold ferment for 8-12 hours.  The cold ferment may not be necessary, but it worked better with my schedule.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.  I had 1435 grams of dough so each piece was 287 grams.
Roll one piece into a 20-inch log. Then roll it into a spiral shape.  See notes on shaping middle spiral.
Divide the remaining pieces of dough in half (~143 grams each) and roll each piece into an 8-inch rope.
Place the ropes in a circle on a large baking sheet (See notes on using a greased baking sheet), spaced evenly apart. They should look like rays of sun. Curl the ends around, leaving a slight gap in the middle for the center spiral.
Place the center spiral on top.  Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, bees wrap, or a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place, for 30 minutes.
While the loaf is proofing, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Brush the loaf with milk, or water, and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  I brushed my loaf with melted butter after placing it on the wire rack. See notes about brushing with milk.

I used 4 cups of rye, and it was really sticky.  So I plan to reduce the amount of rye the next time.  I liked the flavor of the rye, but I think 3 cups of whole grain rye and 3 cups of white flour will be easier to work with.  If you use a lighter rye, that will probably help as well.
This is a really big loaf.  I had a hard time figuring out how to fit it on the baking sheet which is why I rolled the rays tighter than the picture. Unless you have a larger baking sheet, I think 2 smaller loaves will be easier to shape. 
Shape it on a greased baking sheet. I tried shaping the loaf on parchment paper, but the dough stuck to it, and the rectangular shape of the parchment didn’t lend itself to the shape of the loaf.  It wasn’t wide enough for the rays to fit on.  I used a greased baking sheet instead and it worked much better. 
Work fast when shaping the loaf. I shaped the pieces straight from the refrigerator and had to work really fast so the pieces didn’t proof too much before I got the loaf put together.  I probably shaped and reshaped it 3 times before I got it right and onto the baking sheet.  
*Shaping the middle spiral. The directions said to shape the middle section first, but I ended up having to reshape it when I transferred it to the baking sheet because it had been proofing the whole time I was shaping the other pieces.  This piece goes on last so I would wait to shape this piece until after shaping the other pieces.

I didn’t like the look of the milk-brushed loaf. I brushed the loaf with milk and sprinkled it with caraway seeds before baking, as the recipe suggested, but it looked pale once I removed it from the oven. So to give it some color, I brushed the warm loaf with melted butter. It looked much better and didn’t affect the flavor.   I used almond milk so perhaps regular milk would work better, but I’ll probably just use water next time. 

Happy Baking!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for one ray of the sun:
(Center spiral is equivalent to 4 rays)


  1. Your loaf is beautiful Kelly! I enjoyed mine with butter, but ricotta and jam sounds yummy!

  2. I could see eating it all myself. I'd have to hide it in the freezer, though.... Very lovely loaf!

  3. hahahaha!! I wish that I was getting to eat all of our loaf all by myself! (Perhaps I should hide it....) Your sunshine bread looks fabulous. If I were in the same room as you, you'd have to wrench away my lunch hooks so that you could have at least one sunbeam worth.


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