Prep 1 hr
Cook 35 mins
From Susan Wiggs' book Winter Lodge: Pine Box Traditions. "It's a Polish wedding tradition to give a new bride a supply a starter for sourdough rye bread. I suspect it's a combination of tradition and desperation on the part of the bride. It just doesn't seem fair to add the pressure of making a good bread right out of the gate to everything else the poor girl is juggling."
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast or 4 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast, separated
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 cups warm water, 80 degrees F
- 1 slice onion
- 4 cups rye flour
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed (optional)
- The night before making the bread, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, dissolve one packet of yeast and the sugar in 2 cups of water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rye flour until the mixture is smooth. Add the onion slice. Cover and let stand overnight.
- The next day, dissolve the remaining package of yeast in the buttermilk. Add the rye flour mixture, baking soda, salt, 4 cups of the bread flour and stir to combine.
- Add the remaining 4 cups of bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition (you may not need to add all the flour).
- When the dough has become a smooth and coherent mass, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the caraway seeds on the dough and knead them in until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until the volume has doubled.
- Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into three pieces. Form each piece into a loaf and place in 3 lightly greased 9x5 inch bread pans. Cover and let rise until nearly double, about 1 hour.
- Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes 0r until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.