Spiced Date Rye Bread

When one hears rye bread, crusty, hearty artisan style bread comes to mind.  This is not that.  Soft, slightly sweet, flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, this is a different kind of rye bread.  Studded with chewy dates that play off the earthy flavors of the rye flour, this bread is equally at home in savory (grilled cheese!) or sweet applications.

I often get inspiration for new recipes from just browsing the farmers markets, grocery stores or specialty food/kitchen stores.  However, sometimes it comes from life.  My number one bread consumer is my daughter, who happens to have both braces and palate expanders right now.  So, while rye bread has been on the blog schedule for months, when it came time to develop a recipe, I wanted to create a soft and easy to eat bread.  Since dates are her favorite dried fruit, I went with that, but I also tested this bread out with raisins and dried cherries with delicious results.

Dates (or dried fruit of choice) get soaked in hot water. Then soaking water is used in bread. First wet ingredients, then dry.

Mixing up the bread dough is fairly straightforward.  However, the dough is very soft and sticky once kneaded.  I went with a stretch and fold method after the initial kneading to strengthen and help the gluten development before it was baked.  This technique is helpful for high hydration dough, soft and sticky dough, and can also help with whole grain dough because gluten development can sometimes be tricky with all the bran and germ from whole grain flour.  Each time a stretch and fold is completed, the dough gets stronger and easier to handle.

Use the scraper to help gather the sticky dough together once kneaded. Wet hands in cold water (don’t dry) and shape dough into a round to rest/rise. The cold water will prevent the dough from sticking to hands.
After dough has been resting for 30 minutes, visually divide dough into 4-5 pieces like a pie. Gently grab one and pull upwards and then fold over. Repeat with remaining sections. Flip whole ball over so what was once the bottom is now the top. Cover and let rest until ready to do again for a total of 3 times.

This dough needs a full two hours for its first proofing, with 3 stretch and fold applications every 30 minutes.  After two hours, the dough gets turned out onto a floured surface and gently shaped into a loaf.  As the dough is still sticky, do not try to roll out.  Shape by hand to fit loaf pan.

Shape into a rounded rectangle, making sure the seam side is at the bottom when placed in the loaf pan.

Cover and let rise again, until the loaf is just barely peaking above the loaf pan.

This recipe makes one large loaf in a 10 x 5 x 3 inch pan.
If loaf begins to darken more than desired on top while baking, or your oven has terrible hot spots like mine, loosely place a piece of aluminum foil on top of bread halfway through baking.

Make sure to let bread cool before slicing into.  Hope you’ve enjoyed this interpretation of rye bread.  Let us know if you have any questions or comments.  Happy Baking!

Spiced Date Rye Bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 40 minutes

Inactive Time: 4 hours

360 g. (1 1/2 cups) boiling water

227 g. (8 oz.) pitted chopped dates

110 g. (1/2 cup) olive oil

42 g. (2 Tbsp.) honey

12 g. (1 Tbsp.) instant dry yeast

5 g. (1 tsp.) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

330 g. (2 3/4 cups) bread flour OR 311 g. (2 3/4 cup) whole wheat flour*

206 g. (2 cups) dark whole grain rye flour

3 g. (1 1/2 tsp.) ground cinnamon

1 g. (1/2 tsp.) freshly grated nutmeg

6 g. (1 1/2 tsp.) kosher salt

Place boiling water and dates in a heat proof medium size bowl.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

Once dates have soaked, strain and place soaking water in the Ankarsrum stainless steel mixing bowl with roller/scraper along with the olive oil, honey, vanilla bean paste and yeast.  Mix on medium speed (3 o’clock) until combined.

Adjust speed to the lowest setting (12 o’clock) and add in bread flour, rye flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lastly salt.  Once dry ingredients have been incorporated into dough, lock the arm in place about 1 inch from the side of the bowl.  Increase speed to medium low (2 o’clock) and let knead for 5 minutes.

Add in soaked dates and knead for another 5 minutes.

Wet hands in cold water and gather dough into a round ball once kneaded.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Wet hands again in cold water if needed to prevent sticking to dough.  Visually divide dough into 4-5 pie sections and pull one piece gently up and then fold over to other edge of dough round.  Repeat with other sections and then turn whole ball over so the bottom now becomes the top.  Cover and let rest another 30 minutes, repeating folds and stretches two more times after 30 minute period.  After last stretch and fold, cover and let rest for another 30 minutes, for a total of 2 hours proofing/resting time.

Adjust oven rack to second lowest position from the bottom of oven.  Preheat oven to 400° F.  Grease a 10x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently shape into a rectangle to fit in loaf pan.  Place in prepared pan, seam side down.  Cover and let rise until just peaking above edge of pan, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Bake for 40 minutes, until browned on top and internal temperature is between 195-200º F.  If top is beginning to brown too much, loosely cover with aluminum foil.

Let cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Yield: 1 large loaf

*If milling at home, use a hard wheat which has a higher gluten content than soft wheat.

Published by

Carmi Adams

Carmi Adams has loved cooking from a very early age; requesting fondue pots and cookbooks for birthdays as a child. She further pursued her passion for food at the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. Carmi landed a job on the show Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network. For seven years she did everything from food research, recipe development and testing, product testing to feeding a hungry film crew. Now living in the central coast of California, Carmi enjoys the bounty of agriculture, vineyards and farmers markets at her culinary disposal. She has been using the Ankarsrum mixer for over 15 years and feels that it is hands-down the best on the market for home cooks.