Russian Sourdough Borodinsky Bread {rye + coriander}

Borodinsky Bread is one of the most favorite varieties of bread in Russia. Made with whole grain rye and wheat flour, aromatic coriander (less often – caraway), molasses and rye malt, it is very flavorful and satisfying. To this day, no artificial ingredients found their way to even commercial production. Borodinsky is loved not only for its flavor profile but also the abundance of health benefits that come from eating fermented whole grains, and especially rye.

Health benefits of rye

Rye contains a lot of phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B1. It’s remarkable because of the ratio of magnesium to calcium, which is 4:1. Magnesium is important because it is essential for calcium absorption but most people don’t get nearly enough. Calcium, on the other hand, is consumed in excess but when it’s not able to be properly absorbed by our bodies – it gets deposited along the joints causing arthritis, within arteries leading to atherosclerosis, etc.

Another reason to eat sourdough rye bread is because the amount of phytate (an acid in grains that binds to important minerals making them unavailable for human digestion) goes way down after even a short fermentation period and exponentially decreases with longer fermentation (source). Heat treatment, just basic oven baking, also reduces the phytic acid content in rye to 15% of the original amount (source), a much more dramatic reduction that in any other grains. So if overconsumption of phytic acid is a concern to you – getting familiar with rye should definitely be on your list.

History of Borodinsky Bread: three versions

First one talks about the great battle of Borodino of 1812 (the war between Russia and France), with nearly 250,000 fighting. The story has it that one of the food trailers that contained caraway and rye flour got blasted by a canon, and resourceful locals, not waste food in scarce times, used the mixture of rye and caraway to bake bread. Because of the specific taste and place of discovery, it received its name. Caraway was eventually replaced by coriander early last century, but is still occasionally used.

The second version is a lot more sad. One of the ranking corpsmen Alexander Tuchkov had a wife Margarita, both deeply devoted to each other. Several years before 1812, Margarita had a dream revelation that her husband was going to meet his fate at a place called Borodino, who at the time nobody ever heard of. As the great battle transpired, Tuchkov perished among the many dead with his remains never found. Eventually, grief stricken Margarita built a church (Spas Nerukotvorni) on the same field, which became a monastery where she spent the remainder of her life. The monastery had a bakery, serving fragrant black bread with valuable qualities – it tasted pleasant, stayed fresh for a long time and provided a lot of energy. That bread later became known as Borodinsky.

The third version states that composer and chemist Alexander Borodin brought the idea for the bread to Moscow from Italy where he got interested in local baking. This version tends to get dismissed since rye wasn’t widely cultivated in Southern Europe.

My personal take on Borodinsky bread

The recipe has evolved quite a bit, the current standard uses mostly wheat with some rye, and includes dry yeast. My baseline was a recipe from 1939, which uses sourdough for leavening, and majority of the flour is whole grain rye. I adjusted the recipe to suit my taste. I prefer less dark exterior and crumb that’s a little wet. Some of the commercial breads have a completely black top and are pretty dry. Here is an image search for Borodinsky to give you an idea of what it can look like.

Borodinsky Bread can be 100% rye without any wheat

You can substitute whole wheat flour in my recipe for the same amount of rye flour. From what I understand, the oldest recipes didn’t have any wheat. It was later added to the official government recipe (GOST) in the early 20th century, to improve dough stability.

borodinsky bread

HOW TO MAKE RUSSIAN SOURDOUGH BORODINSKY BREAD

Ingredients
Mash (Zavarka)
80g whole grain rye flour (mine is home milled)
25g fermented red rye malt powder (how to make red rye malt) or any non diastatic dark malt powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander (best to use whole seeds and grind them same day)
250g boiling water

Sponge (Zakvaska)
150g active rye starter (how to make rye starter) or whatever starter you have sitting around
140g water (about 2/3 cup)
All mash
170g whole grain rye flour

Dough
All sponge
100g water
20g unsulfured molasses
30g sugar (I use sucanat)
100g whole grain rye flour
100g whole grain spelt flour
5 g salt (teaspoon)
Whole or crushed coriander for topping

Equipment
Oven with bread proof setting (100ºF) – not necessary but makes life easier and results more predictable
Glass mixing bowls
Silicon lid
Pullman bread loaf pan (I like it because the sides are straight up)
Parchment paper (not necessary if loaf pan is new)

Instructions
TO MAKE MASH:
Turn oven to 160ºF. Combine 80g whole grain rye flour with 25g of dark rye malt powder and 2 teaspoons ground coriander.
Add 250g boiling water.

borodinsky bread
Mix well; cover with an airtight lid (I use a silicon cover).
Place into the oven, set timer for 3 hours.

borodinsky bread
Once done, set aside to cool slightly.
TO MAKE SPONGE:
Whisk 150g rye starter with 140g water until milky and frothy.

sourdough borodinksy bread
Add cooled mash, whisk until well combined.

sourdough borodinsky bread
Add 170g rye flour, mix with a spoon to incorporate.

sourdough borodinsky bread
Cover again, and leave to proof until bubbly under the surface (3-4 hours at ‘bread proof’ oven setting, or 100ºF, longer if room temperature. The dough will not visually change much on top, just will become airy, slightly puffed up. If you look under the surface, it should be very bubbly.

sourdough borodinsky bread
TO MAKE DOUGH:
To the bowl with sponge, add 100g water, 20g molasses and 30g sugar. Mix with a spatula to blend.

sourdough borodinsky bread
Add 100g rye flour, 100g whole spelt flour and 5g salt. Mix well.

sourdough borodinsky bread
Transfer dough with spoon or spatula to bread loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle with whole coriander seeds, if desired. Smooth top with wet hand. Leave at bread proofing temperature (100ºF) for 45 minutes, longer for room temperature, look for signs of noticeable rise and airy top.

sourdough borodinsky bread
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Place bread to the oven, bake for 10 minutes.
Lower temperature to 350ºF, bake for 45-50 minutes.
When done, place Borodinsky bread on a wire rack and remove parchment paper.
It is best to wait 24 hours before slicing (I know – it’s hard!) but this will help stabilize the crumb. Bread loses water during rest, which helps prevent/reduce sticky and gummy crumb. I store it wrapped in linen towel and plastic bag over that.

Notes
My rye flour is home milled from whole grain berries. I’m saying that because different flours perform differently, and recipe has been working consistently for me for a while. I use this Victorio mill with a motor. It’s been running forever!
The reason for preheating oven to 450ºF is we try to quickly capture the initial stream reaction, which helps to make crumb more open. Once we open the oven, the temperature goes down quite a bit; so basically we are overheating from the start to compensate for heat loss.
Whole coriander and ground coriander taste different to different people, some love the taste of ground coriander in the bread but not like biting into the actual seeds. Feel free to omit sprinkling the seeds on top.
Rye bread would never be as dry as wheat because of its unique gluten structure. It’s normal for rye to be a little wet.
You can increase the sponge proof time, if you like your Borodinsky bread more sour. This will also help reduce stickiness.

If you like rye, try this simple sourdough rye bread or Russian rye wheat bread, rye sourdough pancakes, Siberian rye cookies or even rye sourdough cake.

Russian Sourdough Borodinsky Bread {rye + coriander}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Traditional Russian dark sourdough Borodinsky Bread made with whole grain rye and coriander is very flavorful and healthy.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Russian
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • Mash (Zavarka)
  • 80g whole grain rye flour (mine is home milled)
  • 25g fermented red rye malt powder (how to make red rye malt) or any non diastatic dark malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander (best to use whole seeds and grind them same day)
  • 250g boiling water
  • Sponge (Zakvaska)
  • 150g active rye starter (how to make rye starter) or whatever starter you have sitting around
  • 140g water (about ⅔ cup)
  • All mash
  • 170g whole grain rye flour
  • Dough
  • All sponge
  • 100g water
  • 20g unsulfured molasses
  • 30g sugar (I use sucanat)
  • 100g whole grain rye flour
  • 100g whole grain spelt flour
  • 5 g salt (teaspoon)
  • Whole or crushed coriander for topping
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE MASH:
  2. Turn oven to 160ºF. Combine 80g whole grain rye flour with 25g of dark rye malt powder and 2 teaspoons ground coriander.
  3. Add 250g boiling water.
  4. Mix well; cover with an airtight lid (I use a silicon cover).
  5. Place into the oven, set timer for 3 hours.
  6. Once done, set aside to cool slightly.
  7. TO MAKE SPONGE:
  8. Whisk 150g rye starter with 140g water until milky and frothy.
  9. Add cooled mash, whisk until well combined.
  10. Add 170g rye flour, mix with a spoon to incorporate.
  11. Cover again, and leave to proof until bubbly under the surface (3-4 hours at 'bread proof' oven setting, or 100ºF, longer if room temperature. The dough will not visually change much on top, just will become airy, slightly puffed up. If you look under the surface, it should be very bubbly.
  12. TO MAKE DOUGH:
  13. To the bowl with sponge, add 100g water, 20g molasses and 30g sugar. Mix with a spatula to blend.
  14. Add 100g rye flour, 100g whole spelt flour and 5g salt. Mix well.
  15. Transfer dough with spoon or spatula to bread loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  16. Sprinkle with whole coriander seeds, if desired. Smooth top with wet hand. Leave at bread proofing temperature (100ºF) for 45 minutes, longer for room temperature, look for signs of noticeable rise and airy top.
  17. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  18. Place bread to the oven, bake for 10 minutes.
  19. Lower temperature to 350ºF, bake for 45-50 minutes.
  20. When done, place Borodinsky bread on a wire rack and remove parchment paper.
  21. It is best to wait 24 hours before slicing (I know - it's hard!) but this will help stabilize the crumb. Bread loses water during rest, which helps prevent/reduce sticky and gummy crumb. I store it wrapped in linen towel and plastic bag over that.
Notes
My rye flour is home milled from whole grain berries. I'm saying that because different flours perform differently, and recipe has been working consistently for me for a while. I use this Victorio mill with a motor. It's been running forever!
The reason for preheating oven to 450ºF is we try to quickly capture the initial stream reaction, which helps to make crumb more open. Once we open the oven, the temperature goes down quite a bit; so basically we are overheating from the start to compensate for heat loss.
Whole coriander and ground coriander taste different to different people, some love the taste of ground coriander in the bread but not like biting into the actual seeds. Feel free to omit sprinkling the seeds on top.
Rye bread would never be as dry as wheat because of its unique gluten structure. It's normal for rye to be a little wet.
You can increase the sponge proof time, if you like your Borodinsky bread more sour. This will also help reduce stickiness.

 

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