Rye and Caraway Loaf


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

This rye and caraway loaf is a favourite at Bourke Street Bakery. We tried to take this loaf off the menu once and lived to regret it. A backlash ensued — not quite people marching in the streets, but we did receive a dozen angry emails. Rightly so.

This loaf provides a meal in a slice, with great flavour and texture. The cumin seeds came late to the recipe. Like many great discoveries, it happened by accident when an apprentice, not knowing the difference between cumin and caraway seeds, topped up the caraway bucket with cumin seeds — voila! You will need to soak the rye grain in water for two days before you make this loaf.


  • 25 g (1 oz) rye grain or quinoa
  • 70 ml ( fl oz) water
  • 20 g (¾ oz/2 tablespoons) sunflower seeds
  • 865 g (1 lb 14½ oz) sourdough dough
  • 5 g ( oz/ teaspoons) caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 90 g ( oz) rye starter


Put the rye grain in a bowl and pour over the water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to soak for 2 days. Drain well and set aside until needed.

To toast the sunflower seeds, cool them on a baking tray in a preheated 180°C (350°C/Gas 4) oven for about 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside and allow to cool completely before adding to the dough.

To make the rye and caraway loaf, follow the instructions for mixing sourdough until you can create a window. Lightly mix in the rye grain, combined seeds and rye starter. You can do this by hand by lightly folding the ingredients through the dough until just combined, or simply add it to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for 2–3 minutes on slow speed — you will need to give it a helping hand by stopping the mixer a few times to push the dough around the bowl. Lightly grease a container with oil spray and sit the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at ambient room temperature (approximately 20°C/68°F) for 1 hour to bulk prove.

To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press out into a rectangle, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Use your hands to fold one-third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the oiled container and continue to bulk prove for a further 1 hour.

Use a blunt knife or divider to divide the dough into two even-sized portions, about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) each. Working with one portion of dough at a time, continue to shape the loaves following the instructions for , shaping a round loaf.

Line two small baskets with a tea towel (dish towel) in each, lightly dust both with flour and place a loaf inside each, seam side up. If you are using a traditional cane basket, you don’t need the tea towel and can simply dust the basket with flour. Alternatively, you can place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Place in the refrigerator loosely covered with a plastic bag for 8–12 hours.

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them rest in a humid place (25°C/77°F — this could take anywhere between 1 and 4 hours — until each loaf has grown in size by two-thirds. If the loaves push back steadily and quickly when you push lightly into them with a finger then they are ready. Score the loaves and place in the oven.

Spray the oven with water and bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves or trays around, and bake for a further 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure that the loaves do not burn. Check the base of each loaf with a tap of your finger — if it sounds hollow, it is ready. Baking should take no longer than 40 minutes in total.