"RYE FLOUR: Whole-grain rye is made by grinding rye berries into a variety of textures and colors, categorized according to the amount of bran and germ left in after milling. These grinds include light, medium, and dark flours and pumpernickel rye, which is a coarse meal rather than a flour. The coarser the flour grind, the more robust the flavor, the darker the color, and the denser your bread. The rye flour most commonly available in supermarkets is medium-grind, good for general bread making when combined with wheat flour."
*makes two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaves*
FOR THE SPONGE
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups medium-grind rye flour
1/4 cup unsulfured light molasses
3 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil, plus extra for greasing
2 tsp salt
3 1/2-4 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed
rye flour for dusting
1) To make the sponge, combine the water and yeast in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Stir to dissolve. Add the rye flour, molasses, brown sugar, and fennel seeds. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until bubbly, about 1 hour.
2) Add the oil, salt, and 1 cup of the bread flour to the sponge and switch to the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in the remaining bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed, adding bread flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth and elastic but slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled deep bowl and turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.
3) Lightly grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 2 equal portions. Knead lightly a few times, then pat each portion into a long rectangle. Fold each rectangle like a letter, overlapping the short sides in the middle; press to flatten. Beginning at a narrow end, tightly roll up the dough into a thick log, then roll back and forth with your palms until it is the same length as the pan. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal, dust lightly all over with a little rye flour, and place in the pans, tucking the ends under to make a neat, snug fit. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until about 1 inch above each pan rim, about 1 hour.
4) Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a thin, sharp knife, gently make 3 shallow diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and crusty, 50-55 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.
If you want to print this recipe out, go here to its link on the Williams-Sonoma site.