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Polish Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [Chleb Żytni Na Zakwasie]

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chleb żytni na zakwasie with a buttered slice.
Chleb żytni na zakwasie

The Polish sourdough rye bread recipe from the times of the People’s Republic of Poland is a dark golden brown in color. Tasty and aromatic, you’ll love the crispy exterior and soft center of chleb żytni na zakwasie.

Czarny Chleb I Czarna Kawa! 

If you don’t have the rye sourdough starter, check out this Polish rye bread with yeast.

Do you remember the song “Czarny chleb i czarna kawa”? It means “Black bread and black coffee”. An anthem of communist times in Poland, people older than me will recall the meaning of this song. 

There was almost no food in the shops. To get something better than black bread, vodka, coffee, tea, milk, and other basic food, you needed to stand in a queue for a very long time, sometimes even for a few days.

Poland was under Russian influence from 1945 until 1989, and the recipe for this dark bread was officially approved by Stalin. One of the few things to eat that were always available was this dark rye bread.

So many of the old generation in Poland are not fond of the bread. They think white bread is luxurious and sourdough bread is for the poorest. They can’t stand the taste of chleb żytni na zakwasie. I’ve never seen my grandparents have it 😉

But being born 2 years after Poland became a free country means I saw a different side of Poland growing up. The younger generation like myself really likesthis bread. It’s healthy, filling, and delicious!

How To Make No-knead Rye Sourdough Bread

The dark sourdough rye bread recipe is very easy to make with just 4 ingredients. However, it’s very time-consuming. If you don’t have the rye sourdough starter, you need 5 days to make it from scratch.

Zakwas zytni sourdough starter.
Zakwas zytni sourdough starter

Then it takes another 24-27 hours to get the final bread. You are basically mixing a little bit of rye flour and water at a time, and repeating the process over a period of 4 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours, and 2 hours. 

rye flour with sourdough starter.
Step One – Mix the rye flour with sourdough starter and water
Rye sourdough resting.
Step Two – Leave the dough to rest
Flour added to sourdough starter.
Step Three – Flour added to sourdough starter
Mixing the sourdough batter.
Step Four – Mixing the sourdough batter after adding more flour
Rye flour dough.
Step Five – Rye flour dough rising
Adding more flour to dough.
Step Six – Adding more flour to dough
Final sourdough batter.
Keep repeating the steps till you have the final sourdough batter ready

The sourdough rye bread is then left to rest in the loaf pans for another 45 minutes before baking. So follow the instructions in the recipe card below closely while making it. 

You can slice the bread when it’s completely cold, but Polish sourdough rye bread tastes best the next day! 

Sourdough batter in loaf pans.
Add the sourdough batter to loaf pans
Flatten the dough with your hands.
Flatten the dough with your hands
Sourdough bread on cooling racks.
Sourdough bread is ready!
Dark golden rye sourdough bread.
The rye sourdough bread has a lovely dark brown color
chleb żytni na zakwasie.
Once cool, cut the chleb żytni na zakwasie into slices and serve!

Tips For Polish Dark Rye Bread Recipe

chleb żytni na zakwasie with one buttered slice.
Chleb żytni na zakwasie tastes perfect with soft butter!

FAQs About Polish Sourdough Rye Bread

Why Was The Dark Sourdough Rye Bread Eaten During World Wars And Communist Times?

The dark rye sourdough bread had a few plus points that made it more popular during times of strife:

  • It was ok to eat for up to 2 weeks which made it the perfect food for the soldiers. That’s why this rye bread is sometimes called Russian soldier bread.
  • Rye bread is heavy and filling. After eating just 2 slices you would be full for a long time, which was important in times of shortages and lack.

Where Did Rye Bread Originate?

Rye as a crop is believed to have been introduced to Europe by the Saxons when their wheat crops failed. From there rye bread spread all over Europe and has been eaten in most countries including Poland since Medieval Times. Of course, rye flour has also been used in Asia and Africa for the same amount of time or longer.

What If The Bread Is Not Rising Properly?

If the bread is not rising properly, it might be because the zakwas is too young. Add a bit more the next time, or wait for the zakwas starter to be a few weeks old before using it. 

It can also be because of the weather. For the last rise, it’s important that the dough is in a warm place. If the weather is cold, put the bread in an oven at 40 degrees Celsius for it to rise.

If It Takes More Than 24 Hours When Do I Start Making The Bread?

To make this bread, start a day earlier. If you want to eat it for the dinner, start making it the afternoon of the day before. Or if you want to bake it for breakfast, start the leavening process two nights earlier. 

How To Store Polish Sourdough Rye Bread?

Rye bread can be stored for 4 to 5 days in a covered dish on the counter, or for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

Polish Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [Chleb Żytni Na Zakwasie]

Yield: 20 slices

Polish Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe (Chleb Żytni Na Zakwasie)

chleb żytni na zakwasie with a buttered slice.

The Polish sourdough rye bread recipe from the times of the People's Republic of Poland is a dark golden brown in color. Tasty and aromatic, you'll love the crispy exterior and soft center of chleb żytni na zakwasie.

Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsps of rye sourdough starter
  • 7 ⅓ cups of rye flour
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 ½ tbsps of honey
  • 1 tbsp of salt

Instructions

  1. If you don't have a rye sourdough starter, use this recipe to make it at home (it takes 5 days).
  2. In a big bowl, mix rye sourdough starter with 1 cup of rye flour and ½ cup of purified, lukewarm water. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 6 hours.

6 Hours Later

  1. Add 1 cup of rye flour and ½ cup of purified, warm water, and mix. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 10-12 hours.

12 Hours Later

  1. Add ⅘ cup of rye flour and ½ cup of purified, warm water (a bit warmer than in the previous step), and mix. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 3-4 hours. The dough should double or triple its size.

4 Hours Later

  1. Dissolve salt with 1 ½ cup of very warm purified water.
  2. Add honey and mix.
  3. Add the mixture to the dough, and add 4 ½ cups of rye flour. Mix using your hand or a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours.

2 Hours Later

  1. Oil the 13 x 4'' bread pan, then sprinkle with rye flour. Shake off the remaining flour.
  2. Oil your hands and transfer the dough onto the bread pan.
  3. Using your hand or silicone brush, oil the top of the bread. Leave in a warm place for about 45-60 minutes.

45 Minutes Later

  1. Preheat the oven to 464°F (240°C).
  2. Put the bread into the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 356°F (180°C). Bake for another 70-80 minutes.
  4. When the bread is ready, place it on the cooling rack and sprinkle it with cold water (it will make the bread skin crispier).

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 143Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 351mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

These data are indicative and calculated by Nutritionix

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