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Borodinsky Supreme -- Old School -- 100% Rye

eatalready's picture

Borodinsky Supreme -- Old School -- 100% Rye

Borodinsky bread is my childhood staple food.  We had it practically every day and never grew tired of it. The aroma, the well balanced sweet and sour, the substantial “meaty” crumb and thin glossy crust — should I go on listing all the wonderful things that put this loaf in the bread hall-of-fame?

Nowadays, it seems that every dark rye bread sprinkled with caraway or coriander seed claims the name Borodinsky.  I tried those sorry numbers from stores that carry Russian foods… Half of them are too dry and too fluffy, others are missing that signature tang that only wild sourdough can lend, others still, generously “enhanced” with chemicals resemble very little of the bread we used to eat instead of chocolate.

Over the years, I’ve seen scores of recipes of Borodinsky and, having tried more than enough of them, came to a grim conclusion that the true Borodinsky has become a myth, an urban legend, an elusive unicorn — many claim to have seen one, but none actually delivered the goods.  However, I knew that somewhere out there in the world of used books, there should be an old school formula from soviet bread factories, a so called GOST (Government Mandated Standards) recipe, or even an older one, which, if done right with good ingredients and a bit of careful planning, could yet bear the right results.

Making 100% Rye Borodinsky Supreme

I was right.  There are still some serious bread enthusiasts, both in Russia and otherwise, who dug up the old textbooks and technologies and rendered very good step-by-step instructions accompanied by beautiful photos explaining the process in modern terms and in great detail. Some even dared to adapt for available flour types in each country via many a trial (and, no doubt, some error).  Exciting!

Now to the business of the actual Borodinsky.  Majority of us who grew up with Borodinsky, consumed the part rye/part wheat bread.  It was delicious and we loved every bit of it.  There is, however, a version of Borodinsky of a higher grade, called “supreme”, which is 100% rye.  It blends whole rye and white rye flours in 85/15 proportion.  No wheat to be found. The formula of that bread is cited in the book by Plotnikov called 350 Varieties of Bread (4th Edition, 1940). Some of the formulas in the book existed before government standards were established (1939).  See, many GOST formulas were streamlined for mass production, sometimes simplified, cheapened, etc., while many of the pre-GOST formulas upheld the old school best traditional methods and standards of bread making, thus yielding superior (albeit more labor and time consuming) bread.

Making Red Rye Malt Flour

Sprouting organic rye berries to make red rye malt

Making Red Rye Malt Flour

Final product — red rye malted flour, milled moderately fine

When I stumbled upon the pre-GOST formula, and soon thereafter a detailed blog post with illustrations, I was beside myself. The only thing that stood between me and 100% rye Borodinsky loaf was red rye malt, more precisely, the lack of the above.  Now, that one I still can’t get over.  Possibly due to differences in product naming, and partly due to the fact that I can’t reliably get the true organic red rye malt anywhere in quantities less than 100 kilo (190 lbs), I finally decided to make red rye malt flour at home.  I entrusted myself to the detailed set of instructions I found on this site (THANK YOU!!!), and made my first batch the other day.

Making 100% Rye Borodinsky Supreme

I have to say that the aroma that permeated my house during the roasting process has brought back some serious childhood memories, and for that alone I will be forever grateful.  It also brought the first promise of true Borodinsky in the future, because it smelled exactly like our USSR bread shops filled with still warm unwrapped bread loaves.

Anyway, I am getting distracted here, as my bread is almost done baking and the entire house is now smelling unbearably beautiful.

The process is quite lengthy, but the actual hands-on time is minimal. Good ‘ole “good things come to those who wait” has never been more true (well maybe beat by the famous Pumpernickel). The most important thing here is to plan your pre-baking stages, so that they don’t disrupt your busy schedule.

My impression of the bread: for me it turned out a bit sweet and under-salted, even though I weighed everything quite precisely. The aroma and visual appeal were definitely there. The crumb and crust are both as I remember them. Thin, slightly crunchy crust and substantial, lightly moist, uniformly porous crumb. Color is about milk-chocolate shade. I feel I could have given it a bit more rise and it could be baked at a higher temperature — the top didn’t come out quite as dark as it should be, but the bread was at 180F throughout and baked uniformly through.  I will definitely try this recipe again with the above adjustments.  Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend this formula, especially if you like your bread with a touch of sweetness.  It passed the ultimate test of schmaltz with cracklings and coarse salt, the sweetness of the loaf was just perfect for this.


- Detailed blog post with superb step-by-step photo of rye+wheat Borodinsky 1939 version (in Russian)

- Blog post with excellent photos  of 100% rye Borodinsky Supreme (in Russian)

Borodinsky Supreme

Makes a small loaf in a 1-1/2 quart (1.4 liter) pan.
From start to finish (with some steps going simultaneously) – 14-16 hrs

Step 1: Rye starter

Refresh your 100% hydration rye starter (6-8 hrs), you will need 125 g of it

Step 2: Scalding (5-6 hrs)

  • 200 g boiled water at 150F (65C)
  •   50 g whole rye flour
  •   25 g red rye malt flour

Step 3: Pre-ferment  (3-4 hrs or until doubles or more)

  • all of the scalded batch
  • 125 g refreshed starter
  • 125 g whole rye flour
  • 125 g water, room temperature

Step 4: Final dough — soft and very sticky (30-90 min bulk fermentation or until doubles or more)

  • all of the preferment
  • 200 g whole rye flour
  •   75 g white rye flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 30 g sugar
  • 25 g molasses (I used Blackstrap)
  • 2.5 g ground coriander (best if freshly ground for more intense flavor)
  • 0.5 g dry yeast activated in 75 g water and 3 g sugar (20 minutes)

Step 5: Shaping and final proofing (60 min or until tops the pan)

Grease 1.5 quart loaf pan. Pack the dough nicely into corners at first and then the rest. Smooth over with wet hands. Cover with plastic and let rise until reaches the top of the loaf pan.

Step 6: Flour washing (1 min)

Mix 1 tbsp AP flour with 50 ml water, shake well. Brush the bread right before setting into the oven. Sprinkle the top sparingly with whole coriander or caraway seed, if desire

Step 7: Baking (60 min)

Preheat to 400F (200C). Bake 60 minutes.

Step 8: Kissel (custard) washing (1 min)

Mix 1 tsp corn or potato starch with 150 ml water. Bring to a boil.  Brush the bread as soon as it finishes baking. Remove the loaf from pan and cool on rack.

Flour wash before baking and custard wash after baking are needed for creating that famous beautiful glossy, almost lacquered looking crust on top of the loaf, which also prevents the bread from going stale too fast.


mrfrost's picture

Looks good but, I honestly wouldn't know they were the same breads, by the appearance of the crumbs/profiles.

I know it's not to easy to do though. I tried a somewhat similar 100% rye loaf that looked like the loaf below(from your link) but could not get that open crumb and rounded, risen profile on my first two attempts. Still a very tasty, substantial bread though.


eatalready's picture

You are right, mine looks different due to various factors. Here are some: one - I feel I should have let the final proof go longer, but the dough had reached the edges of the loaf pan and I caved in and started baking. Next time I should go with the gut. Secondly, I read a bit more on the technique, and it looks like they are deliberately shaping the top to be rounded. I didn't shape mine at all, just smoothed it over instead. Third - the loaf pan they use in Russia is narrower and taller. I have yet to find one like this here in the States. Most of the ones you can buy are somewhere within 2.5" - 3.5" height range. That's not enough to create that perfect sandwich slice you see on Russian blog. So there you go. I will definitely be trying this formula again with minor personal taste adjustments and if I come up with better visual, will certainly publish the update. Thanks for your input!

Angelica Nelson's picture
Angelica Nelson

I'm going to be missing real rye bread due to Celiac, for the rest of my life.  But a lot of what you said makes sense for gluten free baking as well.  Especially the tall/narrower loaf pan.  With a lower gluten content, you'd want the escaping gas to get a second and third chance at being caught by upper layers.  Congratulations on remaking a classic!  What about a local school?  Do they have a metal shop that could make the pans for you? 

Gadjowheaty's picture

A 9" pullman without lid wouldn't work well, then, guys?

suave's picture

That's because they weren't.  There's at least half a dozen of various iterations of the recipe, and they never really stopped tinkering with it.

mrfrost's picture

Did you bother to click on the link(s) provided in the op?

Guess not.

suave's picture

I am sorry, I do not understand what are you trying to say.  Is there something in those links that contradicts what I wrote?

dabrownman's picture

pumpernickel that my German apprentice prefers, this is my favorite  kind of bread and we like your recipe and example of it very much.  Well done and a great post

Mini Oven got me shaping the tops in a dome so there is no sinking middle problem.  I agree with you 8 g of salt would be much better.  I personally would put at 5-t 8 g of coriander in there.  After toasting, half would be cracked and half would be ground with a another bit of whole seed on top. 

I like to autolyse the whole grains for at least 4 hours with some diastatic white malt in there and some in the low temperature red malt/rye scald too.  I use home milled flour so no extra malt.  Store bought whole or white rye flour doesn't usually have diastatic malt added at the mill.  A couple of grams (one in the scald and 1 in the autolyse) seems to work well in getting those sugars released from the carbohydrates available for the wee beasties to eat and the browning is even better too.

I really like the washing and custard.  I usually only do the custard for Jewish Deli Rye breads in the 30% to 40% whole rye range

After my post on how to make red rye malt, i also posted a white malt procedure on how to make white diastaic malt and make during the same red malt process.  after about 4 days of sprouting you take the whole batch and dry them at 150 F.  Once dry then take half and grind them = white malt and then take the temperature up on the other half to make red malt.  Glad it worked for you and thankls for translating a prewar Russian rescipe for this great bread.

You are right - Tte smell in the kitchen as it  bakes is .....killer and worth the work alone!

Happy baking!

Floydm's picture

Really nice post. Would you mind if I featured it on the homepage for a bit?

eatalready's picture

Would be delighted if you do. Go right ahead! Thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to go over the edge, wet your teflon scraper or bench scraper and gently push the dough back over the edge of the pan.   Mist ever so lightly to prevent sticking and shape it back into a dome gently pushing the dough toward the top middle from the sides as a mass.  

If your rye starter at least doubles when refreshed or when making the preferment, skip the yeast.  Too fast a rise can lead to collapse with gas loss as the delicate matrix is stretched too fast during the rise.   

Step 4, don't let dough double.  Doc many times with a wet toothpick, and bake earlier.  Let the dough "spring" some in the oven.  

You'll find that pan, just keep looking.  Meanwhile make the best of the narrowest one you've got.  I'm in the same situation.  :)   

Gadjowheaty's picture

I'm sorry to resurrect. But this thread is mind blowing.  The comment about store-bought Borodinsky squared with me - dry as a bone.  But that aroma is something I've never experienced in my life before.

I've got one wheat - the Rubaud pain au levain now.  And I've been searching for a rye to focus on, despite pmccool's kind and wise advice regarding the Ginsberg (basically, try something you like, at will).  This bread, perhaps a good seminal German bread, and a Baltic - keystones.  Anyway - so much to learn.  This is wonderful looking bread (and I appreciate suave's comments - I've seen several "Borodinskys" - starting with the GOST 1940 seems like as good a place as any).

Sorry, OT:  Mini - any Austrian favorite you might recommend?

108 breads's picture
108 breads

My grandmother used schmaltz during Passover before dairy products were available for the holiday. Good pumpernickel like yours was for other occasions. The best schmaltz expression was "the schmaltz is running," as in that person is too thin to have any schmaltz, a comment for when a thin person complains about his or her weight. What a treat to see that word used again, albeit in a much more literal, and less judgmental, setting.

What a neat recipe. Thank you for sharing.

eatalready's picture

I love schmaltz. My husband calls me a fat worshiper because of this. I always try rendering chicken fat if I have any extra left after making chicken liver pate.  But my favorite kind of schmaltz is goose fat.  There's never a shortage of that when roasting a goose. Add some cracklings and finely chopped fried onions, slather that on a slice of meaty bread, especially the dark one, and you are in hog heaven. Long live schmaltz!

rossnroller's picture

Your anticipation and excitement comes through. Reminded me of the feeling I had when realising I could finally experience again the wonderful breads I discovered while living in Germany in the 80s - by baking them myself!

Gotta try your old school Borodinsky. Thanks for your inspiration.


Yerffej's picture

Beautiful bread and a great post.

Thanks,   Jeff

...if loving schmaltz makes one a fat worshiper, count me in.

davidg618's picture

And I have a question for anyone to answer. This post is timely for me. Rye breads are my main baking focus at the moment.

Is red rye malt available commercially (in home use quantities) in the USA?

Although I'm a homebrewer, and know how grains are malted, I've never malted a single grain of anything. I'ved read over Dabrownman's rye berry malting method, and it's certainly doable, however it raised a couple more questions. Can I simply buy some malted Rye from a homebrew shop and grind it into a powder?

I assume the rye malt is used as a flavor component in that the roasting temperatures--375°F is the highest specified--will denature the rye's amylase enzymes, and rye flours are normally high in amylase content so adding more seems inappropriate.

But I could be wrong which leads to another question.

I regularly use diastatic wheat malt and non-diastatic wheat malt syrup; I have  them on hand. Can I substitute the appropriate malt(s) without losing some important flavor element, sweetness or rising power? Asked another way, is the malt used for its amylase enzyme content and/or as a flavor contributor?


David G

dabrownman's picture

a purist would use red rye malt for a Borodinski, but since we aren't those and barley malt is even better, you can use the roasted barley berries at the br4ew shop and grind them up.  This is where Vards found my personal favorite 'double chocolate roasted barley malt'.  At the brew shop you will be able to pick from a variety of malted roasted barley.  I would go with the darkest they have.  Enzymes are all unusually cooked dead at 150 to  200 F - at 375 F they are really double dog dare ya dead :-)

Happy baking

jkandell's picture

"Can I simply buy some malted Rye from a homebrew shop and grind it into a powder?"

David, Borodinsky is one of my favorite breads. I buy brewing yeast at the brewer's shop and grind it in my coffee grinder. I've tried rye yeast and it's good; but my favorite for this bread is actually the common Maris Otter 2-row barley. 

MatteKat's picture

to read about, thank you. I am a really novice bread baker, but I'm going to keep this recipe on hand for a day when I feel like a challenge. It sounds so good!

jkandell's picture

Terrific post and photos. Thanks so much, including the links.  Does all "real" Borodinsky really use molasses?  I find the flavor overwhelms the delicacy of the other flavors, so have over the years switched to a tiny bit of honey instead. 

eatalready's picture

The original (GOST) recipe calls for "патока" (pronounced "pAh-to-kah"), a byproduct of sugar making used in food production.  It is used interchangeably with high concentrated syrups; Russians recognize light (corn starch or potato starch syrup) and dark (molasses). Patoka and high concentrated syrup are not the same, but the terms are used interchangeably. In home cookery, syrups are used more commonly.

I used molasses for richer flavor and darker color, but I am positive it can be substituted with honey, malted barley syrup, or dark corn syrup without any harm to the final product.

rff000's picture

There is an Estonian source of fermented rye malt  (красный ферментированный ржаной солод) at


I'm afraid they'd only sell large quantities. Maybe someone can import this to the USA someday.

Little German baker's picture
Little German baker

I got to try this one.  Right now I am experimenting with recipes to get this kind of bread I grew up with.

I want to add a malt flavour to my bread but not sure which malt product to use.  My supplier carries Carastan Malt Flour and Dry Malt 3LD non diastolic flour. Is any of this like your red rye malt?


Ogi the Yogi's picture
Ogi the Yogi

can anyone recommend an appropriate bread pan for Borodinsky bread as you can't find the Russian one you need to bake them in, or has anyone found a place that sells the traditional russian Bread pans with lids on them? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

pan.  Because of the shiny pan, I removed the whole loaf from the pan to brown on the rack toward the end of the bake.  Using parchment in the pan made it easy to tip out the hot loaf quickly to get back into the oven..

cremple's picture

What can I substitute for the red rye malt flour? Something commercially available.

eatalready's picture

If you are able to grind your own flour, this is the product I use:

Simpsons Crystal Rye - 1 LB, Uncrushed


jkandell's picture

You can substitite any malt. I use Maris Otter but any malt will do since it's just for flavor.  I buy at brew store and grind in coffee grinder. Red malt is unique but it's still basically malt. 

CarlThePigFarmer's picture

Ah, amazing.The write up, the pictures. All of it just outstanding.

I can't wait to try this. I didn't even know I wanted too until I opened this thread.

marysland's picture

I totally changed my diet about a year and a half ago. I began making 100% Rye sourdough starter and experimenting with various recipes. I added wheat for a good 8 -10 months I then decided that I really wanted 100% rye bread and I wanted it organic. I tried several recipes and lots of batches later have one that looks identical to the picture of the one you show here. My Polish Grandmother's maiden name Bochenska means loaf of bread I think and I was determined to make a healthful bread from only rye clearly it must be in my genes. I am so excited to make my malt flour now that I must find a good home mill. Thanks for the blog

Felicity's picture

Would this recipe go ok without molasses? What could I use as a substitute? 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe!

Just curious, does anyone know what is the purpose of adding some white rye flour, why not all whole rye?

I just don't see the point in white rye flour in principle, to be honest, if you want rye flavour, just go for whole rye! Maybe I am missing something important about their properties?

ylmp's picture

A number of other Borodinsky recipes use a small portion of AP, sometimes WW. Perhaps to lighten up the end result. Using white rye flour achieves a similar effect while staying 100% rye.