Lily McCann's Borodinsk-ish

Inspired by the classic Russian rye bread.

Coriander seeds. Photo CC0 public domain

Coriander seeds. Photo CC0 public domain

Lily McCann set herself a mission of coming as close to an authentic Borodinsky bread as she could in her own kitchen.

She says: "This recipe makes a dark bread with a crumb sturdy enough to use as a base for open sandwiches, but also soft enough to have as toast with some crumbly cheddar. It’s full of warm spice and sweetness from the molasses, with a rustic touch of dark rye."



  • 20g rye starter (100% hydration)
  • 40g water, room temperature
  • 60g dark rye flour


  • 30g roasted barley malt flour
  • 2tsp (heaped) ground coriander
  • 90g dark rye flour
  • 300g water, boiling


  • 90g stiff rye starter (above)
  • 370g scald (above)
  • 185g dark rye flour

Final dough

  • All of pre-ferment
  • 100g water, room temperature
  • 30g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 25g dark molasses
  • 2tsp whole coriander
  • 100g dark rye flour
  • 75g white bread flour

Whole coriander seeds


Day 1 (evening)

Starter: Mix together the starter ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and leave overnight to ferment at room temperature.

Scald: Bring water to the boil and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Mix all but 2tbsp of rye flour with the roasted barley malt flour and ground coriander. Pour hot water into the flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Mix in the remaining rye flour until smooth. Cover bowl with clingfilm, then fully wrap the bowl in foil. Place the bowl in the oven with just the light on (or elsewhere slightly above room temperature) and leave to ferment overnight.

Day 2 (morning)
Pre-ferment: Mix together the rye flour with 90g of the starter and 370g of the scald. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the oven (with just the light on again) for four hours to ferment.

Day 2 (afternoon)
Final dough: The pre-ferment should have increased in volume slightly and developed a sweet smell. Dissolve salt, sugar and molasses in water and mix together with the other ingredients and pre-ferment. Cover with cling wrap and put back in the oven to ferment for 2-3 hours.

Day 2 (evening)
The dough will have increased in volume, should have little bubbles on the surface and look almost impossible to shape. Oil or grease a 1kg loaf tin, then sprinkle the base and sides with coriander seeds. Lay a large piece of clingfilm on your work surface and oil well. Scoop the dough onto the clingfilm and shape into an oblong by lifting the sides of the film and rolling it with your hands.  Place the dough into the tin, pushing it right into corners and smoothing the top with wet hands. Sprinkle with coriander seeds and press them in.

Cover the loaf loosely and leave to prove in a warm place for 2-3 hours until you can see small cracks appearing on the surface.

Preheat oven to 200°C (fan) and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the bread is a rich, brown colour and comes away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes, then on a cooling rack for about an hour.

Wrap the warm bread in baking parchment and then in clingfilm. Leave for at least 24 hours to allow the loaf to set and flavours to develop.    

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