Pan Gallego de Centeno – Galician Rye Bread

Pan Gallego de Centeno - Galician Rye Bread Crust

The shape of a bread is probably the best indicator of its provenance and ingredients, short of having the recipe in hand. Shaped like a stick and scored decoratively? Probably a French baguette with nothing more than flour, salt, water, and yeast. Flat, wide, and heavily floured? Probably an Italian ciabatta, hydrated much more than your standard dough. Looks like a gigantic Hershey’s Kisses? Uh, wheat, rye, and cornmeal sourdough from Galicia?

So Pan Gallego de Centeno is not exactly iconic to most people outside of Galicia. What can I say? I like trying out obscure regional recipes.

One look at the picture above and it’s immediately obvious that it bears no resemblance to Hershey’s Kisses. It looked fine just before baking (see below), until it decided to explode once settled on the hot baking stone.

Even if it didn’t look as I hoped it would, the crusty results were good enough for me. The burst top turned into a crisp crust with varying degrees of burnt edges; it was easily the most enjoyable part. The interior was fluffy, chewy, and lightly scented with caraway, arguably the best spice to complement rye breads. The small amounts of cornmeal were noticeable only towards the end of chewing, giving the loaf a nice textural finish that lingers until the next bite.

recipe adapted from Penelope Casas’ The Foods and Wines of Spain
instructions adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog

Pan Gallego de Centeno
Galician Rye Bread

makes one large round loaf


  • This formula was adapted with major adjustments to the amounts of salt (cut in half) and the baking time (more than doubled). The following formula stays true to the hydration in the original recipe but the instructions were completely revised to use Peter Reinhart’s epoxy method.

For the Soaker:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
dark rye flour                2 1/2 cups      11.25            319
cornmeal                        1/2 cup        2.25             64
salt                            1/2 tbsp
water, room temperature       1 1/4 cups         10            284

Mix the soaker ingredients until evenly hydrated. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

For the Wild Yeast Starter:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
starter (100% hydration)                          4.5          128
bread flour                   3 1/2 cups         15.75         447
water, room temperature           1 scant cup     7.75         220

Mix the wild yeast starter ingredients until a shaggy ball of dough is formed. Knead the wild yeast starter for about 2 minutes or until evenly distributed.

Place the wild yeast starter in a bowl and cover. Let rise at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours or until doubled in size.

Remove the wild yeast starter from the bowl and knead lightly to degas. Return to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Let the wild yeast starter sit at room temperature for 2 hours before using in the final dough.

Final Dough Formula:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
all of the soaker, cut into small pieces
all of the wild yeast starter, cut into small pieces
bread flour                     1/2 cup           2.25          64
salt                            1/2 tbsp
instant yeast                     4 1/2 tsp        .5           14
lard, softened or olive oil       2 tbsp          1             28
caraway seeds                     2 tsp

Final Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated

Knead           8 to 10 minutes

Rest            5 minutes

Knead           1 minute to further strengthen the gluten

Bulk Ferment    45 to 60 minutes at room temperature in a lightly
                oiled bowl, or until 1 1/2 times its size

Pre-Shape       tear drop shape or a boule with a twisted top

Pan Gallego de Centeno - Galician Rye Bread Preshaped
Preshaped Galician Rye dough

Rest            5 minutes

Shape           If pre-shaped into a teardrop, make a round loaf,
                such that the pointed end is on top. If pre-shaped
                into a boule, make a twist in the center to form the
                Galician "cap."

Final Proof     approximately 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature

Preheat Oven    475ºF/246ºC

Pan Gallego de Centeno - Galician Rye Bread Proofed
Will it hold its shape?

Steam           1 cup of boiling water poured in a heavy steam
                pan (preferably cast iron)

Bake            Lower the temperature immediately to 425ºF/218ºC.
                Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the loaf if necessary
                and lower the heat to 350ºF/177ºC. Bake for another
                30 to 40 minutes, until richly brown on all sides
                and the loaf registers at least 200ºF/93ºC in the

Cool            At least 2 hours
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26 Responses to “Pan Gallego de Centeno – Galician Rye Bread”

  1. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    The shaping is most interesting and a new one on me. That crust looks absolutely delicious.

    last blog post: Cranberry-Oat Sourdough Scones

  2. daphne says:

    The numerous types of breads really facinate me! That looks like lots of work-the crust looks fantastic and what u said abt it being light and fluffy inside-mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    last blog post: Steak with Bean Mash

  3. Ben says:

    That is a very interesting looking bread. I have some “gallegos” friends so I will have to ask them about this bread. Another recipe to my bread collection :)

  4. rainbowbrown says:

    The culinary obscurities abound on your blog and they’re always a joy. This bread sounds excellent.

    last blog post: Whole Grain Injera

  5. Alexa says:

    Beautiful bread and the crust looks awesome. Interesting info on the post too.

    last blog post: Oat Fig Bars

  6. RebeccaC says:

    THAT looks gorgeous! Yum!

    last blog post: I WON!!!

  7. Ivana says:

    This bread is my prefer with oil and tomatoes!!

  8. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Oh this has the richness of the unknown and is a wonderful discovery to me. One of my favorites things about bread is I never seem to have seen it all.
    Beautiful bread.

  9. Nate says:

    Why did you double the baking time, and how did you compensate for the extra time?

    last blog post: Our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in South Bay

  10. Meera says:

    Wow..Love the bread..though had never heard of it before your post. I do like the crunchy top. But why did you double the baking time?

    last blog post: Tikhi Bhakri (Spicy Wheat Flatbread)

  11. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Why do I keep looking at all the beautiful breads you bake? Ang sighing.

    I have rye flour (bought it on a whim) but it will probably languish in the pantry for a long time.


    So beautiful.

    last blog post: Guava! Guava! Guava! And a Guava-Jalapeño Salad

  12. clumbsycookie says:

    What a great looking bread! So hearty! They have wonderful food in galicia, but I don’t remmeber ever tasting this bread!

    last blog post: Fresh Fig Chocolate Candy Bar

  13. sweetbird says:

    I think you’ve finally got me inspired to bake some bread today. That site you sent me to really helped, too. Time to make some French rolls for po’ boys tonight!

    Oh, and could you tone down your awesomeness? You’re making the rest of us look bad.

    last blog post: Chinese Broccoli Beef

  14. bee says:

    this is gorgeous. i can smell it.

  15. oggi says:

    What a lovely bread! Your description of the crispy crust and fluffy soft interior makes me want to bake some.

    last blog post: Omnivore 100

  16. susan – Wish I knew what I was doing so I could do the real thing justice. At least it tasted great.

    daphne – Just the right amount of chew and crunch.

    ben – Hope your gallego friends find the look “good enough.”

    rainbow – Thanks! The more obscure the better. Sometimes.

    Alexa, rebecca – thanks!

    Ivana – Sounds like Pa amb tomaquet, a favorite for bread.

    Tanna – Always finding new recipes to try. There’s always that one bread I’ve never heard of.

    Nate, Meera – I had to double the baking time, but kept the recommended temperatures the same. For the size and weight of the dough, it was impossible to get done in the time and temperature specified in the original recipe. It was probably a typo or untested recipe in the book.

    js – Try it! Rye makes for instant wild yeast starter, if you don’t already have one.

    clumbsy – It’s very hearty. Do you remember the cheese shaped similarly (tetilla)?

    sweetbird – Glad the site helped. It’s probably the best online resource for breadmaking.

    bee – the smell of rye breads while baking is so distinctive.

    oggi – It’s worth the 2 days to make it. Should’ve made 2 loaves.

  17. YeastSpotting August 29, 2008 | Wild Yeast says:

    [...] Pan Gallego de Centeno – Galician Rye Bread ~ Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté [...]

  18. Natashya says:

    Beautiful loaf, I have not heard of that one before. I like the hershey’s kiss comparison – it is so true.
    I am partial to rye – it is more flavourful and not as expensive as wheat.

    last blog post: Don’t Eat The Crust!

  19. Claire says:

    Wow! That crust looks gorgeous. The craggy surface is very appealing. This would be a fun one to try. I am always looking for new shapes for my bread.

    last blog post: Semolina Sandwich Loaf

  20. Graciela says:

    I am from Galicia… My grandma used to bake this bread when I was little, and she used to bake it among the burning ashes, covering the dough with cabbage leaves… We had our own rye fields so the flour came from grinding the grains in the public mill (still made of stone)… I can smell it… Mmmmmm… Delicioso!!!

  21. Beth says:

    Just made this last night, and used it for some pa amb tomàquet. Fantastic recipes, both! You’ve got a fabulous site; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a ton of inspiration here.

  22. Pan Gallego de Centeno (Galician Rye Bread) « A Bread A Day says:

    [...] Gallego de Centeno (Galician Rye Bread) Adapted from Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté Makes 1 large [...]

  23. roel centeno says:

    wow…from chef pastry: roel centeno

  24. Angelia Stoler says:

    get a remigton straightener. Also, i love conair.

  25. Fred Frase says:

    Cast iron cookware is the best, plain and simple. I used non-stick stuff for a long time, but a nice, big steak fried in a cast iron pan plays in a whole different league. Besides, you can buy a high quality pan for less than 80 bucks and it will last you a lifetime. The non-stick stuff may last 3 years or so if you are very lucky. If you dig around a bit, you can often find a quality pan on sale. There are always some amazing offers on cast iron cookware posted on the cast iron pots website. Alright, that did it, now I’m hungry. I’m off to the kitchen to clog my arteries with some steak and eggs.

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