Thursday, March 01, 2007

Adventures With Sourdough Rye Bread

I completed my second attempt at sourdough rye bread today and the results are promising. My first attempt followed the same basic recipe though this time I added vital wheat gluten to the dough. That seemed to help with colour and giving the crust better development. I will try the recipe again in three days (with a new starter) using First Clear flour which is a very high protein flour used for whole grains. I ordered it from King Arthur but given that we are in the throes of a blizzard at the moment, it is taking much longer than usual to get six lbs. of flour from Vermont to Nebraska. Hopefully it will be here for my last try with this recipe.

I will provide the recipe with the ingredient requirement for Clear Flour though omitting it and using a high protein bread flour and vital wheat gluten ought to provide a passable loaf. After my third attempt, I’ll focus on sourdough rye that uses a starter free of commercial yeast-that ought to be challenging.

Sourdough Rye Bread

You Will Need:

For the Starter:

1 cup warm potato water (water left behind after boiling potatoes)
1 cup rye flour
1 tablespoon dry active yeast

Stir well and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place for 3 days (65-70 degrees F).

For the Dough:

2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
Starter from above
2 cups rye flour
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
4 ¾ cups first clear flour
(If using regular bread flour add 9 teaspoons vital wheat gluten)

For the Glaze:
3 tablespoons corn starch mixed in ¼ cup cold water until dissolved. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir until thickened. This will provide much more than you need but half ratios of the mixture do not seem to come up well for me.

Here’s How You Do It:

Combine the yeast and sugar with warm water and let proof in a large bowl for 10 minutes. Add the starter and everything else. You may not need all the flour called for-see what the dough will absorb. This is stiff, difficult dough to handle and if you have a stand mixer-by all means use it. I made this by hand as my mixer is awaiting repair, but it was very difficult to manage. The dough should be tacky but not wet to the touch. Place the bread in a buttered/oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for two hours or until doubled in bulk.

At the end of two hours, gently de-gas the dough (please, no punching around here) and shape into either one large loaf as pictured above, or as many as three small ones. Place on a baking sheet tossed with cornmeal (some people swear by dusting sheets with semolina but I have not tried it-do at your own risk). Cover with a damp (not wet) towel and let rise another 45 minutes atop the pre-heating stove (for extra help rising). Oven can now be-pre-heated to 375 degrees F.

Place an old pan on the lowest shelf of the oven. Let it pre-heat in the oven. Before placing laves in oven, score to prevent splitting and toss 2 cups of water into the pan (stand back to the side when you do this). Quickly place the loaves in the oven and set the timer for ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes, remove the pan of water and rotate the baking sheet. At this point you will want to give it another ten minutes before checking again. The loaf should register 180 degrees in the middle of the loaf. The large loaf needed a total time of forty minutes but your oven and size of loaves may require different times. The key is to keep watching it. Rapping knuckles on the bottom of the loaf for a hollow sound is useful in the absence of an instant read thermometer, but really, if you plan to bake a bit, it is a sound investment.

Cool completely before cutting. The taste will change quite a bit as it sits so really, don’t cut into the warm loaf as the flavours of the sourdough will not have fully developed.

No comments: