Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rye Starter

Recently, I converted a bit of my white sourdough starter to an all-rye. I swore I wouldn't be the person with three or four jars of starter lined up in the fridge, but here I am. I've been able to experiment with some interesting breads.

My Holy Grail is an all-rye bread that isn't heavy and damp inside. I'm surprisingly close. If you haven't worked with sourdough rye, be warned-it sticks to your hands like clay. Because it is so difficult to handle, I've taken to doing folds with a rubber spatula, and enough flour just to keep it from sticking. Most of these loaves have been two day efforts, sometimes three. I'm aiming for something other than the caraway rye we're familiar with in the US, or a Swedish limpa bread. Those are both wonderful breads, but I'm trying for something more complex in flavour.

The breads I've baked so far have been good-with decent oven spring considering how little gluten they have (I've added vital wheat gluten in some versions, though it wasn't nearly as helpful as I'd hoped)but I don't want, good I want, great. My poor family have been eating rye day after day.

It should be interesting to bake a white bread with the rye starter. I've been feeding it twice a day, but because it is so heavy it is difficult to tell if it is doubling, or needing additional feeding. I may switch to 3x a day in warmer weather if I keep it on the kitchen counter. I've kept the starter rather firm, as that is how I keep the white starter-perhaps it would be better as a liquid? You see? This is what keeps me up at night-soudough starter!

Anyone have experience maintaining a rye starter, and any wisdom to share?

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