Monday, July 19, 2010

70% & 80% Sourdough Ryes With Soakers


In the spirit of full disclosure, rye breads have never been among my favorites. At times I can appreciate a lighter rye bread, particularly rye toast with a good crunchy peanut butter. And rye goes well in some heavier sandwiches, pastrami for example. But, rye is rarely my first choice, and when I do choose rye, it is always a light rye. Moreover, Hamelman's comments leads one to expect a heavy, leaden bread. Breads with a rye content beyond 60 percent, says Hamelman, "should be sliced thinly... sandwiches made with these breads are open face, since a double thickness of these compact and concentrated breads can be a bit too much of a workout for the jaw." (Emphasis added.) These are not encouraging words.

Finding the ingredients for these two breads was also a challenge. The 80% loaf calls for whole-rye flour and high-gluten flour. The 70% loaf calls for medium rye flour and rye chops. Whole-rye flour is fairly easy to come by at most grocery stores, but the other three ingredients are not so easily found. I had already faced the problem of medium rye flour and high-gluten flour from the Light Rye recipe. I order medium rye flour from King Arthur's. Although I gotten high-gluten flour from King Arthur's in the past, I'm now blending my own using King Arthur's bread flour and vital wheat gluten. For rye chops, I went to the Internet and ordered rye berries. I put the rye berries in a food processor to create the chops. On the whole, these were quite hard and this did not work very well. (Perhaps it would have worked better if I'd tried processing them after soaking. Alas, I didn't try this.)

(The baker's percentages were a little puzzling with the recipe with rye chops. Had I been doing the calculation, I'm not sure whether I would have included these as part of the flour or not. Hamelman included them. Conseqently, both recipes had a 78% hydration. An to be sure, the rye chops do soak up quite a bit of water. Still, if I were to eliminate the rye chops from the recipe, they don't add much and are a pain to find and work with, I'm not quite sure how I would proceed.)

When preparing the bread, I cut each of the recipes in half. My wife likes rye even less than I so most of the two smaller loaves would be discarded. Unfortunately, when cut in half, I didn't have quite enough dough for my mixer and needed to do the final mix by hand. Both recipes produced a wet dough without much gluten development.

The 80% loaf called for an oblong, free from loaf while the 70% loaf called for a pullman pan. Since I was only making half the recipe, I didn't have enough dough to fill my pullman pan. Consequently, I cooked both loaves together, one in each end of the pullman pan using the temperatures and times for the 70% loaf. (Times and temperatuers for the two loaves were pretty much the same anyway.) For the final fermentation, I separated the two loaves in the pan with a piece of cardboard covered in plastic wrap which I removed before baking. This approach worked nicely giving me two small, nearly identical loaves.

The two loaves are shown above with the 70% loaf on the left. At least initially, the 80% loaf had the stronger rye taste, but the 70% loaf had a very strong rye finish. Perhaps this is a consequence of the rye chops which need to be chewed before their flavor is released. The chops also gave the 70% loaf a chewier texture. Both loaves had an unpleasantly hard crust and a dense crumb. Overall, the loaves were more alike than different.

The bottom line is that I can't say I was particularly enthusiastic about either of these two breads. Thus far, before posting any results, I have tried each recipe at least twice, trying at least once to follow the recipe very closely. This time I've only made each recipe once, and am not include to go back and try either recipe again, particularly since there are another 15 rye recipes in the book.

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