Thursday, August 12, 2010

40 Percent Caraway Rye

To round out the August breads, we have another rye recipe, number four of 15. As I've said before, I'm not a fan of rye breads. The good news is that this is a 40% rye—a transitional rye rather than one of the heavier ryes.

For my first pass at this recipe, I simply halved the original recipe an made an oblong loaf. Halving the recipe is pretty much as low as you can go. The recipe yields a moist dough that can puddle in the bottom of the mixer and resist kneading. I had to stop the mixer a couple of times, scrape the bowl, and lightly dust it with flower. Any less dough and this would have been a real problem.

This is truly a caraway rye. Caraway was the dominant taste, a taste that in large part obscured everything else. To be fair, in my experience, caraway seeds quickly lose their flavor. The caraway seeds I used were purchased recently. Perhaps, the recipe is designed for cooks using less potent caraway seeds. This was certainly an acceptable loaf, but I'd strongly suggest cutting back on the caraway seeds unless you have a real passion for caraway.

Hamelman suggests a couple of variations, so I simply followed his suggestions for my second pass at this recipe. I made both 3 oz. rolls and 3 oz. Salzstangerl or salt sticks. Basically, Salzstangerl are fat bread sticks that have been pressed into a mixture of coarse salt and caraway seeds.

For both the rolls and the Salzstangerl, I omitted the caraway seeds from the dough. With the rolls, I wanted to see what the bread tasted like without the overpowering caraway. And the answer? This is a very pleasant mild rye bread, something I could easily become used to. With the Salzstangerl, I figured that the caraway coating would be adequate. In fact, I made these with just salt and with a mixture of both salt and caraway. Both were pleasant. Since it is easy to do both, that would be my suggestion.

This isn't a bad recipe, but I don't plan to make it again anytime soon—even if I didn't have another 11 rye recipes from Hamelman to look forward to.

Five-Grain Bread

The five grains in this bread come from high-gluten and whole-wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, rolled oats, and flax seeds. Since it can be argued that flax seeds aren't really a grain, the name may not be totally accurate. Nonetheless, this is still a terrific bread. It has a lovely, complex flavor without being too heavy. The crust, in particular, has a nice toasted nutty flavor.

For these loaves, Hammelman suggest either a two-hour bulk fermentation or an overnight retarding. I tried both scheduling my baking so that I could compare these loaves. The loaf on the left (overnight retarding) was started the day before the loaf on the right (two-hour bulk fermentation). Both loaves were baked in a soaked cloche. I preheated the cloche before putting the bread into it, cooking first the overnight retarded loaf and then the two-hour bulk fermentation loaf. Consequently, baking conditions were not identical but were close. (I did not cool and resoak the cloche.) I set the retarded loaf out for an hour or so before baking, but it wasn't up to room temperature.

Differences between loaves were slight. I got slightly more oven spring and a slightly softer crumb with the two-hour fermentation. Overall, there was little difference in the taste of the loaves. I slightly preferred the retarded loaf, but probably wouldn't have been able to distinguish between the two loaves if I hadn't had them side-by-side. Both were excellent and well worth the effort, not that either was difficult to make. This is a keeper.

Baguettes with Poolish and Pâte Fermentée

Yes, I haven't posted in a while. I finished the July breads in the middle of the month so there was a week or so when I didn't have the next set of recipes. Then I was out of town for another week. But mostly I've been baking without writing. So it is time to catch up!

I begin with two new baguettes recipes. These recipes are quite similar, so I cover both in this post. They differing only in the preferment—one using a poolish (a wet preferment with a batter-like consistency) and the other a pâte fermentée (a dryer preferment with the same consistency as the final dough). Both produced a lovely dough and a bread very similar to straight dough
French Bread previously described on this blog. Neither bread has good keeping qualities. They are usable the second day, but that's about the limit. This is about the same or slightly better than the French Bread. (Hint: You can take stale bread, rub it with water, wrap it in foil, and then reheat it in a low oven. This will soften the bread, but you will need to use it quickly.)

Compared to the pâte fermentée, the poolish produced a dough that was slightly more elastic, slightly less extensible, gave a slightly better rise, seemed a bit sweeter and less sour, and had a slightly more open crumb. But I hesitate to mention these differences because all these differences were quite, quite small. Had I not had the breads side-by-side, the differences would not have been noticeable. For a practical considerations, the breads were the same.

The recipe produced a nice, satiny dough that was fun to play with. This inspired me to play around with different shapes. Using ideas from Peter Reinhart's books, Ciril Hitz's videos, and Lionel Vatinet's presentation at the Asheville Artisian Bread Festival, I made baguettes, a couple of baguette variants, an epi, a variation on an epi, and a corrone de bordoulaise. Previously, I'd made baguettes and epis, but little else. All of these variations proved easy and fun, definitely something I'd do again.