Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rye with Walnuts

Yet another rye. This one took two tries, but I was able to produce something that was worth eating—not a favorite, not something I'm likely to make again anytime soon, but something that I didn't try once and immediately discard. That the second loaf, the first quickly went into the trash.

After the first loaf, I was ready to give on on this one. But it seems that is always the case with Hamelman's ryes, at least for me. Yet other folks don't seem to be having these problems, so I felt it was time to go back and try again looking more closely at what I was doing.

In the course of making this bread, I made several changes the second time around. First, I've found the ryes recipes to produce very sticky doughs that wanted to puddle in the bottom of the mixer bowl rather than be kneaded. I've tried to deal with this before, but this time I was very careful. I repeatedly stopped the mixer, massed the dough together, and dusted it with flour to give it a dryer, less sticky exterior. As I kneaded the dough, I stood over the mixer and very lightly dusted the sides of the bowl with flour to insure the dough was not sticking to the bowl. Once the dough had kneaded the full amount of time, I took it out and gave it another couple of quick folds.

The next major changes were the fermentation times. In most of Hamelman's recipes, times have been very accurate. While the conditions in my kitchen weren't changing, when making this rye, I found the times totally unreliable. I had to extend both the bulk and final fermentations, particularly the latter going totally by the feel of the dough.

Admittedly, these are changes that I should have been doing all along. But I haven't needed them with the other recipes, so I was disinclined to try them with the rye recipes. Next time I'll know better.

The second loaf, made with these changes was reasonable. It was still a bit heavy and the rye flavor, despite the walnuts, was still too strong for my taste. But toasted, it worked well with peanut butter or cheese. I'm still not a big fan of rye, but this was a step in the right direction.

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