Monday, January 3, 2011

Three-Stage Sourdough Ryes


Hamelman says the Detmolder Method for making rye bread "represents the highest expression of the baker's skill." The technique takes the development of the rye culture through three phases each designed to develop different flavor characteristics. The freshing phase, with very high hydration (150%), develops the yeast. This phase lasts five to six hours. With the second or basic sour phrase, flour and water are added to lower overall hydration (60-65%). Lasting 15 to 24 hours, this phase is designed to bring out the acetic acid characteristics of the bread. The third or full sour phase, designed for lactic acid development, takes an additionan three to four hours. Hydration is adjusted to 100% for this phase. Finally, the dough goes through a 20 minute bulk fermentation, is shaped, has a final one-hour fermentation, and is baked. Cooling proceeds over night.

Hamelman include three recipes using this technique—a 70% rye, an 80% rye, and a 90% rye. For the Challenge, these three breads were grouped together. I made one pass at making all three adjusting the recipes to make one loaf of each. (Hamelman's recipes make two loaves each.) I made one adaptation to his recipes—I used whole-rye flour for the freshing stage for all three breads. Hamelman calls for medium rye for the 70% and 80% recipes only using whole-rye for the 90% recipe. I made the three loaves in parallel and this adaptation allowed me to combine the first stage for all three breads. Since only 1% of the total flour is involved at this point, this seemed a reasonable shortcut.

For the individual phases, I typically used times that were closer to the shorter time given rather than the longer times. This wasn't optimal as my kitchen was a bit cooler than that recommended by Hamelman. So it is not surprising that I didn't get quite as much rise as I would have prefered. The recipe also calls for docking rather than scoring the loaves. As I don't have a docker, I used a knive to cut small holes in the loaf similar to wha I guessed docking would produce. I pulled the loaves from the oven when they reached 205–207ยบ F. Again, this took only about 35 minutes or so of total baking time. The three loaves are shown above with the 70% bread on the left and the 90% bread on the right. (I used slightly different docking patterns to be able to distinguish the breads once baked.)

As readers of this blog already know, I'm not a big fan of a strong rye taste. This is, of course, exactly what this procedure is designed to develop. So it should come as no surprise that I wasn't overwhelmed by these loaves. But clearly Hamelman know what he is about. These had a strong, well-developed, well-balance flavor. I suspect that if I liked this sort of bread, I would have liked these loaves quite alot. I didn't expect a great deal of difference between the three loaves, but it was quite noticable. The loaves were a bit denser that I would have prefered, but this was entirely my own fault for not giving the bread quite enough time to rise properly. Perhaps before this challenge over, I'll develop a taste for rye bread. These were certainly well crafted, viable recipes worth the effort if you like this sort of bread.

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