Seeing a Nordic rye recipe in the NYTimes, I gave it a try. I followed all the steps. But I also lowered the hydration, thinking otherwise I would have ended up with pancake batter. That said, I also signed up for a rye-making class. And until it starts, I'll ponder over Marie Claude's example!
I have been having problems with my rye sourdough. The final product has tended to be super dense, acid, or just dead on arrival. What was wrong? I queried Quentin Berthonneau, whose advice reminded me of previous input from Kamel Saci. Smart minds think alike, I guess. Anyway, their suggestions were about temperature; warm up the water, refresh and boom, no more problems. And now I got some sweet rye to smile about!
It's autumn, reminding me that rye is a flavor tailored for cooler weather and the warm sensuality of charcuterie! Wanting a fresh loaf to enjoy at home, I put together this bread with inspiration from a German book given to me years ago by my father's second-wife. A highlight of this loaf is the addition of old rye (or altus), which is soaked and added to new bread. The other is brotegewurz; coriander, caraway, fennel and, if available, blue fenugreek. This mixture of spices compliments this 70/30-percent of rye to wheat. And it offered delicious background flavor for a plate of liverwurst, schmeckt gut, and lecker, all found at my local butcher.
Delis I remember fondly; Bernstein's on New York City's Essex Street
and Gold's in Westport Connecticut. What I remember most fondly are the
rye breads. Here is my effort in
bread and a store bought pastrami, to make a classic sandwich of
Rye Sourdough 109% (Hydration 100%)
3% (Optional if your Mick!)
Mix the ingredients, bulk proof about 1.5 to 2 hours, pre-shape and rest 15 minutes. Shape batard or boule, in couche or banneton that's lightly floured. Final proof after about and hour and a half if using yeast, or maybe a bit longer with levain. Spray the tops with water and sprinkle with caraway seeds and slash and bake at 400 F for approximately 35-40 minutes with steam, lower the temperature if the tops get too dark. Remove from oven and spray with water, cool...and eat!
Baking a loaf of rye inspired by this boulangerie site, I made a mistake. The bread is called a "Tourte au seigle." Initially I thought it was 100 percent rye in both levain and final dough. Later I noticed that the levain was all wheat, with an overall sixty-five percent of rye in total. Must of been why the dough was so wet and more like loose cement. But I baked it, curious at the result. Turns out this was a happy mistake. I waited one day for the crumb to set and when I cut into it was really amazed. A moist yet un-gummy texture and the nice open pores rather then solid rock!
Ruisleipa. Bread. What else? Okay, ever since I tasted Ruis from Nordic breads at New York City's Greenmarket at Union Square, I've been wondering if I could make it. I can. I can't. I can. Why the neurosis? Well, besides being a New Yorker, I'm intimidated by Finnish bread, and this is 100 percent Finnish, made of one hundred percent rye.
In truth, it's not difficult except first you have to translate Finn. Whatever, I did, and the photos prove it. My report on the bread? Good shelf life. Delicious with a slab of butter, cucumbers, and fish. A dense but manageable dough. So far as shape, you can make it either round, flattened disk, or in Western Finnish style, with a hole in the middle.
Rye and spelt are two grains I enjoy using in baking bread, though they lack the gluten strength that builds the structure of wheat doughs. But then they make up for it in flavor and texture. Though we'd like to believe the could substitute for gluten-free diets, and they enjoy a new popularity in baking, in actuality they are not gluten free, even if they contain lesser amounts than wheat. Rye contains higher amounts of gliadin but it is lower in glutenin. And spelt has a higher amount of protein, which contains gluten, so it's no magic bullet to battle the anti-gluten fight.
Today, wheat, itself, is grown to create bumper harvests, a process which can deplete the ancient diversity of the heritage grains, as described here. That said, a baker told me the same is true even for spelt, which is a hybridized distant relative of wheat. It's the cause of much discussion these days in the bread community, because of marketing and mislabeling. I'm happy to know that there are dedicated artisans, bakers/millers today who strive to slow down and return to age old methods, from farm to our table. All to say, as more of us look to make our own bread, there are a myriad of issues to navigate or just ponder. Grist for the mill as we bake.
Since I've got my rye levain perked and regularily refreshed these days, I decided to use Dieter Buschman's Sauerteig rechner ( sourdough calculator). Perhaps I'll try various percentages of rye/wheat till I get to a total of 100 percent rye. In the meantime, my latest is a 60 percent rye and 40 percent wheat. I used a 50/50 mix of white whole wheat and white all-purpose flour, along with medium rye in the final dough. Just out of precaution and time (it was a late night bake), I used yeast along with the sourdough.
The result? A moist loaf and a perfect foil for butter and ham. On my next try, I may do without the yeast and go all white whole wheat. Or I might even do use bread flour which could give it a bit more structural strength. Mind you, I like the rustic flavor and texture as it is, but you can always tweak bread, give or take a percent.
Serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, I always meant to get to Berlin. It never happened, so, in the meantime, I try to exact the science of a "kurz sauer, a sourdough Berliner bread. It's a path towards baking mildly acid loaf bread with a bit of commercial yeast, and one which is fairly quick.
I'd already made a loaf without the added yeast, which, in effect, make it more of what's known as an "ein bisschen länger sauer," (a bit longer sourdough). I've used Nils version, still suffering from a learning curve with Dieter Buschman's sauerteigrechner (calculator for sourdough). If you're in a pickle for time, and you can imagine a bread perfect for sliced Westphalian ham or leberwurst, this is a good pick. A bit tacky from the amount of rye starter, but it's a friendly loaf from the mix to final bake.
Once you get a handle on rye breads and the mystery of German baking, you'll return for the moist and deep flavors that permeate from a grain that's more or less a grass. Thankfully I got a copy of Nil's E- book, "Brot," over at his blog, The Inverse cook. You should get it, as well. It takes out the mistake and mystiques of trying to interpret a skill, a craft, a tradition and screw it up with some bad online translations.
Nil is a person who's completely dedicated to baking, even though he's been silent for a while on his blog. "Yo, Nils, what's up with that???" Anyway, there's plenty of great hints and formulas to make use of in his archives. I made his Classic German rye bread, and it's going to be a standard for me. This particular loaf uses an old bread soaker. So if you have old bread at home, don't toss it out,just use it again to create the deep flavor and quality you'll find when making this loaf. I just need some liverwurst now....