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Friday, May 7, 2010

Everyday Bread #17 - Three Rye Breads

Three Rye Breads - Another 'Bread Off' Competition

I just finished eating the last rye bread I had on hand.  And I realized, gulping down the last bit of stale crust, just how much I love the flavour of rye loaves.  Since we are having company this weekend, I decided I'd need more rye bread on hand.  I would make three loaves in another 'bread off'.  Because I still have but one couche, I was making these serially, one right after the other.  At the same time, I was trying to 'cure' my brand new Cast Iron Dutch Oven on the barbecue in the rain.

The first rye bread is one that I have made before: Lahey's rye bread, but this one is made with Canadian all-purpose flour and rye flour in a ratio of 3:1.  The crumb of this loaf is nice and airy and I love the thick chewy crust (although not everyone does: my wife keeps asking, 'why don't you make a loaf of bread that isn't so hard?'   This is the same reaction Lahey himself got when he first began making his loaves in New York, and he had to start giving them away to drum up business.  My reaction is the same as his: 'I won't do it.')

The second rye loaf is the same, ratio 3:1 except it uses whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour.  I was surprised that the whole wheat and rye mixture did not require more water than Lahey's original rye bread recipe, but I did not expect it to double in the 18 hour period.  It doubled well.

And the third is 100% rye flour, otherwise made the same as Lahey's original recipe.

The 100% rye dough was very sticky, like putty.  I made the mistake of trying to jam it into a small container, and it resisted strongly.  Digging it back out again, I got the dough all over my hands, and found it extremely difficult to clean off.  I had to scrape and scrape, and ultimately use lots of soap.  I began to think that the bread also could use a surfactant like lecithin, but for this loaf I have resisted adding it.  We'll just see what happens.

1. Lahey's Original Rye Bread Recipe

Using bran for the crust, I formed the bread and put it in the smaller preheated casserole dish. There were no surprises.  I did smooth out the dough after flopping it into the pot a little.  It baked for 30 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.  The dough had amazing oven spring.

2. The whole wheat and rye flour recipe

This also worked up very nicely.  The dough had absolutely doubled, and showed a lot of promise.  I did tear the gluten cloak a bit when forming the dough; it certainly is a lot less resilient than the all purpose flour -- you just cannot pull it as far.  It does have some snap to it, but it breaks easily if you tug it too far.  Rather than use bran, I used rye flour for lining the couche and topping the formed loaf.  This makes for quite a different texture in the crust.

While working with the whole wheat dough, I was thinking to myself that there might be a better way to form the loaf than what I was doing.  I was using same technique as when I formed Lahey's original rye loaf, that is, using the pastry cutter to loosen one side of the bottom, tugging it out and up and then folding it back over top of the dough, and holding it there as I repeated it for the other sides.  Perhaps the whole wheat dough would respond better to a different method of forming -- like the way the 5min/day people make their boules (that is, by simply holding it in the hand, turning the dough and folding the dough under gently as you turn).

The crumb of this loaf:

3. The 100% Rye Recipe

You really can't "shape" the 100 percent rye dough.  It is so sticky.  I used bran again here for the crust, just because I was hoping to coat the couche with enough material to be able to ball the dough with the couche's material, and yet not have it stick to the dough.  Once it is baked, my hope was to be able to just knock off the extra material, and have the naked rye loaf. Although the dough rose fairly well in the bowl, I didn't really have any expectations during the proofing stage, or during the baking stage, that it would rise and be a nice loaf.  To be honest, I thought it would be dense and bitter and all but inedible.

That is why the oven spring of this loaf surpassed expectations: I hadn't set my expectations very high.  There is no wheat in this loaf: yet it did rise like a whole wheat bread.  This 100% rye loaf rose in the oven as much as some of my worst wheat loaves.  This loaf and the whole wheat and rye breads are heavy loaves; the largest loaf (with the all purpose flour) has risen the most which means there is lots more airiness to the crumb, so despite its size it actually seems to weigh less.  You can tell without even cutting into them that there will be holes of a good size throughout the interior.

(This was actually quite a tasty bread, and the crumb was okay.  But you'll just have to trust me on that one, because I just realized we ate it all up at lunch a few days later before I realized I had forgotten to take a picture of the crumb for my crumb gallery page!  Drat!)

Notes to Myself:
  • Don't make three loaves at the same time, if at any part of the process they are bottlenecked (e.g. if they must rise serially, or proof separately, or bake independently, etc.). This takes far too much time out of the day.  Here they are bottlenecked in 2 places: the couche and the pot they bake in.  You said you were going to get another couche, and that hasn't been done yet.
  • 25 minutes uncovered seems to be the optimal time baking (for your oven), after a 30 minute covered stage.  30 minutes and the crust begins to burn, and anything under 20 minutes seems to bend under the knife when the loaf is cut later.  At 25 minutes though, your wife complains that the crust is too chewy.  Alternatively you might try a longer time uncovered at a lower temperature, as I saw in another online recipe that uses Dutch Ovens (in this recipe, the Dutch Oven isn't preheated but is used to rise the dough; but it is well greased, top and bottom): "Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the Dutch oven in the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and then remove the lid of the Dutch oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake the bread for another 30 to 35 minutes or until it is golden brown" (From a recipe for a Basque Sheephearder Bread).  Something along these lines is worth a try: for example, after 30 minutes of lid on, take the lid off and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes

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