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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lahey #8 - Rye revisited, with yogurt wash FAIL

Nothing particularly interesting here.  Move along.

I've just thrown together another 25% Rye (and therefore 75% all purpose) loaf, using Lahey's original rye recipe.  I was working all weekend, so I didn't have much opportunity to be innovative.  I set out the ingredients the night before, and just prior to going to work I mixed them up.  So the water was room temperature, not cold.

The mixture fermented 17 hours (while I was at work, and then some).  By then, it had a nice gluten formation, and very little water to contend with.  I formed it into a boule and put it on the couche for a 2 hour proof, and it held together very nicely.  I used cracked wheat on the couche rather than bran.

I also wanted to try brushing on some yogurt, once the dough was placed into the hot pot.  I was hoping that this would allow the crust to burst in a more controlled manner.

This could have been one of the best loaves I have ever baked.  Unfortunately, I must instead include it among one of my worst bread fails.  The reason: the round casserole dish I  selected was too small for my dough's expansion.  I feared this might happen, when I painted the yogurt on the top of it.  The lid still fit on top, but there was not much room for the bread's oven spring.  After 30 minutes, the lid was well and truly stuck to the bread, and I had to chip what might have been a lovely yogurt and cracked-wheat soft crust from the underside of the lid.

Undaunted, I subjected the newly exposed moist surface to another 20 minutes of baking.  The surface crust simply was not what it could have been.  A huge disappointment after showing such promise.

This is the first Lahey-like loaf that didn't slide free of the pot without any persuasion.  That is because the yogurt dripped down the side of the loaf and burned, fusing it to the pot.  I waited about 45 minutes for it to cool slightly, then ran a butterknife around the edges to free it.  It then came out fine.

Still tastes good.  Just not a presentable loaf.

The crumb is not as well developed and airy as other Lahey loaves I've made, and I think this is entirely due to the inhibitory effect of the too-close-lid, which made it impossible to fully expand, causing the too-dense texture.  The crust is just a shallow representation of the possibilities that might have been.

Notes to Self:
  • Yes, by all means wait 18 hours instead of 12 to ferment your dough.  The bigger it gets, the easier it will be to work with.  Expect to ferment longer than the minimum that Lahey says.
  • Yes, paint the top of your loaves with yogurt or egg washes for a different, softer crust texture.   Just be prepared that the loaf might stick upon coming out: perhaps grease the upper part of the pan somehow.
  • Remember that there needs to be room for expansion of your loaf within the lidded pot.  Choose an appropriate sized pot to preheat.
  • Here's a thought: Try pouring a thinned yogurt mix containing lots of sunflower seeds on top of your baking loaf next time.  I'll bet they go good together, and the yogurt might stop the seeds from burning.

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