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Monday, July 12, 2010

Reinhart's Sandwich Rye Seigle

Reinhart's Sandwich Rye Siegle with Rye Motherstarter for a 70% Rye

Why the Hiatus with the Reinhart loaves?

It has been some time now since I baked a Reinhart loaf from his book Whole Grain Breads, and stopping between the Sandwich Rye Meteil and the Sandwich Rye Seigle seems like a strange place to take a rest.  In keeping with my many other experiments, it might have made sense to make the Meteil and the Seigle at the same time, to compare them.

Why I have set the Reinhart book aside to make other breads for the last few loaves is difficult to say.  Certainly it is not because I was tired of Rye Breads: I have made several rye loaves since the Meteil, and I have not been very happy with any of them.  I wasn't happy with the Meteil all that much either (Remember, I almost cursed Reinhart for my own inabilities to make a loaf that looked like his).  So I guess I had no great reason to believe that the Seigle Rye would be any different.

But the other night I had a few minutes to glance carefully at Reinhart's book again.  There is basically one idea in the book, and it is reproduced in what seems like endless variation of recipes for loaves of differing measurements.  The idea of Whole Grain Breads is the delayed fermentation and conjoining two pre-ferments into a final dough mixture, to capitalize on enzymatic processes within the grain.

The book starts off with Sandwich Loaves and other enriched breads, and only later does it devote space to Hearth Breads, which must be the taste I am looking for.  But I don't know yet.  If I do these loaves in order (as I have been), it will be some time before I leave the Sandwich loaves behind and move on to the Hearth loaves that I think I want to make.  And yet, there may be something in these loaves that my wife will absolutely love; and there is certainly much for me to learn.  At any rate, I should stop carping about how sweet these Reinhart loaves are.  They are enriched loaves!  Of course they are going to be sweet!  Get over it!

The Siegle Problem: this has got to be an Error in Reinhart's book

Something else has stopped me from baking this loaf, and it has been my struggle to understand one of Reinhart's side notes to this recipe.  I have come to the conclusion that the side note contains an error, but it has taken me a long time to figure this out, because I am a beginner here, and I struggle against my own ignorance.

The Siegle's definition, in the Glossary:
"Technically, it is French for rye bread, but is more often used in reference to breads that contain more than 50% rye flour (as opposed to Meteil, which connotes less than 50%".  
The same distinction is to be found in Reinhart's description of his Siegle recipe.

So what is a beginner like me to make of this comment from one of his marginal asides, or 'grace notes', beside the 'Siegle'?:

"The starter in this version is made from a whole wheat mother starter that is elaborated with rye flour.  The wheat starter provides just enough total whole wheat flour to tip this over to the meteil side of the equation.  If you already have a 100% rye mother starter, you can use it instead for a bread with a 50-50 balance of rye and wheat."

This is the same 'grace note' that Reinhart gives at the bottom of the marginal 'commentary' for his Rye Sandwich Meteil', where it makes sense.  Here, it is just confusing.  I am thinking he simply 'copy-and-pasted' it here, but here it just confuses the ignorant (me).

First, you have to remember that he is just talking about the starter, not about the entire dough.  The baker's percentage of the starter recipe gives the rye flour at 100%, and the whole wheat mother starter at 33.3%.  So there is no way that the whole wheat in the mother starter would tip the ratio of whole wheat and rye flours for the whole loaf to 50:50.  How can it?  There is no whole wheat in the Final Dough, just more rye.  So where is all the extra whole wheat coming from?  From the soaker?  Reinhart gives the baker's percentage of the soaker as 50% rye, and 50% whole wheat flour.  But that can't be right either: the weight of the rye flour in the soaker is 56.5 g, and the whole wheat flour is 170 g.  I'm no good at these baker's percentages, but it seems to me that this means the whole wheat flour should be 100% in this soaker, and the rye flour is then 25%.

Even then, if you add up the weights from soaker, starter and final dough ingredients, you get 326 g of rye flour, and 170 g of whole wheat flour (plus the 71 g of motherstarter, whether it contains rye or whole wheat).  So even if you used whole wheat motherstarter, you would only have 241 g of whole wheat, which is still below the 50% mark that would make this a meteil.  With a whole wheat motherstarter, this bread should be a 57% rye (still a seigle).

So the grace note is wrong.

And so is the baker's percentage listed in the soaker.

In any case I do have a rye motherstarter, which would make this seigle a 70% rye.  And that is what I used.

I am struggling with these baker's percentages on my own, and I'm finding different authors do slightly different things.  Reinhart never gives baker's percentages for his final doughs, unlike say, Jeffrey Hamelman.  Hamelman admits that percentages in final doughs are confusing (because the preferments in the final doughs are just listed as percentages of the flour used in the final dough too) -- which may be why Reinhart omits them -- but Hamelman says it is therefore better to give percentages of the overall formula.  But Reinhart doesn't even provide that, in all cases.

But who cares about the percentage of rye?

Well, me.  I love the taste of rye, and I realize that not everyone does.  But I have yet to find a rye bread recipe that works well.  It is an entirely different sort of grain flour to bake with.  That is why most rye breads have some (most have >50%) wheat flour.  How can you call it a rye bread if it isn't mostly rye?  I think that's false advertising.  But rye on its own is difficult (for me) to bake with.  Especially if you are thinking it should perform like wheat (and I know I am still struggling against my own expectations).  I expect rye to rise, to expand like a wheat loaf.  When it doesn't, I am disappointed.  I want my rye to fluff up but not give me wheat taste.  So I want a siegle that is actually 100%.  A rye loaf that is 100% won't be a sandwich loaf, of course; it can't possibly be.

But I thought by baking this loaf I could learn something here anyway.

Bad Timing

Oh, but I had problems with this loaf.



First off: the timing was bad.  I was working nights all weekend, and when I awoke on Sunday afternoon, anticipating my last night shift, I decided to build the soaker and starter to bake on my first day off, Monday.  So around 5 pm, I mixed the soaker, and before 6 pm, I mixed the starter.  The starter is supposed to rise within 4-6 hours, but Reinhart says it might take as much as 8.  My motherstarter came right out of the fridge, so I expected it to take a long time to rise, but I went ahead anyway.  I set it on the kitchen table and simply asked my wife if she might glance at it before she went to bed.  If it was pushing the lid off the container, she was to punch it down and stick it in the fridge.  If it was not risen that far, she was to simply leave it alone.

Soaker and Starter sit out overnight

My wife left it alone.  By the time she went to bed, it had only risen about 3/4 of the way to double, she said.
Soaker and Starter in the morning

This morning, when I got home, the starter was risen and possibly deflated.  The yeast in it might be entirely spent.  I decided to go ahead and try to bake with it anyway, since Reinhart's recipe also uses commercial yeast.  The thing was supposed to be refrigerated at 8 hours, but it had been out at room temperature now for about 14 hours.

Instead of going to sleep, I decided to bake the bread.  Now I was exhausted, and set the oven timer for each rise, and slept at these odd intervals.  And my brain was a little fuzzy around the edges.  So the bread probably wasn't going to be as perfect as I wanted.  But I was determined to get past the Siegle barrier, at which I had stopped for far too long.

After 60 minutes, the loaf didn't look doubled to me, so I gave it an extra 30 minutes.

I still didn't see much change, and at that point I just decided to continue.  I would shape it for a loaf pan.

I coated the loaf pan with oil, and then decided to sprinkle some light rye on the oiled pan (as Reinhart describes on p. 220, when printing a picture of his Vollkornbrot; Reinhart gives credit to Jeffrey Hamelman for this trick).  It is supposed to make an interesting and rustic crust.  I just thought that it might be a nice way to use some of my light rye, which I bought some time ago, and haven't found much use for.  Mostly I use a dark rye to bake with.

After an hour in the loaf pan, the added yeast was having an effect, and I could see a visible rise.  I preheated the oven (with a stone - in case I needed to bake the loaf free of the loaf pan, see my last loaf bread, Beard's Cracked Wheat Loaf for the reason).  In that extra 30 minutes of preheating, the gluten sheath seemed to start to break apart.  Would ascorbic acid have stopped this, I wonder?

I scored it down the middle and baked it with steam.


The loaf baked nicely, but there was no oven spring.  The scoring I did seemed invisible though, so perhaps the scoring contained the rapid expansion, if there was any.

I waited until the next morning to have some.  I had it with what I think is a Celtic Gold Cheese from Stratford's "Milky Whey" Cheese Shop.  This is a milder cheese that complements the rye in this loaf very nicely.  Thin slices for everything.

I'm happy with this bread.  (Finally).  It toasts up nicely too.  I will make it again, mostly to try out other things related to the delayed fermentation.  I forced my wife to try a bit this morning too.  From her paper, she took the offered nibble and said 'It's okay'.  Hardly a rave review, but at least it wasn't 'yuck'.

There is an interesting sweetness to this bread that appears after you've eaten it slowly and savoured it.  The 'Rye Bite', when the saliva's amylase lingers to awaken the entire mouth.  It is, indeed, okay.

Crumb of the Sandwich Rye Siegle

Notes to Myself:
  • Plough through these sandwich loaves to get to the hearth breads you want to bake if you must, but don't forget to keep your eyes open to learn something as you get a handle on what Reinhart is doing with these 'delayed fermentation' techniques.  To get such a handle, episodes like today's experiment are important learning devices: the 8 hour refrigeration of the biga makes a loaf differently than the 4-6 (possibly 8) hour room-temperature rise of the starter made from sourdough.  But what happens if that starter sits out 14 hours, like what happened here?  Does it defeat the entire plan of delayed fermentation?
  • Timing seems to be such a big issue with these recipes.  Refrigeration is used to delay fermentation.  But how much leeway is there, really?  If I had been around to refrigerate the dough at the 8 hour mark, it might have taken 2 hours to delay the fermentation, but it would have still taken 2 hours to bring it back to room temperature.  Are those 2 hours all-important?  What have I lost by not refrigerating my starter?
  • Possible Answer: the dough as I mixed it felt far too wet to knead.  It was just squooshy in my fingers, like mud pies.  And yet, as the soaker and the starter and the final dough ingredients came together and rested after being squoze, there was something like gluten forming, a kind of sleek and slippery rye cohesion.  That was very interesting to witness.
  • The rise did not truly double my dough.  Nevertheless, that resting period was significant.  The dough felt stronger for it, and it was finally workable.
  • The dough did rise during the proofing.
  • You didn't have enough light rye dust on the oiled pan to make a rustic crust.  Don't be afraid to use more next time.
  • Don't expect all the experts who write these books to get it right all the time.  I have sent an email to someone named Mike who runs the Q & A Forum for Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book at the Bread Technique website where they are supposedly collecting errata related to this book.   While there are several posts there, this seems to be the first errata for this particular Reinhart book.  Am I the only one who is consciously trying to increase the amount of whole grains he bakes and ingests?
  • Formula for Baker's Percentages (From Bread Baker's Apprentice, p. 42):

    Ingredient % = Ingredient Weight / Total Flour Weight X 100


  1. Hi Cellar Guy,

    Thanks for this post.

    Later in Reinhart's book, on page 181, there's a recipe for Transitional Hearth Rye Seigle. In the comment, it says it uses a white sourdough starter, but the formula calls for a whole wheat starter. Do you have any idea which he really meant?

    His recipe for creating a starter is for WW but he also has a recipe for converting to white.

    John Wu

  2. As I've been baking Reinhart's book in order of appearance, I haven't got to p.181, so I haven't made the loaf you refer to yet. And I can't say I have any personal insight or conduit into Reinhart's brain.

    But I don't see anything particularly strange about what he says there, re: "a white sourdough starter". It will be white because, although it is seeded by the whole wheat motherstarter, it is elaborated into the recipe's "STARTER" by "unbleached bread flour or high-gluten flour". The recipe doesn't actually call for a whole wheat starter, it calls for a whole wheat motherstarter to seed the recipes "white sourdough starter". Maybe not the clearest description (and I personally find Reinhart's sourdough terminology a bit difficult at times, and I too am always confusing 'starter' with 'motherstarter'), but let me see if I have a handle on it:

    On p.181 he is simply introducing the loaf, and describing both why it is a seigle (>50% rye) as well as a transitional loaf (not 100% whole wheat, uses some white flour).

    You don't have to convert your Whole Wheat motherstarter to a white sourdough motherstarter before trying this recipe -- the instructions for building the "STARTER" here take care of that (in fact, if you already have a white flour motherstarter and want to use it, you can, but you do have to be careful with the hydration, as he points out in his grace note on p.182).

    Someday maybe I'll get to this recipe and see if I am right. Let me know how you make out, I'm always interested.

  3. Good point about the motherstarter vs starter terminology -- I didn't catch that. I'll try out the recipe sometime and let you know how it turns out. I usually maintain a very wet (145% hydration) white starter and convert over to other types from that. For this recipe I'll just fix the hydration and go from there.

    Thanks for taking the time to study the recipe and replying. I appreciate it.