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Monday, August 23, 2010

Everyday Bread #63 - No Knead 100% Rye and 100% Whole Wheat Sourdoughs

No Knead Sourdough Discard Breads:
100% Rye and 100% Whole Wheat

The idea for this experimental loaf came from a very recent post at The Fresh Loaf blogs, by bread baker arlo.

At the moment that I read his report, I had been thinking to myself, "Why can't I bake a rye loaf using Doris Grant's No-Knead techniques?"  The reply to which also came from myself (See note to myself, below), "Because you would require a sour environment for the rye gluten to fully develop."  And so I began to think about sourdough again.  I could use my sourdough discards, perhaps.  Or better yet, elaborate the sourdough the next time I refreshed it, and turn it into a no-knead rye.  The question then was, how much sourdough to use?

It was at that point in my thought process that arlo's loaves came to my attention.  Now arlo was baking a loaf described in the CIA Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Craft Book.  The Culinary Institute of America, I learned, is a non-profit culinary school that has been around almost as long as Doris Grant loaves.  Their website shows that they have a lot of fun associating of their name with the Central Intelligence Agency; but of course, there is no connection (or is there?  Card-carrying CIA graduates will never tell...)

I had a quick look at arlo's report of what the CIA advises to use in the recipe.  I thought to myself, "Wow, that seems to be a lot of yeast."  That is about how much the Artisan Breads in 5 Min a Day use for 4 loaves, with a 2 hour rise: and many artisan bread makers complain that their breads taste "Yeasty".  Nevertheless, I thought I'd try the recipe with my rye motherstarter discards.  I figured that even if the wild yeasts in the starter were pretty much spent, by adding that much yeast, I could still make a fairly decent rye bread.

Usually when I refresh my motherstarter, I save 1/2 a cup and discard the rest.  I wasn't even sure how much discard that would be, at this point.  It has been a long time since I weighed it.  So I was happy to have arlo's recipe percentages handy to calculate the amounts.  As I made the recipe, I also recorded the volume measurements of what I was using.

And then I thought I'd try basically the same recipe with my whole wheat motherstarter discards.

So here is the table of values that I used for both breads:

Ingredient%rye amountrye volww amountww vol
Flour1004233 1/4c4403 c
ID Yeast8347 tsp342 1/4 Tbsp
Water85.43611 1/2 c3761 1/4 c
Salt281 1/4 tsp91 1/4 tsp
(Be careful with this table, it contains an error, see below)

My Experience:

I mixed the doughs.

1. The Rye

In terms of feel, the rye loaf seemed denser from the start.  I did knead it, but only enough to incorporate the flour.  I used wet hands -- that is the only way I can knead rye, it doesn't develop like wheat dough, and I stopped as soon as the flour was well integrated.

2. The Wheat

The wheat dough, I did not knead.  I did stir it by hand, though, to get the flour completely hydrated.

I simply poured these doughs into the tins and pressed them down with a spatula.

The rye dough was set to rise perhaps 20 minutes before the whole wheat bread, simply because I had a bite of lunch to eat in between.  But perhaps that was a good thing: the rye loaf, which arlo said would rise in 30-40 minutes (or at least, its surface would crack, indicating expansion), took a bit longer than the whole wheat dough to get any sort of rise.  I set the clock for 40 minutes, then added 20 minutes, then added 30 minutes.  Finally I was beginning to see some cracks in the crust, which I had dusted lightly with rye flour as per his instructions.

So the rising time of the loaves were: 1 1/2 hours for the rye loaf, and 1 hour and 10 minutes for the whole wheat loaf.  Despite the surface cracks of the rye loaf, my best guess is that the loaves required just a tad longer than this, but I had some work-related appointment I had to keep, so I had to cut the rising time short.  The only extra time I gave them was about 15 minutes, for the preheating time.

These loaves supposedly require 65 minutes to bake at 450 degrees.

That seemed a trifle long, for the whole wheat bread at any rate, so I was prepared to place some foil over the top for the later part of the bake of these loaves, if required.  As a last-minute innovation, I painted some plain yogurt (some yogurt that was starting to get a bit old and sour) over the top of both loaves, and I sprinkled some flour on top of that; and I also used a tray of water to steam the tops of the loaves, in an effort to make sure the crust didn't burn.

I turned them 180 degrees in the oven at the 30 minute mark.

I peeked in on them with 18 minutes to go and determined that the loaves were done.  I suspect that the time for the loaves at that heat should have been 45 minutes.  I took mine out of the oven at 47 minutes, so they are a little crispy on top, despite my precautions about applying the yogurt.  That yogurt, by the way, gives the loaves a ghostly appearance while baking.

arlo claims he takes the rye bread from the tin and leaves it in the cooling oven for 15 minutes, once it is free of the tin.  I didn't think that my loaves required that.  Besides, I had to leave for that appointment.

The crumb is dense, and despite the look of the outer crust, it is a teensy bit clinchy or dampish/furry in the middle.  This could be because I didn't bake it long enough, or because I didn't let it cool long enough.  It was certainly cool when I cut into it after 4 hours, but perhaps the loaves were not quite ready.  In any case, the word on the street is that rye improves after at least 24 hours, and I didn't wait that long.  Toasted, the loaves are fine.

The rye has a sweet-sour scent to it; the whole wheat is just a sour scent, but it is gentler.

So... how does it taste?

I didn't think that my wife would like it, because it is a sourdough.  I figured that the sourdough, which had been refreshed four days earlier, meant that it would be very sour.  But I found this not to be the case.  I toasted some, and put butter and some Mecklenburger Tilset on it, and found the taste of the bread to be quite excellent.  "Perhaps you would like this, after all," I told my wife.  I gave her some of my bread to try.

She tried the rye and wondered if there was rye in it.

"Yes," I said.  "It is 100% rye."

She was impressed.

"You can stop experimenting now," she said.  "This is the one."

She indicated that not only did she like it, she thought her mother would like it too.  "But can you duplicate it?" she asked.

I thought so, having written everything down. 

I gave her the whole wheat bread to eat, and she nodded, but shrugged.

"You like the rye better," I surmised.

"Yes," she said.  "This is good, but the other one is better.   It is a nice mild taste, not overpowering, but very good."

Notes to Myself
  • Depending on your taste, you could incorporate Doris Grant style enrichment: oil in the form of butter or olive oil, sugar in the form of molasses or honey, etc., in the amounts that Doris originally suggested per loaf, or based on what you tried in your last everyday bread.  But frankly, these breads don't require it.  They taste good on their own.
  • I end up bouncing ideas off myself, because there are few other people in my brain to have a proper dialectic (thank goodness).  But inside my cranium, as sparks within the grey matter, there exist echoes of other people's thoughts, long after I have read what they have to say on the subject (I read other's words, and that is virtually my only contact with other's thoughts.  I'm not a mind reader, and I never talk to other people who bake bread, so books and blogs are pretty much my only insight into other baker's minds). 
    All of this is a long-winded way of saying that many of my thoughts are not original, but I have no idea any longer where the original thought came from.  The fact that rye needs wild yeasts and lactobacillus to create a sour, acidic pH environment to develop its gluten, I think I first read in a scientific journal (which one, I no longer remember); but Hammelman's
    Bread gives a succinct, well-written explanation as well.
  • Yogurt and flour gives an interesting topping to baking bread, and an unusual colour and texture.
  • Heh.  I just had another look at the original Fresh Loaf posting of this bread recipe.  And guess what?  The yeast that I thought was too much WAS too much.  Instead of being 8%, the blog says it should be 0.8%.  That will change a few things.
  • Here then is the complete recipe you can use, next time you try this loaf.  All measures are in grams by weight, or approximate by volume.

    Ingredient%Rye amountRye volumeWhole Wheat amountWhole Wheat volume
    Flour1004233 1/4c4403 c
    ID Yeast0.8
    (i.e. 1)

    1/4 tsp41/4 tsp
    Starter92.7392your discard406your discard
    (298 if oil)
    1 1/2 c
    (1 1/4 c if oil)
    (308 if oil)
    1 1/4 c
    (7/8 c if oil)
    Salt281 1/4 tsp91 1/4 tsp
    Optional Oil (olive oil)15631/4 c681/3 c
    Optional Sweetener (honey)23971/4 c1001/3 c

    Directions: Mix your motherstarter (discards) with the amounts of flour, yeast, salt and water as indicated by this table. Use your hands to ensure all the flour is well hydrated. Pour the dough into an oiled tin. Cover and proof until the dough fills the pan, (or the rye dough, lightly floured with rye, starts to crack the surface). 30-90 minutes. Just before baking, paint with plain yogurt and a sprinkling of flour. Place in a preheated 450 degree F. oven (with steam during the early part of the bake) for 45-50 minutes, turning once during the bake. Remove from the tin and cool completely on a rack.

    Note: You may want to check the next blog entry before trying the above recipe, it contains another mistake...

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