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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nils Schöner's Haferbatzen

Dark Fissures like Brain Sulci form during the long baking period of the Hafterbatzen

This is the Second Loaf I've made from Nils Schöner's recipe e-book: "Brot"

The first loaf was a Country Loaf, or Cottage Loaf, or Farm-baked bread (Landbrot), this is a 'Big Chunk' or 'Clump' of Oats (Haferbatzen).  Nils baked his in a baking frame, I made mine a free-standing loaf to see what would happen.

Of course, I altered the recipe so that I could use up what I had, same as last time.  And due to time constraints, I probably rushed the steps a bit.

Mis en place: the sourdough build, the soaker, the dough

The Sourdough build and Soaker, before and after

The bread is made from dough which is constructed of rye and wheat flour, and includes both a soaker and a sourdough build.  The Rye meal sourdough build is supposed to use medium rye meal, and as I've indicated previously, I believe my rye meal is fairly coarse.  The soaker is supposed to use a very coarse rye meal, and I could have used my rye meal there; but instead, I used whole rye in the soaker.

Nils says that the sourdough build should stand covered for 16-24 hours; mine waited 22 hours, but probably would have benefited from the longer time.  The Soaker is to stand covered for at least 6 hours, and due to the fact that I used the whole rye grain, leaving it 22 hours, along with the sourdough build, probably wasn't the wrong thing to do.

My dough after proofing and just prior to shaping

Following Nils' instructions, I made a firm dough, using even slightly less than his lower range of hydration, so the loaf would not spread sideways.  I used 65 g of water in the dough.  I also used dried yeast again, and based on a rounding of his recommendations, I used only 1 gram of IDY for his 4 grams of fresh yeast.

I mixed this by hand, kneading it for approximately the same amount of time he would have us use a mixer.  I suspect that I incorporated a bit of water this way, keeping my hands wet, but it didn't adversely effect the dough.  I probably should have kneaded it more.

Rolled in oats, this 'Batzen' is ready to bake

This dough proofed for 45 minutes, then I kneaded it again briefly and put it in a couche-lined basket.  It only rested there as long as it took to pre-heat the oven, though.  Nils' instructions does not include a second proof after shaping (but then, he says to just drop the dough into a bread tin or baking frame, and I was making a free-standing loaf).  Perhaps it could have benefited from a bit longer time in the basket, but then again, that might have caused it to sag a bit.  Who knows?

Experienced bakers might look for clues as to what I should have done when they note how my bread blew apart during the hour-long baking period.  Should I have scored it?  Should I have proofed it longer?  Should I have rolled the dough a different way, to wind it up tighter?  I don't know.  Intuitively, I would say that I should have rolled the dough differently, and let it proof a little bit longer -- but not a lot longer!  The loaf is fairly rustic looking -- like a big hunk, or chunk, or clump of grains.  Even Nils' own picture showed a slice that is not perfectly shaped.

That is part of its charm.  Personally, I don't care that the loaf burst apart during the baking, as long as it holds together when I am slicing it.  It sure gives the loaf a rustic appearance.

Nils advises 65-75 minutes, and I stopped at one hour.  I had to get some sleep!

Making my lunch at 0500, the day after we canned some Smokey Tomato Sauce for bread dipping
The loaf, when I finally cut into it about 32 hours later, does tend to split near the fissures in the crust.  But this a crunchy, good-tasting loaf.  The oats on the crust and the whole rye grains inside lend it a nuttiness in texture that won't be for everyone's taste, but I like it.  I'm curious to see what my wife will say about it.

Certainly my version of it is more rustic than Nils, and I haven't achieved the rich dark brown of his loaf.   I used black molasses, but there is such a very small amount, I can't really assume that this or his sugar beet syrup is what colours the loaf.  It has to be the quality of the rye grain itself: his loaf looks more like pumpernickel.  With the tools and grain flours I have at hand, I have never yet been able to get a rye loaf that dark.

In the end, I have an interesting and tasty loaf, but it is merely patterned after Nils' Haferbatzen.  Mine turned out different.  I can't call mine a German loaf.  Perhaps I should call this bread "Hafergehirn", or "Haferfurchen" (But 'Oat-brain bread' makes it sound dangerously healthy; 'Oat-sulci bread' sounds either too sensuous, or too petulant).  Whatever you call it, it is still a big chunk of oaten bread.

One slice for breakfast, two for lunch

Notes to Myself
  • Try a second proof of about 30 minutes after forming a free-standing loaf with this dough.  What will this do to the crust, however?  The Hafer crust might be better wetter.  Nils advises a porridge of oats, but you just rolled your bread in the oats.  It probably makes a huge difference.
  • Try folding the dough like you would for a loaf tin, even if you are proofing it in a basket.
  • Try scoring the dough a few times before baking it.  This will only work if you have folded the dough, as in the second point above.
  • Try putting this dough in a mixer or bread machine for the long slow speeds that Nils suggests, rather than trying to knead it.
  • How would you go about making a darker rye?  What kind of rye berries go into Nils' flour, and what kind go into your own?  Is there a way to find out from the local mill?

1 comment:

  1. Looks rustic and good! The splitting is probably cause by putting bread in oven too early. The ideal final rest is admittedly tricky. Especially with loaves like this it is important not to wait for too long as the bread might deflate in the oven causing it to sink slightly in the middle (cheesecake-effect?)

    Usually, breads like this one are not scored. Why, I don't know. Probably because they tend to dry out at the slashes after a few days leaving rock-hard edges.

    Oh, ze Germans and their to make a darker loaf and what rye to use? The answer is found in Pandora's box. Ask 10 bakers and get 11 answers. If you want the color just to be richer and warmer, you can use an old-bread soaker or malt. I've seen recipes where malt powder is used or syrup, but syrup sweetens the dough which is not really ideal. Pumpernickel for example gets its dark, almost black color by a long bake in a very humid environment.