Nils Schöner's 70 percent with Rye Meal Soaker
The picture of this loaf in Nils' Recipe Book ("Brot: Notes of a Home Bread Baker in German") is what caught my eye. I decided to make it even though I didn't have the Einkorn meal. Instead, I used Red Fife flour to coat the exterior of the proofed loaf.
This soaker, made with coarse rye meal requires 18-24 hours of sitting. I left it overnight while I was working nights. But I made a mistake when making it originally: I added the teaspoon of starter before the boiling water had cooled sufficiently. It felt lukewarm on the surface, but underneath, it was still very hot. I was afraid that the yeast would have died in contact with the boiling water so I added another teaspoonful about 15 minutes later when it had sufficiently cooled. I felt better about that.
The Rye Meal and Seed Soakers
This soaker only has to sit for 4 hours, but I left it overnight with the meal sourdough. I had no idea what to expect, but I was unexpectedly surprised by how much the flax seeds had swelled; and the water had become almost gelatinous from the gums within the seeds. I had no idea that these seeds could contain this much gum, nor that by simple soaking in water, they would impart this gluiness to the solution.
This is a moderately firm dough full of seeds and meal
The dough is stirred, bulk fermented, shaped, rolled in Red Fife, and proofed
My ambient dough temperature was precisely what Nils said I needed for 37 degree C water to combine this. Unfortunately, I only needed 10 grams of the water, nowhere near the 100 g max that Nils suggested, to make a moderately firm dough from the other ingredients. Mostly, this dough stayed at room temperature, nowhere near the 29 degree desired dough temperature. So after an hour, I really didn't notice any rise.
No oven spring, just deep fissures form in this dough
On the difference between Einkorn and Red Fife
I would love to try growing Einkorn in my backyard. Triticum monococcum is sometimes called "Stone Age Wheat" (see this description of grains from Prairie Garden Seeds catalog ). For an interesting history of the plant that supposedly was mentioned in the Bible, and brought out of Jericho, look at this heritage seed page.
The story of Red Fife (a landrace of Triticum aestivum) is equally interesting -- to Canadians, at any rate. This wheat was among the first grains grown with success in the northern reaches of the New World, and this wheat became the forerunner of many Canadian varieties. From the breadbasket of Europe to the breadbasket of the new world, all from a few seeds in a Scottish farmer's hatband, the story of this grain has to be apocryphal, it has such a mythological element to it.
But isn't it interesting that wheat has the potential to inspire these origin myths?
Lots of seeds that complement the rye flavour
Oh, but this is a wonderful tasting loaf. It is, to my taste, a very mildly flavoured loaf for the most part. But the crust is quite nutty. And the pumpkin seeds, when you hit them, impart their characteristic taste, which complements the rye nicely.
When cut, the crumb looks furry, but it is fully baked. Lots of meal in this loaf, lots of flavour.
I ate my first slice with a bit of butter, and part of it with a tiny slice of mild cheese. Very pleasant.
Notes to Myself
- Recently I picked up a couple of new bread books: Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, and "No More Bricks" by Lori Viets
- Viet's book is interesting to me because she starts with whole grains for health (not just flours and meals made from whole grains, as I have mostly been doing). The book is home published, and she could have used a good editor. Her breads all seem to be American-style Sandwich Breads (i.e. things her kids might like); I don't see anything in this book that makes artisan-style, nutrient-dense loaves like the ones found in Germany, for example -- the kind I prefer. But she has loads more experience in breadmaking than I ever will. Viets is uncompromising when it comes to grinding her own grains for flour, but she makes compromises elsewhere; still, I cannot fault her. The book is inspiring in some ways, but feels awfully deficient in others.
- The Laurel's Kitchen book is another bread-making classic, and it is well-written. I have read through the preface and the introductory 'Learning Loaf' at length, and I have skim-read the interesting Desem Sourdough technique. This is another book that is inspirational. These people have far more vision than Viets. I get the feeling that I will be taking the best of both of these books, and building my own baking techniques.
- What I want to do is, grow my own grain, grind it into flour as needed, and bake just enough bread -- the kinds that I like! -- for my needs without freezing it.
- Next time, double this recipe for a larger loaf.
- Find some Einkorn seed and try growing this heritage wheat.
- Find some Red Fife seed and try growing this heritage wheat.
- Should I have scored this loaf?
- Get your sourdough starter ready and potent before making this loaf again. It is worth making this loaf again!