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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Sourdoughs: Nils' Schöner's Sourdough Method for Rye

Nils' Schöner's Sourdough Method for Rye

This blog entry is part 2 of the 'Tale of Two Sourdoughs' cycle, a comparison of two very different sourdoughs, one made with rye and the other made with wheat.

Part 1: Arva Flour Mill supplies my grain
Part 3: Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book's Whole Wheat Desem

One would be hard pressed to find a simpler sourdough method than that given by Nils Schöner in his book "Brot: Bread Notes From A Floury German Kitchen".  Nils maintains that there is no need to keep both a rye and a whole wheat sourdough: if you keep a rye sourdough, it can easily be used to inoculate or build a wheat sourdough of any description, be it whole wheat or even a sourdough of bread flour.  And the rye sourdough is remarkably easy to get going.

If my experience is the norm, I would wholeheartedly agree.  Nils said that I might not see any fermenting activity until the third day.  But I saw signs of fermenting from the very first day, and on the second day the signs were even stronger.

I would agree with him when he says that it takes a couple of refreshes before this sourdough is able to rise bread on its own in a timely manner.  The wild yeast is in there, but it shares space with some lacto bacillus bacteria that give the sourdough its characteristic sour scent and flavour.  This rye sourdough, by the time it is refreshed for the first time, has a very strong sour taste.  I am thinking that as the yeasts build up, they will become stronger than the bacteria.  But the environment will never be totally devoid of the bacteria, and this sourdough will remain a very acidic place for the wild flora to live.

Day 1, you grind the rye into flour, and use 25g of flour with 25g of water, and stir it into paste.  You leave it overnight, covered, at room temperature.
 Get some rye kernels from Arva Flour Mills
 These rye kernesl look nice, don't they?
I'm guessing I'll need to grind twice as much grain by weight as what's needed in flour
 Looks like you only need about 1/3 of a cup of rye kernels to grind up 25g of flour
 Into the Grain Mill
 Gee, that doesn't look like much
 Milled Rye
 Measure out 25g
 Measure your water
 Equal by weight rye flour and water
 Mix it
Cover it

Day 2, you do the same thing, but add your 25g of flour and 25g of water to the 50g of mixture that you already have.

 I'll grind up the same amount, about 1/3 c of rye kernels
 And measure out what I require: the same amount, 25g
 Equal weight in water
 Mix it up
 Now it's ready to add to yesterday's mixture
 Both mixtures look the same: just that one is a day older
 Mix it together
 Label it
Already by the 11th hour of the 2nd day I'm seeing some fermentation bubbles

Day 3, now you can double the amount you add: grind up enough rye to make 50g of flour, and add that to 50g of water and the 100g of mixture you already have.  Each day we are doubling how much we add.

 Measure flour: 50g today
 Measure water: 50g today
Mix it up and add it to yesterday's mixture

Day 4.  Time to add 100g of rye flour and 100g of water to the 200g of mixture you already have.

 Fermentation bubbles visible

 Moonscape texture
 Now I'm grinding up about a cup of rye kernels daily
 Now I can see the rye kernels in the hopper

 This time I grind up enough for 100g of flour

 Equal amounts of water
 Stir it all up
 Larger container required
You can see here the level of the mixture when I finished mixing it, on the 4th day

Day5, Lots of fermenting action here today.  We divide what we have in half, and use only one of the halves to add that amount of new flour and water back into the mixture.  For me, I've got 190g of material, to which I add 95g of rye, and 95g of water.  This is the first refresh.

 Yes, we have definite fermenting action going on
 But we don't need all of it anymore: measure it
 now keep only half
 grind up some more rye
 And measure out how much you require
 Mix it with equal amounts of water
 This is the first 'Refresh'
 See the level at the end of day 5

Day 6, repeat yesterday's actions: toss away half of what you have, and add the same amount back with half rye flour and half water.  Here I added 185g of flour, 185g of water to 270g of mixture.  And this time, after I was finished mixing it up, I put the whole thing in a jar to be refrigerated and refreshed weekly.

 Visible fermentation even from above
 Pretty good rising ability

 Mill some rye kernels
 Measure some freshly milled rye flour
 Measure some water
 Mix it up: this is your second refresh
 Now we can put it in a jar and refrigerate it

And now we can bake with it
usually using no more than a tablespoon or two to flour to make up a starter overnight

The first test loaf with the new sourdough was Nils' 60 percent rye with apple juice soaker.  It only used 1 teaspoon of the sourdough, but boy was it good.  So good, I made it again soon on the heels of the first loaf, so that my mother-in-law could try it.

The second test loaf was a pure experiment to make use of the sourdough discard.  It was a rye, wheat and teff with sourdough, and it didn't rise all that well but was still edible.

This new sourdough is one I will try to keep going for as long as possible.

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