Good for what ails ya?
I was so ill this past weekend that I could barely raise my head off the pillow. I called in sick to work, two days in a row, something I can't remember doing ever.
Making bread -- especially a Reinhart loaf or any other loaf that required 2 days or more of prep -- seemed such a daunting task, it was virtually impossible.
But as I started to get a little bit better, and was able to stand upright again, I stumbled to the bread drawer only to find that I was down to my last inedible crust of rye bread. Here I was jonesing for bread, and this chunk of rye was so tough I couldn't cut through it, let alone bite into it. Oh, I tried, but the effort required to eat it was making my head spin. How was I going to get this monkey off my back, with no bread fix in sight?
I needed an oral exorphin injection before long, as I hadn't eaten much of anything in days. I found myself reaching for Lahey's book. I would make his rye bread. Sure, the dough still had to sit and wait 12-18 hours before I had bread in my hands. I was hoping that I would be a bit better in that time frame, and more able to perform the sacred duty of "stretch and fold" that the Lahey breads require. All I had to do the first day was read the recipe through light-sensitive eyes, stir the ingredients, and crawl back to bed.
That is why I didn't weigh anything, I was too ill to waste time with that, but I did grab my camera for a couple of shots as I tossed ingredients together using volumetric cups and spoons.
End of mixing, Day 1.
But even though I was sick, I had to change the ingredients a little bit. Instead of 2 1/4 cups of bread flour, I used 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour (you know I was sick when I kept SOME all- purpose); instead of table salt I used kosher salt; in addition to 1/4 tsp of yeast, I added the same amount of my "home made yeast" from some old dried sourdough (made using Nils Schöner's techniques). And I added 1 cup by dry weight of rye kernels which I had previously cooked in the pressure-cooker for 50 minutes.
I very nearly used some cold yogi ginger tea instead of water, but I wimped out on that taste experience. Maybe its because I have been drinking it while sick, and I didn't want to be reminded of a sick food.
This is about 16 hours later.
After a few stretch and folds I put it in its basket.
Two hours later, the dough is ready to go into the casserole dish.
After baking 30 minutes, lid on, 23 minutes lid off at 475 degrees F.
The dog took it easy on me when I walked her around the block after baking this loaf: I think she knows I am sick (she hides when I cough). The reason I mention the walk outside, though, is that when I returned home, there was a distinct sour note that I could smell from the bread that I hadn't noticed while it was rising and baking. Perhaps that is because my smeller is off.
Looks okay, tastes blah
I waited about 3 hours to slice into it, and I was hopeful that the bread would taste good. But it is amazingly bland. It is nicely moist, and it has some nice textures from the extra cooked rye kernels I added. But those rye kernels seem to have added no flavour at all. Maybe using kosher salt meant there was not quite enough salt to give it that bite, who knows? Or maybe it is just my own tastebuds that are compromised, after being sick for a few days.
But this is one tasteless bread. Not very inspiring fare, for one who is (hopefully) on the mend.
Notes to Myself
- Try soaking those pressure-cooked rye kernels in juice of some sort, like Nils Schöner does in his excellent rye breads. We have some crab apple juice that we made in the dampfentsafter that will certainly give this bread some flavour: I've been drinking a lot of it lately, 'cause I feel it has a lot of vitamin C and it seems to be helping my sore throat.
- Omit the bread flour, or all-purpose flour.
- Get the right weight of salt: the kosher salt is chunkier than table salt, so that is going to throw off the recipe. Of course, you knew that, you just were too sick to care at the time.
- Wait another day, rye is said to improve in flavour after a day. Of course, there is not that much rye flour in this loaf. You should increase the amount next time you make this.