The Fresh Loaf

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Tartine Country Rye with Bulk Retard - any suggestions?

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Lehua's picture

Tartine Country Rye with Bulk Retard - any suggestions?

I've only been baking bread for 2 months so still not sure of my bench techniques.  I also have this quirk of always wondering "what if...". (Might come from being a software beta tester in the past).  I have had some successes and some not so great outcomes, but am enjoying this process.  Having tried a number of different breads - ones with yeast, some with biga and yeast and some with natural starter- I find that I prefer the natural starter technique and like the crumb of the high hydration of the Tartine method. 

So - this is a picture of my very first bread.  This was the Tartine whole wheat bread.   On my very first bread I made a mistake:  I used KA white whole wheat instead of regular white flour with whole wheat.  And it came out great,though a little dense:

So my dilemma:  I work irregular hours and can't be around to do the Tartine bulk ferment with regular stretch and fold.  So I decided to try a retarded bulk ferment.  Here's my schedule:

Sunday am:  mixed levain
Sunday pm: mixed dough, did 1 hour bulk ferment with 3 stretch and folds.  Put in fridge at 9:30pm
Monday:  got home from work late.  Pulled from fridge at 6:30pm (21 hours!) let sit 1/2 hour, then completed the Tartine method of cutting and bench rest, stretch and fold on bench, then proof in bannetons.  This dough was very airy so proofed 2 hours then into the oven on a stone. 

Results:  Great flavor, not sourdoughy at all.  Chewy crust just the way I like it and lovely texture.  The downside:  ugly bread!  When I removed them from the bannetons they spread way out.  In the oven they had wonderful oven-spring, but the loaves did not hold their shape and became a bit morphed:

See the funny shape? They spread way out and didn't keep that nice rounded shape I had in my first loaves.  

I think I'm on to something.  I really like the flexibility of the retarded bulk fermentation, but how do I get the structure to hold the shape?  Any suggestions for my next experiment?

Thanks, Linda

Mebake's picture

Looks like you need to work more on pre-shaping and shaping. You can see this video on Boule shaping: here.

Also, Rye flour is notorious for its water absorbancy... different ryes absorb different amounts of liquid, so i'am guessing that you've gone alittle bit overboard with the water here.

Great bread, nonetheless!

lumos's picture

If you've been baking bread only for 2 months and created that, you should be VERY poud! :)

As Khalid said, rye can be a bit tricky flour to handle when you're not used to it. It does absorb more water as he said, but also it doesn't contain gluten as wheat flour does, so the dough with rye is always weaker than 100% wheat flour based dough, which leads to less voluminous loaf.  So you have to make sure you get a good gluten development from wheat flour in the dough to compensate for the lack of gluten in rye. (but be careful you don't over-knead. Rye won't like it....)

Also, it's better to under-proof the dough with rye flour, too, partly because of above reason; the dough with rye is more fragile. It's a safer bet if you under-proof it and let it expand more in the oven than wait until it expanded in volume as much as you'd do with dough without rye in.  But how much you should underproof depends on how much rye is in the formula. I don't have Tartine's book, so I can't give you any precise idea,  I'm afraid.

Another option is....try baking bread without rye flour for a while until you get 'the feel' of dough with sufficient gluten development and shaping and judging the ripeness of the dough during fermentaion/proofing, then move on to a formula with rye in. This may sounds like an unnecessarily longer route to take, but sometimes 'slow and steady wins a race.' ;)

best wishes,




Lehua's picture

Thank you for the replies. I didn't think about the rye factor though now I remember reading about the properties you mention. You are correct - I should get the basics down before I start experimenting. I find this whole process fascinating with so many variables.

You've hit it on the head. I am not familiar with the "feel" of the bread yet so am more guessing than not. Thanks for the tips. I'll check ou the link. Wish there was a class I could go to.

lumos's picture

I learned my lesson a hard way. To be honest, those suggestions above are something I wish I'd done in the early days in my breadmaking days. :p