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Memories of Czech Rye

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Franko's picture
Franko

Memories of Czech Rye

It's around this time of year that I tend to make rye bread of some kind more often than not. For me the flavour and texture of a hearty rye bread helps to dispel at least some of the cold and damp days we have and will continue to have for the next few months here on Vancouver Island.

 

This latest rye bread started out to be Dan Leader's Light Silesian Rye from his book “Local Breads” which he discovered on a visit to the Czech Republic. After entering his formula into my spreadsheet format to have a better look at it I began tinkering around with it a bit... and then a little bit more...

Well I tinkered so much that in the end I wound up with something quite different from Leader's original formula. My initial intention was to make just a few minor adjustments to it by slightly increasing the rye content, adjusting the salt, and hydration levels, but the more I played with the formula the higher the percentage of rye became. It seems that what I really had in mind was the type of rye bread that has a smooth, and very even cell structure to the crumb, reminiscent of one I had in Prague two summers ago.

That bread was almost certainly a mass produced commercial product which I probably wouldn't find as tasty today as I remember it being then, but in fact the texture of it was what I enjoyed more than anything. The bread was what a street vendor used to stack thick slices of smoky ham on top of, glorious huge hams that had been cooked over the wood fire right next to the stand, then sliced from the bone to order. The bread did such a good job of holding the ham, mustard, pickles and fried onions together in a coherent package as we wandered around Old Town Square, it was really the perfect medium for a big juicy sandwich like that.

 Leader's formula comes in at roughly 18% rye content, and confident this wouldn't give me the texture I wanted it was eventually increased to 68%. With the higher percentage of rye some extra water would be needed to achieve the smooth even crumb I was hoping for so the hydration was bumped to 76% over the original formula's 67%. The commercial yeast included in Leader's formula was turfed in favour of an all rye sour leaven and an addition of non-diastatic malt powder was added for flavour and colour. Since I like seeds in my rye bread, toasted pumpkin seeds were added to the mix along with wee bit of ground caraway to round things out. For a high ratio rye bread like this the procedure would need to change as well, primarily with the bulk ferment and final proof times and temps being warmer and shorter respectively than those for a lighter ratio rye bread. Mixing time went from 10-12 minutes down to 5-6, ample time to develop the gluten in the 32% ratio of bread flour used. Not even close to Mr Leader's formula any more, but I do have him to thank for the inspiration, and for reminding me of the bread and the wonderful sandwich I enjoyed with it that afternoon in Prague.

Although I didn't manage to get exactly the type of smooth and even crumb I'd hoped for, it came fairly close. The flavour is mildly sour, with a pleasant after taste accented by the toasted seeds and hint of caraway. I can't say for sure how much influence the malt had on the flavour but tend to think it contributed to the overall balance of it.

I'm kicking myself now for not putting a ham in the smoker to have with this loaf but I'll make do with some smoked ham from the deli and make a note to self for next time.

Link to spreadsheet *here*

Link to procedure *here*

Cheers,

Franko

 

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Franko,

What a beautiful loaf of bread.   It really does show that using Light Rye can produce a loaf with good volume, even at levels as high as 68%.   The crumb is wonderful; I'm not sure how you hoped to have improved on it.

Love the flavour combination; pumpkin seeds and caraway...which I never thought I would see you include voluntarily!   Very successful tinkering, I have to say

All good wishes

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Andy,

It's a nice change every so often to get away from using whole or dark rye flour, I just wish I could find a local source for organic light or medium rye flour. This light/medium rye flour is what's available in the bulk bin at one of our local supermarkets and I'm quite sure it's a product of one of the big national mills, but it does have reasonably good flavour and ferments easily, so for lack of anything better to use I'm left to work with what I have...for now. Re: the crumb, I'm not unhappy with it but was hoping to get something with more uniformity to it, ie: no holes or less holes. I think it was a case of the  sour being just a bit too lively, normally not a bad thing but in this case it worked against the desired result. I quite enjoyed the mild caraway flavour of Eric's Rye last week and with this bread it's a natural. Doubt I'll ever go over 2% caraway though, but who knows.

As always your comments are valued and greatly appreciated!

The very best,

Franko

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Franko,

Glad to see someone else besides me tweaks things to create entirely different loaves.....kind of like wandering off of a path and coming upon a wonderful new one.

And your loaf really is a nice looking one!  I am surprised by the open crumb with such a high rye % and seeds AND that it held it's shape while proofing.

Thanks you soooo much for sharing the photos of Prague.  The architecture of the old buildings is stunning!

Take Care,

Janet

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Janet,

Tweaking makes up a large portion of the fun quotient for me when I'm home baking, affording me an option/luxury I don't have at work. The bread flour used in this loaf has a blend of white and gluten flours and what the mill (Rogers) says is blended for bread machine use. I've used it for years in some of the high ratio ryes I've made depending on what type of type of crumb I wanted. The flour is quite strong and doesn't need a lot development to be able to hold it's own over the course of final ferment, especially when it's as short as this one was.

Happy you enjoyed the photos of Prague, it's a marvelous city, just love it! If you want to see a few more of my amatuer  point and click Iphone photos of Prague click *here*

Thanks so much Janet for your compliments, very kind indeed.

Best,

Franko 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Franko,

Thanks for the link to your photos.  I loved them.  I have never seen any photos of Prague before and was surprised to see the canals - at least I am assuming they were canals????

Also, I noted lots of pictures with people on foot and no moving cars in sight.  Were you is a part of the city that prohibits cars?  I am so used to our streets here - always LOTS of traffic and very, very few pedestrians.

I am so impressed with the buildings.  So majestic and the cathedral - so vast. And to think of the manual labour that went into building them all.   Not at all like what we have around here....ranch style houses circa 1960.  (I live in a suburb of Denver where many of the residents who are now in their 80's remember when their homes were surrounded by farms and cows.)  

We don't have cable but if we did I know I would soon be caught up on some travel channel never to come up for air again.  I am simply fascinated by the variety of places on this planet and how they have been 'peopled' over the course of human history.

Thanks for sharing and your photos were just fine :-)  Ain't nothing wrong with amateur in my book.......the Ark was built by amateurs...the Titanic by experts.......

Take Care,

Janet

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Janet, glad you enjoyed the photos of Prague.

The canal/s you mention is actually the Vltava River which runs through the city. I think the photo you're referring to is one taken from the Charles Bridge. One of the buildings on the bank is built out over the river and the river passes beneath it so it does look like a canal of sorts from that photo. Prague is busy...I mean really busy with tourists from everywhere wandering around, plus all the locals. There is tons of vehicle traffic on most of the main streets that we saw but there are also a good number of streets in the tourist zone around Old Town Square that are pedestrian only. We found it easy to get around on foot and since our hotel was right near the river so as long as we knew what direction the river was we didn't worry about finding our way back. So many magnificent buildings it's just mind boggling but Prague Castle is the gem of all of them. Hard to properly describe something that large and ancient in terms that do it justice so I won't even try. Try Google street view for Prague and perhaps the castle to get a better idea of what it's like.

All the best Janet,

Franko 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Franko.  That rye looks amazing.  I didn't know Czechs made rye like that.

I will be trying that one soon, hope you don't mind a couple of amateur questions before I take a go at it :)

John

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi John,

I'm not certain this bread is something specifically Czech...  perhaps in the ballpark of what you might find in a Central European bakery.  Our European members could tell you with more authority than I can. Your questions are always welcome John. Whenever you decide to mix and bake this bread, ask away and I'll answer, no worries.

Thanks for your compliments on the bread John!

 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I've been following your rye bakes right along and this one is looking very tasty.  You really got me discribing the sandwich you ate while touring the old town.  I just happen to have a ham in the fridge, and baked Eric's Favorite Rye yesterday using your scale.  The only the thing I changed was using first clear flour and cut the caraway even down some more.  I have to tell you how delicious it is with the carmelized onion...not to get off subject of your lovely rye..I have used dehydrated organic and dehydrated my own, but the carmelized used by Andy and you is simply the best..I thought.  

I think I have some medium rye from KAFlours tucked away in my freezer...now your getting me into trying more rye's..I might go for the pumpkin seeds too...just maybe on ham and cheese, sure sounds delicious.  I've saved this formula in my to do list.  Thanks Franko :)

Sylvia

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Sylvia!

The flavour of this latest loaf is really nice with the toasted seeds and the mild sour. I made my first sandwich with today for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed every last bite of it. Re: caramelized onions for Eric's Rye, doing the onions that way does seem to bring a good rich flavour to the bread and I'm happy to hear you liked it as well.

Great to hear from you Sylvia,

Franko

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Franko, this is a *very* appealing loaf! I love how you interpret recipes, exactly like me!

I have a white rye flour that I sifted from my sawdust. Actually it doesn't ferment a lot, it's a bit disappointing and unimpressive. It's time to test it with something more serious.  As for the bread flour I have one with 14.5% proteins and one with 18%. Which one would you use?

  Nico

Franko's picture
Franko

Thank you very much Nico!

As for what flour to use I'd say go with the 14%. I'd be worried the 18% might make the finished loaf a little rubbery, The bread flour I used is 13% protein but as we know protein % doesn't necessarily indicate strength or quality of gluten. With either flour I'd recommend pretty gentle mixing rather than risk having it get too tough to eat enjoyably.

All the best,

Franko

ananda's picture
ananda

Nico, 18% protein, that's just showing off!!!

Best wishes

Andy

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

it doesn't even feel like such a high gluten flour, but give it a couple of hours and you may end up finding gum instead of dough:-)). It's really strange how this flour behaves. I thought that high gluten flour developed gluten much sooner than this.

I really need your wishes when I use this flour!

mwilson's picture
mwilson

18% - Molino Alimonti?

I've found the same phenomena. More gluten requires more time /kneading...

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Exactly that, Michael. That Alimonti Rosa is produced in the same town where my parents live, so it's not difficult to source:)

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Excellent results, Franko, and a lovely profile on 68% rye! iuding pumpkin and caraway will deem this bread authentically european. Your new oven is also doing a fine job.

Khalid

Franko's picture
Franko

Many thanks Khalid!

The new oven is working out well so far but I'm still monitoring times and temps pretty closely till I get used to it. One of the things I discovered the other day is that it's just deep enough that I can fit the stone in length-ways which will make it much easier to load baguettes and other longish types of bread. It all good!

Take care my friend and get well soon.

Franko 

varda's picture
varda

your first I changed this, and then I changed that.... story.   Sound like me in the kitchen, although I'm not sure I would be able to retrace my steps as clearly as you did.   Lovely rye with or without ham.   -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Varda,

It was a lot of changes for sure but once I'd decided how much rye I wanted in the loaf everything else had to get with program as well. Fun to do especially if the end result turns out the way you hoped or at least comes close.

Thanks Varda, all the best!

Franko

catch_up's picture
catch_up

I've been thinking about joining local community for a while and now seems to be the right time: I'm Czech:)

Franko your bread looks more than just fine and I'm quite sure it tastes better than most of the local produce. Alas, modern times have caught up even with our little nation and most breads you can buy in the supermarket aren't worth your money. Fortunately there has been some improvement lately and people tend to seek out the few little bakeries that still make proper Czech sourdough bread.

As for the bread you had while in Prague - I think you might have had something like this:

http://www.svobodabrezik.cz/detail/chleb-psenicno-zitny-krajeny-900-g/

(Sorry, I couldn't find anything more accurate so quickly.)

The even small-holed crumb is a result of a strong wheat flour combined with strong rye flour (if I can call it this way - it is called " rye bread flour" here and "bread" flours are the strongest you can get). The ratio is usually 1:1 and may vary about 10% either way. Hydration (for machine-made dough) should be between 64% and 66% (I guess it is a bit higher for a hand-made bread). And the levain is build in 3 stages, more or less like Hamelman's and makes up about 50% of the final dough.

I'm sorry if this post sounded like a lecture, it wasn't intended to. I would happy if it helped you re-taste the beautiful memory of Prague.

Ales

Franko's picture
Franko

First of all, welcome Ales, good to have you join us!

I greatly appreciate your input, not to worry about it sounding like a lecture at all, it's just sharing information with the community. The bread in the link you posted looks exactly like the type of crumb I remember of the bread from the vendor, although his was lighter coloured. It didn't seem sour enough to have been a 3 stage but my memory from two years ago may be all wrong as well. Whatever the case I'm thrilled that you took the time to join up and share your local knowledge with the forum. Next loaf of rye I bake I'll follow your recommendations and see if I can't come a little closer to the loaf and crumb in the link that you sent.

 My wife and I will be returning to your lovely city this summer for a much longer stay so I hope to discover some of those small bakeries you mention. Thank you for your very kind comments on the bread Ales!

All the best,

Franko

 

 

catch_up's picture
catch_up

If it was lighter in colour and less sour than I guess there was even more wheat flour - maybe 7:3 wheat to rye in which case the levain is built in two stages or even a single one. But I've found this in books maybe 50 years old so god knows how they do it today:)

I hope you will like your second trip just as much as you liked the first one.

Franko's picture
Franko

I do remember the colour being lighter but as for the flavour, it was good but it was the texture of the small celled and uniform crumb that really caught my attention, that and what was in the sandwich.  Doing a 3 stage sour with a 50-60% rye content as you suggest sounds like a good choice. If I can produce a loaf with a similar crumb to the one in the bakery link you sent I'll consider it a success.

We're both counting the days till we can return to Prague and the Czech Republic. We barely scratched the surface on our previous visit, so much more to see and do. Hoping to stay a night or two in Cesky Krumlov this time as well. We've heard it's a lovely old city in a beautiful setting. 

Cheers,

Franko

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I really like that you baked it boldly which had to help the taste.  I'm with Sylvia.  Caramelized onions are as natural for this bread as smoked ham and cheese.    Nice baking in and out.  I'm making some pate tomorrow so that we can smoke it the nest day.  Nedver had smoked pate before but I suspect any smoked meats would work very well with this bread too.  You've given me some ideas as usual,  for some holiday pate bread too.

Thanks for the formula and method.

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks dabrownman!

Bold bakes have become SOP these days with the new oven...and I'm fine with that for most breads but I'll have to be very careful with it for pastries and such until I get a better handle on the beast. Smoked pate sounds great but I hope you picked up some of that curing salt I mentioned a while back to be food safe. Let me know how it turns out OK? I've been interested in trying something like that myself but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Best wishes,

Franko

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to do one of Eric's Pastrami's for the Holidays.  I've never used salt for pates.  Just low and slow on the baking in a water bath  and then a quick smoke after a day in the fridge before freezing.   No need for salt once it is cooked.  I'm getting ready to smoke some barley for a porter or a stout.  Don't know what smoked grains would be like in bread but will find out one of these days.

Made some puff and paste cream cheese dough for some holiday mince meat rugelach today too.    Maybe my apprentice should smoke some of the mince meat first :-) 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Absolutely gorgeous! I, too, enjoy rye bread with toasted seeds, though I haven't added both seeds and caraway to a dough. Nor have I worked with a dough containing more than 50% rye, mainly due to a lack of good quality bread flour in my area. For sure I'll give that a shot when the right opportunity comes along.

Again, gorgeous bake. :)

Zita

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Zita,

Thanks kindly for your generous comments on the rye bread, very nice to hear!

I'm betting you could use AP flour instead of bread flour and come fairly close. How does the AP in Cambodia compare to what we have in Canada? At any rate it's well worth a try but I'd suggest giving it a good mix to work the gluten up. Once you feel the dough begin to tighten in your hands stop kneading, let it rest for 5 minutes and knead the dough a little more before beginning the bulk fermenation. Then if you feel the dough needs more strength you could give it a few folds in the bowl (wet your hands first) during bulk. Nothing ventured....

All the best and thanks again!

Franko

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Most of the AP and bread flour in my area are bleached, with possibly other additives, which I'd rather not use. From time to time, I chance upon flours from France at the supermarket, namely type 45 and 55 flour---the closest thing to AP flour. Any French flours above type 55 is now a rare sighting. Quite recently, however, I discovered Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour. Perhaps that'll do and I can prepare doughs with larger ratios of rye!

Thank you for the suggestions. I'll heed to them and do my best to bake myself a decent loaf or rye. :)

Zita 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Zita,

That's an American flour produced by the giant General Mills.   Several posters on TFL use this flour...Eric liked it if I remember correctly, see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18193/gm-new-organic-ap-and-croissants

So you should be fine with the Gold Medal flour

Best wishes

Andy

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Love your inspiration and photos as much as the bread, thanks for sharing.

Julie

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Julie!

My pleasure to share it with you and glad you enjoyed it.

All the best,

Franko

ouhrabko's picture
ouhrabko

   Hello from Prague.

As Ales wrote -  most comon bread in Czech is  half rye  half wheat, with lower  hydratation.  And we are adding one boiled potatoe for nicer texture to the dough (home making formula). Also we are not using a just caraway seed, but fennel and coriander seeds, also.  3 parts of caraway seeds, 1 part of fennel and 1 part of coriander.  Pumpkin or sunflowers seeds are not traditionaly in bread, but  very  comon in homemade loaves (also oatmeals - but it  come from bavaria)

And half rye, sourdough bread with caraway are specificaly Czech - other countries are making loaves with higher percentage of wheat (slovakian, polland, austrian) or with more rye  or with wholegrains (saxony and bavarian).

There are nice article about czech bread -  in czech only - but google traslator is  working  quite fine 

http://blog.scuk.cz/post/21772051777/co-musite-vedet-o-ceskem-chlebu

Zuzka

Franko's picture
Franko

Hello to you Zuzka from Vancouver Island, Canada,

Great to hear from another Czech citizen offering more information on their local breads. It really highlights the information sharing ability of TFL as a worldwide bread community that you and Ales have responded to the post with your local knowledge to help me out in making one your nation's traditional breads. The spicing info is particularly helpful, thank you. From what both you and Ales say and from what I've read on my own, the next loaf will be 50/50 which should allow for a longer and slower fermentation, hopefully resulting in the lovely small celled and uniform crumb of the bread I tried in Prague that afternoon in June. Thank you for the link to scuk, and yes Google Translator worked just fine, a good article.

All the best,

Franko 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Zuzka,

Thanks for these tips on making a Czech rye bread.  I have people I bake for who love ryes and haven't tried my hand on a Czech one so this will be fun to try out after the holidays.  I already have boiled potatoes waiting - frozen from a batch I made awhile ago.  Do you use the potato water in the dough too?

Take Care,

Janet

ouhrabko's picture
ouhrabko

I´ve heard about using  "potatoe broth" and actually it should be deeply authentic - becouse potatoe were basic of almost every meals in history and we are used to boil the potatoe with caraway seeds and in salty water - so it is perfect  solution to bread dough...

But i´ve never tried it. 

ouhrabko's picture
ouhrabko

But - i´ve realized - there are solanine boilded out from potatoe, isn´t?

So just a water from summer and freshly harvested potatoe.