Last weekend, as I was trying to decide what I wanted to bake next, two things occurred to me. First, I had only baked one bread from Inside the Jewish Bakery so far. Second, a rye bread sounded like a good thing.
Although it was a matter of moments to pull the book from the shelf, it was probably half an hour later before I actually got to, and selected, the Rustic Pumpernickel bread as the weekend's bake. Part of that is me; I'm easily distracted by books and usually spend more time in them than intended. Part of it is the nature of ITJB itself; this award-winning book has so much interesting information which is presented so lovingly that, well, how could I just look at the formula and ignore everything else? It's a good thing that I'm not looking at it now, or I wouldn't be writing this post.
Note: I consulted the errata sheet available here and marked the corrected quantities in my copy of ITJB before starting.
Since I don't keep a rye sour on hand, I seeded the sour with my mostly-white starter and built it up as directed, trusting that the coarsely-ground whole rye flour I had on hand would suffice for the dark rye called for in the formula. There's something magical about a rye sour. It looks like a grey-brown sludge but has the most amazing aroma! Sour, yes, but also fruity and spicy, all at the same time. Good stuff!
The dough came together very easily as I mixed it by hand. Since I don't have first clear flour on hand, I subbed in some bread flour in its place. That's where I encountered a surprise. This bread is about 80% rye to 20% wheat. It should have been hyper-gluey, but wasn't. An occasional moistening of my hands was enough to keep the stickies at bay. Understand, it was sticky and I did need to clean some paste from my hands when finished, just nowhere near as much as I have experienced with other breads of similar composition. Maybe it was because part of the rye was scalded. Or maybe not. I'm not sure.
Since one member of the household is not fond of caraway, I elected to include dill seed instead of caraway seed. Rye and dill get on very nicely.
Although the yield for this bread is listed as one loaf, I elected to shape it into two loaves. As two loaves, each was large enough to provide a week's worth of sandwiches. The final dough rose quickly in the warmer temperatures that we were experiencing last weekend. Given the high percentage of rye, I was concerned about the amount of expansion I was seeing. Rye breads that go one step too far tend to collapse spectacularly. I needn't have worried:
In fact, I could have let it ferment a while longer, as is evidenced by the cracking caused by a vigorous oven spring. Why the dough was so resilient, I don't know. Maybe it was related to what I saw with the less-than-expected stickiness. Still, these loaves were almost doubled in size before they went into the oven. In my rye experience, that's living on the ragged edge.
The crumb shows good aeration, especially for a high-rye bread. It is a solid, hefty loaf and works very well as a base for sandwiches made with ham or other flavorful meats. Turkey breast, unless smoked, really doesn't have enough flavor of its own to compete with the bread. Although, with bread this good, it's still a good sandwich!
Thank you to Norm and Stan for bringing ITJB to fruition, and to the TFL testers. I'll be making this bread again and I'll be a bit bolder about pushing the fermentation envelope.