I had occasion to try several new things last weekend: Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe for "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread, one of my recently acquired bannetons from SFBI, and the Pampered Chef equivalent of a La Cloche (which has been sitting around unused for years). This also marked the second time that I have made bread on the new soapstone countertops that were recently installed.
The recipe comes from RLB's "The Bread Bible". The bread contains 3.3 oz of rye flour, vs. 8.5 oz of bread flour, so it is scarcely any more sticky than a wheat dough would be. And with 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds, rye isn't the dominant flavor. The bread begins with a yeasted sponge, which is allowed to ferment 1-4 hours. It eventually bubbles through a flour layer that is placed on top of the sponge:
Once the sponge has fermented, the flour mixture, oil and salt are stirred in. The dough is then kneaded and left to ferment under an overturned bowl for a 20-minute rest:
After the dough has rested, it is kneaded again and then allowed to rise until it is doubled. At that point, it is given a letter fold, then returned to the bowl until it doubles again. After the second rise, the dough is flattened slightly and then shaped into a ball and allowed to rise until it has doubled. Ms. Levy recommends that the final rise after shaping occur in a covered bowl. I opted to use a fabric-lined banneton, dusted with rice flour, covering the exposed surface with plastic wrap to keep it from drying.
Ms. Levy suggests baking either on a baking sheet with steam, or in a cloche. In both cases, she recommends having a baking stone in the oven as it preheats, then setting either the baking sheet or the (also preheated) cloche on the baking stone. It seemed like overkill, but I followed the instructions as given, using the cloche. The risen loaf was tipped out onto parchment paper, slashed, then placed in the cloche and covered. I'll need to practice the technique a bit. I was a bit gun-shy about burning myself on either the cloche base or its lid, so I wasn't as gentle with placing the loaf as I should have been. It deflated slightly but recovered most of the loss with oven spring.
Based on the directions, I pulled the cover from the cloche about 10 minutes before the estimated completion of the baking time, expecting that it would finish browning during those last few minutes. Instead, I saw that the loaf was already well-browned. So, I stuck a thermometer in it, which quickly registered 210F. At that point I declared it done and placed it on the rack to cool. Here's how it looked:
And a shot of the crumb, taken the next morning:
More of the color comes from the malt syrup in the recipe than from the whole rye flour that I used. The crumb is firm and moist, the crust thin and chewy. It makes a mean ham and Swiss sandwich. While I like caraway in a rye bread, the amount in this bread is more than I would use for my tastes. Next time I make it, I will either cut back on the caraway, or substitute fennel or dill, which will be more to my liking.
Thank you, RLB. This is good stuff!