Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! This is by far the most exciting and interesting Vollkornbrot that I have ever baked, and I have baked quiet a few of them! I got this idea from the Baeko recipe database. As you might expect, I made several changes to the original formula. This bread is loaded with whole grain goodness, a high amount of fermented flour, a high amount of soaked grain and a truckload of dried fruit and toasted nuts and seeds. My approach to this bread was to simply use the fruit and nut soaker idea and throw that into Hamelman's recipe for Vollkornbrot. The result was fantastic. However, first I would like to shed some light on the process and give you an in depth discussion of the taste and texture of this bread.
This bread is made with 100% whole rye, coming in the form of whole rye flour and rye chops. The rye chops are soaked in warm water overnight, but most of the whole rye flour is located in the sourdough build. What I want to spend most of my time talking about is the dried fruit and nut soaker. This soaker was made with 100 grams of dried cranberries, 100 grams of golden raisin, 100 grams of sliced dried apricots, 100 grams of toasted walnuts and sunflower seeds and 100 grams of boiling water. I used boiling water because I knew that the heat in the water would help to extract the natural sugars and flavors found in the dried fruit. It would also help to extract some of the salty-nutty flavor from the seeds and help to spread it throughout the entire dough during the final mix and fermentation/proofing stages of this bread.
There is something about golden raisins that I love. I am not sure what it is, but they are special to me. I do recall spending an afternoon with my good fried Isaac in 2006 eating handful after handful of golden raisins in our room in Jerusalem. I will admit to regretting it later, because that was a lot of fiber, as with anything else, I had to pay the ultimate price. But lets not "go" there. I also remember eating loquats, which are my favorite fruit, in ample quantities. I like them because they are weird and hard to come by as they are grown in the Middle East and in Bermuda. This soaker makes this bread a lot of fun because it fills the crusty bread with a tenderness and a sweetness that exceeds the typical caramelization of a fully baked rye bread. And this one took close to 90 minutes to bake. This is not a bread for the faint of heart and the fruit and nuts do bring a lightness to a bread that is not typically light. All of the ingredients including the rye, seeds, and fruit brings an intense bread to a whole new level of intensity. This bread is so delicious that it scares me!
Like any other Vollkornbrot this is a very crusty bread. It is also a very dense bread whose character changes as it is allowed to rest. Much like ourselves, it start off as child, and with the passage of time, it becomes an almost wiser version of itself. But, if you let it get too wise, you will find that it will break your jaw. If this bread is kept in a plastic bag in the fridge, it will last for close to three weeks, maybe even longer. I never have a problem with bread going bad, because it is a major staple of my diet. When a bread is as nutritious and as wholesome as this one is, you never have a guilty feeling about going back for another slice. Over the past few days I have eaten this several ways but the two ways that I have enjoyed it most are "naked" and oddly, with cold pepper jack cheese. (For those of you who are new to this blog, the "naked" refers to the bread and not me.) The spiciness of the pepper jack goes wonderfully with the sweetness of the fruit. The next time I bake this bread I am going to withhold the walnuts and simply add some toasted salted sunflower seeds in their place. I would normally leave them out of the soaker, but once again, I love the salty flavor that the seeds can bring to the crumb when they are added to a boiling water soaker.
I now realize that I did not speak much on the production of this bread. I am currently on an Amtrak train on my way to Atlantic City, and do not have access to my notes, so I will only add a few notes from memory to shed light on a little bit of the process. This dough is mixed on first speed only, and for ten minutes. Karen H Kerr, a baker whom I respect greatly, recommends using the paddle attachment. I gave it a whirl, but it did not work so well for me. Perhaps her formula for Vollkornbrot is much different than mine. After about four or five minutes, I put the hook on and I found it to be more effective. I am a traditional in that sense and cleaning thick dough such as this off the paddle was really a pain in the batinsky! But hey, ‘live and learn and die learning’, that is what I always say. After the dough has come together completely, the fruit soaker is added and allowed to mix until combined and spread evenly throughout. My attitude is: "get the fruit in the dough and don't worry". To me, when you have a dough with this much whole rye flour, the full bake is much more important than a perfect mix. This bread dough is really somewhere between a dough and very thick batter! I always start this bread in a hot oven (470 F) then after twenty minutes bring it down to 375 and bake for one more hour. I then remove the bread from the Pullman pan and let it finish directly on the stone for 15 minutes. This helps firm up the sides a bit and ensures the bread is baked fully! It will be dark, even the flour coating on the pan will have adhered to the bread and look very toasted
This is a bread for the ages! One that I hope one day I will be remembered for!!
-DW, The Rye King