The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to Sourdough - Several Questions!

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

New to Sourdough - Several Questions!

Like many, I am starting with Reinhart's BBA. Perhaps I am crazy to want to start my home sourdough experience with a 100% rye, but there you have it!


Not thinking, I started my seed culture at 10pm yesterday after an intensive day of cleaning my home, not thinking at the time what this would mean for the 24 hour feeding and what would happen when it was time to bake! Can I slowly 'shift the clock back' so to speak by feeding my seed culture and then my 'barm'/starter an hour or so earlier each day over the week so that I'm eventually at a more convenient time without causing harm to my starter?


Like many here, I have also come to realize that this is going to make an incredibly large amount of starter! When I go to do my Day 2 feeding of my seed culture later today, can I go ahead and toss out 1/2 of my day 1 ingredients and add in only half of what Reinhart says to on pg. 229 or should I stick with the large amount of seed culture and do the discarding when I get to making the actual 'barm'/starter?


I live in a warm, dry area of the country. When I say 'dry', I mean that we got only 13 1/2" of rain total for last year, less than half of our usual rainfall, and it is not likely to change any time soon. We've had a bit of rain lately, but nothing to write home about if it were anywhere but here. It is also very warm - It's only March and already I have the A/C running just to keep it at 76F in the house! What kind of effect will this kind of weather have on my starter, and what kind of adjustments might I need to make? I can't afford to run my A/C any lower than this just for the sake of bread, obviously!


I have read here that the sourdough rye is a much wetter, stickier, slacker dough. I do not have a KitchenAid or anything like that, so will be doing this all by hand. Any suggestions for handling would be greatly appreciated.


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you plan to bake a 100 percent rye sourdough, I really suggest you first read the chapter on rye in Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread, a Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes," as well as his discussion of the various flours.  Hopefully your library will have a copy.


As much as I enjoy the BBA, it offers very little information on the characteristics of rye.


I checked the BBA's recipe for the sourdough you wish to bake and note it calls for white rye flour.  Questionable choice because according to Hamelman:  "White rye flour has little in the way of flavor or color, and is generally a poor choice in bread making."  White rye has the bran and germ removed.


Now, I give a lot of weight to Hamelman's advice because he is one of around 100 certified master bakers in the U.S., the Director of the Bakery and Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour, and most importantly, he actually bakes bread for three weeks of each month at the KAF Bakery (teaching the other week). 


He also has a very simple formula for developing a sourdough rye culture which uses 6.4 ounces of whole rye flour and 6.4 ounces of water which is refreshed daily for two days with one feeding each day, then twice a day thereafter (room temp of 75-80F).   There's very little waste and it produces a very nice SD rye culture.


Even if you choose to go with the BBA receipe, learning about the characteristics of rye will only help you in your rye adventure.


As to your question about mixing a 100 percent rye, there is no gluten development.  It will be like paste.  The dough temperature should be 84/85F.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

We all start somewhere and I started with whole wheat. But yesterday, I took my first foray into the world of RYE. I haven't read either Hammelman or Reinhart-only know of them, but read everything I could on this site re:handling Rye. I had a Sourdough Potato-Chive bread recipe that I thought would be a perfect texture for a rye so I started from there.


Even tho I only substituted 1 c Rye flour for 1 c bread flour, the dough characteristics were TOTALLY different. The Whole wheat version was a nice firm dough. When I substituted the rye flour, the dough was a sticky,slack mass that couldn't be shaped.I was prepared for some of this, after all my reading, and today when I sliced it, the loaf proved to be a wonderful (although not tall) loaf of deliciousness. Made great reuben sandwiches!


So,rye bread is a whole different learning curve than bread-it is a specialty unto itself. It has unique techniques and characteristics.


Have fun!

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

So how do you actually -handle- this sticky, slack mess? Use a couch? Just let it spread out thin?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== So how do you actually -handle- this sticky, slack mess?  Use a couch? Just let it spread out thin? ===


I suggest approaching it from two sides:  first start out with Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Real Jewish Rye", which is a yeasted low-fraction rye.  After you get nice sprung loaves from that (which only took me about 6 tries) and have experimented with various types of small seeds other than caraway, try slowly increasing the rye percentage until you hit 30% or it doesn't work any more (which at some point it won't).   From there switch over to a Hamelman 20% rye sourdough and work your way up his percentage ladder.



Yes, if you want a nice loaf shape (say for sandwiches) a couche does help above 20% rye, but that said I still haven't gotten around to ordering an oval couche from SFBI and I manage to get decent hand-shaped and peel-risen loaves 2/3 of the time with 30% rye.


From the other end, particularly if you have a sourdough culture you want to get going with, make the Reinhart or Hamelman volkornbrot.  It is actually pretty easy once you realize it never has to leave to bowl until you put it in the loaf pans (work it with a plastic dough scraper).  That will give you a good feeling for the wet clay-like texture of high fraction rye.


HTH.


sPh


And I really wish the indents would stick between the preview and post functions.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

I inherited one. For some time I didn't even know what it was. My mother tried to convince me that it was for rolling out dough on (obviously, I did not learn what little baking skills I have from my mother eh?). My mother recently brought me my grandmother's rolling pin, and it was wrapped inside a linen cloth that has been completely impregnated with flour. This, in turn, was wrapped in aluminum foil to keep flour from dusting off and going everywhere.


I do wonder if I need have any worries about this 'antique' flour? I know that the couche hasn't been used for -at least- 15 years or so. Thankfully it is still fairly supple.

proth5's picture
proth5

Indeed what you inherited is a pastry cloth.  This is what we used when we rolled out piecrusts and cookies back when I started baking (and dinosaurs roamed the earth.)  They often came with little wooden or wire frames to keep them stretched out on the table or the counter and many were helpfully marked with the proper dimensions for rolling out piecrusts.  They are seldom used or seen now.


This device and the linen wrapping on the rolling pin helped keep the dough from sticking without transferring too much flour to the dough.  Depending on how and where these things were stored, the flour should be OK.  Commercial white flour doesn't really have anything in it that would "go bad" over time and it does take some time to get cloth totally impregnated with flour and should you wash any of it you would need to repeat the process.


I would examine all of the cloth for any signs of insects and if there are none, go ahead and use the cloth as is.  I am sure that it will enjoy its second life as a couche.


Hope this helps.

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

There was also a cloth "cozy" around the rolling pin as well. It doesn't seem to be linen though. I honestly thought my grandmother had taken the top of a tube sock and slid the rolling pin into it for some reason. Grandma *DID* do some of the oddest things at times. It's heavily textured - wouldn't it leave an imprint on the dough? The few times I've used the rolling pin since inheriting it I've taken it off and rolled out my dough (usually for biscuits) on floured parchment paper as this made for easy cleanup.

proth5's picture
proth5

I was a bit surprized when you said linen around the rolling pin.  The pastry cloth usually came in a set with a stockinette - a finely knitted tube - to cover the rolling pin.  It did not leave a texture on the dough if it was floured and used corectly (Don't press too hard - light but firm strokes).  Also, in most cases, any small imprint would disappear in the baking process.


Your grandmother did what any thrifty homemaker of her era would have done with this set.  Floured it well and stored it carefully so that it would stay "non-stick."  The parchment paper you now use would not have been commonly available to the home baker (in the USA) and would have cost too much even if it had been.  She would have used the cloth and the covered rolling pin and cleanup would have been almost as easy.  I'm so sorry that she was unable to pass that wisdom along to you.  As a favor to her memory you might want to rethink some of the "odd" things she did and see the thrift and ingenuity in them.


You might want to try using the set as it was intended to see the results that you get.  I used a set like that for many years.  I'll have to say I like my silicone rolling pin better, but that wasn't available during those years and the set did work well.


Happy Baking!


 

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Grandma was all about the thrift - no doubt there :) She had a habit of hiding money everywhere - in books (of which she had several hundred lining the walls, under the beds, and in two closets!), in drawers, in various purses, etc. Typical Depression Era Baby behavior.


No, no, one of the 'odd' things she'd do, for example goes like this: She was -terrified- of plastic/rubber bugs. Not real bugs, just fake ones! My dad knew this and, when he would come over to see my mother, would leave them where she would eventually find them. Inevitably she'd scream, pick it up in a tissue, wrap it up and stick it in a drawer. Days, weeks, months or even -years- later she'd find it again and scare herself witless!


I actually did learn quite a bit of cooking from my grandmother - just not baking. By time I was old enough to really get into the kitchen with her she'd had two heart attacks and no longer had the strength and endurance for most baking of the sort that required any kind of rolling out.


There was some baking going on, as she had homemade pizza, but that was more pressed out than rolled out, I think. My grandfather would make it for her once a week, but I don't ever really remember the rolling pin coming out.

proth5's picture
proth5

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh.  I'm glad you could learn at your grandmother's knee and am truely sorry that the baking knowledge was not passed on.  I had the great good fortune to have been taught by my grandmother who was quite a home baker starting at a very tender age.  As I approach the age when she died, I consider how important it is to pass the knowledge along.


We all have our quirks, but there's much that we can learn from what the "Big One" taught our parents and grandparents. 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Sorry - mixed up my baking pseudo-French in my post.  I meant banneton, not couche.


sPh

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You can't use a couch because the dough sticks to everything.  Nor do you spread it thin, or you'll wind up with a rye pancake.  You have to shape it - Reinhart covers that in his BBA recipe.  

Davo's picture
Davo

I've proofed up to 70% rye loaves in a standard cane banetton - liberally dusted on both the banetton and on the shaped loaves. - I did have a slight issue with one 70 % rye loaf sticking and tearing a little. Anything up to 30% though has no issues with it, I find. It's just sticky to handle especially initially. Just accept it, and get good at scraping stuck dough off your hands/fingers with a plastic bowl scraper...


To deal with the stickiness, and still get gluten development in the 70% of unbleached baker's flour that's in the mix (in 30 % rye), I do minimal kneading, using a 20 min autolyse, and do progressively shorter period french folds at about say 10 min intervals over about 30 mins or so (2 mins french folds the first time, then only about 30 secs another 2 or 3 times - say 6 folds). Then I morph into 40 min rests and a single envelope stretch and fold. I find that by the second or so set of 30 sec french folds, the dough isn't really so sticky any more, especially if you do the short kned with wet or oiled hands (if using water, you can only get away with 30 secs before it starts to stick again!). Use a scraper every time you pick it up to do a fold off the bench - if it's not sticking a bit its probably too dry!


For the 70% and 100% rye loaves I have made, it really is like handling airy paste - I used olive oiled hands to handle, and some oil on the bench, and proofed and baked in an oiled tin. Worked really well.

merkri's picture
merkri

I won't say any more about rye in particular, because the others' comments are excellent, but to respond to your questions about the starter itself, I would just say that sourdough is more resilient than some people think. They are wild yeast, after all. Your yeast are different from my yeast, moreover, and how they respond to variations in climate, etc. may be significantly different from what I'm used to.


Just feed them well, keep them wet and warm (room temperature is good), and free from germs.


 

tjkoko's picture
tjkoko

Isn't bread that's made with 100% rye flour called Pumpernickel?  THAT is some really heavy bread meant to serve with butter, capers and lox!

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Reinhart has a 100% Sourdough Rye. Pumpernickle is a slightly different animal from rye, but is indeed made with rye flour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but uses the coarser chops or cracked whole berries in the dough thus the outcome is heavier. Yes it is sliced thin and used more like crackers.


But the best spread on any kind of 100% rye is still the simple potato spread:  Boiled, then peeled potatoes, day old potatoes work well too,  grated and combined with chopped onion, equal parts of yogurt & sourcream, lots of minced garlic, salt & pepper, dash of vinegar, a little caraway and tasting like someone forgot half the potatoes to the potato salad, in other words, intensive and yummy!


Great stuff spread thick on the freshly cut rye slices!  Absolutely wonderful!   


Mini

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

I love it with a nice Seaside Cheddar (A nice aged cheddar that has a bit of that crystalized protein granule texture and just the perfect amount of tang) along with tomatoes that have been marinated in olive oil, garlic and spices. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

In our house the stockinette was just meant to protect the precious, perfect wood of the rolling pin from any dings from other intstruments in the drawer and also to keep the wood clean, since you never washed it-just scraped it off.It was "oiled" by the butter.lard and oil in the doughs you rolled out and over time became  permanent. I still have my mom's original rolling pin and it is a piece of clear maple-beautiful in itself. The dull side of a butter knife and your hands cleaned off any dough and the stockinette was replaced before it was put back in the drawer.We never did use the cloth-just a clean tabletop.


 

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

The recipe that I'm using makes 2 loaves - however, I only have 1 stone and a relatively small oven. What's the best way to deal with this? Should I take half the dough and let it do a slow-rise in the fridge while the other half rises on the counter, or let it all rise per the recipe and stick half in the fridge once I'm to the shaping point, or just half the recipe to begin with? I wouldn't MIND having 2 loaves, though I'd have to give one away as we probably wouldn't use 2 loaves and I hate bread that's been in the freezer.

proth5's picture
proth5

I would divide the dough and preshape one loaf.  I would then delay the preshaping of the second part to just slightly more than the anticipated time to bake one loaf leaving it covered and at room temperature.  Once set in motion, I would shape, final ferment, and bake each loaf on the proper schedule to bake two loaves in succession.


Yes, the second loaf will get a little extra bulk ferment, which is not a big deal.  A little extra time on the final ferment however, could make a difference.


Or - I would reduce the size of the recipe to make one loaf...