The Fresh Loaf

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Hits and misses - added crumb pic

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Hits and misses - added crumb pic

While I have been baking in the last several weeks, most of it has been geared to sandwich loaves.  Don't get me wrong; that is some pretty important baking.  While it has been nourishing to the body, it hasn't been anything to stir the soul.  I've had some old favorites: Clayton's Honey Lemon Whole Wheat and plain old honey whole wheat.  I gave Beatrice Ojakangas' Granary Bread a try.  Lovely stuff, but not at all anything that qahtan or others who have had the real thing would recognize as such.  Essentially, it's honey whole wheat (um, I'm beginning to see a theme emerging here) with golden syrup subbed in for the honey.  I'm going to digress for a moment.   For all of you in the U.S. who have been wondering what on earth golden syrup is, here's the inside scoop: it's molasses.  Yes!  Really!  A very light, mildly flavored grade of molasses, but molasses none the less.  There.  Now you know.


I've also been experimenting with some rye breads.  The most noteworthy was a spectacular flop of the Sour Rye, year 1939, which came to my attention via Shiao Ping's blog.  It looked and sounded so lovely in Shiao Ping's post and I'd been wanting to venture further into the rye world, so I thought I would give it a try.  The first bad decision (I won't bore you with the entire list) was to opt for the free-form loaf, rather than the panned loaf.  Being in full "never say die" mode (not readily distinguishable from denial), I soldiered on to the bitter end and was rewarded with something that had the general dimensions and texture of a 1x8 pine board, albeit somewhat darker.  The flavor was worlds better than pine, but the amount of chewing necessary to extract the flavor made the whole enterprise unrewarding.  Hence, my retreat to Ms. Ojakangas' book and the selection of her version of Granary Bread.  A man's gotta eat, after all.


This weekend, still smarting from last week's debacle and still wanting rye bread, I hauled out Mark Sinclair's formula for Sour Rye bread.  This I've made before, and in quantity, so I know how it works and how it is supposed to turn out.  There are some differences between my execution and Mark's.  First, he's a professional baker and I am not.  Second, he uses dark rye and what I had on hand was medium rye.  Third, he has some really big and really cool toys, while I was doing all of my mixing by hand.  Since my use of Mark's formula is by his permission and a consequence of my internship at his Back Home Bakery, I'm not at liberty to share it here.  If you really, really want to make this bread, sign up whenever Mark offers opportunities to intern with him.  If you want something very close to Mark's bread, look up Eric's Fav Rye on this site.  Mark started with that and made some adjustments that suit his selection of ingredients and production scheme.  Both are excellent breads and they are very nearly the same bread.


As noted, I have medium rye flour on hand, so my bread came out somewhat lighter than Marks.  Since I don't have a mixer here, I mixed by hand.  Initially, the mixing was primarily to combine the ingredients uniformly.  Since Mark relies on the mixer for kneading as well as mixing, I continued to work the dough in the bowl in what was essentially a stretch and fold maneuver to develop the dough's gluten network.  As the dough became more cohesive, I dumped it out on the counter for some "slap and fold" or "French fold" kneading, a la Richard Bertinet.  This worked very effectively to finish the dough's development.  The dough was then gathered into a loose boule and placed in a greased bowl for the bulk ferment.  After the dough had approximately doubled, it was divided in three pieces of about 710 grams each and pre-shaped.  After resting a few minutes, the dough was then given its final shape and placed on a Silpat-lined baking sheet for final fermentation, lightly covered with oiled plastic wrap to prevent drying.  As the dough was nearing the end of the final fermentation, I pre-heated the oven.  When the oven was ready, the loaves were uncovered, brushed with egg wash, liberally sprinkled with poppy seeds and slashed.  The baking sheet was put in the oven and hot water was put into the steam pan on the lower rack.  Half-way through the bake, I rotated the loaves so that they would bake evenly, even though I was using the convection setting.  I also pulled them off the baking sheet and let them bake directly on the oven rack so that they would bake and color evenly.  They were a bit closer together on the baking sheet than I thought they should be for optimum results.


And the results?  Well, I'm a happy baker today.  Here's the finished bread:


Sour Rye, Back Home Bakery


I won't have a crumb shot until tomorrow, but the exterior is encouraging.  Slashing can definitely improve and I might have allowed the final proof to go a bit longer, but I'm pretty pleased with how things are looking so far.


Maybe I can get back on that 1939 horse again...


Paul


Here is a picture of the crumb:


Back Home Bakery Sour Rye crumb


As I surmised from seeing how the slashes opened during the bake, the bread could have been proofed a while longer.  However, it's rye bread; it is supposed to be hefty rather than fluffy.  The crumb is very moist and surprisingly tender.  The interplay between the earthy rye and the pungent/astringent caraway flavors is balanced so that each complements the other, with neither dominating.  It makes a wicked base for a ham and swiss sandwich.  The lighting for this photo was an overhead fluorescent fixture (sheesh, I almost spelled that as flourescent!), hence the greyer tone of the crumb


 

Comments

wally's picture
wally

I look forward to seeing the crumb shots.  I'm just beginning to experiment with ryes - I've been using a recipe from Hamelman's Bread that is 50% rye and getting pretty good results.  I'm about ready to up the percentage to the next level.


Without tipping off Mark's formula can you share what percentage of rye you used?


Larry

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

the quantities are very similar.


Paul 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Share all you're comfortable with. I'm on a rye quest too, at the moment.


David G.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

If you look at Eric's Fav Rye, you'll see that he calls for first clear flour.  I've never been able to source that locally (in the US or here in SA) and don't like paying as much for shipping as I do for the product, so I've always subbed bread flour for the first clear.  I know that it isn't the same thing and that the resulting bread isn't what the formula developer had in mind, but it's always worked well for me.  Someday I'll get my hands on some first clear and see how that compares.  


Good luck with your rye quest.


Paul

mcs's picture
mcs

They look very nice.  I use exactly the method you described if I'm mixing by hand.  As some have mentioned here, when working with rye (esp with the slap and fold) a wet table makes things a little easier.  If I want to keep the recipe in proportion, then I'll reserve a little bit of the water from the final dough for use in keeping the working surface wet.  When all of the water is used up and it is forming a nice ball, it's done.


Hope everything's going great for you in SA.  I'm glad you've got some great bread to eat now.


-Mark

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

If you think they look good, then I'm really happy with the outcome.  And thanks for the shaping technique, too.


Since the dough was closer to the sticky, rather than tacky, end of the spectrum, a wet work surface would have been a good thing.  Still, as rye dough goes, this one isn't nearly as gummy as others I have attempted.  A light film of flour was enough to keep it from sticking during shaping.


We're going to visit Cape Town and the Stellenbosch region in the not-too-distant future.  So far, most of our SA experience has been in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area.  It will be good to see another part of this lovely country.


Paul

mcs's picture
mcs

If the light flour was good enough, (and it was) then that's what you should use.  I'm not fond of getting a wooden workbench wet with water for the purposes of making it 'non-sitck', but then again I'm not fond of mixing rye by hand either.  That said, if it becomes too sticky as a result of the temperature, hydration, or rye content then a little flour might not work.


Anyway, I'll have to get out the map to see the geographic area you're referring to.  The names are familiar to me, but I wouldn't be able to place their location on a blank SA map.


-Mark

ZD's picture
ZD

Topnotch. I like the flavor of rye but it can be a challenge to work with. Looks like you have it down.


Greg R

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Different days, different outcomes.  It tastes as good as it looks, so I'm pretty happy with it.


Thanks,


Paul

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I love the way the loaves look and I look forward to see the crumb. Great job.


weavershouse

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I tend to see the flaws, so it's nice to have less-biased viewers' opinions.


Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

You turn out such pretty breads.  It's nice to have produced something that compares favorably.


Paul

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Sounds as if you have your new environment completely under control, given those very fine loaves, Paul.


Also mighty fine that you have recovered from that nasty traffic accident.  I trust your wife has recovered completely, too.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Very little in my new environment is completely under control; at least not under my control!  ;-)  This bake was especially pleasing, though.


My wife and I are, as far as we can tell, none the worse for wear from the accident.  The bruises have faded and so has the anxiety about being in traffic.  We're still vewy, vewy careful...


Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

Just had a flashback to those darn poppy seeds, though...

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Not the kind associated with recreational pharmaceuticals, I trust?


Actually, these were fairly well behaved.  About 99% stuck to the egg wash; the rest were corralled by the raised sides of the baking sheet instead of caroming about the kitchen.


And thank you.


Paul

mcs's picture
mcs

What happens Back Home, stays Back Home.


-Mark

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Those look pretty nice Paul. Glad to see you have tamed the flour beast in your new digs. It doesn't take much of a change to throw things out of whack. Glad to see you are well and I hope your wife is now enjoying herself.


Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Not only for your gracious compliment, but for posting your formula.  It's a really good bread.


I'm getting better acquainted with the behavior of local flours.  For all that I read about the differences from one locale to another, it's still a bit discomfiting to find that things just don't work the way you expect/want them to.  And you are right that the differences aren't major; they're just different.  Makes me wonder what it will be like when I eventually move back to the States...


My wife is enjoying herself for the most part.  Both she and I are grateful for that.


Thanks,


Paul

Mebake's picture
Mebake

My .. My.. Nice work there Paul! Sounds you are back on track again..


 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

It would be premature to declare "mission accomplished", but it was a pleasing day in the kitchen.


Thanks,


Paul

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Paul,


I meant to ask you what that clay bell cooker thingy is in the background?


Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

It covers a metal fire pit.  Whether it is just a cover, or if it is intended for cooking purposes, I don't know.  We've been in the house 3-1/2 months now and I haven't even picked it up to look inside!  As temperatures get cooler, it might be nice to build a small fire and cook some hot dogs (local term: griller/vienna) or marshmallows (available in small bags in the candy aisle, usually always flavored).


South Africans love to braai (sounds like "try" with a B, closest American equivalent would be grilling), preferably over a wood fire.  Charcoal is a distant second in preference, with gas grills being at the bottom of the braaiing ladder.  In addition to grilling meats, there is also a tradition of slow cooking in three-legged cast iron pots over very small fires or coals.  The pots are called potjies and the contents are referred to as potjiekos, literally "pot food".  From what I've read, the dishes tend toward stews or braises, although creative cooks aren't limited just to those.


I'll try to get back to you with a more definitive answer about the ceramic dome.


Paul

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Good guess!  I asked and was told that it is indeed used for cooking.  Frances, the owner of the house we are leasing, says that she places coals around the base of the clay dome (cloche?) and in the metal ring higher up.  The ring is something that she added, rather than something that was originally part of the dome, to be able to bring more heat to bear.  I think she may be as inventive as MiniOven.


Having lifted the lid to look inside, I saw that the fire pit basin is very shallow.  You'd have to rig a trivet or grill, which couldn't be very big, to elevate the baking pan/sheet above the coals if you left any inside.  Getting the whole shebang preheated without it cracking, distributing the coals properly, guesstimating temperatures...  Seems like a lot of variables to manage for a very unpredictable outcome, so I'm not sure I'll invest much effort in experimenting.  


Paul


 

ThaiWay's picture
ThaiWay

for a ham and swiss on rye right about now!  I'm salivating Paul.  Thanks for sharing.


John in Bangkok

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

This stuff makes a great base for a ham and swiss sandwich.  I don't know if you can source the fixings there in Bangkok, so I hope you don't feel deprived.


Paul

ananda's picture
ananda

Thanks Paul,


I've learnt something new here.   I always thought Golden Syrup was a Corn [Maize] Syrup,. and I'm from the UK!   I never stop learning from all you good people.


I'm hard at it baking lots of ryes just now too.


Best wishes


Andy