The Fresh Loaf

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An experiment with a rye mash soaker

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wally's picture
wally

An experiment with a rye mash soaker

                        


I shared in a forum recently that I've been wanting to try to make what is in essense a rye mash instead of using the standard hot soaker.  The inspiration for this is the distilling experiences using rye of my friends Scott and Becky Harris at their distillery in Purceville, VA - Catoctin Creek Distilling Company.  Here they make two wonderful certified organic and kosher ryes - one casked and the other an uncasked white whiskey, and a rye based gin. (Unabashed plug, their micro-distillery products are now available in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, and yes, the Sacramento area of California.)  I've been able to taste their rye mash, and it's incredibly sweet.  Way beyond anything I've been able to achieve using a hot rye soaker.


With this goal in mind, I contacted one our of resident experts, Debra Wink, to see how I might proceed.  Debra, in turn, drew on some of her expert baking friends, and with her help and their advice I decided upon a plan of action - namely, to attempt to slowly cook a mash of whole rye flour and water for nearly 7 hours at a temperature just below 170°F, which, I believe, is the temperature at which amylase, which is responsible for converting the starches in rye to simple sugars, becomes denatured.


So this weekend I set aside a day and proceeded first to build a formula.  I decided upon a 40% rye, with a mash equivalent to 40% of the total dough weight and a starter just over 20% of dough weight (more on this later). I used Hamelman's rye recipes as general guidelines in determining what percentages both the starter and soaker would be, though I deviated downwards significantly in the percentage of the starter in relationship to overall dough weight, and as we'll see, that may not have been entirely a good idea.  The rye flour used throughout is Heartland Mill's Certified Organic Whole Rye Flour which I am able to procure from my friends Scott and Becky.  Although it is a whole rye flour, in texture and composition it seems comparable to medium rye flours I've seen.  The AP flour used is KA's Sir Galahad.


The total dough weight was to be 1004g, just a bit over 2 lbs.  My overall formula is:


Ingredient      Baker's Percent   Weight
Flour                   100%                       560 g
Water                   76%                        426 g
Salt                        2%                           11 g
Yeast                      1%                           6 g


Starter


Rye Flour               100%                  112 g
Water                      80%                     90 g
Levain                       5%                       6 g


Mash/Soaker


Rye Flour               100%                  109 g
Water                     264%                   288 g


Final Mix


AP Flour                 337 g
Water                        45 g
Salt                            11 g
Yeast                          6 g
Levain                    208 g
Mash/Soaker          397 g


I made up my starter approximately 10 hours before the final mix.  The soaker I began in early afternoon by mixing the flour and water in a double boiler and then bringing the temperature slowly up on my simmer burner.  My goal was to achieve and maintain a temperature of 160°F for approximately 7 hours.  This proved easier said than done.  I found it necessary to stir the covered double boiler every hour, after I achieved my desired temperature, which took me about an hour of stirring at 15 minute intervals until I was there.  However, maintaining a consistent temperature was difficult.  I had to add a small amount of cold water to the double boiler at hour intervals, and in the end, the temperature reached was 170°F which was cutting it close if not too high.


Frankly, a slow cooker would be the ideal way to do this.  Unfortunately, unless you are making mash for 15 loaves or so, there is insufficient volume to make this viable.  If anyone out there has any suggestions of other methods for maintaining a constant temperature under 170°F for 7 hours, by all means share.


I left the cooked rye mash covered overnight.  The next morning I uncovered it, and found that it was sweet - more so than my hot soakers, but less so than Catoctin Creek's mashes, and about the consistency of cream of wheat.  I realized after the fact that I should have taken some pictures, but....


The final mix was accomplished by mixing first soaker, starter and the final water, and then adding the AP flour, yeast and salt to the mixture.  I realized that during my hourly stirrings of the mash, a certain amount of liquid was being lost due to steam evaporation.  This was borne out as I mixed the dough, and I ended up adding an additional 20g of water, which is reflected in the formulas above.  I mixed the dough for 3 minutes on speed one, and then an additional 5 minutes on speed 3, at which point it showed definite signs of gluten development.


Using Hamelman's section on ryes in Bread I did a one hour bulk ferment, followed by shaping a batârd.  I couched it and left it for final proofing for one hour as I preheated my oven to 450°F.  I presteamed the oven, loaded the batârd and steamed with a cup of boiling water thrown on my lava rocks, then followed this again in two minutes with another steaming.


Bake was for 15 minutes at 450°F, then 20 min. at 425°F, and finally 15 min. more at 400°F.


The loaf emerged from the oven looking nice.  I was pleased that my grignes had opened.  But the question that arose immediately in my mind was: So, would you do this again?  For the answer to that, I had to await a tasting.


Here are a couple shots of the bread:


  


One of the grignes and the crackly crust that developed:


   


The crumb was somewhat more closed than I expected, given a mere 40% rye. 


   


However, thinking about it, I realized that I used a much lower proportion of starter than Hamelman does in his recipes.  This was intentional - I wanted to devote more rye resources to my mash/soaker.  But I think if I did this again, I'd either find a way to raise the percentage of starter to around 30%, or, I'd up the yeast from 1% to 1.5% to compensate.


Notwithstanding, the crumb is in no way what I would call dense; it's very moist and it does in fact have a sweetness I haven't been able to realize with a hot soaker.


So, would I do this again?  Maybe.  If I had a day with nothing to do but putter around the house and stir my mash hourly, yeah.  But it's a time intensive method I've utilized, and I would be more likely to repeat this on a frequent basis if I could find a better way (i.e., less labor intensive) way of cooking the mash.


But when all is said and done, there is nothing quite like sitting down at day's end, with some fresh rye spread with good goat's cheese, and a Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye old fashioned.  Ahhh, the blessings of rye and mash!


 


                     


Larry

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry,


Great looking bread; personally the crumb looks perfect to me; I wouldn't want big holes in this type of bread.   Anyway, 40% rye is 40%!


Regarding mashing, do you have any heavy duty casserole pots with a good lid?   I mash in the oven, just set very low at 60-66*C.   Take out and stir hourly, just as you did.


If you can insulate it well enough, you'd be surprised how the heat is retained even if you don't use an oven, or stove top!


All good wishes


Andy

wally's picture
wally

The insulation method might be worth pursuing. Unfortunately, the lowest setting on my oven is 200F which isn't going to work.  Then again, perhaps leaving a good bottle of rye near the stove would be incentive enough for coming back hourly :>)


Larry

lief's picture
lief

Larry, this is a beautiful bread you have made.  I love the idea of doing the mash as well.  Well done!

wally's picture
wally

Somehow I lost track of your comment.  Too much rye mash perhaps :)


Larry

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Larry,


It's a very good looking loaf and I truly admire your patience in creating it. You didn't mention much about the flavour characteristics though, other than sweetness and I'm curious to know more about this mash method and how it effects flavour development. I know it can be difficult sometimes to describe to someone else a flavour, particularly the sort of nuances that a bread like this will have, but how would you describe the overall flavour balance between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter?


An Old Fashioned is a cocktail I haven't heard the likes of in a lot of years. In the fifteen years I spent as a barman I think I made less than a couple of dozen of this classic.  Good to know there's still a few people around that still appreciate it .


All the best,


Franko

wally's picture
wally

Good to run into someone who knows and appreciates the drink Franko!  About the best I can do as far as flavor and taste is to say that it has the additional sweetness you would associate with a hot rye soaker, but in this case, the sweetness is even more pronounced. There is certainly saltiness that comes through, and the caramelized crust has a slightly burnt taste, like you would associate with a burnt sugar topping on, say, a creme caramel.


Hope that helps, and thanks for the comment.


Larry

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Wonderful color to the crust, grignes, and crumb! I love how you manage to get your crust with a gas oven. Does your gas oven have a convection fan?


Do you have Reinhart's Whole grain book? There are some useful information in this book about mashes, and how to make them, in addition to some recipes.


Khalid

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Mebake!  I could go through the whole process of throwing hot water on lava rocks and lighting spraying the top of the loaf before loading it, but truthfully, I mostly pray.  Sometimes my oven seems to accomodate those prayers, and other times I can hear it mocking me and my myriad attempts to achieve grignes.


I don't have that book of Reinhart's, but it's now on my to-do list.


Larry

jeffrey hamelman's picture
jeffrey hamelman

Hi Larry,


Your bread looks beautiful, and I bet it tastes as good as it looks. Ultimately, the fuss to make the soaker might mean it's too impractical beyond the pleasure of doing a successful experiment, as you have done. When Debbie Wink forwarded your questions, I had suggested you might look into a yummy formula from the book BREAD. It's the 80% Rye with a Rye Soaker, and includes not just a sourdough but also a boiling water rye "porridge" (bruhstuck in German, with 2 umlauts). Although the mash in this case is not cooked for a long time, the boiling water does activate the amylases, not so much to risk a "starch attack" during the bake, but enough so that the bread has a subtle but perceptible sweetness. Although I have no historical evidence, it's always seemed to me that historically people would have been grateful to be able to make a simple manipulation of ingredients and wind up with a little sweetness in their bread. In your case, you made a 40% rye. I wonder how the results would be if you used the same percentage of rye in the sourdough and in the mash, but instead of the lengthy cooking of the mash you simply poured boiling water over it, stirred it well, and let it sit out covered overnight. Are you up for another experiment?  :-))


 


As it is, you have much to be proud of in that lovely loaf.


Jeffrey

wally's picture
wally

I appreciate your comments, and I'm inclined to agree with you.  It was a nice experiment, but way too much investment of time.  (Interestingly, my friend the distiller just emailed me to say that if I need a bit of mash he'd be happy to provide it.  Perhaps another experiment?)


I recently posted on your 80% rye with the rye soaker here, but I think it's worth revisiting, especially to see if I can coax a slightly higher profile out of the loaves, and improve their shaping as well.


I do have one question about "starch attack."  Is it correlated with the percentage of rye used or independent?  I intentionally decided on a 40% rye for this bread thinking that I wouldn't be risking a "starch attack."  Maybe I just got lucky, though.


Larry

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Wally, it looks a really beautiful crumb.


I read that several home brewsters use a cheap pasteurizer to do the mash, without complaints. One like this


http://foto.lericettedicucina.com/forum1/werattola/werattola_7568629393.jpg

wally's picture
wally

I checked your link out.  That would certainly do the trick, but it looks like you'd need to make up a pretty large batch of mash to warrant it.  I need a mini-cooker - very mini :>)


Larry

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I suddenly feel like making a ham sandwich ...

wally's picture
wally

It works nicely with turkey and provolone and a little mayo too!


Larry

teketeke's picture
teketeke

I like to stare at your scoring job for a while. That is very nice! Was it 45℃ when you scored? I am very curious. Of course, I see the bread has nice moist too.


Happy baking,


teketeke

wally's picture
wally

I try to score at somewhere between 30° and 45°, but to tell the truth, I don't spend much time thinking about it anymore, and if you really concentrate on holding a certain angle, you'll almost certainly end up scoring too tentatively or too slowly - neither of which will produce good results. But you don't want to get too vertical to the surface with your lame to achieve that kind of slash.


It's basically practice, practice, practice... and still sometimes it produces garbage.


Larry

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Reminding of my baguettes in the past, I was not  forcused on the angle too much when the result was good. For a couple days, I was too focus on the angle, and they had no ears neither blooms. Thank you for reminding me about this point. This is very helpful !  Thank you, Larry!


I will try the way again today,


teketeke

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry, again!


Seems like Jeffrey Hamelman agrees with the idea of doing the soaker and not trying to follow it up with a "controlled" mash.   It's a winner really, because you can prepare the soaker at the same time you prepare the rye sour you will use to make the dough.


I'm attaching a copy of a formula for mash bread I came up with a few years ago.   It was done having read Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain book, but I also borrowed heavily from the days when I did lots of homebrewing of beer as a student in the mid 1980s.


If you want to adhere to mash principles, the water you use should be 74*C in order to achieve a mix temperature of 66*C, which is the ideal for extracting the maximum possible amout of fermentable sugar from the grain.


I made the recipe which Jeffrey Hamelman mentions, fairly recently.   You can see it here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17539/slight-variations-two-more-formulae-hamelman039s-quotbreadquot


Anyway, here's the mash bread formula:


 


WHOLEWHEAT MASH BREAD


 



Material

Formula

[% of flour]

Recipe

[grammes]

1. MASH

 

 

Strong Wholewheat Flour

19.8

120

Water @ 74°C

49.5

300

TOTAL

69.3

420

2. LEAVEN

 

 

Leaven from stock

[flour6.7] + [water3.8] = 10.5

64

Strong Wholewheat Flour

31.5

191

Water

23.4

142

TOTAL

65.5

397

3. FINAL DOUGH

 

 

Mash

69.3

420

Leaven

65.5

397

Strong Wholewheat Flour

42

255

Salt

1.65

10

Fresh Yeast

4.1

25

TOTAL

182.55

1107

 

Method:

  • Make the mash at least 6 hours before making the final dough.   Pre-heat the oven to 93°C.   Heat the water to 74°C in an ovenproof pan.   Whisk in the flour to form a batter.   Cover the pan with a lid.   The temperature of the mash should now be 66°C, which is the optimum temperature for extracting the sugars and for exposing the enzymes for the best breadmaking conditions.   It will also gelatinise the starch, allowing for great water absorption [76.7% on flour in the formula], to give a lovely moist crumb.   Turn the oven down to 66°C and put the mash in the oven.   Leave for 3 hours, stirring periodically and monitor the temperature with a probe to keep it as near to 66°C as possible.   Take the mash out of the oven, leave the lid on, and allow the contents to cool to room temperature; < 28°C.
  • Make the leaven at least 4 hours before making the final dough.   Use your own judgement about the activity of the starter you will be using.   Simply combine the stock leaven with the flour and water to create a softish dough with a temperature of about 28°C.   Store covered in a bowl in a warm environment to ferment.
  • For the final dough, combine the leaven and the mash with the flour, salt and yeast.   Mix in a machine with a dough hook if possible.   Kneading by hand is possible, but the dough will be sticky on account of the mash content, and this must not detract.   Mix for about 10 minutes on a slow speed, or, 20 minutes by hand.
  • Ferment in bulk in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film for an hour.
  •  Divide and shape the dough as desired [2 small bloomers work well, dusted with flour, then cut before baking; using bannetons is classic and timeless!!]
  • Prove for about an hour in a warm, humid environment.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 235°C.   If you have proved the bread on a silicone-lined tray, bake directly in the oven, or, slide the loaves on the silicone, off the tray onto the floor of the oven.   For bannetons, tip out onto a peel, cut the bread and bake on the sole of the oven.   Utilise steam if available.
  • Small loaves should bake in 20 - 25 minutes.   If you make one large loaf, it will take a half hour minimum.
  • When baked, cool on wires.

Nico's been messaging me with his progress in related fields.   I'll get back to you when I've had chance to digest his undoubtedly sound information.

All good wishes

Andy

wally's picture
wally

I'm with you and Jeffrey.  Although see my response to him (I may be able to procure some mash without having to create it!).  Thanks too for the mash formula which I will certainly try.  I remember the wonderful loaves of Jeffrey's 80% rye you made up in pullman pans.  Beautiful looking and I could almost taste their moistness.


By week's end it will be time to do another rye bake I think!


Best - Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I think the way you discribed the crust flavor just sounds absolutely delicious.  Thanks for sharing and the lovely photos!


Sylvia

wally's picture
wally

It's interesting.  My initial bias was toward white dough breads - baguettes, ciabatta, etc.  I still love them, but I've discovered a world of different and varied flavors in ryes that they really can't match.  So the poor man's bread it seems, has the more sophisticated flavors - at least to my palate.


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I wish I didn't have to mail order my rye flour...I need to restock and bake!


Sylvia

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Larry,


A slow cooker (Crock-Pot style) should maintain 140 - 145 F on a "warm" setting.  Your comment is correct about not having sufficient volume as slow cookers usually heat from the sides and operate well when 1/2 to 2/3 full. 


A 1.5 qt "crockette" is a thought, but I have cooked with oven-safe bowls set into the slow cooker to fill up space.  The mash would occupy the annular space between the bowl and the walls of the slow cooker crock.  You could fill the bowl with hot water to add thermal mass and hold the bowl in place.

wally's picture
wally

Thanks frequent flyer!  I hadn't thought of that, but it would be a simple solution to my volume issues.


Larry

dsoleil's picture
dsoleil

Looks beautiful.  It certainly does take a much greater investment of time.  My sprouted rye mash freezes very well, so I don't need to make a new mash for every bake.  Kind of nice to have it around when you want it.  


Here are a couple pics of my latest mash bread.  This was a sprouted rye mash in a whole wheat and semolina dough with natural yeast.  The taste was a nice balance of sweet and sour together.  Unfortunately, I don't have any crumb pics as the bread disappeared too quickly thanks to my family.  


 

wally's picture
wally

Nice looking boules - especially the slashing on them.


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

though the bread was lovely..would help if you could shrink your photos before inserting them...Can anyone help, I used to be able to bring the side of my page back in and veiw without moving the slide bar on the bottom of the page, can't remember how that works.


Sylvia

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Sylvia,


If you hold Ctrl and move your mouse wheel backwards it will resize the page to a smaller view.


Franko

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

It doesn't work for me, something to do with the page and contents.

dsoleil's picture
dsoleil

They used to resize automatically.  Not sure what happened...

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

on your camera has moved.

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

I want to applaud and thank you for sharing so much creativity with us. One possibility of cooking the mash is to use the same apparatus used for cooking food Sous-Vide style. There are many homemade variations discussed on the web using a pot and a thermostatically controlled immersion water heater, with DIY creations ranging from $100 and up. I, myself, just recently bought a new home appliance version called the Sous-Vide Supreme. It's expensive but very easy to use and cooks great tender meats as well as other foods. I am intrigued by your formula and if I get the time I will try it using the SVS. It is accurate enough to maintain a specific water temperature ranging from 130º to 180º at + or - 1º for days, totally unattended. If I try it, I will let you know what happens.


One other note, I also use Heartland Mill Rye but I have been using their Light rye which they describe as closer to a medium rye, so I was surprised at your characterization of their Whole Rye. I have found the Light rye to be a wonderful all-purpose kind of rye and was wondering if you had tried it and, if you had, how you would compare it to the Whole rye.


DISCLAIMER: I am not connected with the Sous-Vide Supreme manufacturer. I am just a gadget freak and am always looking for easy ways to make good food so I can spend more time on my breads.


Jessica

wally's picture
wally

Another possibility for my mash. I haven't seen Heartland Mill's Light Rye so I can't compare.  Their Whole Rye is definitely a finer grained product than, say, Hodgson's Whole Rye, and it compares to some medium rye's I've seen in a bakery environment.  I'm able to buy one-off bags of their Organic Whole Rye from my distiller friend at fraction of the price of ordering a 50# bag shipped to Virginia, so I'm happy, happy with my supplier and grain.


Larry

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

I am so jealous. I love their rye but the shipping charges are a killer. Shipping to Connecticut doubles the cost of the product for me but so far, as a home baker, it has been worth the cost.


Jessica

wally's picture
wally

I'm with you Jessica.  The cost of a 50# bag plus shipping is close to $80.  Lucky for me I've got a friend who buys by the pallet load or I wouldn't be able to use their product.


Larry

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

I was so intrigued by your formula that I decided to make it my next bake. Anything that combines "sweet, bread, and no sugar" is almost too good to be true.


I followed your process almost exactly but used my Heartland Mill Light Rye instead your Whole rye. I also used my Sous-Vide device and it made the mashing process almost too easy, certainly easier than refreshing a starter, as the end point is very flexible. It only required preheating the Sous-Vide, adding the rye flour and water to a plastic bag, and vacuum-sealing it. I placed it in the Sous-Vide at 160º and left it essentially untouched for 7 hours. No muss, no fuss. I let it cool overnight and in the morning squeezed it into my mixing bowl as it had the consistency somewhere between toothpaste and mashed potatoes.


 



Mash 


One other nice thing about the Sous-Vide method is that there is no water loss since the mash is in a sealed pouch. The dough mixed together quite easily using an improved mix technique. I found your timings for bulk fermentation and proofing to match well with mine and was surprised to see the dough double in volume in only one hour of bulk fermentation. I made two 480g loaves and baked them at slightly higher temps than you did. Here are the results:



Larry's (Wally's) Mashed Rye



Mash Rye Crumb


This is one yummy bread! It is very moist and chewy with a lovely combination of sweet and sour notes, from the mash and starter, which did a wonderful dance in my mouth (Note: no teeth were damaged in the process).


Thanks for sharing this process. I think I will also try this using other flours in the mashing process. This has opened up a whole new area of experimentation for me.


Jessica


 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I was curious to see if the microwave could help to automate the process of mashing. Well it can! I prepared a 800 gr mash with 200 gr of flour (plus some malted barley flour) and 600 gr of water, then I covered with a dish the plastic container and turned on the MW at 180W for 18 minutes (65°C  measured with an analogic oven thermometer). Every 30 minutes I remeasured the temperature and I found it always around the 59-60°C, then I turned on at 180W for 5 minutes to take it back to 65°C.


After 2 hours the mash was very sweet and dark:-)


 


Yet the process would be much easier if there was some amylase working around 40°C ;-)


 

killpineapple's picture
killpineapple

hey, im an accomplished homebrewer and have been mashing at home for quite some time now.  with grain mash for beer, we usually hold the temp between 149 and 158F.  we use Igloo or Rubbermaid drink coolers with modified spouts for dispensing the wort.  by simply adding 15-30lbs of heated grain/water into the cooler, i find i only lose 1 degree during an hour.  im sure smaller thermoses or drink coolers would be great at holding the temperature for periods of time.  the key is to preheat any drink cooler or thermos with hot water for a few minutes before adding your solution to stay heated.  hope this helps ya.


 


also, in my reading, ive heard that very little to no conversion happens after the 90 minute mark.  im sure the master distillers know much more than me, and you know much more about baking than me.  Im curious as to how that works.  I know that alpha-amylase activity peaks around 158F and beta-amylase activity is around 144-145F.  Hence in brewing 152F is the optimal balance between the two.

wally's picture
wally

I had not thought of that method for holding temperature over time.  Frankly, I've gone back to Jeffrey Hamelman's advice of using a boiling soaker.  It does impart a noticeable sweetness, and is so much simpler than trying to create a mash.


I'm not sure why conversion would stop after a 90 minute period (and I assume we're talking about conversion to sugars).  I know for my distiller friend, this is a 7-8 hour process, and they add amylase enzymes to expedite things.


Thanks for adding a little more knowledge to what happens during the process.


Larry