The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Not-quite-mega-bake weekend

pmccool's picture

Not-quite-mega-bake weekend

I dug my starter out of the refrigerator on Thursday and started refreshing it without a clear notion of what I would use it for, although some type of rye bread sounded good.  Even though it had been 2-3 weeks since it was last used, it bounced back quickly and I had enough by Friday evening to start two different batches of bread.  After browsing through recipes, I decided on the NY Deli Rye from Reinhart's BBA and a sourdough Dark Rye from the new KA Whole Grain cookbook. 

However, before I could get started on either one, my wife asked whether I remembered that "we" were going to make some lemon-blueberry scones for her women's retreat at church the next day.  I confessed that I did not, but since she was about to leave to go do some setup work for the retreat that "we" would get right on it.  After looking at the recipe, I saw that the end product would probably be delicious but it wouldn't be a scone.  It called for melting the butter and stirring it in with the rest of the wet ingredients, rather than cutting it (cold and solid) into the dry ingredients.  I also saw that it would require about 4 batches to yield the required number of servings.  After assembling all of the ingredients within easy reach, I got to work on the first batch.  The dry ingredients called for:

2 cups AP flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

The wet ingredients included:

8 ounces lemon yogurt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

After mixing the dry ingredients, stir in the wet ingredients just until everything is moistened (it's better to stop when things are still a bit lumpy).  Then gently fold in 1 cup of fresh (or thawed frozen) blueberries, trying not to crush the berries.  Spoon onto a greased baking sheet (yields 12-15 scones/biscuits) and bake in a 350F oven for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven when they flecked with brown, remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.  

In my case, as soon as one batch went into the oven, I started working on the next batch.  I was very grateful to have my scale on hand, since the yogurt came in 6 ounce packages, instead of 8 ounce packages as they used to.  Score another one for the marketing geniuses who tell us that they are doing us a favor by selling us a smaller package at no additional cost!  Remember (here in the U.S., anyway) when coffee was sold in 1-pound increments and you could but a 1/2 gallon container of ice cream?  Aack!  Okay, end of rant.

Because of the butter and sugar content, these tend to spread out as they bake.  The finished scones/biscuits are softer and more cake-like than traditional scones or biscuits.  I'm not sure what would happen if the solid butter were cut into the flour mixture, as is more traditionally the case for scones or biscuits.  It's possible that the resulting dough might be too stiff to allow easy incorporation of the berries. 


With the scones out of the way, I turned my attention to the bread.  First, I chopped and sauteed the onions for the NY Deli Rye and then set them to cool.  Then I prepared the soaker for the Dark Rye.  That called for rye flour in a pumpernickel grind, which I have not been able to find locally.  So, I dumped an equal weight of flaked rye into the food processor and whirled that I had a coarse rye meal.  The recipe called for soaking it overnight in strong coffee but I'm not a coffee enthusiast, so I opted for water instead.  If I had had some dark beer in the house, I would have used that.  By the time the soaker was, well, soaking, the onions had cooled enough to start the preferment for the NY Deli Rye.  Once that was assembled, it went into the refrigerator until I was ready for it on Saturday.  After that, it was time for some serious dish-washing.


On Saturday, I started the day with some errands (including buying a new lawnmower, but that's another story).  After returning to the house, I took the NY Deli Rye preferment out of the refrigerator so that it could begin to warm up.  Then I got to work on the Dark Rye, combining the soaker with the rest of the ingredients.  The recipe writers apparently have a warped sense of humor, since they direct you to knead the dough until it is "smooth and elastic".  Give me a break!  This is rye bread!  Anyway, I kneaded it (including some stretching and folding) until it was, um, well, more elastic than it started and about as smooth it could hope to be.  It was still thoroughly sticky, of course.  Setting that aside for the bulk ferment, I moved on to the NY Deli Rye.  Since I have made this before, it didn't take long to have it pulled together and ready for it's bulk ferment.  I set both doughs on the counter immediately above the dishwasher to take advantage of the heat coming from that, so both were ready for shaping a little sooner than normal.  I baked the NY Deli Rye first, since it was ready first (it had been spiked with a little yeast), in bread pans.  I also put the stone in the oven to preheat while the NY Deli Rye was baking.  When the NY Deli Rye came out, I slashed the boules of the Dark Rye and set them to bake on the stone, with steam.  They had very little oven-spring, preferring, instead, to spread sideways.  As a result, they are rather low; maybe 1.5 to 2 inches thick at the highest point.


The NY Deli Rye is consistently delicious.  The Dark Rye is also very good.  The molasses flavor over-compensates for the sourness of the soaker, leaving the finished bread just slightly sweet.  Had I used coffee instead of water in the soaker, the coffee's bitterness might have reduced the sweetness.  Since I don't like coffee, I think the tilt toward the molasses flavor is a good thing.  The sweetness will be a good foil for savory accompaniments like ham or corned beef or cheeses or pickles.  I'll definitely make it again. 


All in all, a good weekend for baking.  And, since I already have bread in the freezer, I had gifts for a neighbor's birthday.


JMonkey's picture
Then I got to work on the Dark Rye, combining the soaker with the rest of the ingredients. The recipe writers apparently have a warped sense of humor, since they direct you to knead the dough until it is "smooth and elastic". Give me a break! This is rye bread! Anyway, I kneaded it (including some stretching and folding) until it was, um, well, more elastic than it started and about as smooth it could hope to be.

That's always "amused" me as well when I read it in a rye recipe. I mean, unless the bread is dry as a bone, there's no way it's going to be smooth and elastic! Even the 40% Caraway rye I made this weekend with bread flour wouldn't windowpane properly (though it turned out fine). Rye is just a different beast.

BTW, the dark rye -- how much rye is in that. Is it the BBA recipe? Or your own? Or something else entirely?
pmccool's picture


I don't recall the exact percentage of rye in the formula; probably somewhere around 30-35%, at a guess (I'm at the office and can't check just now).  The bread contains rye, whole wheat and bread flour.  It's from the King Arthur Whole Grain cookbook, which I think you already have.  If I can remember to when I get home, I'll check the page number for you.

Regarding smoothness, the rye "meal" that I wound up with after processing the rye flakes was very coarse.  It still contains cracked rye grains that slid through the flaking rollers without being entirely flattened.  Between the large rye particles and the whole wheat, not to mention rye's natural stickiness, there was no way this dough was going to acheive the KA folks' "smooth and elastic" description.  Maybe they just were at a loss to describe how the finished dough should feel, compared to how it started.  One thing that I appreciated was that the recipe recommends two stretch and folds at 50-minute intervals during the bulk fermentation.  That helped to further improve the dough's texture and handling.  The end result is bread is moderately dense but still tender, with a pleasant crunch from the rye fragments.  Sorry, no pics because my home computer is on the fritz.


pmccool's picture


The full title for the recipe is Sourdough Dark Rye.  It starts on Page 297 of the KA Whole Grain Baking cookbook.  There are 7.5 ounces of rye flour out of a total of 24 ounces of flour, so my off-hand guess on percentage was pretty close


Paddyscake's picture

No one had an answer last time I asked..thought I would try again. The recipes I've tried all call for light rye flour..all I can find is dark. They taste wonderful, but are pretty dense. Will light rye make much difference?

pmccool's picture


I have had a similar challenge, only in reverse.  Usually the only thing that I can find at the supermarket is light rye.  Once in a blue moon I might find medium rye, but never dark rye.  Or rye chops or pumpernickel grind, for that matter.  So, I make do with what I can find and the results are generally pleasing.  The only thing that I haven't attempted is a for-real pumpernickel, since the coarser grind is a must for the proper texture.

Having recently come across some rye flakes at either the Whole Foods or the Wild Oats market, I made sure to take some home with me.  By running the flakes through the food processor fitted with the steel blade, I was able to obtain a coarse meal that is pretty close to a pumpernickel-style grind.  It was also noticeably darker than the rye flour that I can usually buy. 

Maybe the whole light rye/dark rye availability thing is regional, kind of like yellow cornmeal vs. white corn meal.  I almost never saw white corn meal growing up in Michigan, but it was all over the place when I lived in Alabama.

Hmm, I guess I didn't answer your question, did I?  I suspect that breads made with light rye won't be significantly less dense than those made with dark rye.  Neither one has any gluten to speak of, so any structure is going to have to come from the addition of wheat flour and/or gluten.  Does that make sense?


sphealey's picture

> Usually the only thing that I can find at the

> supermarket is light rye. Once in a blue moon

> I might find medium rye, but never dark rye. Or rye chops

> or pumpernickel grind, for that matter.


In the US, Bob's Red Mill has a fairly complete line of rye flours including light, medium, dark, pumpernickel (granular), and cracked. They do not have chops or the grind one coarser than dark that some US mills also call pumpernickel.

If your grocery store carries any BRM, even the pancake mix, the service desk should be able to put some rye on order for the next delivery. Otherwise you can order direct from BRM but shipping charges will bite (I ordered a case of dark rye to lower the per lb shipping)


Paddyscake's picture

I was fishing to see if anyone could tell me if the light rye would make any significant difference. I guess I will have to experiment myself. I can't find light rye here in town, but I can drive to BRM..a 45 minute drive. I drive 60 mi RT to work..I try to avoid driving very far on my days off...But for good bread!!!! I'll do it   Thanks everyone for your advice