The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

50% rye experiment

HeidiH's picture

50% rye experiment

I'm in the process of learning about different flours and thought it would be edifying to see what comes out of the same basic 70% hydration formula.Some of you will remember my 100% first clear flour loaf last week.  Yesterday I took the exact same formula (600g flour, 9g yeast, 12g salt, and 420g water) but changed to 50% first clear flour, 50% Bay State Dark Rye flour, and threw in 12g of caraway seeds for flavor. The result?  A dense, moist bread about 1/3 the size of the 100% clear loaf.

I did the three stretch-and-folds at 45 minute intervals.  Then, since I had ribs cooking slowly at 250F and had read about slow-cooking rye, I decided to create a faux-pullman pan with a metal loaf pan and foil.  The bread spent 3 hours at 250, at which point I removed it from the pan.  The inside still hadn't come to 200F so I wrapped the loaf tightly in foil and jacked the oven temp up to 350F for another hour, at which point I turned the oven off and left the oven and the foil-wrapped bread in it to cool together overnight.

This morning, when I unwrapped it, I had a tasty ersatz-European-rye that is pretty yummy and I saw a good demonstration of how the rye flour, even at 50%, is completely different from wheat flour in terms of development.  Yes, I have read the wonderful lessons of many of you all about rye and pentosans, rye and hydration, etc., but I really needed to have the two different breads from the same basic formula to reinforce the difference in feel and dough reaction in my head and hands.

Both breads are delicious but they bear extremely little resemblance to each other.  For those who may not remember, here's a picture of the 100% first clear flour loaf for comparion.

and the crumb shot with the rye crumbshot next to it and about proportional in size!:

 The rye is the third very different bread in a row using this 70% formula.  Earlier last week I made one that was 550g of 00 pizzeria flour and 50g semolina.  You may remember these pics:

and crumb:

The 100% first clear Flour loaf had tremendous oven spring and came out the of oven almost cylindrical whereas the 00/semolina loaf had the usual sag. 

Anyway, I'm having fun with my experiments and getting a better feel for what the different flours do.  It's lunch time, I think I'll go spread something savory on thin slices of moist dark rye.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I don't think 50% rye can be blamed for the dense crumb and small loaf.  The very low temp of the oven is to blame.  Did you bake the good looking breads the same?  

HeidiH's picture

You are right that this might be "unfair" to rye.  This isn't so much a scientific test as an exercise teaching me about flours so I can better bake the kinds of bread I want intuitively.  What's staying the same is the basic 70% hydration formula and the dough development method.

I've made rye "bricks" before cooking at a higher temperature so the low temperature this time was an opportunity to see if the sweetness and flavor would development as I've seen described elsewhere.  Some of the recipes for true pumpernickel call for 16-24 hour baking times at low temperatures.   For me, the advantage of the low temperature is that the bread did not get a hard outer crust. 

The difference between the doughs was obvious at the outset.  The rye dough grew very little during its time developing.  No amount of heat was going to make this dough leap up and get fluffy! No amount of manipulation was going to develop a window pane.  This was a gooey, sticky rye.

The brick is not an unpleasant result at all.  Some of the recipes for this type of rye don't do much of any kneading but rather rely on the long cooking time at low temperature to develop the pentosans and the flavors -- and the final result is a heavy, dense, moist bread similar to a Scandinavian version. I like "both kinds" of rye bread: this dense, moist type which is more European and the lighter American Jewish rye.  

My current experiments are less scientific than to teach myself the ways in which I can use different flours to get very different breads.   Soon, I'll be working on different hydrations or different oven temps in a similar experimental way.


HeidiH's picture

I'm not brave enough yet to undertake the care and feeding of a sour.  Oh, okay, I'll be honest.  I don't trust myself to take good care of a sour.    The cats yell at me if I don't feed them regularly.  So does hubby.  By the time a sour would holler at me it would have become some sort of sentient alien life form that overthrows civilization.  No?

I'll get there as I get frustrated with the recipes I really can't make because I'm an instant yeast addict.  I have been known to throw a splash of cider vinegar into rye to get it a little sour but that method pales in comparison to a good sour, I know.

I love caraway.  The loaf I just made had 12g in it.  I not only use it in rye but when making kimmelweck rolls or bread sticks, too.  Cabbage sauteed in butter and caraway?  Yummers. 

I only started bread baking about a year or so ago when Panera fluffy-fied their formulas and we lost our nearby source of decent bread.   If I follow an excellent recipe (e.g. one of Stan Ginzberg's), I get an excellent result but I want to be better able to "throw together" a loaf of bread that will be what I am hoping for at any one given time.  Ergo, the experiments to reinforce what I have read.

When I first started making bread from scratch in my usual haphazard manner, I would be surprised by what I saw as random results.   Sometimes I'd have fluffy bread, sometimes chewy bread, sometimes heavy bread, and I didn't know why.  From the wisdom of the Fresh Loaf gang and other webby sources, I've learned a lot more about what causes what so I can now more readily drive my result. 

I'm sharing my results here to give others like me an idea of what I'm learning, yes, but, more selfishly, to reinforce the information for myself.  And, of course, I LOVE the feedback you all give.  I'm learning SOOOOO much from you!