Two Starter Rye
I considered throwing this idea out there as a hypothetical but never got around to it. So, I went with my preferred method: bake first, ask questions later. The question that led to this formula went something like this: Instead of adding yeast to a rye sourdough, as so many book formulas do, what would happen if I added some whole wheat starter?
The hope is that the vigorous population of yeast in the wheat starter would compensate for the possibly not-so-reliable leavening power of the well-fermented rye starter. Sounds plausible enough, even if it turns out not to be true. It sounded even better when I thought of it as something like a multi-stage rye, but with the two stages happening concurrently rather than consecutively. Yes, a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing, but I decided to try it anyway.
Since my "scientific" baking experiment lacks even the pretense of a control bread I am left with not much to say regarding the relative merits of this method vs. any other method... hmmm... awkward. I'll just go ahead and describe the bread.
The dough was a sticky mess. The final hydration was probably 80% or better because of all the water I had to use to keep the dough from sticking to everything. The dough fermented really quickly. It rose so fast during both stages that I cut them short. Even so, there was only the slightest oven spring, and the finished bread was very dense. When I cut the bread about 4 hrs out of the oven the crumb was still a bit tacky, but not terrible. The next day, however, the crumb had finally set and the result was very nice. This is one of those breads that needs 24 hrs to sort itself out. The flavor was delicious (maybe a little heavy on the coriander). The crumb was dense but moist and soft - not gummy at all. 48 hrs later it was still every bit as good. Overall I am pleasantly surprised. This turned out to be one of the nicer "heavy" rye breads I've baked.
Thoughts for next time: Let the rye starter ferment longer - I don't think I let it go long enough this time to really test the method. Shorten either the bulk ferment or the proof (or both?) and see if I can get some oven spring. See if I can get any more gluten development during kneading. Any other thoughts are more than welcome :)