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Two Starter Rye

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wassisname's picture
wassisname

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 :)

Marcus

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Marcus,

Not that I don't like the idea of using 2 leavens [I have used this technique on numerous occasions], but I don't know why you find a rye starter unreliable for leavening power.   Not my experience at all!

With the formula you present, I doubt you can reasonably expect great oven spring.   This is nothing to do with your ferments; it is your flour choice.   Rye flour doesn't form gluten chains in the paste and that is 60% of your total flour.

However, you are right, it looks a good and tasty loaf.   your timings look pretty good, although I would bulk ferment for only 1 hour and see if I couldn't extend the final ferment just a tad...even if that were only 5 or 10 minutes.   I'm not really sold on long bulk ferments in these types of breads.

Best wishes

Andy

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks for the reality check, Andy.  It's not that I was expecting a lofty loaf, but a little more movement would have been nice.  Maybe I've just been baking too many light breads lately! 

I didn't realize how far from some of my previous ww&ryes this formula was until I saw how it behaved.  It's been a while as well, perhaps my memory has clouded.  But, the amount of rye flour coupled with a larger amount of preferment than I'm used to really seemed to change the game.  It certainly wasn't over-fermented to the point of collapse, but it looks like the crumb did "settle" a bit.  I'll see if a shorter bulk ferment helps there.

As for my lack of confidence in my rye leaven, I should have known someone would call me on that!  When it comes to building a rye starter, sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't.  Using a wheat starter seems to leave me a little more room for error so I was wondering if this could be a hedge against the times I don't get the rye quite right?  Probably not, but isn't it a lovely idea?  Thanks, as always, for the patient replies.

Marcus

 

Syd's picture
Syd

I am no rye expert but I like the way your mind works:  just the kind of experiment I would probably design for myself (on a whim with little or no research on the matter)!  And, although, I have only made 100% rye breads twice, I love the denseness and full flavour of them.

Syd

wassisname's picture
wassisname

There's something about rye that brings out the mad scientist (or optimist) in me, Syd.  I can't explain it.  At least this experiment ended with a decent loaf of bread.  That's not always the case, believe you me.  I have an abundance of rye flour at the moment so I think further research is in order! 

Marcus

lumos's picture
lumos

Hey, Marcus, I've been experimenting rye sour last few days, too! ;) I second what Syd said. Very interesting experiment. Thank you very much for sharing.

I don't eat rye-heavy loaf very much these days (used to love very rye-rich German breads, though),  so mine only goes up to 30% rye in total. 

With the latest one, the rye sour matured in 11-12 hr or so, and after 3 hrs of bulk fermentation with a a few S & F. I shaped and proofed overnight in the fridge (6-7 hrs?).  The hydration was slightly lower than 70% but much softer/more extensible and stickier than my regular dough (70-75% hydration).   Wasn't intending to long ferment, but because rye sour took longer to mature than expected, I had to do it.  Getting enough sleep is higher on my list of priorities than baking bread. :p

Baked yesterday morning and tasted just half an hour ago, tasted fine and crumb not as dense as I'd feard it'd be, but  could've been better if I'd used high gluten flour instead of regular bread flour and reduced the ratio of preferment (use some of rye in the main dough instead) .  There're lots to be learned for me. ;)

lumos

 

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, lumos.  I bet your bread is a lot better than you’re letting on ;).  I made a number of ryes in the 30% range this summer and really came to like them.  Nice rye flavor but still reasonably well behaved.  That may have been one of my problems with this bread – my brain wasn’t altogether in “rye-mode” yet.

Marcus

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Marcus, your results look great! And I would expect your bread to have a rich taste that stays with you for some time.

Using only wholegrain flours with a high percentage of rye you'll always get a somewhat dense texture.

Duing my recent holiday I experimented a bit with my 70% rye formula (rye starter, wholegrain rye and wheat) and got a more open crumb by using a wholewheat soaker and a scalded rye soaker (sometimes called zavarka). I'll post about this shortly.

Happy Baking,

Juergen

ananda's picture
ananda

I think Juergen is really onto something that would help you a lot here Marcus.
A soaker is a great idea. I look forward to your post Juergen!
All good wishes
Andy

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I look forward to seeing some more scalded flour demonstrations, Juergen.  That’s a method I’ve decided (for once) not to leap into until I have time to sit down and really think it through – but the day will come. 

Using a soaker actually did pop into my head as soon as I saw how fast this bread was fermenting.  I’ve been moving away from soakers lately because I’ve been making more long, slow fermenting breads that didn’t really need the extra help.  But in this case it does seem appropriate. 

Marcus

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Marcus,

I see scalds and soakers not as helpers, they are a technique to achieve a different result. On the rye side I had made Hamelmans 66% rye with soaker before and had noticed a slightly more open crumb and a ssmoother feeling in the mouth.

On the wheat side I was inspired by Andy's posts and improvised during my holiday: I made a 100% wholewheat sourdough using about 30% fermented flour (ww starter) and 30% flour from an overnight soaker with the same hydration as the final dough (75%).

With this I got a remarkably tasty bread with an open crumb - so much that honey could find its way through. It was what I wanted to get, only better.

When I thought about the provisions for our last 2 days on our holiday (a trip to Skomer and the long journey to Brighton) I thought I'd make 70% rye sourdough with wholewheat (I still had both flours in abundance) and decided to throw in the scald and soaker for smooth feel and open texture.

The bread was very nice, but at 30% wholewheat I believe the soaker didn't contribute much. Most noticeable was the dough consistency: it was slightly easier to handle than the similar bread without soaker. But that could be my imagination.

Lots to try out.

Juergen

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Interesting... the dough I was having trouble with was a 100% WW sourdough very much like yours.  I was soaking almost all of the unfermented flour (with salt), a method I've used before, but in a couple of cases the dough was clearly breaking down during my S&F routine.  Who knows why, but eliminating the soaker eliminated the problem - could just be that particular flour or my starter was in a funk.  Maybe I'll try again with less of the flour and see how the bread changes.

The 70% rye with ww sounds great!  I'm curious how much flour was fermented and how much was scalded?

Marcus

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Andy, Marcus,

Please find my writeup here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25068/holiday-bakes

It's work in progress.

Juergen

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Marcus, rye flour is loaded with sugars, that's why it's the most reliable leavener. You don't have any reason to doubt of it. If you want something a bit taller use a pullman pan, but as Andy wrote rye doesn't grow that much, not even if coupled with other weak flours such as wholemeal (I guess that this combination did more harm than good).

If you don't want to give up to to a free-form bread you can consider 5 minutes of crisp cooking in the microwave (micro+grill) before switching back to convection baking. I did and I have to say I was pleasently surprised (the temperature inside rises almost instantly).

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I’m out of luck on the microwave idea, Nico, as mine died years ago and I decided to learn to live without it.  Interesting idea, though, I’ve never heard of that one.  I was thinking this bread would make a good base for a vollkorn-style bread with rye berries and whatever other chunky bits I have around, in which case I would definitely switch to pans.  And I promise to have more faith in my rye from now on! :)

Marcus

rpinet's picture
rpinet

What I loved, Marcus, was your table presentation. I am stealing it for my recipe cards. Thank you. Keep up the good work!

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I'm glad you like it, rpinet, steal away!

Marcus

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Marcus,

The thing that jumps out at me with your formula is the ratio of prefermented flour/levain to total flour in the final mix. It seems rather high and may be a good place to start if you want to tweak the formula for future bakes. You're definitely onto something though with this loaf, and I imagine the flavour is quite complex. Keep us posted on this project.

Best,

Franko

wassisname's picture
wassisname

The amount of preferment was my first worry too, Franko,  when I decided to use both starters.  I needed enough of both to have an impact but not so much that I wreck the dough right from the start.  In the end I just had to pick a number and go with it.  I might bring the rye portion down a bit and let it ferment longer to really highlight the difference between the two.  But who knows.  Everytime I look at this formula I think of something else I might change, so even I can’t say where the next one will end up! 

Marcus

wally's picture
wally

I'm with Andy.  Given a substitution of whole wheat flour for high gluten, and given the fact that this is a 60% rye bread, I don't think you can achieve a crumb much more open that you did.  Had you gone with high gluten flour in the final mix, maybe you achieve a somewhat more open crumb, but I'm not sure by how much.

If your starter is fully ripened, initial fermentation should be shorter - one hour or less - as Andy noted.  And then the final proof about the same.

Nice experiment, and as Franko noted, I'll be some nice flavors.

BTW, in high hydration ryes, like yours, it can take up to 2 days for the crumb to fully set.  I wrap mine in linen and leave on the counter until they're ready for slicing, and then wrap in aluminum foil or just leave them cut size down on the counter.

They will mold if tightly enclosed in plastic wrap, I've found.

Nice bake,

Larry

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Larry.  With so many great insights I can't wait to try this one again!  I am curious to see how well these keep - day 4 and still holding-up well.  Aluminum foil better than plastic?  It's always sad to see that first speck of mold, but with the low humidity here they turn to rocks on the counter - I let the pain au levain do that but not so much the dark ryes.  I'll try the foil.

Marcus