The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

In Search of Salzstangerl and a Nice Surprise

  • Pin It
wassisname's picture
wassisname

In Search of Salzstangerl and a Nice Surprise

     I've had salzstangerl (salt sticks) on the brain for a while now. I loved these in my younger days and ever since I saw them mentioned in Bread I've been looking for an excuse to try them.  Hamelman recommends his 40% rye sourdough dough for the purpose.  It's been quite a few years since I've had one, but I can say with confidence that the German bakeries in southern California I once frequented were not using a dough like this.  They were more like straight pretzels.  Probably no rye and certainly not sourdough.  As with most breads I'm sure there are innumerable variations, but I'm a sucker for rye sourdoughs so I went in the Hamelman direction. 
     I already have a 30% rye that I like so I used that instead of the recommended 40% rye.  The dough came together nicely, then I began shaping...  oh, the poor unsuspecting dough.  The look I was going for was a long, slender, gently tapered roll.  Imagine a croissant, without the layers, and straight, and not so plump in the middle, and sprinkled with coarse salt and caraway seeds.  Easy, right?  Heh, heh, heh...   I was laughing aloud by the time I "shaped" the last of them.  "Sea slug" was the first association that popped into my head.  Having since looked-up photos of sea slugs I don't think that was entirely fair... to the slugs.  Ba-dum-bum!
     They still turned out pretty well, but not quite what I was after.  The recipe for Czech Crescent Rolls in Leader's Local Breads actually sounds closer to what I remember.  I think somewhere in the middle is where I want to be.  The next batch will have less rye, less prefermented flour, and lower hydration.  I'll add some butter and maybe some yeast.  And now that I know how not to cut the triangles the dough will be less abused during shaping. 

 

The nice surprise came from the other half of the same dough:

Clearly this is what this dough was meant for.  I was really happy with this one (though, by the look of the crumb, I still need to work on the ol' shaping skills) and it only got made because I didn't feel like shaping another pan of salzstangerl!  The dough is 30% whole rye (all fermented @ 100% hydration) with a final hydration of about 70%.

I've been tinkering with my oven set-up, testing the lower limit of my top stone placement.  The loaf sprang more than I ever thought it would and just touched the rack above it.  That's cutting it a little too close!

-Marcus

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Marcus,

The crust of the loaf is a beautiful colour.   The bottom does look somewhat blackened; a mixed blessing!   Lots of oven spring is the good part, of course.

I love the formula...as you note, for the loaf of bread; it's a winner.

Best wishes to you

Andy

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Good eye, Andy.  The bottom did get a bit scorched.  Nothing disastrous, though, and it should be easy enough to adjust for next time.  Such a simple, delicious bread, it would be a difficult loaf to ruin. 

A side-benefit was that the too-rapidly-darkening bottom prompted me to try switching my oven to top-heat at the end of the bake.  It worked surprisingly well, actually, just wish I'd though of it five minutes earlier! 

Marcus

varda's picture
varda

I know that the salt sticks didn't come out how you envisioned, but they really look nice to me.   And not like slugs at all.  And a bonus to get such a nice rye in the bargain.  -Varda

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Varda.  I put the shapeliest of the bunch front and center.  Knowing what they went through before they were baked is probably clouding my perception.  Tasty as they are I can't really complain!

Marcus

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Marcus,

I agree with Varda - your salt sticks look like really nice little rolls...

The loaf is a beauty!  

Your oven set up looks like mine although I can't see the floor of your oven - mine is warped due to ice cubes being tossed in for steam....what works, works :-)

You mentioned lessening the percentage of prefermented flour - I am curious as to why?

Janet

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Janet.  I’m looking forward to the next batch.

 The bottom stone is on the second rack from the bottom.  I also steamed directly on the floor of the oven for a while, but eventually just lost my nerve.  I would cringe every time, waiting for something terrible to happen!  Now I have two little cast-iron serving dishes that fit perfectly between the bottom heating elements and I use those as a third “rack” for my wet-towel-sheet-pan-steam-apparatus.  For this bake, however, I tried putting the steam pan on the top stone.  That’s how I got the scorched bottom.

 I want the next batch to be milder and fluffier.  The chewiness (for lack of a better word) that makes the full loaf so great is a bit much for the rolls.  The flavor, too, seems out of balance without the crust component of the full loaf.  So, the next batch will be more like a straight dough with a little rye sourdough goodness added in.

 Marcus

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Marcus,

Thanks for explaining the sd piece for me.  I am  looking forward to your next batch!

I tried the steam under but it didn't work well....D.WInk has a good photo on one of threads discussing steam issues and I even tried her method but it was just too much work - the alu. foil kept slipping.  I tried the towels too but ended up scrapping that as it was a lot of work - I bake several loaves a day and the towels got to be a bit much.....now it is just a bit of water in a hot pan above my loaves prior to placing them in the oven so the oven has steam in it already.  Much simpler and no more heavy cast iron pans or drenched towels to deal with :-) 

But who knows what next week will bring :-)

Take Care,

Janet

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice salt sticks (loaves), Marcus! They still look lovely, really. Is that Zaatar featured on the side? Yum, must be a great dip with the bread.

The sourdough Rye is especially attractive, and your oven setup has paid off! Nice work, Marcus.

wassisname's picture
wassisname

That’s actually mom’s homemade mustard, Khalid.  It goes great with all my ryes.  Thank you for the kind words!

 Marcus

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Want em skinny?  Then try rolling out the dough flat rectangular and cutting 2inch wide strips.  Roll them up much like the cardboard inside the toilet paper or paper towels but leave the space out.  (go ahead, tear one apart!)  Sort of like wrapping electrical tape around an imaginary cord.  If you lay the strip before you at a diagonal  "/"  and start rolling straight up, it should work out.  

Try using scalded milk and water combination.  Cool before adding.  I Like to soak the seeds in hot water first and drain before using.  Rye flour?  I might use 5% but normally it is white wheat all the way!  ...and an egg wash under the seeds for great color!

Mini

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Ah, ha!  Thanks, Mini.  I think I'm going to skip the triangles altogether and shape them your way.  Makes perfect sense, and they'll pull apart nicely, too.  But, one thing concerns me... I never thought I would hear you, of all bakers, advising me to use less rye?!?  It's a world gone mad ;-) 

Thanks again for the tips!

Marcus

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm salzstangerl sympathisch.

wassisname's picture
wassisname

lol.  Alright, then I'll stop worrying.

Syd's picture
Syd

Nice baking Marcus.  And I don't mind a slightly overdone bottom.  I think it adds to the flavour, as long as it is not burned to charcoal.  Why not remove the top rack when you bake and then your loaf won't be in danger of touching it the next time. 

Best,

Syd

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Syd.  There's another stone on the top rack (it kind of blends in in the photo) that helps with the "hearth" effect.  But, it really needs to go back to the highest position in the oven.  It works well in the lowered position for pizza baking, but for loaves it makes everything too awkward.

Marcus

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Your loaf is just beautiful Marcus! I've seen the salt sticks in the book too but never tried them. Looks like a good recovery to me.

Eric

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Eric, that's so nice of you!  Salt sticks are one of my "comfort-breads" and since I can't get them close to home anymore it was only a matter of time before I gave it a shot.  Great for sharing, too!

Marcus

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

beautiful color on your loaf..I just slice off the bottom, when it's to dark for my taste, that's easy enough.   Nice experiment. What a lovely crumb on both rolls and bread.

Sylvia

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you so much, Sylvia!  I didn't have to amputate, but it was a close call.  I'll call it "pre-toasted"! 

Really, this is what the rest of us go through trying to deal with WFO envy.  You featured altogether too many wonderful things coming out of your oven in that last post! :)

Marcus

wally's picture
wally

As Andy remarked, a little dark on the bottom, but the top crust is just beautiful (as is your scoring). Ovens are rarely balanced and commercial ovens always have hot spots. So no worries.

Nice bake,
Larry

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Larry.  My only real worry is that this loaf won't last nearly long enough!

Marcus

lumos's picture
lumos

Great looking rolls and loaf, Marcus!

Whatever it's called or whereever the origin is, the rye rolls look very much like very tasty rye rolls I had in Vienna a few years ago.  Very authentic looking......even the dough might've not been what it's meant for! :p

I see the bigger loaf was no brainer for the dough. Beautiful!

lumos

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, lumos.  Someday I'll have to get myself out that way again and see for myself.  A little more "research" would be just the thing!

Marcus

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Marcus,
Your salzstangerl and bread made with your 30% rye all look beautiful to me.
And your mom's homemade mustard looks lovely too!
I attended Mr. Hamelman's Rye Breads class in August and we made salzstangerl with a 20% rye dough.
They were tasty little rolls, scaled at 2.75 ounces each:


So nice to see your version of these delicious 'salt sticks'!
:^) from breadsong

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, breadsong, and thanks for posting the photo.  Nice to see what Hamelman's are meant to look like.  They look great, but I'm not sure I could sell my family on that much caraway!  I actually just made another batch.  I brought the rye way down to 10%, the hydration down to 62% and added some butter.  They turned out really well.  A little lighter than the baking I've grown accustomed to, 20% rye may be the magic number, but a great treat!

Marcus