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!