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Russian Rye and Really Simple Sourdough (from A. Whitley's Bread Matters) - now with pictures

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Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Russian Rye and Really Simple Sourdough (from A. Whitley's Bread Matters) - now with pictures

Hi,

For the harvest festival at my son's school I revisited Andrew Whitley's formula for Russian Rye, an inspired by Varda and JanetCook I used some of the surplus starter to make two variations of his "Really Simple Sourdough", both from his book"Bread Matters".

Both formulas call for baking in tins.

Here the results, from left to right: Wholegrain Spelt, Shipton's Swiss Dark Flour (high extraction), Russian Rye ...

And the crumb, in the same order:

The Starter is a 200% hydration starter wich I had going for over a year  now. I keep it in the fridge; for baking I essentially follow Andrew Whitley's instructions - I make a "production sourdough" with 100% wholegrain rye, 200% water and 25% starter from the fridge (The book recommends 100% starter). My kitchen was about 22C, and I left it ferment for ca. 16 hours. (At the end it was a bit frothy with a slightly sour taste)

I prepared the starter to bake the Russian Rye on Tuesday evening so that the bread would have time to set and develop character until Friday, the day of the festival. I put thje surplus starter into the fridge on Tuesday afternoon after mixing the Russian Rye,

The "Really Simple Sourdoughs" (RSSD) were mixed on Saturday evening (9pm) with the starter coming right out of the fridge - this formula calls for just 40g starter for a 500g loaf. They proved overnight in their tins at about 17C and were  baked on Sunday morning at 10am.

The Russian rye has been slightly underbaked and tasted watery at first, but fr Sunday's supper it was excellent with chicken liver pathe. The spelt variant of the RSSD tasted a bit bitter after the bake, with a distinct nutty note. On Sunday evening the bitter note had disappeared.

The RSSD with Swiss Dark Flour became an instant favourite of my wife - the crumb is springy, the taste is wheaty, but not nominating.

I'll keep this in my repertoire (I hadn't made RSSD since joining The Fresh Loaf, I think)

** UPDATE: The Formulas **

Both breads are shaped with wet hands right after mixing and proofed in tins.

Russian Rye for 2 hours to 8 hours at 24C or more,

Really Simple Sourdough for up to 12 hours at 20C

Russian Rye

Production Sourdough (Dough Temperature 30C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 31%

Water 62%

Yield 92%

Final Dough (DT ideally 28C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 69%

Water 42%

Salt 1%

Production Sourdough 92%

Yield 205%

 

Really Simple Sourdough

Rye Starter (can be taken from fridge if not too starved)

Wholegrain Rye flour 5%

Water 10%

Yield 15%

Final Dough (DT 20C)

Wholegrain flour (Wheat, Spelt) 95%

Water 66%

Salt 1.5%

Rye Starter 15%

Yield 178%

That's it.

Cheers,

Juergen

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Juergen,

I was doing a rye build last night….almost did the Simple Sourdough but timing was off and it was late so I ended up doing a variation of the loaf PiP/Phil posted yesterday and a bit of a loaf Shiao Ping posted awhile ago….a rye starter with ww flour added then ww and spelt as the flour in the main dough….so it is kind of a part of the formula you posted for me, Shiao Ping's loaf and Phil's. Your contribution was the rye starter :-)….

I always enjoy what you post so am waiting patiently for the pictures while poor Floyd works out the kinks….talk about pressure…poor guy. I will go and rake leaves in my front yard while I wait :-)

Take Care,
Janet

varda's picture
varda

Hi Juergen, Hope you are able to post the pictures soon. I have started trying to bake a Russian Rye but it hasn't gone well. Do you use Whitley's 200% hydration rye starter? I find it just goes all smelly on me. -Varda

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Hi Juergen,

I was reading the instructions for getting the rye sourdough ready for making the Russian Rye bread.  Do you actually keep the rye sourdough in a 30 C environment for 12 or more hours?

Carl

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Janet, Varda, Carl,

Thank you for your comments despite an incomplete post.

Janet, How did your rye loaf turn out? You might ghave posted already - I didn't read any other posts yet, it's quite early over here.

Varda, I am sad to hear about your experience. Yes, I used the 200% starter. Can you describe the smell of yours? How old is it? Does it get frothy? When I start up a new starter accoding to "Bread Matters" it can go throughh some mood swings.

Carl, My kitche n was 22C for the last bake and the starter ripened well in 16 hours with 25% of mature starter. If you have the feeling that your starter is starving itself to death in 12 hours at 30C you can change the temperature or the amount of mature starter.

Happy Baking and Good Luck,

Juergen

varda's picture
varda

Hi Juergen.  Your pictures look great.   I made the Russian Rye yesterday.   The rye starter was quite stinky - not sure how to describe but not acetone and not pleasant.  Certainly not fruity as Whitley describes.   It had more than tripled in height overnight and was very bubbly so I decided to go ahead with a bake.   I mixed everything up and plopped it into a bread pan in the morning.   Then I waited all day for it to double in height as Whitley directs.  It never did - in fact didn't rise at all.   Halfway through the day, I set it in front of a warming toaster oven to try to warm it up.   I also put it into a microwave that had had water boiled in it just prior.   Nothing helped.   Finally after 12 hours I docked it and plopped it into the oven and baked for an hour.   It rose a little bit during baking.    This morning in cutting into it, it is short and squat, but has nicely developed crumb and is not dense at all and is among the sourest breads I've ever baked.   I can barely eat it it is so tart.   But actually pretty tasty.   Should I attribute all of this to a very immature starter and carry on?  I took the remaining starter and fed it at 100% hydration and left it out for 12 hours, but refrigerated after that.  The 200% hydration just seems unstable to me, but I guess I should follow directions and see where this goes.  Congratulations on your results.    I think Whitley's stuff is harder to make right than it appears by reading the recipes.  -Varda

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Varda, Thank you for your comments.

If the starter stinks it is definitely not ready. How warm is the environment where you cultivated it?

I only went through the whole cycle about 3 times, and it always took a while (ca. 2 weeks) until the starter became stable, but then it was stable as a rock. The last time I recreated the starter was after this year's Passover, I used the 200% hydration, but the feeding schedules from DiMuzio - twice a day with 25% of the previous starter, using small amounts initially.

This worked well, but took more than a week (I didn't keep notes) to yield a nice fruity starter which I was confident to keep in the fridge.

A couple things surprise me.

1. Acidity - My Russian Rye is not tangy at all - just rye-earthy. and mild.

2. Docking - I wouldn't dare to dock my Russian Rye - When fully proofed it is so fragile that a mild touch can expose the honeycomb beneath the surface

I agree that not all of Whitley's breads are straightforward. I gave up on spelt sourdough and rice sourdough, and got into making breads from Bertinet's Crust before trying Whitley's wheat sourdoughs.

If I were you I would probably keep the rye starter at 200% out of the fridge and feed it regularly until it improves. If it doesn't I would think of Leuconostocs and pineapple juice ...

Best Wishes,

Juergen

varda's picture
varda

Juergen,  Thanks for the advice.   I'll try the 2 times a day feeding at 200% saving 25% of the seed.    My kitchen is around 70degF (21C) and so colder than what Whitley recommends.   That is why I used various devices to warm up the dough yesterday.   Here is a picture of the crumb.    You can also see the short squat profile.   I thought it was going to be bricklike after not increasing in height but for some reason it isn't.   Don't really understand it. 

I only once made such a sour bread - also a rye.   It was (again) an accident and I was never able to replicate it.   I doubt I'll replicate this one either as I tame this starter.   Thanks again.   -Varda

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Varda,

In Manfred Suepke's blog (www.baecker-suepke.de) , where I learned pretty much everything I know about German style breads, is a thorough description of the so-called single step Detmolder process - in production Mr Suepke uses this process to make his rye breads. The starter is 80% hydration, refreshed with 5% to 20% of mature starter, depending on ambient temperature and schedule, fermented for 12 hours, and usable for baking for another 6 hours.

He mocks about the definitions of "hot" and "cold" in this context. Hot is 28C and will make a milder sourdough, and "cold" is 24C and will make a more sour, acetic sourdough. He also mentiones that with each degree Celsius less you need to ferment for 15 minutes longer.

With a 200% starter things might scale a bit differently, but this was very helpful for me to understand the sourdough dynamics and the importance of temperatures involved.

Whitley says to keep the starter at 30C, and to use water at 40C for the final dough, which should make a mild bread.

During cold weather I used a camping cooler box as a proofer for starters with great success - I just put some big jam jars full of warm water in with the sourdough.

Happy Experimenting,

Juergen

PS.: Crack and lack of oven spring - you might have overproofed a bit.

 

varda's picture
varda

Juergen, I didn't measure temperature.   Whitley's proofing range is 2-8 hours, so I figured if things were a bit too cold I'd be at the long end of it.   As it was I proofed for 12 hours, waiting for the dough to expand.    I did not know the connection between cold proofing and sourness.   I guess people who cold retard always say their bread is tangier.   But that is a lot colder environment than 21C.   Anyhow, it's all interesting.   You are probably right that I overproofed.   Perhaps next time with a more mature rye starter and better temperature control, my dough will behave more like what Whitley said (i.e. expand during proof).    A year ago or so, I did Hamelman's three stage 90% rye Detmolder.   I barely knew how to bake and so it was quite a production - very carefully controlled temperature during three stages of sour building starting with a tiny dab of starter.   I can see I'm going to have take temperature more seriously if I want this Russian rye to work out.   Thanks for the help.  I also want to try the simple sourdoughs you did above.  They all look great.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

In reading your post I remembered the following information D. Wink printed that explains the factors that effect mild vs sour leaven because each has an influence on the yeast:LAB ratio.

It reads from left = milder to the right = more sour:

  • FLOUR: 100% White  <---------------------------> 100% Whole grain
  • Temperature:  Cool    <---------------------------> Warm
  • Hydration:  Drier        <---------------------------> Wetter
  • Refreshment Rate / Frequency: 
  1.  Smaller/More Frequent  <------------------------> Larger/ Less Frequent
  • Refreshment Point: Under-ripe  <----------------> Over-Ripe

Her chart has been very helpful to me over the past few months and I thought you might like it too....

Also, I noted in another response of yours that you feed your sour and let it ripen and then refrig. it.  D.Wink also explained to me that after feeding the refreshed starter should be refrig. immediately so that the yeast have food while in the refrig.  

When allowing a starter to ripen and then refrigerating it you are essentially starving it as it has nothing to eat....The yeast are still active in the refrig. just much slower so they need food.  When you then want to use some of the starter you simply take the amount you need out and let it finish it's feeding cycle on the counter before feeding or using in a recipe.

Hope some of this helps with your rye adventures :-)

Take Care,

Janet

 

varda's picture
varda

If you look at temperature it says the opposite of what Juergen was saying in his response to me - which is that actually more sour at lower proofing temperature - where low is around 24C rather than 28C.   Since I was proofing in my 70F (21C) kitchen for a long time, I have to think that is right.   Also I took the same rye starter (the discard part) that gave me the very sour rye loaf and added it to another mostly white bread I was baking thinking it might give me a nice sour flavor.   It didn't.   Which makes me think that the very sour flavor I got was from doing the rye proof at 70F for 12 hours rather than a function of the starter itself.    The list is very handy.   Thanks for posting.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

Over the summer I was working with my ww starter to create a milder flavor hence the chart from Debra.  For my ww starter it has worked to allow me to create a milder starter- what makes the big difference is the size and frequency of my leaven building schedule. If I want to make 40g starter in 2 builds I take 10g seed and feed it 4g water and 6g flour so I am just doubling the seed amt. at 60%HL - takes about 3 hours at 75°.  I then use that 20g adding 8g water and 12g flour and get my 40 in 2-3 more hours....What makes the milder flavor, according to Debra, is that at that feeding schedule the yeast have a leg up on the LAB as they need less time to adjust to a changed environment...their lag time is less than the LABS so they are off and running while the LABS are trying to figure out what has hit them.....

I am just beginning to get into rye sours now and I am sure it will be totally different as rye acts very differently than ww does.  For one thing - at 150% HL my sours are like a thick soup!  Takes some getting used to but I do notice that the rising power is excellent and it doesn't take much at all to seed a new batch.  Last week I took the empty jar I had just taken my sour out of and decided to do an experiment.  There was just a small amount of left over sour sticking to the bottom of the jar...like nothing at all.  I took about a TB of water and added it to it and then added some rye flour to make it the consistency of a cream soup.  I stirred it all up and left it out on my counter where it was cool - 68-70°....I wasn't expecting much but in the morning it was full of bubbles and smelled ready to use....so of course I just had to use it to see if it would rise a loaf of bread....it did!  I am not at all sure if a ww starter would do the same thing or not but I was impressed :-)

But I am basically totally ignorant about rye sours at this point and still experimenting heavily with my ww ones....an on going process that is made more of a challenge because I have to rely on others to tell me if what I am doing is making a difference or not...I can't taste/eat the loaves I bake....only smell but it just isn't the same :-)

You still using your WFO?  I am waiting to see if you use it during the winter :-)  A nice warm spot in your yard...

Take Care and happpy experimenting on your end!

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Janet, I have not experimented with starter feeding schedule as a way of producing certain flavors.  Oh my - another variable.   But what is that you are saying - you don't eat bread?   That seems like a tough break.   The sad story is I am going to have to close up my oven for the season.   I tried baking in it a couple days ago, and it was just too hard to get it hot and keep it hot.   It is optimized for hot summer cooking a few loaves at a time, and really nothing else.  You had asked in an earlier comment about me keeping starter out on the counter after feeding before refrigerating.   I should clarify that I keep it out until it starts puffing up a little and then refrigerate.   I find if you refrigerate right away after feeding it doesn't really develop.   It needs to at least get started before you put it into a cold dark cave.   But for this 200% rye jobby, it's out on the counter getting fed twice a day (as per Juergen's comments) so we'll see how that goes.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

This starter stuff does get confusing....imagine if I worked in a bakery it would be much more straight forward due to controlled temp. and baking routine....As it is I bake what I am in the mood to bake and build leavens according to what I am baking....I do take notes and am trying to get more of a routine down but with temps changing my notes are changing.  Before I use my leavens I always do 3 builds so I know my starter is strong and active.

Sorry to hear about the oven.  Imagine you will await better weather with much anticipation of all the things you want to try out - a long list.....

Diet stuff is okay - has been a long term deal so I am fine with it.  I simply enjoy the entire baking process - except the dishes - and I love the aromas so that is why I am doing this and trying to make all of my loaves with sd so have been experimenting with the sourness....all in flux which I do like as it keeps this all very interesting.   A challenge I enjoy :-)

Janet

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Janet,

I think many of your relations in the chart are correct and useful,

but the temperature one is a bit more involved.

Have you seen this post?

http://www.azeliaskitchen.net/blog/life-cycle-of-the-sourdough-starter-part-i/

It's essentially a summary of Debra Wink's article.

In essence, to make your bread sour you need to balance growth rate of LAB that produce acetic acid and the overall growth rate of bacteria and yeast. At warmer temperatures you have higher bacterial activity and thus more acidity, but the LAB that produce lactic acid are a little faster. To have a sour bread or starter you need to find a temperature that allows for a sufficient overall growth rate, but where the acetic acid is slightly more abundant. The availability of bacteria food in form of sugars (as a result of enzyme activity) also needs to be considered.

This is exactly what the bread scientists in Detmold had in mind when they created their 3-step process: Give your starter the right environments to develop yeasts, lactic acid and acetic acid to get a balanced loaf. Keep in mind that the percentage of starter in bread made with the detmolder process is relatively high, the process is designed so that most of the acidity and flavour comes from the starter.

The one-step detmolder process (which I use a lot) is kind of a compromise - the starter gets one environment with temperature and hydration chosen to yield the desired acidity. According to Suepke cold fermentation to get a sour starter is fermentation at 24C (Not talking about the fridge here), warm fermentation for a mild starter is at 28C.

I do not currently have the means to do a comparative bake, but that will be very interesting.

 

varda's picture
varda

Juergen,   You say -"the starter gets one environment with temperature and hydration chosen to yield the desired acidity" and then say 24 to 28C depending on desired sourness, but what about hydration?    You also said in your answer to Nico that the German Ryes are quite different than the Russian.   I wonder if you could expand on what you see as the main differences.   Thanks.   (My rye starter has been getting the twice a day fed on counter with 25% saved, and maintaining 200% hydration treatment.   I think it will be good to go maybe by tomorrow.   The bad smell has subtly morphed into a pretty good smell which is strangely almost exactly the same as the bad one.)    -Varda

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Varda,

Here is what I think I know:

1. Hydration: Acetic acid is more volatile and therefore is more abundant in drier doughs/starters. I think there is also an effect of higher Amylase activity in wetter doughs, which frees up more sugars (and I think that helps again more the guys that make lactic acid). Dry = tangy, wet = mild.

2. The difference between the russian or french style sourdoughs and the German ones: I haven't read this, but from my experience - the German sourdough breads rely mainly on the pre-ferment for taste, with short bulk and final proof times, whereas the others are more fully fermented through, often using less fermented flour to start with.

3. Smells: Sometimes I think it's my perception that changes, not the starter ... (Aquired taste - I love sampling my doughs at any stage)

I hope this makes sense,

Juergen

varda's picture
varda

Appreciate your answers.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Juergen,

Yes, I had seen her site...don't know how I found it but I did and I like how she summarizes Debra's stuff.

I know this all gets very complex and the factors can all be mixed and matched to create many things.  For now I am simply working on mild ww leaven and think I have a routine almost figured out.

I am finding that now that I am experimenting with rye sours they behave differently so I am now working on them and am sure it will take me all winter.......right now I am working on the hydration piece - high hydration that I am not used to so I take baby steps and I take notes and hope I can interpret them correctly later on :-)

Thanks for your posts on ryes.  They are what got me started down this path plus Ananda's posts...

Janet

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Janet.

I am glad you put my posts to good use. And Andy is one of my big inspirations, too.

As for the starters - it all has to fit into one's daily life, not being a professional baker.

Juergen

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Juergen,

Loaf turned out really nicely - nice oven spring and crust color.  No report from my son yet as to the flavor - he is my resident lean dough enthusiast.

Your breads look lovely!

Take Care,

Janet

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Janet

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Juergen, very nice crumb indeed!

I always found that the recipe in Whitley's book calls for too much  water (overlal 110% hydratation if I remember correctly). Did you follow the recipe at the letter?

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Nico,

Yes, I did. And had (almost) always good results. Somewhere he mentiones that this rye bread likes a hot bake.

This time I applied a different baking profile (for a lower-hydration rye, longer bake at falling temperatures down to 175C) and got the watery taste.

But now - 5 days old - the bread tastes great.

This bread is quite different from German-style high-percent ryes as in Hamelman's book.

Juergen

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

...especially for whole grain breads. I keep scolling back to look at the pics. Never used a 200% hydration starter - will have to give these recipes a go! Thanks for the recipes and inspiration.

Just one thing: could you please detail the baking time and temp(s)?

Cheers
Ross

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Ross.

I am sure you will enjoy these recipes.

I have a stone in my oven and preheat for 1 hour to 240C.

Then I bake without steam for 10 minutes at 240C and 20 more minutes at 210C.

This is for 500g loaves.

Cheers,

Juergen

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Sorry, Jeurgen - didn't notice your timing info. Thanks for that.

I'm eager to try these, but am having trouble understanding the timeline. I've written out a little summary to try to get my head around the process. Would you mind checking that I have it correct, please? As follows:

Production SD: Ferment 16 hrs @ 22C, then use.
Doughs: No autolyse. Mix, then immediately shape with wet hands and put in tins.
Proofing: All done in tins. Russian rye 2-8 hours @ 24C+, RSSD up to 12 hours @ 20C.

Correct?

And two final questions, if you don't mind.

1. How do you assess when these breads have completed their proofs and are ready to bake?
2. Have you tried proofing in the fridge? If so, how long did it take, please - or is retarding not recommended with these breads?

Cheers
Ross

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Ross,

The Production Sourdough is necessary only for the Russian Rye or if your starter in the fridge is old, I made the RSSD with starter right out of the fridge which I had refreshed 4 days before the bake.

And the final answers:

1. That is the tricky bit. Both breads will rise a bit in their tins, about 75%, I would say. They become quite fragile when they are ready for the bake. When the Russian Rye starts to show burst bubbles it is time to get it in. When the breads slow down the rise, that is also a sign to me. And when the surface of the breads start to recede in the middle, they are a bit overdue. Poke test won't work.

I don't get it always right, because I don't sit next to the tins while they prove ...

I suppose you have seen the pictures here:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25661/russian-rye-making

Those loaves proofed a bit too long, too many burst bubbles.

Im my experience the RSSD is less sensitive to overproofing than the Russian Rye.

To question 2: I am not sure. It might work. I am not sure about the benefits - except for scheduling - as the fermentation times are already long, especially for RSSD.

I hope this helps,

Cheers,

Juergen

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

All clear now.

Cheers
Ross

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Juergen,

Thanks for your kind words, and I must say your Rye breads from Andrew's formula look really great.

When I worked at VB with Andrew, his Russian Rye sourdough was hydrated at around 180%.   I have personally reduced that to 167%.   In terms of overall dough hydration, I still work on the 85% figure we used way back.   It seems Andrew has moved up to 100% hydration, and I fully agree with Nico that this is too high.   For all that I have seen Giovanni post on an amazing rye bread at very nearly 100% hydration.   Another big change is that Andrew has reduced the salt level in his breads considerably too.

All this aside, I still ferment the sour culture a full 18 hours before use, although 30* heat inthis part of England is utterly unheard of!

Lovely work, all good wishes

Andy

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Welcome back, Andy,

And all the best for your interview tomorrow! You seem to have returned from Sicily with lots of inspiration!

Thank you for your insightful comments.

That Russian Rye beast - it's really a strange one, but was my first sourdough. Special relationship? I suppose.

With its high hydration and low salt it needs time to develop after the bake, and after 3 days it starts unfolding its potential - and the salt is OK then. I am always surprised how this formula works out.

I was also experimenting with other 100% rye formulas, nothing to blog about yet, except that I can feel the winter coming, and that I think temperature control is quite crucial for those ryes - I am going to make a proofer out of some reptile heating equipment and some "Really Useful Boxes" - once I have that going I'll check out Andrew's temperatures and timings.

Tomorrow I will take some ryes to a local cafe, they might buy a few loaves from me on a regular basis...

Best Wishes,

Juergen