I love rye bread, especially 100% rye bread. It is, however, proving to be tricky to make. Having received Hadjiandreou's book recently, I decided to follow his recipe (multiplied by 1.5 to fit in a 4.5 by 8.5 inch pan). In the following, "rye flour" means whole-grain rye flour.
- 150 g rye sourdough starter, 100% hydration
- 225 g rye flour
- 300 g water at room temperature
Mix starter ingredients together in a large bowl; cover and ferment overnight. (Note: I actually measured the acidity of my starter after the fermentation, and it was pH 3.5)Dough:
- 300 g rye flour
- 9 g salt
- All of the starter
- 225 g hot water (just off the boil)
Prepare a 4.5x8.5 inch loaf pan (I use some non-stick spray, which works well). Mix together the rye flour and salt, and spread over the starter to protect it from the hot water. Pour the hot water on top, and immediately mix all ingredients well with a wooden spoon. You will get a nice, warm, dough. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the pan. The dough is quite clay-like and sticky, and there's no gluten to speak of, so I just use wet hands to make a loaf shape. Prove for 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to its highest temperature (250C, approx. 475 F, preferably). Place an old pan at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Place loaf in the oven on the middle shelf (Hadjiandreou doesn't call for docking/slashing it), pour a cup of hot water in the pan at the bottom of the oven. Close the oven door, reduce the heat to 220C/425F and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. (The original recipe is for a 4x6 inch loaf, which bakes for 30 minutes. Reasonably, the baking time for a larger loaf would be longer, too). I have made this bread twice already. The first time I did the "1.5" version above. The second time, I did the smaller loaf, but baked it in a 4x8 inch loaf pan. I have encountered several problems with my bake: 1. The bread wasn't even close to done at the end of the baking time. The top of the bread might have been brown, but when I touched the bottom of the loaf, it felt soft and not hard at all. I ended up baking the loaves for far longer (>2 hours). The first time I baked at a high temperature for a long time, which caused the corners of the loaf to burn. (The remainder was okay and quite edible). The second time I baked differently: I reduced the temperature to 180C/350F after about 15 minutes, and baked for a long time at this temperature. I also left the loaf in the turned-off oven overnight. 2. Even after the long baking times, the crumb of the bread was quite gummy and wettish (after having waited 48 hours to slice the loaf). Moreover, the bottom of the bread was gummier than most of the bread. (It had a 1 cm line of bread that looked much gummier). 3. The bread exhibited the "flying crust" phenomenon, where there was a big, gaping, between most of the loaf and the top crust. (Thinking that I might not be introducing enough acidity into the dough, in the second attempt I also added a tablespoon of vinegar to the dough. It didn't help.)Crumb picture:
All that said, the flavor of the bread was very good. I would like to know what I can do to solve my baking problems. I don't know why the bread is taking so long to bake, nor do I know how to avoid the flying crust. I do measure the ingredients out very carefully, and follow the steps diligently. Any help from rye-baking experts will be appreciated!