The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Black Bread My Way

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Black Bread My Way

Let me start by apologizing to the generations of German bakers before me. I have been trying to learn about the dense style dark bread sometimes called Pumpernickel or Schrotbrot or Roggen Vollkornbrot.  I've baked the Hamelman Horst Bandle bread and liked it after I finally figured out how to bake it at home. Then I have been fooling with the Barm process and Barm breads, both white and rye flours. I read a comment from Dan Lepard about soaking whole berries in dark ale after simmering to soften. So finally all of this came together for me and I decided to try incorporating a couple of these things into the basic Vollkenbrot recipe and make some changes to the sweetener. 

It isn't really an honest Ale Barm that soured the rye chops. I started with my white starter and fed it a couple cycles with ale and AP. It provided the sour component with a very nice aroma and fluffiness after it had aged. This bread doesn't rise like a conventional loaf to any great degree. You can see the domed top with some cracks that indicate there was some spring.

The Vollkornbrot and Schrotbrot do not normally contain any flour. Not Hi Gluten or Rye flour. Perhaps  a meal or another finer grade of chops but no flour. I like to mix all of the pre ferments and scalds and soakers and then adjust the hydration to a thick paste with dark rye flour. There is a last minute addition of chops that have not been soaked that absorbs a lot of the extra water/ale but I usually need at least 100 grams of dark rye to get it where I like it. Several of the recipes I have studied call for kneading (stirring) for 30 minutes every few minutes until the dough becomes sticky. I believe this occurs when the last chops and flour additions have become hydrated. It is obvious when it happens.

The recipes call for using treacle or black strap molasses. I have been slowly increasing the amount and also adding honey at an equal amount in addition. The bitter of the black strap and sweetness of the honey seems complementary to me and I am liking the combination. I have another small batch in ferment now that will be sweetened with sorghum. I think that will also be a nice flavor.

Anyway, not to be disrespectful to my forefathers, this bread is delicious beyond my dreams. We sliced a few pieces from the smaller loaf and ate it with butter while still warm. It was soft and loaded with full deep flavor. The color is darker than it appears in the photos due to my wanting to show the detail. The 10 hour overnight bake at 240F in a sealed pan did the job. My thanks to Andy, Juergen, Franko, Shiao-Ping and Jeff Hamelman and Dan Lepard to name just a few who helped me get this far.

Eric


Crumb shot shows the course and dense nature of this bread.

There are several sub components of the formula. The amounts will make enough for one standard  steel bread pan and give you a 1Kilo loaf, pre bake weight. If you have a pullman pan, seal the top first with foil and then place the lid on.

Sour:
150g Rye Chops
150g dark ale
25g active starter

Scalded Chops and Berries:
100g Rye Chops
150g boiling water
8g Salt

50g whole Rye Berries
100g Hot Ale

Final Dough:
120g Rye chops
Dark Rye Flour as needed for consistency (100g)
30g Black Strap Molasses
30g Honey

Method:

Combine sour and soakers the morning of the day you want to bake so they have 12 hours to age.
When preparing the dough, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a large spoon. Add Dark Rye flour as needed to lower hydration to a sticky paste. You want it to be wet enough you could not roll it. Stir every few minutes for 30 minutes and the paste will become sticky.
Prepare a 8x4 (approx) steel bread pan with side edges all around with butter or crisco.
Spoon paste into corners and level the top with a spatula. Now create an edge with the tip of the spatula and a slightly domed surface. The idea is to have a domed top so any water condensate will run down to the edge and down the sides of the loaf.
Brush the top with water.

Seal the top of your bread pan with a double layer of foil being carefull to get a good seal around the edges.

Put the pan in a preheated 350F oven for 30-45 minutes. Lower the heat to 240F and bake for 8-10 hours. I lower the heat to 220F for the last 2 of the 10 hours.

Decant the loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least as long as it takes to cool completely. At this point you can wrap in saran or a tea towel for a day or so. This bread may be kept in a plastic bag on the counter or refrigerated. It would last a long time if you could keep from eating it.

Enjoy

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Eric,

There is loads of good stuff in this post; many thanks for putting this together.

I'm sure a Dry Stout would work well here instead of Ale?

I reckon there's about 70% hydration here and I just wonder if you dare go a notch higher; 75? 78%??

I like the honey and molasses; I've always combined malt and molasses, but you are making this more complex by using ale.

Good work, very interesting reading

Best wishes

Andy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I appreciate your kind words and comments on this. I'm certain a Dry Stout would be perfect. I used what I had on hand in this case.

You know I hate to admit it but the hydration is an unknown to me. My adjustment at the end with the rye flour has made it hard to determine for sure. I'll pay more attention next time. I figured there are so many variables with the scalding and the grind of the chops and meal it would be hard to make it meaningful in a recipe.

There is a good bit of malt in the nut brown ale. All of these deep organic flavors seem to go well here. I'm working on a small batch that will use Sorghum with the Black Strap. I don't know if you have that product in the UK but it is a very specific deep and rich flavor that will change the flavor complexity.

I really appreciate all your advice ofer the years on this Andy. You have been a big help.

Cheers,

Eric

sam's picture
sam

Eric,

That looks very impressive, and intense.   Would love to try a slice.

Nice job!

-gvz

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks gvz, give it a try.

Eric

ananda's picture
ananda

Hey Eric,

It's almost exactly 2 years since I first joined TFL community.   The time has been instrumetal for me in developing my baking, and I'm happy to have helped anyone along the way.

Yes, we can get sorghum, I believe.   However, I haven't used it.

Best wishes

Andy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would love a closer view of the crumb.  Just so I can drool all over it.  I got some lachs paste here...   Fresh from IKEA, they would go well together.  :)  Or maybe just eat alternately with a crisp juicy apple.   Mmmmm.

Mini

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Oh, so that's what it is, lol. You are right this flavor is a special treat. An Apple does sound good. Did you ever look at the ingredient list for spices?  Still curious about that. Thanks for your kind words oh Master. A thousand apologies for omitting your name above in my list of helpers. You were the original inspiration in Rye.

Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but you know I wasn't thinking about such things.  

I was in a store with a wide range of pumpernickel and vollkorn breads just reading and trying to find cinnamon that hasn't been cut with sugar!  That should be the new Christmas scandal, and all the package says is ground cinnamon.  Start comparing to stick cinnamon and try to figure why ground costs less per gram?  A scandal!!!  

Anyway... where was I?  Ah yes, well, Nico is right.   On almost all packages,  the finer crumb vollkorn list rye flour but as a third ingredient.  (here ingredients are supposed to be listed in progression, major ingredients first.)  Most super market Pumpernickel's list rye chops, water, malt extract or caramel coloring <=> or some kind of sugar either beet sugar or honey, and seldom yeast.  They claim 20 hours of baking and they are not mentioning bread spices other than  "may contain trace amounts of sesame seed."  Bread spices are not mentioned but they are not mentioned in most breads that contain them.   The crusts are not much darker than the crumb which leads me to think there is more steam involved.  And I have yet to see a loaf cut other than to pre-slice.  No cuts cutting the loaf lengthwise, even the little slices.  :)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I appreciate you looking. My father in Michigan looked last week in a large well stocked grocery and found a similar situation. There were 4 varieties, each with a different assortment of seeds. All baked in the German bakery in Chicago. I haven't added any sunflower or pumpkin seeds yet but it won't be long.

Thanks for checking.

Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just sunflower or just pumpkin doesn't taste as good as sunflower & pumpkin together.  Munch on some and tell me what you think.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That sounds like it makes sense. I'll give it a try.

I'm still struggling with a tough crust. My dark breads are delicious but are difficult to slice a thin piece off. The outer crust gets pretty hard once cooled and aged a day or two. Any suggestions? I'm thinking It must be the  initial high heat?

Eric

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Excuse me Eric...

Mini-O do you have any Indian (South Asian) groceries in your area? I get my cinnamon (and many other spices) from bulk bins at an Indian store. A busy place, with great turnover, the spices are always very fragrant, and certainly not cut with sugar. A treat when I was working in Sri Lanka was visiting a cinnamon 'farm'. 

Seasons Greetings, Robyn

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

I'm just watching Rick Stein's 'Christmas Odyssey' and in it there are scenes at a cinnamon 'farm' in Sri Lanka. Found it on  YouTube, see 7'37".

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Got one two klicks away.  Their turnover is rather slow but they so have the spices!

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Eric,

This bread says big time flavour to me from looking at your formula, process, and photos of it. Using a faux barm may not be in the tradition of Vollkornbrot or Schrotbrot, but I'd be very surprised if a German baker or two hadn't used one of their own dark beers for something similar, since it seems like such an organic combination. Good choice to give this bread the low and slow bake to meld all the flavour components thoroughly, in addition to creating new flavours that you might not have had in a standard bake profile. I wonder if you saved a heel of this to use as an altus in the next mix, if it might bring something worthwhile to the party. It couldn't hurt at any rate. Delicious looking bread Eric and a clear example that thinking outside the box sometimes can be very rewarding.

Cheers,

Franko 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I always enjoy your comments when I stick my neck out. Thank for your kind words. If I can manage to save a chunk for altus, I'm sure it would add something to the party. At the moment I'm so excited at nailing down the baking and starting to get a handle on flavor, well I'm surprised honestly. Thanks again pal, I appreciate it.

Eric

PiPs's picture
PiPs

That looks like it packs a punch Eric. The crumb colour is intense. Like very grain is caramelised within it.

The 10 hour bake time amazes me ... Can only imagine how this translates into the flavour profile. How is the crust?

All the best,
Phil 

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It definitely packs a flavor punch. The crust was soft when it came out of the pan and has firmed up some as it has sat wrapped in plastic wrap for 24 hours. The Maillard reaction of caramelizing the sugars works on every particle.

Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

That looks like a winner, Eric, traditional or not.  And it will make a very good base for all kinds of toppings, I think.

Any notion of how much of the color derives from the molasses and how much from the extended bake?  

Maybe you should start pushing for a WFO.  Tell your wife it will save money on the electric/gas bill for long bakes like this.  ;)

Paul

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Paul for your encouraging comments on this. This bread has a base flavor that will pair very well with any smoked fish or meat. I would like to find some party loaf pans to bake it in a cocktail bread size. No luck sourcing yet.

The bread darkens considerably in baking. The grains are caramelized by the Maillard effect. It isn't truly black but quite dark brown. The ale I used being dark also plus the dark rye also contribute to the paste color.

Eric

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Great post and beautiful loaves, Eric!  I have loved the idea of overnight-baked rye since the first time I heard it.  Now that winter is here I may finally get around to attempting it.  It seems (from what I've read, anyway) that using little or no flour really increases the odds of success with this method.  Thanks for sharing all of the details.

Marcus

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It's easy to come to the conclusion that these are easy to bake since there really isn't any dough handling. Just start early for the sour and soakers and mix with a spoon. But what I am learning is that the hydration needs to be right or it will be so gummy or crumbly it becomes hard to slice.

Give it a try. The flavor is addicting.

Eric

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Ah, thank you for the warning.  I'll be coming back to this one.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Gorgeous, Eric!  Inspiring too.  So far my own 100% rye experiments have resulted in masonry materials.  I baked a Russian Black Brick just a couple of weeks ago.  It had great rye flavor, and great masonry texture.

Do you do the 10 hour bake overnight to keep yourself from peeking, or during the day so you don't sleep with a live oven going?

Very nice.
OldWoodenSpoon

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks for your comments. Good looking masonry products are hard to find. Lol. I bake these long projects over night with complete confidence in my old oven. I wouldn't leave a very hot oven alone but at 240F I trust it. Same thing with the smoker outside.

Eric

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

but still an authentic delight. I can imagine the bitter-sweet-sour taste of my beloved brick!

I don't believe that your bread is disrespectful of your forefathers, after all you only added small amounts of honey and molasses. They used whatever they  had available, didn't they? I just wonder how much sweetness and color you would have obtained after 10 hours of baking, a lot in my opinion.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm glad to see you comment on this nico. It is a very nice tasting loaf but I want to ask your opinion on the crumb.

In the center of the crumb, it seems to be tending to be gummy, like it was under baked. But at 10 hours, how could that be? I find this to be very hard to slice. Frequently the center of the  crumb is so soft it sticks to the knife and pulls chunks from the loaf. I must have had the hydration to high is all I can deduce. I didn't pay close attention to the exact hydration since the amounts and types of rye products all have different absorption qualities. I adjust by feel.

Looking forward to hearing your comments,

Eric

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I learned the hard way that the only sane flour to use when baking for so many hours is ... no flour! Or at least not fine flour. You can see with your eyes up to what extent amylase literally melts down the flour after so many hours of baking. The finer the flour the more it gelatinizes and the more amylase turns it into sticky and wet maltodextrins.

I had a correct crumb only when I used exclusively soaked chops and very gross flour to keep them all together, very much like the sawdust that Andy showed us long time ago. Remember the pumpernickel video on youtube that showed how the bread is prepared and baked in the industry in steamed rooms? The grains were grossly ground, mixed with old bread and water until a very thick stuff came out in logs and was transferred by hand in baking pans by workers (carrying them in shoulders! just to give an indication of how stiff that stuff is).

Moreover, in all rye schrotbrots I see in shops there's never the reading "rye flour", but simply "rye, water, rye sourdough, salt". I guess this says everything there is to know anout this mysterious kind of bread: no flour!

The best recipe must be this of the frisian/freisian rye bread:

http://www.hyfoma.com/en/content/food-branches-processing-manufacturing/bakery/bread/rye-bread/

The only problem is guessing the fineness of the chops: too big and the bread will crumble when sliced. Since I began to ferment the whole dough for at least 24 hours I didn't have crumblling problems anymore.

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Nico,

I am thinking you hit the issue on the head. Thank you. The frisian recipe you linked to speaks of fermenting but not the use of leavan. Is that what you are doing with this? Just to be clear you are fermenting with a rye leavan for 24 hours at room temperature? Do I understand this correctly? The dough would ferment without the addition of a leavan also. As I read the procedure that would be the sweet version.

Eric

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Yes, Eric. In the past I followed 2 different paths: either I added some rye starter to the dough and let it ferment for 24 hours, or I used only the raw ingredients (without starter) and let the dough rest until it began to acidify spontaneusly (notice, regardless of the presence of 2% salt!) until the dough reached a pH of 4.0 (generally the third day).

Notice that in the Hyfoma recipe there's lactic acid added as a shortcut, as a replacement for sourdough. After all a bread like this needs some starter only to acidify the dough, not to raise it (it can't raise).

More. Regardless of the acidity of the dough the bread always came out remarkably sweet, smelling and tasting of malt, so evidently the mild acidity of the dough (4.0 isn't that much acidic, even though it takes a lot to reach it) relents the action of amylase, but it doesn't completely stop it.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I found this document very clear

http://www.classofoods.com/page1_7.html

The issue with gumminess in wheat based bakery goods ia a recurring problem that I still have to overcome.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you nico. I appreciate the clarification. I will try again using only rye meal (the finest rough grind I have), and rye chops. I will use the leavan for souring.

Eric

ehanner's picture
ehanner

What a wonderful series. I was hooked immediately and watched all the way through the series. I now have a few great recipe ideas for my left over turkey. Thanks for pointing that out Robyn.

Eric

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Goodmorning Eric,

Glad you enjoyed it.  'Traveling' with Rick Stein is great.....not just the food, most places I've been myself and love seeing them again. I know the episodes can be found on YouTube before we finally get them but I always wait for them to be broadcast here. The most recent series was titled 'Rick Stein's Spain' and was on here recently, highly recommended. Other series titles include Far Eastern Odyssey (footage from which was used in the the Christmas programme), Mediterrean Escapes, French Odyssey, Food Heroes, Seafood.

Seasons Greetings, Robyn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you Robyn. I have seen one of these a while back but hadn't seen the collection until you directed me. He is a very interesting fellow and I like the way he investigates the area.

I was a pilot for 30 some years but I'm not as well traveled as my son who is a musician on a cruise line. He has been all over the world looking for the local treasures over the lunch or dinner hour while off the ship. Rick Stein brings back a few memories for me.

The best to you too Robyn. Hope you have a great holiday.

Eric