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100% Sourdough Rye not rising much, distressingly gummy.

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

100% Sourdough Rye not rising much, distressingly gummy.

(An introduction before my plea for advice---I've been coming to The Fresh Loaf to learn from your helpfulness for almost six years now---and every one, from the first pita to the recentest baguettes ciabatta, has come out lovely to eat and lovely to learn from. After a recent trip north, I decided I wanted to learn to make 100% sourdough rye, and it's the first thing I've been stuck enough on to feel like I need to ask for help.)

The basic problem---my bread, after cooking, feels gummy. I can poke a hole into the loaf that holds its shape. I didn't bother to taste rye02 through rye04, but the flavor of rye01 (utter failure, but I had to see what I was moving up from) and rye05 (recentest attempt) have been quite nice, and what I expect from a 100% rye. The smell is good, too, and even though I don't see any rise at all while I'm proofing before the bake, the crumb looks similar to 100% ryes I've bought before. What do I do to improve this? 

 

If you need more information, here are all the dirty details: 

 

 I started my culture on Aug 2, using (I think it was Hamelman's?) procedure of mixing 70g rye flour with 100g water, covering with flour to prevent mold, and each day discarding 4/5 of the culture, and adding the final 1/5 to a new batch of 70g flour and 100g water. For this, I used the standard Hodgson Mills 100% rye that doesn't say on the bag whether it's dark, medium, or light. The grind is very coarse, and the 70:100 mix is on the liquid side, even spoonable.

 

After three weeks, I went to bake a loaf. My numbers and a large part of my inspiration came from Shao Ping's post ( http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15577/pure-sourdough-rye-year-1939 ) and using Mariana-Aga's blog post (Russian: http://mariana-aga.livejournal.com/117179.html#cutid1 ; English: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmariana-aga.livejournal.com%2F117179.ht... )

I did't really have a lot of experience with sourdough, so what I took from that was to basically make another "culture" but with less hydration than my mother culture, and then to add a final mass of flour and water to do my bulk fermentation and proofing. I used 375g total of the "stiff culture" (composed of 205g flour, 170g water, and 100g mother culture) and after a day added the "stiff culture" to 330g of water, mixed it so the levain would be incorporated, and added 450g rye. After a 2 hour bulk ferment and a 20 minute proof, I baked it at 500F for 20 minutes, then reduced the temp to 390F for the rest of an hour. In this first loaf (rye01) I used a very finely ground black rye (sold in bulk at my store so I don't know the producer's name yet).  It was such a stiff dough that after setting it up, I made the next substrate for my mother culture out of the fine stuff. 70:100 left me with a cuttable paste instead of a spoonable dough (although it did become more liquid as the culture took over.) 

Rye01 came out like play-doh in terms of texture. I had to cut through the crust, and it looked and smelled like rye, but felt exactly like play-doh. (My friend made a few snakes and balls just to drive the failure home...) I convinced myself to taste a bit, and (ignoring the texture) the taste seemed correct and baked. 

For Rye02, Rye03, Rye04 and Rye05 I went back to Hodgson Mill's rye, just to get rid of the extra variable, but my gumminess problem stuck around.

The differences for the next batches were basically to increase the proportion of the bread that I introduced to the culture.

In general, I do my best to avoid overworking the dough or developing anything---I just mix in the water til it's homogeneous and then stop right away. I admittedly don't have a way to test my pH---after the failure of Rye01 I wondered if my culture wasn't acidic enough to deactivate the amylases during bake... hence the trying to make my dough more sour by adding a greater % "stiff culture." 

For Rye05 I actually just took the 170g water, about 5g salt, and about 100g mother culture, mixed with the 205g flour, bulk fermented, shaped, and baked it. Rye05 is the first one I ate a few slices of, and while I can pretend it's foodstuff now, and I have put in enough ground work that I feel okay asking for help, I've obviously got a long way to go.

 

So, any ideas? I hope to add some pictures as soon as I figure out how. 

 

Thanks!

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Looks like rye bread...

But it sure does hold fingerprints.

 

Crumb display

But you can press it between your fingertips.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I might let it brown a little more but the crumb should be moist.  I can actually make play dough out of any type of bread.  How soon after cooling did you cut the bread?  This kind of bread is better left to sit 24 hrs and wrapped once cool to let the moisture move to the surface to soften the crumb.

It does look like it rose some.  There is distribution of bubbles throughout.  Rye will not rise like a wheat dough. How long was the bulk rise, did it double?   Cut thinner than you would wheat bread.  

Tell us more about the starter.  How do you maintain it?   How long does it take to peak after being fed? 

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Thanks for the reply, Mini!

 

This one cooled about 17 hours before I cut it---I thought overnight was long enough, but I'll start actually playing by the clock. Do you mean wrapped in a floursack towel, or in saran wrap or foil? 

 

My bulk rise has been 2 hours each time... but I haven't ever seen it double. Once I took a small golf-ball sample from the dough and left it in a bowl after adding the rest to the oven, to see if it would ever double, and it did not. (As I'm waiting for it to rise, I'm wetting the surface down with wet fingertips. 

 

I've been changing my starter, well, on a bit of an odd schedule due to working an odd schedule, but at least every 24 hours I'll make a fresh substrate and spoon in some mother culture. (I have continued to maintain the culture this whole month+, I haven't frozen it or anything.) It seems to peak about 5 hours after I refresh it---does this sound quick or slow? Should I set up the bread for a bulk ferment right at this peak in the future, or does that not matter so much? 

 

Thanks for your help!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is underfed.  That is rather short for a starter that has to hold out for 24 hours before the next feeding.  Maybe you could elaborate on the starter feeding details.   

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

So it sounds like I should either a) add more flour and water and keep the same amount of culture and time b) keep the same flour, water, and time but use less starter, or c) use the same amount of flour, water, and starter, but refresh more often. Which of these do you suggest?

 

Also, what kind of details are you looking for? 

 

Thanks again!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

because there are so many ways to maintain them.  It is important that the method you use to maintain your starter suits your baking needs while suiting the needs of the starter culture and that it is easy for you, no stress, and fits your way of life.  

Basically when I ask for details I'm looking for information on how much flour (or other food) is fed to how much starter.  The water amount (hydration) can vary greatly and influences the speed of fermentation, but the flour amounts combined with temperature tend to dictate the behavior of the starter.  The starter is in constant motion, activity or lack thereof.  As the culture members live, multiply and metabolize the food we give them, they tend to act in predictable ways.  We watch (taste and smell) the starter to get clues as to what is going on.  A lot of trouble shooting narrows down to the starter and the amount of yeast it contains so knowing how the starter is maintained/fed and how often and at what temperature is the first step to checking if the loaf problem lies with the starter.  

 If you are curious about how your dough will roughly behave, feed it one time with the starter/water/flour/salt porpotions of your dough formula, enough to make a golf ball size ball of dough.  Watch it carefully and take notes on temp and dough feel and consistancy, overall shape, volume etc..  Poke it prod it and learn from it and notice when it starts to fall apart and deflate.  Gently fold it over and see if you get more rise out of the dough.   :) 

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Excellent idea! I will play with this tomorrow.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Annie,

You could up the hydration in your formula slightly.   I calculate you have just over 80%, and you could increase it to 85%.

Also I suggest you look at the temperature of your final paste too.   Try to mix it at c30*C and hold it at that.   Ideally, cut down on the bulk time a little too, although you can probably increase final proof time.

I'm hoping you just need to achieve a little more proof to aerate the paste, then it will bake out fine.   If you achieve this and it is still gummy, then you may want to experiment with different rye flour to ensure there is not excessive amylase activity.   If you can answer Mini's question about the sour maintenance that would be helpful too.

All good wishes

Andy

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Thanks Andy!

I will up the hydration for my next batch. 

 

I hadn't thought to check the temperature, but that will definitely bear some exploration. I know my kitchen has been far from homeostasis this past month. What is the reason for cutting down the bulk time? 

 

All very good ideas, and I hope they're able to work for me. Thank you much!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Annie,

Longer bulk ferment doesn't provide the increase in dough strength with rye which you get with wheat-based doughs.   Use a shorter bulk time to allow fermentation to really kick in again, then proceed to final proof in tins.

I use a 3-stage fermentation process; an 18-hour sour, then a 4 hour sponge, then probably around 3 hours for the final paste.   Starches bonded by pentosans become very weak in the latter stages, so extended final proofs don't work with rye.   It's the early stages of building the ferment which are crucial...as Nico implies below.   Hence his idea to use vinegar if there is insufficient fermentation time when building the sour.

All good wishes

Andy

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Thank you again, Aindy!

 

I am very curious about pentosans, and pretty much all of my searches either turn up equine joint supplements, or only give information about pentose, and I'm having a hard time understanding how they work. Do you all have papers, or even just a link that shows the structure of a pentosan molecule's functional group? I'm eager to learn more...

 

Thanks!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Annie,

This is a good piece summarising important differentials in baking solely/mainly using rye flour. http://www.azeliaskitchen.net/blog/bread-flour-rye-flour-and-rye-dough/

My understanding is that pentosans are the fibrous materials which knit the starch molecules together.

They are indeed thirsty, thus why rye paste needs high levels of hydration, and they become very unstable during latter stages of fermentation and early stages of baking.   The acid from the sourdough provides strength to counter this potential instability.   It is worth reading Hamelman (2004) on this [see my page here for full reference: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/ananda ]

Ultimately what I am suggesting is that the structure in rye paste is held together as much through starch as it is protein, if not more.   So Rye bread works completely differently to wheat-based bread.

Best wishes

Andy

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Thanks!

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi Annie, you seem to have already identified the causes for you suboptimal breads.

If the rye flour is too coarse it won't rise beatifully as in Mini's and Andy's breads. If you want a more areated rye bread you can sift the flour and keep only the parts of bran that pass through the sieve. That would give you a medium rye.

Even a too thin rye flour can lead to problems, especially if the resulting paste is too thick: it won't rise a lot. In that case increasing water is the obvious solution.

Finally, a tablespoon of vinegar (I prefer the milder one: apple vinegar) in the final dough might give your dough more resistence. Sometimes even very long preferments don't reach the necessary level of acidity to prevent amylase from turning the dough into gum.

As Andy already wrote you need quite warm temperatures during the final rise: I had the best results this summer, with 35°C in the shadow of my house.

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Thanks Nico! Sieving is a good idea, especially since I only seem to be able to find very-coarse or very-fine grinds in stores near me. 

 

And vinegar is a good plan, if nothing else, as a test to see if acidity is the most limiting problem for me.

 

Identifying the causes for my suboptimal breads is one thing, fixing them is another :D

 

Thank you!

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

After a vacation I just got a chance to bake again. I've taken into account lots of the things you all suggested, including watching my starter more closely, upping ambient temperature for the bulk rise, and I've also split my dough into two, adding 10g apple cider vinegar to the water and salt to which I added the mother culture to one of the loaves.  With all of these improvements, I've gone back to Mariana-Aga's original measurements (in two half-loaves, though) from the first post. 

I just wanted to jot down a few details here, the loaves are now waiting to be popped into the oven, so pictures in 26 hours or so of the outcomes! 

I took the mother culture and made a slurry just as the mother culture was peaking. (This should have been *so obvious* to me, but thank you Mini for helping me realize!) Bulk ferment was just 1.25 hour, and at 86F (30C, but still better than the 76F/24C I'd probably been at before). And 15g apple cider vinegar so one loaf will be more acidic, and I can see whether my problem is solved by acidity (if the more-active starter, and better temp don't take care of that on their own).

 

Thanks all! 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

crossed for your breads!

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

You guys! I got oven spring! Is this even... the result, just from having the culture at its exponential growth phase instead of its steady phase, and from having the temperature up... my bread looks so different from the previous trials! 

Rye06 (no vinegar) is on the left, Rye07 (with vinegar) is on the right. Rye07 sprang in the oven too, and has a few splits but they're more on the side, away from the camera. I definitely have definitive proof that temp and activity did enough to make the rise better even without added acidity... 

but I'm a little confused why Rye07 felt denser at every stage of development (when lifting the dough out of the bowl for its proof I knew it would not turn out as nice.) The only things I can say for sure were different were that Rye06 got to bulk-ferment in a Pyrex bowl with gradually sloping sides, while Rye07 had to sit in a tupperware with straight sides. Rye06 was closer to the space heater by about 6", but that shouldn't matter because the room was closed off and pretty close to the same temp throughout. The way I halved the water (I had measured the water, dissolved salt, then poured  Well, I'll let you all have a record of my though process in case it helps anyone in the future, but that was a stupid math mistake. Mother culture was turned into a slurry with 115g of water (with dissolved salt) plus 10g apple cider vinegar for Rye07. Mother culture was turned into a slurry with 215g water. So. There's the difference in loaves. *how embarrassing.* 

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

teste the loaves? Did the crumb improve over the previous bakes? They look good.

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Yep, here we are! Unfortnuately, even though the crumb opened up a lot in the extra-wet loaf (and we learn from dumb math mistakes to always use more water in the future!), both loaves still have the gumminess problem (although less than before). They are both edible, and I'll be having dill cream cheese on rye for lunch---but I still couldn't serve them to guests this way, I don't think.

 

The outcome of the extra-acid-from-vinegar test was a little blurred because of my inadvertent hydration changes.  Rye07 is a lot less gummy than Rye06 is, but as you'll see in the pictures, the bread 'pills' on contact with the knife for both of them. I'd like to try this experiment again.

I think the amount of vinegar was sufficient---I can definitely taste it (and I like it!) But since there is still gumminess, perhaps not enough? 

 

Also, if I want my culture to be producing the extra acid on its own, it sounds like I will want the lactobaccilus in my starter to be more active. Reading around, it sounded like the lactobaccilus have a longer lag phase than yeasts do, but then they grow more rapidly once they're comfortable with their surroundings, especially at higher temps? So I would love some input on how to pamper the bacteria side of my culture. Keeping higher temperatures, even when just kicking around as a culture? Salt to discourage the yeast a little? Culture size? I am all ears. 

One last look with pride, Rye06 (more water, no vinegar) in front and Rye07 (less water, with vinegar) in back.

Here is Rye06, its crumb is much better than Rye07. (It's not as good as Rye05, but that's acceptable because Rye05 was waaaay higher % culture / new flour for loaf.) The larger amount of water, the incorporation of the starter at a more active moment, and the warmer bulk ferment will all be kept for future loaves. But you can see, as I was slicing, how some of the bread "pilled" off onto the knife. I'd like to prevent that in future loaves.

And here is Rye07 (I'm so sorry I shorted you on water, poor little guy!) Crumb is too tight because hydration was too low. Still some 'pilling' as I pulled the knife, but overall less gummy than Rye06. A lingering apple cider vinegar flavor, too.

 

More words on the flavor after I eat some meals on these fellows---it definitely feels good to make enough progress to eat my experiments! 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Annie,

salt affects lactobacilli (thus acidity) much more than it affects yeasts. If you add salt to your preferment you will slow down both the reproduction rate  and the acidity build. In short don't add it! :)

Preferments get more sour at high temperatures (around 32°C is an optimal compromise for the activity of both types of beasts) and at high hydratation rates: wetter preferments get more sour in the same amount of time. Andy's use of 166% (8:5) is fantastic.

Baking temperatures: are you baking at the highest possible temperature, at least during the first 15 minutes? The crumb of your bread reminds me of when I baked my loaves at low temperatures and not so high acidity, creating an optimal environment for starch attack.

If you put down the formula you followed we can give it a look all together.

You are much closer to your target, go on!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and use a sharp straight thin blade to cut the bread?  

Also, what happens if you take 10g of ripe mother starter and combine with 50g water and 50g rye flour and let it sit overnight at 24°C?  

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

As best I could with my heartbreakingly crummy thermometer (can't be calibrated to 0C and 100C at the same time), I let a picnic cooler come to room temp (76F = 24.4C), shut the jam jar in it overnight, and the thermometer was still reading 76F when I checked again, 11 hours later. 

 

The pictures speaks for itself I hope, plenty of lift but it hasn't peaked yet. The scent, I wish I had words to describe better, but my mother culture sitting on the counter has a full mix of fruity-sour smell, while the 1:5:5 jam jar has a much bigger focus on the sour smell. It's kind of a darker sour smell than usual, like less bright vinegar and more ... well, I'm bad with words apparently. Closer to kombucha than to distilled white vinegar definitely. It doesn't smell bad, or unlike sourdough---if I was to wake up one morning and my culture smelled this way I would just think "oh, that's different" but continue to refresh and not worry that anything was wrong. 

 

What does your expertise tell you? (Thank you SO MUCH, Mini!) 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Notice that once peaked, the aroma does change to more fruity.  This is basically how I mix my rye starter but mine is ready to go after about 9 hrs.  I do like to throw in a slice of already baked bread into the starter too, now that will give you complex aroma and flavour boost!  

you can make a small loaf using this rye ratio  (1 : 3.5 : 4.16) (s:w:f)  1.8 % salt

100g rye starter    350g water   416g rye flour    7.5g salt

Half way into the bulk rise gently fold the dough a few times with wet hands to shape.  Use a small pan or buttered/floured casserole twice the volume size as the dough.   Cover to trap in steam while baking.  Give it a go and see what you think.  

Mini

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Double jobs for the fall season ate up all my baking time! But I dutifully kept up cultures both of the formula you gave (O) and the one I'd been using (A). So a daily feeding of 50g water, 35g rye, 10g culture for A, and 50g water, 50g rye, and 10g culture for O. 

 

And now today when I actually had a full day off! For each, as my culture was peaking, I mixed 56g water and 33g mother into a slurry, and added 68g flour. Let it collect its thoughts on a heating pad (appx 28C?) for 11 hours (because I overslept). Made a slurry of that 157g culture, 142g of water, and 148g rye flour. After 1 hour bulk ferment (28C?), I shaped (or set into bannetons). After 45 minutes' proof (28C), I turned them out onto a heated cookie sheet in my 500F oven. After 15 minutes, reduced oven to 350F to bake the remainder of 1 hour. 

They're now waiting on my counter til they can be tasted. (Culture A in front, culture O in back.) Bizarre markings on top are because I am not good at dumping things out of bannetons yet. Looking forward to tomorrow..!

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 Yummy!

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

I come back to this post time and again and have to weed to find my numbers---finally just spreadsheeted them for the final result that's been making good bread for sandwiches and spreading. I actually have been baking just using the original A formula, the O one hasn't been having acidic enough results to combat starch attack. I'm still maintaining the culture in hopes that it will get better over time, because that one does have a fruitier/richer flavor.

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Annie, I'm doing a lot of experiments myself. Lately I prepared very liquid and very warm preferments that gave me interesting results: 250% hydratation at more than 30°C until rise and total collapse. Mind to use a very big container or the slurry will overflow! 

Baked at the highest temperature right from the start (using the fast preheat function) the bread rose beautifully and there was not the slightest hint of gumminess. You have to pay attention not to overdry the bread, of course. After 40 days no mold developed, one more sign of a very high acidity.

AnyAnnie's picture
AnyAnnie

Quite a test!