The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

All day rye breads class

pmccool's picture

All day rye breads class

The Culinary Center of Kansas City was rocking in the rye this past Friday, when I had the privilege of teaching another full-day class on rye breads.  It was a lot of fun to work with a group of students who were eager to learn and had lots of great questions about everything from flour to techniques.  We made three different breads: the Rustic Pumpernickel from ITJB, Eric’s Fave Rye, and a Vort Limpa that I customized from various on-line sources. 

However, before the class, there was preparation.  And before preparation, there was shopping.

Based on early registrations, it was apparent that this was going to be a large class.  Consequently, I decided to order 50 pounds of Great River Milling’s whole rye flour, via Amazon.  The rest of the need was made up with Hodgson Mills rye flour which is available in local supermarkets.  And, since the need was there, I also ordered 50 pounds of Great River Milling’s Unbleached Wheat Bread Flour.  The GRM rye flour is a whole rye, very finely milled, and light tan in color.  It contrasts with the HM rye flour, which is also whole rye, but coarsely ground with particle sizes ranging from dust to large flecks of bran and slightly gray in color.  The GRM rye works very well in deli rye breads (such as Eric’s Fave Rye) or others that call for medium rye while the HM rye works well in pumpernickels.  The GRM Unbleached Wheat Bread Flour turned out to be unlike anything that I have used previously and I mean that in a good way.  It contains the endosperm, the germ, and 20% of the bran.  It is a pale tan color and also very finely milled.  At 14% protein content, I thought it would make a good stand-in for first clear flour and it worked admirably in that context.  While I doubt that I will buy more, the decision is driven entirely by price.  At $1.20/pound, it’s over-priced in my estimation, especially when I can get Wheat Montana flours locally that are of comparable quality for less.

Since two of the breads require a rye sour, each at a different hydration level, both of those had to be built in the days preceding the class.  The Rustic Pumpernickel also requires a scald.  Combined, the scald + sour for the pumpernickel were nearly 50 pounds for this class.  That’s a lot of prep work to do, not to mention material to tote, so I may need to offer different breads for the next class.

If you saw my guest post on Stan’s blog, you already know that I made a world-class blunder with the pumpernickel that I prepared ahead of class.  You can read about it here.

This class was held in the ‘big’ kitchen at CCKC, which was my first time to utilize that part of the facility.  That brought a few challenges, simply because things were in different places.  We got through it just fine, though, with a lot more laughter than frustration.  There were a couple of things that could be done better, now that I know the flow of the room, such as placement of ingredient stations for easy access, so we’ll do those better next time.  Oven management presented some challenges, too, but more from the perspective of understanding each one’s behavior.  Again, now I know, so I can adjust in the future.

The students were a fun bunch.  They were eager to get their hands in the goop and I made sure that they did.  They had some great questions, too, which helped bring out more information and a better understanding of things than would have occurred to me to mention.  Fuzzy Whiskers, a TFLer, and her daughter both attended.  I hadn’t seen either of them since the KC TFL meet-up in early 2012 that Postal Grunt engineered.  We wound up having a lovely visit as we waited for the last of the breads (theirs, coincidentally) to come out of the oven.

Based on some informal polling during lunch, the hands-down favorite (volumetrically speaking) was Eric’s Fave Rye, in no small part because of its sandwich-friendly characteristics.  The Vort Limpa was a hit for most because of its flavor.  The thing has beer, orange zest and juice, molasses, anise, fennel, and cardamom in it.  That’s a flavor bomb by any definition.  The pumpernickel was much enjoyed but I think its popularity suffered in part because of most Americans’ preference for lighter breads.

All in all, it was a very satisfying and enjoyable day.  The only thing remaining was to pack up my things, put them in the truck, and head back to the house for a few hours rest before picking up our youngest daughter and her children at the airport.  Which tells you why I haven’t posted sooner.

Next up: a scones class on August 3.


proth5's picture

After reading your other entry, I think fondly of "my teacher."  A batch of specialty bread was pulled from the oven and all around me pronounced it fully baked.  "No," I said"S/he'll be putting it back in the oven, it is never baked enough."  And so it came to pass.

I've been proudly presented with palmiers that were black - and told that they would have great flavor.  And although they were a bit much for me, I had to publicly admit that no, they didn't really taste burnt, and not nearly as bad as I thought they would.

There is something to this bold baking and if I ever pull my life out of the chaos it seems to have become (big project+tight deadlines + canning season = chaos) I'll be investigating it more.

Do it on purpose with the scones and see...


pmccool's picture

but, what the heck, maybe I'll leave one to tan a little longer than the others, just to see.

The second batch of pumpernickel, baked as directed, was good bread, yes, but maybe not quite as good as the first near-flameout.  Pushing the 'bold' envelope with some breads is definitely rewarding.

Silly you for scheduling canning season right in the middle of a major project!  ;-)  My wife brought a couple of cukes in from the garden that were aiming for dirigible status, which explains why it seemed they were taking forever to set fruit.  They weren't slow, just sneaky.  Beans are going strong and need to be picked again.  The tomatoes are on the verge of swamping us.  In about two weeks, people will start hiding when they see us coming, methinks.

Don't let the chaos drag you under.


proth5's picture

say that I was apalled to see the "bake it more" technique applied to pastries (cookies, chiffon cakes, puff pasty, everything...) but except for the truely black palmiers I found it used to good effect.  It's one of those try it to believe it things.

I have lots of green tomatoes, but have to wrestle the squirrels to get them as they ripen.

Ah, but the "you have mail" signal!  My masters voice!


dabrownman's picture

bread and fun was baked and had by all.  Any pictures or... were you too busy or like me forgot?  I sure the students learned much and enjoyed themselves.... a rare two'fer when it comes to formal schooling:-)

Happy baking paul

pmccool's picture

There just wasn't time to stop.  The only reason that I had time to grab a bite during lunch was because I forgot that I should be portioning out the starter for Eric's Fave Rye.  Oy!

I'm sure that they learned enough to be dangerous and we certainly had a good time.  Thanks, dab.


Cher504's picture

First, an introduction - I'm Cherie -(Cher504) I'm relatively new at TFL. I've been baking sweets forever, but last summer started the adventure of bread baking with sourdough. One bread I've been working at and trying to perfect is a raisin pumpernickel. I've been through about 6 versions and I'm getting pretty close, but I need a little constructive criticism and I noticed this post of yours where you've taught newbies how to do a proper rustic pumpernickel. Here's a link to my latest post of two versions - one is a straight-dough with only commercial yeast and the other is my tweaked version of ITJB's rustic pumpernickel with raisins.

I know it says memo's brown bread, but it should be the right link.

My reasons for changing the ITJB recipe - the  first time I tried it, I wasn't aware of the errata sheet which indicates an extra 1/2C of water should be in the dough and only 1T of caramel color. My dough was very stiff and I thought it might be a good idea to use Yeast water in the sour to give a more open crumb and also diminish the "sour" note, which seemed pretty pronounced to me. Also, I baked it in a dutch oven hoping to give it more structure and lastly, I baked at a higher temperature because the previous bakes took like twice as long to bake at the given temp - before I got a hollow sounding thump and an internal temp in the high 190's. 

I used whole rye flour for the first build of the sour and coarse rye meal from for the final build. Here's a few photos so you don't have to go back to my post. the crumb:











And the whole loaf: (it's the one on the right)















I'm pretty happy with the flavor - but I wish I could get more height. Also, the razor dragged horribly when I slashed. Bulk ferment was around 1.5 hours, until dough mass was just shy of the double mark and the final proof was around 50 minutes (my kitchen was pretty hot that day - 78ishF. Finger poke came back slowly. Should I have waited a little more? Less? With this type of bread, do you want it to be a little underproofed for more spring in the oven? And what about steaming? I left the cover of the DO on for the first 20 min at 460 - was that too much? Did it collapse on itself a little? I based that temp steaming time on Hamelman's instructions for ryes that seemed similar to this one.

Thank you so much for any words of wisdom.



PS - How wonderful that you got to meet and bake with Stan Ginsberg - awesome!

pmccool's picture

Breads with as high a percentage of rye as the ITJB Rustic Pumpernickel behave a lot differently than their all- or mostly-wheat counterparts.  Working with them requires a different set of knowledge and skills.  

One difference is that the rye flour benefits from the acids in the sour.  Since rye's gluten content is very low and weak, most of the crumb structure relies on a group of complex sugars called pentosans.  The pentosans are strengthened by the acids (up to a point), making them better able to trap and hold the gases of fermentation until the crumb's starches can gel and stand on their own during baking.  WhIle yeast water gives a greater expansion in many breads than does sourdough, it contributes almost nothing to the acidulation of the dough.  My suggestion would be to try the corrected recipe as is so that you have that experience as a baseline before trying further modifications. 

In that same vein, try a shape that is more like a batard or log.  It is more compact and doesn't require the dough to support itself across as much distance as a boule shape.  As the book notes, you can even bake it in a loaf pan to provide more support.  This isn't a lofty bread, so a panned loaf may be your best bet if you want a taller loaf. 

Gauging high-rye breads' readiness is also different than doing the same for wheat breads.  The finger poke test is usually not reliable because of the fragile structure of the rye dough.  Even the doubling that we are used to with wheat breads can't be trusted.  Some rye doughs will collapse before they ever reach that milestone.  Instead, you look for visual cues; things like the beginning of cracks on the loaf's surface or bubbles opening at the surface.  These signs tell you that the bread needs to go into the oven right now.  

I have not attempted this bread in a DO, so can't draw on any direct experience.  My impression is that your choice of time for covered baking should be alright.

If slashing is a struggle, try docking the loaf instead.  A skewer or chopstick can be pushed about an inch deep into the top surface of the loaf at one or two inch intervals before placing the loaf in the oven.  This will allow steam to escape while baking and prevent a "flying crust".

i hope these suggestions help.  It is a wonderful bread.