Rye Test 6B
The past week's bake featured two interesting breads. One is titled After-Hearth Rye and the other Ammerland Black Bread. The black bread, interestingly enough, isn't nearly as dark as the not-black bread.
I had some difficulties with the After-Hearth Rye. There are several possible reasons for the difficulties. One is that the ingredient quantities and hydration levels didn't seem to be in agreement. Another is that the hydration didn't seem nearly high enough to facilitate the described consistency, which was given as a thick but pourable batter. Another is that the whole rye flour I'm using might be more absorptive than the medium rye flour that the formula calls for. One certain reason is my decision to achieve the described consistency by adding water. I abandoned that idea after adding 200g of water above the amount called for in the formula without getting to a batter consistency. The memory of a run-in with Leader's Classic Auvergne Dark Rye is still painfully fresh.
Other than the extra water, everything else was done as called for in the formula. At the end of the final fermentation, with the crests of the loaves just reaching the top edge of the pans, I had two lovely loaves ready to go into the oven. They looked a bit different when I took them out:
The flash has bleached some of the color out. Still, it wasn't pretty. This degree of expansion was what greeted my eyes when I first looked in the oven about 20 minutes into the bake. The loaves had come *this* close to overflowing but had crusted over in time to stop the overflow. Since most of the expansion seemed to occur around the perimeter of the pans, my theory is that it was due to steam formation in the dough rather than yeast activity. Note, too, that I baked the bread an hour longer than recommended, trying to get to the suggested 200F internal temperature. No luck. I finally pulled it out at 185F because the temperature probe was coming out fairly clean, rather than gummy.
Unpanned, the loaves didn't look much better, with a large cornice around the upper perimeter where the near-overflow was stopped. Here's a view of the side and bottom. The cornice on the near side has broken off:
Here's a somewhat closer view of the top of one loaf:
Oddly enough, the center of the loaf hasn't fallen, as it would appear. It's just that everything else expanded so much in the first minutes of the bake. The crumb color was a deep cocoa brown and the crumb texture was surprisingly open. The color is a result of the baking process; nothing that went into the dough was this dark. The top crust is prone to breaking off and tearing away the crumb, hence the ragged edges in this photo:
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crumb was barely sticky, much less gummy. Apparently I baked off the excess water. The flavor is intensely sour; enough to override the cocoa/coffee notes that I had expected on seeing how dark the crumb is.
The Ammerland Black Bread may be lighter in color but not in mass. The loaf, baked in one 9x5 pan, weighed 4 pounds after baking! "Open" is not the word that springs to mind when viewing the crumb. Here it is, ready to go into the oven:
And the crumb, which seems wholly inadequate as a label for this monlith. Hey kids, let's play "Where's Bubble?":
While the crust is a worthy opponent for a band-saw, the flavor is superb. Grain, grain, and more grain with no appreciable sourness. It's very much to my liking.