The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lithuanian black rye, a la Stan

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Lithuanian black rye, a la Stan

Back in March, Stan (elagins) posted about a Lithuanian black rye bread that he had made.  It looked absolutely lovely and worthy of a bake.  However, my baking over the past three months has gone in other directions.  Worse, I've taken about as much bread out of my freezer as I have out of my oven.  It's a wonderful tool, the freezer, but baking is much more satisfying than thawing.

Originally, I intended to follow Stan's schedule for the bread but two things conspired against that plan.  First, I didn't think to refresh my starter Friday morning.  Second, temperatures in my kitchen were 77-78F, several degrees higher than the room temperature in Stan's write-up.

Plan B, then, was to set up the sponge and the scald on Saturday mornining, make up the opara Saturday evening and refrigerate it overnight, then allow it to warm up Sunday morning before making up the final dough.  That all sounded good until I realized that the warmer temperatures in my kitchen were effectively halving the fermentation times that Stan had noted. That led to Plan C.

Plan C was "Maybe this will move so fast that I can bake Saturday evening."  Plan C1 was "Man, I'm going to be up really late by the time this comes out of the oven. Maybe I should go back to Plan B."  Plan C2 was "I'm going to cheat a little and add a gram of ADY to the final dough."  As it happened, Plan C2 carried the day.

Another difference that I encountered with the final dough was that it behaved slightly differently than Stan's did.  Mine never did clear the sides of the mixer bowl.  It just formed a layer around the interior of the bowl as thick as the gap between the dough hook and the bowl wall.  The inner surface of that layer received a good massage from the dough hook but there was very little kneading going on unless I used the spatula to nudge the dough back towards the center of the bowl.  Why mine behaved differently than Stan's will be a matter of conjecture.  My guess is that the flour I used (Hodgson MIlls Whole Rye) behaved differently at that hydration level than the flour Stan used.  Two other potential differences are that I made enough dough for two loaves, rather than one, and my mixer has a 7-quart bowl.  A different size dough mass in a different (?) size bowl could have behaved differently, too.  In the end, it really didn't matter.  The dough, paste really, got enough mixing/kneading.   

Following directions, I dumped the dough onto a dry countertop, portioned and shaped it into two roughly equal-size loaves.  [Stan, we need to talk about the definition of "slightly sticky".  This is almost pure rye.  By just about any baker's experience, that translates to "really, really sticky".  'Nuff said.]  I chose to put the shaped loaves on a Silpat in a half-sheet baking pan instead of playing with parchment and peel and stone.  Because the evening was drawing on, I took the covered loaves to an upstairs bedroom that was even warmer than the kitchen.  At about the one-hour mark, they started showing some pinholes in the top surface even though there were no cracks yet evident.  I took that as the cue to preheat the oven.  While I think that was the right decision, I may have been able to get away with another 15 minutes of fermentation.  Maybe.  I just wasn't brave enough to find out.

This bread smells sublime while baking!  If someone could figure out how to bottle and sell that fragrance, they would be very, very rich.  The only thing better is the flavor of the bread.

As you can see, Stan's shaping beats mine:

The cracks occurred during baking, which is why I think the final fermentation might have safely gone a bit longer than I allowed.  The coloring isn't quite as dark as I expected, although some of that may be due to the pictures being taken in sunlight.

One picture of the crumb:

And another:

Before you get all excited about the big holes, the largest are less than 1/4 inch or 6mm across.  This is a dense bread with a tight crumb, which is perfectly fine for a 90% rye bread.

I mentioned the flavor.  It is extremely complex.  Due to the shortened fermentation times, this batch is undoubtedly less sour than if it had fermented longer in the temperature range mentioned by Stan.  That said, there is an underlying hint of sourness that provides structure for the rest of the flavors.  The sweetness of the malt and the honey really shine.  The natural spiciness of the rye takes a back seat but is still very much there; Stan mentioned licorice while I perceive allspice.  There are also hints of coffee and toasted almonds and a lot more that beggars my vocabulary for flavors.  This is seriously good bread.  There's an enormous range of foods that could be paired with it, from salty ham or sausage, to tangy marmalades, to mellow or sharp cheeses.  I think it would play nicely with witbier/weissbier, or a shandy, or a maibock, too.

This is definitely on the "to bake again" list, although I may wait for cooler temperatures to see how they change the flavor profile.

Thank you, Stan!

Paul

Comments

clazar123's picture
clazar123

My mouth is just watering. I haven't baked in a while and rye bread sounds wonderful. I just started a much needed weightloss program and bread will be very restricted for a while.My bread  lives in the freezer and is taken out slice by slice and savored.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am waiting for Stans book. It should be soon,I think.

 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I certainly don't want to make your diet any more difficult than it already is.  I've never had much luck with structured diets.  My best results have come from living the "Eat less, move more" mantra.  It can be a really slow process, especially when the "move more" part results in muscle mass increase that offsets the weight of the fat that is disappearing, but the long term results have been better for me.  And I can still eat bread!

Stan's new book is already pre-ordered and I look forward to receiving it.

Paul

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

baking instead if a pan - but I'm still using a pan for a sticky bread like this one.  I have to start walking soon before my clothes don't fit again:-)  This one has to taste great.  Well done and 

Happy baking Paul

pmccool's picture
pmccool

You'd probably have to drop the hydration somewhat to bake this in a pan.  The finished bread is very moist, even after cooling overnight wrapped in a towel.

The flavor is exceptional, though probably sweeter than usual because of the very fast (by sourdough standards) fermentation.  I had a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch today, made with this bread, and it was very good.

Pau

isand66's picture
isand66

Nice bake Paul.  Your crumb looks nice and moist and perfect as you said for pairing with so many good things!

Happy Baking!

Ian

pmccool's picture
pmccool

And thoroughly delightful to eat.

Thanks,

Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to cut up and freeze.  Came out very well.  I wonder if docking might have helped prevent the cracking.  But cracking is typical of rye and says, "Hey, Baby, lovely rye here, come and get me!"   

I have a loaf that I forgot in the refrigerator now two weeks.  It's a 40% rye about 900g and got retarded early on.  I've been so busy with the pool. (A good way to stay on a diet is stay out of the kitchen)  (also a good way to ruin a loaf of bread by not watching it) I keep forgetting about it.  When I do, I'm too tired.  I tried making pizza the other day and had a great fail.  Hardest crust in the Near East.  Crack your teeth hard crust.  So that was another low carb meal eating the toppings off,  very tasty.  

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The second loaf went into the freezer after two days on the counter, so it should be well stabilized.  There's been no evidence of a flying crust on the loaf I'm eating, so docking probably wouldn't have mitigated the cracking.  Stan's post also shows cracks in the loaf he pictured.  What I did wonder is whether having some steam in the oven for the first few minutes might have helped.  It isn't called for, so I baked without.  The glaze that is applied part way through the bake softens the crust but the cracks are already in evidence then.

Your poor loaf and pizza!  You are right, though, about absence from the kitchen making the dieting easier.

Paul

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Hi, Mini Oven! 

Thanks for the chuckle with the "Hey, baby..." (With a loaf in your hands, you had me at "Hey.") I almost overlooked your sage advice for a low-carb diet! :)

I hope this new baker can fatten up a touch (like I need it) by following along.

You folks are awesome. I'm so happy, so very happy, to be able to read you both and everyone on TFL. Thank you for sharing your baking!

Murph

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that loaf of mine or better said, forgotten dough was made with cake flour.  Went into two more loaves as starter or large preferment adding more fresh flour and  some yeast to speed up their way into the oven.  They turned out very good.  The pizza, well, we win some and we have those humbling experiences.  

Getting time to make bread again... My frozen is all used up.

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Actually, Plan C2! Gosh, man, you dug DEEP!

Paul, that's neat. Thanks for the write-up. I can't imagine a tastier bread than a hearty rye. I long to get there. Please keep 'em coming! 

Forgive me, I haven't read all your blog. Have you done any of those "rake up the forest floor" breads with all the sticks and nuts in them? Those make me want to throw myself out the window!

Jealous! 

Murph

pmccool's picture
pmccool

or something like that. It all worked out, so I'm happy.  As a matter of fact, today's sandwich utilized the second loaf that initially went into the freezer, so I get to enjoy it again.

As to the Euell Gibbons-style breads, not so often.  There are a few that I truly enjoy and occasionally make but most of my breads don't require more than a half--dozen ingredients, if that.  Those that do have more going into them tend to be holiday breads that are fabulously decadent and delicious but not much suited to my work-day sandwiches.

A hearty rye bread, like this one, along with a honey whole-wheat bread, and a pain de campagne for something closer to a white bread, would cover about 80% of my bread wants/needs.  Which doesn't begin to explain why I keep baking so many other breads, too.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post.  Next step: make the bread.

Paul