The Rye Baker: Bakes 1 and 2
Since receiving my copy of The Rye Baker, I've been baking and savoring its breads on a virtual basis. It is a beautiful book with many intriguing breads to try; far more than I sampled during the test bakes. Good as all that has been, the time has come to do some real baking. Actually, the time came last weekend but I hadn't made the necessary preparations, so I ran out of weekend before getting to bake anything from the book. Consequently, I made sure to have everything on hand and my schedule laid out so as to get serious about baking this weekend.
For my first bread from the book, I chose the GOST Borodinsky bread. Before leaving for work Friday morning, I set up the rye sour. Since my normal starter is maintained with a combination of bread, whole wheat, and whole rye flours, I wanted to do at least one build with rye flour only to serve as the basis for the bread's sponge. With kitchen temperatures in at an un-Octoberish 70-75F, the sour was fully developed by the time I returned home that evening.
The sponge requires rye meal, water, and rye sour. The ingredients were mixed as required, covered with plastic, and left to ferment overnight.
This bread also calls for a scald consisting of rye meal, red rye malt, ground coriander, and boiling water. The first step was to toast the rye malt in a dry skillet from its diastatic state to the red, nondiastatic state. Once it cooled, it was run through a coffee grinder that I keep on hand for grinding small quantities of materials and ground to a powder. The coriander seeds were ground to a powder in the same mill, including the portion required later in the final dough. LIke the sponge, the scald is covered and left to sit overnight.
The next morning, it was apparent that a small amount of the sponge had escaped its confines. The rest had fallen back, leaving a sudsy froth trapped between the surface of the sponge and the plastic wrap. I can't say that I've seen anything quite like that previously but there was no doubt that the sponge was ready to do some heavy lifting.
The sponge and the scald were combined in a pre-dough, whch was allowed to rest until doubled in volume. This took just under an hour with kitchen temperatures in the mid-70s.
The final dough consists of the sponge/scald combination, bread flour, medium rye flour, molasses, salt, and ground coriander. Once mixed, this was kneaded about 9 minutes with the KitchenAid mixer's spiral dough hook. The bowl was then covered until the dough had approximately doubled in volume. Upon removing the covering, the most delightful fragrance emanated from the dough. There were the roasty, toasty notes from the malt, the dark sweetness of the molasses, and lemony/citrusy overtones from the coriander. All this before it had baked!
The dough was carefully packed into a well-greased 9x4x4 inch Pullman pan. Dough height in the pan was approximately an inch below the rim. When I cam back to check on it about an hour later, it was nearly 1/4 inch above the rim; with small bubbles just beginning to burst at the surface. I scurried to set up the oven and get it preheated. By the time the oven reached the 550F baking temperature, the dough had risen to almost 1/2 an inch above the rim.
After pouring boiling water in the steam pan a nd closing the oven, I wet my hands with tap water and gave the dough surface one last smoothing as carefully and gently as I could. Crushed coriander seeds were scattered on top of the loaf and then it went into the oven. From there, it was 10 minutes of watching the loaf for signs of deflation until taking the steam pan out of the oven and dropping the temperature to 350F. By that point, it appeared that the loaf wasn't overproofed so I went back to my yard work while the bread baked for the next hour or so. As directed, I depanned the loaf and put it back into the oven until the sides and bottom firmed up. This is how it looks:
The top settled slightly as it cooled but has retained its domed cross section. The crumb is about as open as you could ask for with a mostly-rye (81%) bread:
Since the crumb is still slightly gummy, I'll let it sit another day before cutting any more slices from it. That's going to be hard to do, since we sampled the one slice. Talk about a bread with complex flavors! Everything I mentioned earlier about the dough fragrance is still there in the baked bread. In addition, there's a firm but gentle sourness, combined with the earthy/spicy flavors inherent in the rye itself. This is a spectacularly delicious bread! I only hope that I can do so well whenever I make it next.
About the only deviation I took with the bread was to use white rye in place of the medium rye, since that was what I had on hand. The Hodgson Mills rye flour I had in my pantry worked well as the recommended rye meal, since it has a fairly coarse texture.
The second bake from The Rye Baker was also this weekend. We had dinner guests last evening and my wife prepared a pork roast as the meat for dinner, along with roasted white potatoes and sweet potatoes, and a salad. After some discussion about the various merits of various rolls in the book, we settled on the rye biscuits. These are quick and simple to make. They have a mild, grainy flavor so the option of using various seeds is understandable. However, since two of our guests were under the age of 10, mild seemed like a better option. Since one of the girls ate two of the biscuits, that was apparently a good choice. They make an excellent base for things like apple butter or pumpkin butter, too. They are appealing to the eye, as well, with the pattern on the docking visible on their surface:
I'm not sure what my next bake might be but I'm leaning in the direction of one of the breads I baked when the recipes were being tested, just to see whether the published version was modified noticeably from the test version. The Christmas Zelten will definitely make an appearance this year, even if I don't get around to making a stollen.