The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fresh-ground Rye

EsmereldaPea's picture

Fresh-ground Rye

Have not been on to the forums in some time, nor done much baking, but am ready to jump back into it with both feet!

I just read the thread on Rye, and thought I'd start a thread dedicated to rye.

I heartily agree that fresh-ground rye is not even in the same universe of taste as the rye flour off the shelf. There simply is no comparison. There may or may not be a discussion of this in the sourdough forum, so please excuse if I am repeating what others have said. 100% rye breads, as some folks have said, are difficult to make well. The trick is in a long rise and the use of a cloche or similar device when baking (oh, and don't add too much flour - rye dough is very, very sticky).

I make my rye starter with fresh-ground rye. I read somewhere that fresh-ground berries have some type of organism that creates a better environment for the yeasties. I don't know the particulars, but I know it works better with fresh-ground as opposed to bought flour. I start with a drop of good honey, a Tablespoon of flour, and a Tablespoon of spring water (city water you have to be careful of b/c of chemicals they use that don't even dissipate after boiling or letting stand). Mix this really well and let sit for 24 hours, stirring once half-way through. Add an additional T of water, T of flour and drop of honey. Repeat for 5 days, doubling the recipe each time (I stop adding honey about half-way through the process). At the end of the 5 days, you should have a good amount of starter. Make sure you use a large enough bowl, as these guys can really party! I once had a particularly enthusiastic starter that more than doubled and ended up all over the counter and the floor.

Some folks add yeast to their sourdough breads, but I am a purist and use only starter. Here is a link to some long-ago pictures I took. The top row is of my first sourdough bread loaf - it used wheat and white flour. The second row shows what a difference a cloche can make. I technically didn't use a "cloche", but a clay dutch oven. I actually made the dough in the morning, put it to rise in my car on the floor under the heater during a long drive to a dinner in another state, and popped it into the oven when I got there - I probably would have gotten more oven spring if I would have let it rise longer.

Hope this is interesting to some folks!

Link to bread pictures

And one more comment about sourdough starters: Different house can yield different results. My mother's 50-year-old-house yielded better starter than my (at that time) newer 6-year-old house just 30 miles away. I'm now living in another 50-year-old house, but it used to have a very bad mouse problem (prior to me living here), and I wanted to get the attic cleaned out of <ahem> debris before I made starter here. I will probably start one tomorrow morn.



KipperCat's picture

Lovely bread pics.  I look forward to my first taste of freshly milled rye.