The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New whole grain sourdough bread-baking enthusiast

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

New whole grain sourdough bread-baking enthusiast

Hello! I used to bake sourdough from starter when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico back in the late '70s -- which is where I met the person who taught me how. After leaving New Mexico I soon forgot just how to make it and never ran into anyone who knew and just forgot about it (and in fact quit eating bread for the most part).

Now I am very excited to have found out how to successfully make sourdough rye (30% rye, 70% whole wheat most of the time) where it comes out better than it did all those years ago. I'm HOOKED...!

I love doing things the old-fashioned way (within reason: not really interested in getting a wood stove for instance!). Last week I attempted a 100% rye pumpernickel loaf old-German style -- the kind that was often referred to as "black bread" and was the bread for the peasants -- where the bread must be baked a minimum of 16 hours (and up to 24 hours). It was a bit of a letdown that it came out terrible (as in rock hard), but that was because I didn't realize how quickly my oven could lose 2-3 gallons of hot water I had in there for steam. I was baking the loaves uncovered as well. Next time -- probably not until the weather is cooler -- I will bake it inside a cast iron dutch oven that will hold in the moisture! Ironically, the bread the aristocracy looked down upon back in the day is now very hard to find except at places catering to the very well-to-do who have come to love the moist, 1/4-inch slices of black bread as a base for hors d'oeuvres, topping it with specialty cheeses and caviar and whatnot.

I live in Austin, Texas and am beginning to make my own flour -- using my 20-year-old Ktec HP Champ blender (earlier version of what now is called Blendtec). VERY exciting to know that I can keep the whole grains in storage for much longer than flour as well.

And frankly, this has me going a bit fermented over all: Kombucha-Jun combo (using organic jasmine green tea and brown, coconut & cane sugars and honey) is 'brewing' as I type, and soon I plan to make homemade ginger ale and/or ginger (non-alcoholic) beer. Maybe that would be good in a bread recipe at some point, eh?! Some people get dementia as they age. I suspect I am getting fermentia!

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hope you still have your rye brick.  Got a pressure cooker as well?

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

...and don't know what a rye brick is. By this I take it someone else has the same user name as me?  Thanks for the welcome!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Mini is talking about your rye loaf...  I think she might have a suggestion for you.

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

Thank you, Danni3113. Kind of you to let me know. I thought it was some kind of a steamer for baking rye, lol. No, all of my (four mini) rye bricks were composted...! I would still love to hear your suggestion!

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

Did you have a suggestion for the rye bricks, Mini? (And no, I don't have a pressure cooker but my roommate does.) Ohhhh...some idea how to pressure cook the rye bricks with water?!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

No need to apologize, I might even apologize for using the term "brick" if it was offensive.  Rye lovers often call their bricks, "bricks" even when they can be cut.  Sorry about that.  Anyway... pressure cooker...

You will need something to keep the lovely "brick" from sitting in the water, a small rack perhaps.  Then steam and pressure cook the brick softer. Adding any number of whole bread spices (anis, caraway, etc.) to the water can add another dimention to the loaf.  If you happen to turn it into soup, that wet "altus"can be used as part of the liquid in the next loaf or two with some play with the hydration.  It can also make a great bread soup adding butter sautéed onion and broth, herbs.   :)

The brick can also be soaked w/o cooking (how brick-like is the brick?) squeezed and crumbled into a preferment or levain.  Sourdough critters love it and it complicates ❤️ rye bread flavour.   Crumbs can be frozen in smaller packages for near future loaves.   

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

You have taught me a LOT...!  :) Thanks so much. And no, the bricks are gone -- composted -- but if I end up with bricks again now I will have an idea of what to do!

Slybee1's picture
Slybee1

If you like fermentation you gotta try making your own yougurt and sauerkraut.  Home made kraut is delicious.  please do me a favor,  make you a sour dough baguette, take it to Franklin BBQ and pack it full of brisket.  I think fresh sourdough bread and smoked brisket is amazing.  a true crafted sandwich.   and from I hear Aaron is the best at brisket.

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

I just may do that one of these days. I mostly avoid eating beef due to all the poor practices in raising cattle these days, but I do have it once in a while. I also avoid yogurt because milk products make me congested, even yogurt -- but I do plan on experimenting with making my own nut milk yogurt! And sauerkraut, definitely. I did that a lot in the past and last time I almost got cabbage for it they only had organic at a ridiculously high price. I just need more jars first, and to double-check that it's okay to use non-organic cabbage (I think it is~!). Right now I have fermenting: kombucha, jalapeno and serrano peppers (the serrano cut lengthwise so I know which are the hottest), a vegetable mix with cauliflower, carrot sticks, red bell peppers, celery, onions and jalapenos; carrot kraut; and about to start a ginger bug to make ginger ale (for me) and ginger beer (for my roomie). Not to mention baking another sourdough loaf every 2nd to 3rd day.  :)

 

David R's picture
David R

I don't think there's any sauerkraut reason for using only organically-grown cabbage. This would mean that your organic/not-organic decision would be based only on your opinions about how farming ought to be done (which seems to be the case about 99% of the time - I really do wonder if the idea that organic tastes better and is better for you was cooked up by anti-organic lobbyists to give themselves a straw man to beat, because it's just not true. Taste arguments, and even health & safety arguments, are easy for non-organic to defend against. Arguments about farming practices, which non-organic always loses, seem to have mysteriously disappeared from view.)

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

Are you familiar at all with glyphosate? it is the active ingredient in Roundup, the pesticide used for GMO crops, and in fact Monsanto was just ordered to pay a couple over a billion dollars because they were able to prove to the jury that the glyphosate was the reason for the wife's cancer. It is worse than just that. GMO farming is destroying the soil -- and the only way to TRY to ensure one is not buying GMO produce is to buy organic. I also buy non-GMO foods, but have never seen fresh produced labeled non-GMO (though with organic, non-GMO is a given).

 

David R's picture
David R

I think the glyphosate issue is (mostly) just a stupid flavor-of-the-month game that plays right into the hands of the non-organic lobby. Yes it's an important issue, but it's handled in such a way that valid arguments for organic are tossed aside in favor of sensationalism. (Yes, the "organic camp" being the source of the sensationalism, with the ridiculous shrieking about two or three cases of cancer etc.) Glyphosate in your food is a tiny tiny tiny TINY risk - but glyphosate on the world's crops is a terrible disaster disabling the earth that has already happened and is getting worse.

The fact is, NON-organic food is overall better for humans! The problem is that human concerns are not global concerns, and we need to accept organic farming - accept the solution that is worse for humans - because what is better for us is soon going to kill everything else on the planet. It's about accepting defeat and accepting second-best, and we seem to dislike that quite a lot.

(Accepting defeat as in accepting that my convenience and economic advantage are not worth killing the earth - and at a more visceral level, that my individual survival is not worth poisoning the world's plant life.) My contribution to the good of this planet is ... well, let's say that if a country had to choose between receiving me as an immigrant and receiving one fair-sized shipment of safe & healthy potatoes, it wouldn't be a very hard choice would it.

IMO the closest we can conveniently come to helping is to buy all organic everything all the time, and to never even contemplate buying non-organic again. But the label "organic" has been co-opted by industrial farms that simply avoid using a few pesticides, while ignoring the main principles of actual organic farming. So... I'm frustrated. But I'd also better stop ranting.

OK I didn't stop: We're all so stoked to help save the world until we find out that OUR part of helping the earth is to start right now paying $10 a pound for lettuce and $40 a pound for meat, and to expect prices to rise in the future. Then we decide maybe saving the world isn't quite as important as we thought.

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

The government subsidizes the big Ag food and the meats from animals eating foods not natural for them, etc. But I see you have your mind made up. I know some people like that. Not worth arguing it.

Fermentia's picture
Fermentia

A friend of mine that is moving (from Texas to another state) gifted me with a lot of food supplies this past week, and one of them was very intriguing: Vavel brand "Rye Sourmeal" from Poland. I was intrigued! Turns out most people buy this to make something called White Borscht (using potatoes rather than beets, thus the "white"), but I noticed that the ingredients were only two:  rye and water. And when I opened the jar, it was thick and almost gel-like -- and I could see where fermentation bubbles had popped to the surface.

I tried using about 1 TBL added to my last sourdough loaf (which is always 25-35% rye, and the rest whole wheat. The taste difference is subtle but excellent. My own starter is a couple months old at most, and I figure the Polish starter used by Vavel could easily be a very old strain. So I decided to do a test:  I took out about 1/3 of the jar and put it in another jar, and to the jar with 2/3 Vavel rye sourmeal I added some rye flour and filtered water, stirred it up, and left it in a 78°F (26°C) area in the living room covered with a clean cotton cloth and held on by a rubber band. There was at least 2 inches (50 mm) open space at the top of the jar.

I left it there for approximately 8 hours -- and lo and behold, when I checked on it, it was pushing the cotton cloth upwards from the rubber band! This sourdough starter is alive! SO excited about this. I feared it had been irradiated and killed, but no! Probably tomorrow night I will be making a new loaf, just using the Polish starter. What fun!

Oh, and I could not find this product online, but my friend told me she purchased it at Fiesta Market (in Austin, Texas). They have a large international foods section at that store -- so that is where to look for it, is at a place that carries lots of products from all over the world.