The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

the secrets of rye? introduction

  • Pin It
rubato456's picture
rubato456

the secrets of rye? introduction

I thought i should introduce myself....as i just recently joined and saw the intro part of the forum. i live in north texas (born in ny and grew up in cleveland oh) and i have been baking bread off and on for 35 years.....(hate to admit to that....) since i was 16.....mostly challot as i'm jewish, but i've also done a sprouted wheatberry which is quite tasty. i'm interested in getting the 'secrets of rye breads...' as i really have a desire to bake the ultimate 'jewish rye' given my backgroud i've tasted some killer ryes at various delis and would love to replicate this for my family.  i also am into whole grain baking and i wonder if it is posible to make a jewish rye that also has whole wheat....would this be pumpernickel? i have recently aquired the reinhart whole grains book, local breads, maggie glezer's book a blessing of breads, and la brea bakery...i've owned laurel's bread book for many years.  i made a whole wheat rye bread from laurel's bread book which tasted good but did not rise AT ALL.  i have 3 differeint starters going, one from reinhart, glazer, and la brea.  i had done a starter from laurel's book the rye starter only to realize after reading on the site and other places that a starter that had any amount of conventional yeast is not a true starter. so i pitched it and started over. the site is fantastic, so much knowledge and so little time to read! i have much to learn and am looking forward to this.....

deborah 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, deborah.

When I started baking bread again (after a 25 year break), my principal reason was to make Jewish rye bread. There are a few "secrets," but they aren't so secret. I would list them as follows:

1. Use a rye sour. Moreover, all of the rye flour in the bread (or nearly all) should come from the sour.
2. For the most authentic "NY rye bread," use white rye flour. However, if you like more rye flavor, you can use medium rye or fine ground whole rye.
3. The wheat flour in the rye bread should be from a high extraction flour. I use KAF First Clear flour, generally.

There are some other niceties, like glazing the loaves with a cornstarch solution, but the most important factors are those listed.

I have had the best results from the formula in George Greenstein's "Secrets of a Jewish Baker" and from the formula posted on TFL by Norm (nbicomputers), which is pretty much identical.

This link is to a topic that has at lest 3 formulas for the bread you want to bake:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6103/craving-crackly-crust-sour-rye-bread

If you have questions after looking at this thread, let us know. And also let us know how your rye breads come out.

And Happy New Year!


David

caraway's picture
caraway

Hi Deborah,

 I agree with everything dmsnyder said above, he know his stuff!  White rye makes a terrific loaf if you can find it locally.  King Arthur has it but it's kind of pricey. 

Would only like to add a caution, do not overknead rye dough.  Don't know what your particular kneading method is but regardless, I only work the dough for half the time I use for wheat breads.

 Happy baking!

rubato456's picture
rubato456

for your comments! I am working on a rye starter, which isn't done yet....but as soon as it is, i will start on a rye bread w/ rye sour and let you know how it comes out.  in the interium, i may try some rye breads in laurel's bread book that don't require a rye starter but get acidity from other sources such as buttermilk. it won't be jewish rye, but it will be rye and i am really in the mood for anything rye right now! i have 2 bags of 'clear flour' on order from king arthur. this forum is amazing....i had no idea such a flour existed! i really enjoy reading here......i spend too much time doing so  ;-) 

deborah

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Deborah.

You can convert an active wheat-based sourdough starter to a rye sour in 2 feedings. You don't really, really need 2 starters.

Having said that:
1) I keep a sourdough starter fed with a mix of AP, WW and whole rye flour AND a rye sour, usually fed with whole rye.
2) Norm will tell you that you MUST feed your sour with white rye flour only, and it really starts making good sour rye bread after the first 90 years of regular feedings.


David

rubato456's picture
rubato456

about needing a separate white, ww, and rye starter....i have a white starter, and two different rye starters in the works right now. the white is a la brea bakery, one rye is a la reinhart, the other is a la maggie glezer. so far the la brea one is looking the most active although they are all showing signs of life. another question i had is can cooking w/ conventional yeast 'infect' a wild yeast starter....so that it ends up just being conventional bakers yeast? i find the whole starter dough thing to be pretty overwhelming but i just am plunging in.....my counter looks like a science experiment now.....notes on the differnt starters.....various bubbling containers..... 

deborah

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Deborah.

Sourdough culture can be confusing at first, but, once you are into it, there is no turning back. Believe it!

Don't add baker's yeast to your sourdough culture. It is pointless. On the other hand, you can add a bit of yeast to your dough made with sourdough starter to make the fermentation and proofing times more predictable.

I hope I understood your question. If I missed it, please clarify your concern.


David

rubato456's picture
rubato456

what i was thinking is that if you make any bread that contains conventional yeast in the same kitchen.....can those conventional yeasts 'infect' the starter which is in a covered container on the counter ....you take the top off to stir the starter several times per day and i was wondering if this gave regular yeasts which might be 'hanging out' in the kitchen a chance to get in there......

 

 

deborah

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm confident your wild yeast are tough enough to defend their turf against those namby, pamby, tame yeast spores.


David

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

David, do I really have to wait 90 years for a good rye sour bread? God willing, I'll have about 30-40 years to get this baby on the road   ;  )

Betty

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, Betty, I'm not waiting personally. But Norm talked about Rye sours that had been kept going for that long and just got better with age. (He didn't say how he had compared the old sour with its younger self.)

I have a sour that has been going for 2-3 years, I think. My palate is not smart enough to appreciate its improvement. It has always made yummy rye bread, as long as the baker didn't mess up.


David

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

I never said well maybe I did you must use white rye flour for all rye bread but if you want a true New York Jewish rye taste you have to use white rye flour.

White rye flour was used exclusively in New York bakeries

A good rye sour is like a fine wine the older he gets the better it gets.  I'm sure your two or three year old sour produces a fine bread

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Elagins@sbcglobal.net

actually, the "secret" to the sour is in the lactic and acetic acid, not necessarily in the fact that it comes from the rye. here's why: rye is a completely different animal from wheat, in that wheat breads depend on two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, which break down during kneading and fermentation and recombine as highly elastic gluten chains, which capture the CO2 from the yeast metabolism.

rye has no proteins in it, only complex sugars (polysaccharides) called pentosans, which are highly hydrophilic (water-absorbent) and which create an elastic gel by means of a process called oxidative gelation. now the challenge of rye comes in because of two enzymes -- alpha- and beta-amylase (aka, amylases) -- which (a) convert starch to simple sugars, and (b) -- and this is the problem -- break down complex sugars, i.e., the pentosans, into simple sugars. without the pentosans, the rye dough can't form that CO2-holding gel, so everything breaks down.

the lactic and acetic acids that form in any sour, rye or wheat, have the chemical effect of inhibiting the amylases, so that they don't break down the pentosans as quickly as they would in the absence of acid. so the more sour the starter, the higher the acid content and therefore, the more time you can allow the rye to ferment before it collapses.

since most rye breads contain 50% or more wheat, the problem of pentosan degradation isn't really a problem, since the gluten comes in to save the day. however, i've recently been experimenting with 100% ryes, which is a whole different animal, and very very interesting. so far, i've gotten really good success with a 2-stage sour and approximately 70% total hydration. i ferment stage 1 (rye, water and .5 tsp salt to inhibit the yeast and promote acid formation) overnight, using about .5 oz of my sourdough starter to introduce the yeast and lacto/aceto cultures. stage 2 is about 4 hours. final stage is adding remainder of salt, flour and water to create the dough, 1 hour fermentation, 1 hour proof, bake 10 min at 450/heavy steam and another 2-3 hours at 250 to allow the rye to caramelize and darken.

don't forget to slash your loaves because the high-temp spring is significant, and also brush the loaves with hot water when they come out of the oven, cuz that crust is gonna be a bear.

finally, the bread is best eaten 2-3 days after baking. And Dave, you'll find that this is a rye that isn't at all gummy when you cut it.

Enjoy!

rubato456's picture
rubato456

such as yogart or cider vinegar? will these acids have the same effect as a sour starter on the amalasyes?  i made my first rye bread and since my rye starter isn't ready yet, i used such a recipe...the results are here:

deborah

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Elagins@sbcglobal.net

probably, although i haven't tried it. i don't see why, for instance, you couldn't use buttermilk/yogurt ... although it seems to me that if you used dairy, you'd have a preponderance of lactic acid, whereas vinegar is pure acetic acid. some bakers use finely minced onion or onion juice, or even the water from soaking dehydrated onions to provide acid for rye sour. and the fact is, it really doesn't take all that long to grow a decent sour ... rye is rich in natural yeasts and will start fermenting almost immediately.

if you have a good sourdough starter, a teaspoon of it will give you a good sour overnight. feed the starter again in the morning, mix your dough at lunchtime and bake in early afternoon. in all, less than 24 hours.

Stan

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Interesting post about the biology working with the high percentage rye mix. Could you give us some specific measurements you have used so the .5 tsp has a comparative value?

Also you mention over all hydration of 70%. What hydration level do you use for the 2 stages of starter? Maybe if you could lay out the step by step we could understand the 2 stage method. I'm confused about what the difference between the stages is. I'm assuming this is all done at room temp?

Thanks Stan. I'm a novice with high percentage rye mixes and have been struggling to understand the process. Have you ever tried covering the dough during that long bake? I've also read where covering the top with a small amount of water works to prevent the top crust from being bullet proof.

Eric 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Elagins@sbcglobal.net

Hi Eric,

generally, i try to get about 1/2 to 2/3 of the flour into the sour, so let's say we're starting with 1kg/35oz of flour; total water would be 700g/25oz of water, and total salt 20g/0.7oz/1T.

stage 1 would use about 225g/8oz of warm water, 1/2t/6g/0.10z/ of table or sea salt and 175g/6.5oz/1.5c of dark rye flour plus 1T or so of sourdough starter and let it ferment overnight at room temp.

stage 2, add another 350g/12oz/3cups of flour and 475g/17oz/2cups+2T of warm water, let ferment for another 3-4 hours (room temp), until it's very bubbly;

add the remaining 2 1/2t/14g/.55oz of salt and 475g/17oz of flour, and mix, preferably by mixer, since rye dough is one of the least pleasant things i know -- slippery and sticky at the same time. the dough will appear stiff, but the key is getting the flour well-hydrated. turn it into a bowl and let it ferment for another hour or so, shape into loaves, proof covered until the dough just starts to crack (about 1 hour), then score or dock and bake for 10 min at 450F with lots of steam to get maximum spring. Lower temp dramatically to 250-275F and bake for another 2-3 hours; i don't believe it's possible to overbake 100% rye.

i suppose you can use foil or water during baking; i tend to be enough of a purist that i want to get it as close to what i would've eaten 100 years ago, so i just let it bake uncovered and then brush it with hot water to soften the crust when it comes out of the oven. finally, it's better to let the bread sit for at least a day, preferably two, before cutting into it. all that sour acts as a preservative, and the chemistry of the gel resists drying out much more than wheat, so the bread has a longer shelf-life.

i like mine sliced very thin, with butter and/or smoked meat/fish or a strong cheese.

Enjoy!

Stan

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I think I can follow those directions OK, thanks for the clarification.

When you are waiting the day or two after baking, are you using a bag of some sort or is this sitting open?

Eric 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

either way, Eric ... leaving it out will make the crust marginally harder, the insides stay nice and soft, regardless.

rubato456's picture
rubato456

the recipe i tried had both yogart and cider vinger......i guess that would be the combo of lactic & acetic acids......

still i will try to get a good sour starter and try that as well. my sour isn't to that point....yet. 

 

deborah

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Nickisafoodie

Hi all, am also a new member, love the site and the great info.  Like Deborah, too little time for so many goodies! 

I've been making a great rye loaf that has great sour tang and uses a combination of techniques.  It is partly inspired author Beatrice Ojakangas and her 1984 book "Great Whole Grain breads" plus Laurel's and Bread Builders techiques combined.  Beatrice grew up in Finland and all through childhood and adolescense, it was hearty rye that her mother baked twice per week- 16 to 20 loaves at a time given family and farm hands to feed.  Beatrice's recipe for Serbian Pumpernickel calls for almost 50% dark rye and includes 1/2 cup of cider vinegar.  Dark rye is the whole berry ground in full so you have to grind it yourself, rather than light rye which is the "white flour" component of rye.  Given quick spoilage, you can never buy rye or whole wheat flours 100% intact, regardless of source.  My Whisper Mill has been running for 12 years and is still going strong!

The great flavor comes from the combination of the fresh ground rye and wheat berries, the sour starter, a moist dough plus yeast ensure a good rise and vinegar and molasses for flavor.  I use loaf pans and like the boost from the yeast as my kids like a lighter loaf for toast and sandwiches.  Feel free to use a round loaf and stone if preferred.  You can also eliminate the AP white flour and exchanging for whole wheat.  The use of charnushka seeds instead of caraway (also called black caraway or nigella) gives great flavor.  Charnushka seeds are worth the hunt!  The bread comes out great, moist, surprisingly light, great rise and spring, well formed moist crumb, lots of fiber, and all of the goodness of whole ground flour.

For two loaves that weigh two pounds each: 510 gr of rye berries (43%), 328gr wheat berries (28%), 100 gr unprocessed wheat bran (9%), 234 gr unbleached AP flour (20%), 21 gr salt, 4 tbs of molasses, 12 gr of SAF yeast.  Start with 700gr of 100% hydration starter (350gr rye/wheat/bran, 350gr water) that builds up from 200gr starter starting mid day the prior afternoon and a second late evening.  Don't forget to adjust remaining ingredients and water from that used in starter. The 700 gr buildup by bedtime the night before equates to a 40% sponge/starter.  The remaining 60% of all ingredients are added the next morning.  The dough starts with a 65% hydration ratio using 120 gr of cider vinegar and 641 gr of water.  Add yeast and remaining ingredients, mix until all are incorporated and dough starts to form, then a 30 minute rest/autolyze.  Knead for 15 minutes on slow speed.  You may add more water slowly as the dough forms targeting 67% or so hydration.  End result should be a moist and very tacky dough, wetter than you may think.  Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with saran and let rise 80 minutes or so until almost double.  Divide dough evenly, wait 5 minutes and gently flatten.  Add seeds and gently form into loaves, add more seeds to top and bottom.  Spray tops with veggie oil, cover lightly with saran.  Let rise again 50 minutes or so until almost doubled, just under "double" is better than over.  

Slash loaves with serrated knife just before putting into a 450 degree oven.  I find that oven spring is best by a high inital heat plus steam: 450 degrees for the first 10 minutes of baking throwing 1/4 cup water onto the oven floor to steam (three times first 10 min).  Then lower to 335 degrees for 50 more minutes.  The initial high heat combined with very moist tacky dough and the steam gives great oven spring.

I've made this recipe many times and am very satisfied with the outcome.  I wish I had pictures to share, will take pictures in the future.  You can also make great whole wheat by using wheat instead of rye, replace vinegar with water, and use honey instead of molasses.  Hope this wasn't too confusing!