I had a few things that I wanted to experiment with this week:
- using a stiff (66% hydration) levain instead of a liquid (100% hydration) levain
- using a whole wheat levain instead of all rye
- changing the timing for using the levain to waiting until it had peaked and fallen for a couple of hours and then retarding in the fridge for a day or so
- increasing the hydration after the majority of gluten development is completed, so essentially adding a second round of mixing / kneading to get more water in
- trimming the parchment paper sling more so that I could get a better seal on the roaster that I use in lieu of a dutch oven (and so get more steam during the beginning of the bake)
With that in mind, I had been reminded by the thread asking for rye recipe recommendations that I really enjoy my version of the rye banana loaf from http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27666/banana-light-rye-and-banana-quick-bread as a treat. Since it was something I'd experimented with before, it seemed ideal for trying the variations, so that I could see what impact the changes had. I ended up with:
35% whole milled rye (including 18% pre-fermented in the stiff rye levain)
4% oat bran / 4% wheat germ: toasted and cooked in to a porridge (added in autolyse)
7% toasted and crushed almonds (added during first stretch-and-fold)
47% bananas (counted as being 75% water)
79% hydration (includes the water content of the bananas; started at 74% hydration with another 5% added in second mix)
The dough felt great while mixing and kneading, and I restrained myself from adding too much more water! I let it bulk ferment for 6 hours at room temp (it rose about 30%), and let it proof at room temp for a couple of hours after shaping before retarding it in the fridge overnight. I pulled it out to finish proofing for another couple of hours before baking covered at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, uncovered for 35 minutes, and then in the cooling oven with the door cracked for a final 10 minutes.
I got a nice ear happening on the single score, and a nice level of dark on the crust:
The crumb ended up wonderfully tender, light, and airy:
The change to the stiff levain and the timing have given this the best "sour" input that I've managed so far. In texture and flavour, this is pure candy for me (although my husband thinks that it's a bit too sour - but it's right where I love it).
For our "daily" loaf, I built a stiff whole wheat levain (starting with 3g of my rye NMNF starter) and ended up with:
46% fresh milled hard red wheat berries (includes 18% pre-fermented in levain)
8% fresh milled whole rye
16% whole spelt
0.7% each white rye malt and red rye malt
81% hydration (started at 70% in initial mix - 11% added in additional mix)
The build and timing of this levain was done at the same time as the rye one, and it was interesting to see how much faster and higher the wheat version reacted and more than doubled. The dough mixed easily, and I may have gotten a wee bit carried away in adding water...
I've never had a dough quite so active in bulk ferment (huge bubbles coming up within the first hour), and it felt silky and extensible and lovely during the stretch-and-folds. I let it bulk ferment at room temperature for 5 hours, until it was almost doubled, then de-gassed it and attempted to pre-shape it --- which seemed to go not too badly, but it spread in to an unstructured blob during the bench rest.
Shaping, however, was a hoot! I wish I had it on video, and there was much giggling going on. I flipped my blob on to the smooth side on a lightly floured board, de-gassed it gently, and stitched and rolled it in to a batard shape that looked quite nice. When I picked it up in both hands, all seemed well --- but apparently someone had sneaked a slinky in to the dough, and as I turned to put it in to the banneton my hands separated by an inch and suddenly --- woof - down went the centre to the counter! I managed to get the ends down safely without any tearing of the dough, and quickly ended up rolling the darn dough snake the other way and plopped it safely in to the banneton (all while giggling hysterically at the dough-slinky juggling). it went straight in to the fridge for the night, but I brought it out for an hour before baking to finish proofing (which it did need - although I ended up with a few big bubbles at the surface that I had to pop before I scored it).
I got it scored and it tried its very best to spread out in the couple of seconds it took for me to get it from the banneton and in to the roaster. It baked for 25 minutes covered at 475 degrees, then 35 minutes uncovered at 450 degrees - and ended up with an odd shape, but a good rise:
This one had me pacing a bit, wondering how the crumb would turn out after the juggling session, and I was thrilled when I sliced in to it the next day and found:
This is the most tender crumb that I've managed so far - and the flavour is absolutely grand. The wheat didn't end up with the extreme level of sour that the rye levain did, but there is a wonderful tang that totally complements the grain combination.
My only issue with this week's bake is that someone sneaked in an ingredient that I didn't want, and both of these wondrous loaves ended up filled with the dreaded calories.... I so want to gobble down both of these in large quantities, but seem to have a bad reaction to an excess of those calories and so have to sadly restrain myself.
Ah well - it was a grand bake, and I was happy to discover that the stiff levain and change in timing greatly increased the sour, that trimming the parchment and getting a better seal increased the oven spring (presumably from the crust not setting as quickly), that developing the gluten at lower hydration and then adding more water feels like a winning approach for me, and that juggling slinkies and rolling up dough snakes apparently doesn't have too bad of an effect on the crumb!
Hope all of your experiments are as much fun, and that you all keep baking happy!