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Ilya Flyamer's blog

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I haven't posted for a while since I've been busy and wasn't baking anything particularly interesting. But there have been a few posts about different carrot rye bread variations recently, and I was curious about this idea. I decided to make a big "experiment" out of it this past long weekend, and combined different techniques and ingredients to see what comes out.

Here is the formula and brief method description:

To walk you through it, I had:

  1. Scald with rye schrot, grated carrot, and caraway
  2. Altus - old dried up rye bread, soaked with hot water (I kept all the water, didn't wring it out)
  3. Overnight preferment including the previous two stages and a little more rye schrot
  4. Final dough with whole rye flour, some high extraction wheat flour (ruchmehl), malt extract, and IDY for lift

Scald needed some extra water relative to what I planned because of all the carrot... Otherwise it wasn't even covered by the liquid. No problem, just add less water to the final dough. Scald was at 65C for around 8 hrs.

All fermentation was done at elevated temperature (above 28C, final dough at above 30C).

Sprinkled pumpkin and sunflower seeds on top of the dough in the pans.

Baked in loaf pans to make my life easier, and to allow a wetter dough. Filled pans a little over half way, and stopped final proof when dough almost reached the top, and it felt very fragile, with pinholes starting to appear.

Here is what I got after baking (a few min at 280C, then lowered to 230, then 200, for around 40 min).

The crumb is ridiculously moist, and yet almost not gummy. I can almost get some water to come out of it when pressing on the crumb, like a sponge. I've never seen anything like this.

The flavour is very pleasant. A lot of complexity, I can taste the caraway, and a little of the maltiness, but nothing dominates. Can't say I actually taste the carrot, although there was so much of it, and it is clearly visible in the crumb. Not sure why there are some spots of dense dough in the bread, I wonder if I simply didn't mix it well enough... But they aren't really bothering me. The top crust is a little separated, and the top is a little concave, so perhaps I overproofed just a little. But no big deal.

Very interesting result in the end, enjoyable and unusual bread!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Recently after starting to go to work every day I don't have much time to bake during the week, so we completely ran out of bread by the weekend, and I wanted to quickly bake some nice bread. So I turned to CLAS in combination with IDY.

Made two seeded breads in my small bread pans. Toasted 30 g sunflower and 50 g pumpkin seeds. Soaked 30 g crystal rye malt with boiling water, together with those toasted seeds, and also added 30 g crushed linseeds. Used together with the soaking water in the dough. I wanted to try using altus in this bread, but forgot!

For the flour, I made a mix of 500 g total, ~220g ruchmehl (high extraction wheat flour - used up leftovers), ~80 g whole rye, 100 g whole wheat and 100 g white flour. Used together with ~80 g CLAS, 11 g salt, 3.3 g IDY and enough warm water to make a very wet dough. After mixing using a hand mixer with spiral attachments and some folds about 30 min later the dough was somewhat stronger. Fermented about 1.5 hrs at 28C until looked about doubled in size. When preshaping I actually thought it could have worked as a hearth loaf, but my banetton was too small, so I just split into two small bread pans as I was planning originally, filling them about halfway. Sprinked some sesame seeds on top. Proofed at 30С until dough filled the pans. Tried slashing them, but the dough was too soft, even with a razor didn't leave a nice score. Baked with steam for 20 min, and without steam until nice colour, then also browned the sides after removing from the pans. Scores are almost not visible, the oven spring wasn't huge (I guess I proofed them just to the edge of overproofing).

The bread is very nutty and very clear seed flavour, with a soft and pleasant crumb, and thin slightly chewy crust.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Continuing to enjoy the particular high extraction flour widely available here in Switerland aka Ruchmehl. It is very strong, holds a lot of water, and produces tasty and fluffy bread. Very non-white, but also without any grassiness or bitterness that whole wheat breads sometimes have.

This time I threw together some dough for two loaves using 110 g rye levain (1:10 grown during the day at 25C until doubled and then refrigerated until afternoon next day), some of leftover liquid starter (~110 g also, has been in the fridge for a long time) from the experiments following Rus Brot's "yeast-less" bread (which contained some rye schrot, red rye malt, active barley malt, and some raisins), lightly toasted and soaked 50 g pumpkin and 50 g sunflower seeds, and also a couple handfuls of toasted sesame seeds, with 800 g ruchmehl and water until good consistency, not trying to push the hydration, I'd guess around 75% accounting for everything.

I used warm water and kept the dough warm around 25C, but still was surprised how quickly the fermentation proceeded: the dough looked and ready in around 4-4.5 hours, despite the levain having been refrigerated, and the liquid starter had been in the fridge for 3 weeks I think.

Pre-shaped, shaped, rolled in sesame seeds, and final proofed overnight on the balcony, which should be around fridge temperature. The loaves visible grew by morning, and actually felt quite fragile on the verge of overproofing. Luckily I think I caught them just in time, they had decent oven spring, and great crumb. Forgot to take a picture of the batard-shaped one, here is is after cutting:

There aren't too many seeds in the crumb, but the pumpkin and sunflower seeds are quite large, so biting just into one gives a very nice nutty taste. The sesame seeds on the crust are as usual completely intoxicating. Crust is quite thin and crispy, crumb is soft and tender. There is clearly some sourness, more than I usually get, probably due to using refrigerated starters, in particular the liquid one. Not sure if it's visible in the photos, but I think even the tiny amount of red rye malt (less than 10 g) from the liquid starter darkened the crumb a little and gave a reddish hue, looks quite nice.

Anyway, I'm still very pleased with this flour, such a thrown together recipe, but the result is great. And nice to bounce back from semi-failed rye breads from my previous post.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Last year Rus Brot posted a series of videos in an attempt to reproduce and demonstrate how bread was, or at least could have been baked, "in the old times" in Russian villages: "Yeast-less" refers to a fad in Russia about how using commercial yeast is bad for you, and sourdough bread is marketed as "yeast-less", which is of course absurd (and he's made fun of this multiple times on his channel). For a long time I couldn't be bothered to try following these instructions, except for using his proposed way of creating a liquid rye sourdough starter ("kvass"). That worked exceptionally well for me back in Moscow, to create a very strong starter within two days.

Now that I am sort of settled here in Basel and got all my equipment including the heating pad for temperature control, I finally decided to try and follow all instructions from the start (create a new starter again) and actually bake some bread with that technology. It did seem interesting: instead of maintaining the starter, a little portion of mature dough is dried by rubbing 1:1 with flour to preserve for a long time. Then this dry starter crumbs are used to inoculate a liquid starter "kvass", which is used for pre-dough and dough. And again a small portion of the dough is dried up for the future.

Unfortunately, for some reason, my attempt to make the starter here didn't work out, my suspicion is the water I used was too hot (normally for refreshing a starter this temperature would have been perfectly fine, but perhaps to start a new one it was too much). To be on the safe side in case actually it was the flour, when repeating I used rye schrot mixed with barley malt instead of whole rye flour, and some raisins, and then everything went perfectly.

Bread Nr 1

The first bread he recommends baking is 100% whole rye. Which I did. On the outside it looked great!

And it tasted nice too, just simple robust whole grain rye. But it had these weird cracks inside, I've never seen this before, very curious where it could have come from...

The bread was huge (from 1 kg flour), and quite dense, so best eaten in thin slices, so it's been three weeks and I still haven't finished it, since I am temporarily here on my own. While it's a bit dry on the outside under the crust now and hard to cut, inside it's still moist, and no signs of any mold are visible. Today toasted some small peaces in olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic powder, they were great as croutons in a salad.

Bread Nr 2

Now after almost three weeks of no bread baking I was bored and although I still haven't finished this bread, I decided to bake the next bread following his instructions. Dry dough is resuspended in warm water with flour and malt extract, and left to ferment for 20-24 hours at 25-26C. I mixed it in the morning before work, and when I came back home the starter was already bubbly and frothy - but not at all sour yet. So I just stirred it vigorously, and then once more before bed. Then it had a bit of acidity and more complex smell. In the morning about 23 hrs later it must have overfermented, because there were no bubbles at all! Must have consumed all the food and gone quiet.

I assumed the yeast and bacteria were all still there, and just proceeded with the pre-dough (5.5 hrs at 28-29C - I gave it extra 30-40 min to account for the sleepy starter, and also I tend to like a touch more sour bread than his default recipes), and the final dough (1.5 hrs at 30C), shaping and final proof. Like in the video I used some high extraction wheat flour in this recipe (I used ~17% Ruchmehl, in place of his 15% grade 2 flour). The dough was very pleasant to work with, easy to shape and I had a good feeling about it - the only second thought I had was it didn't seem quite as airy as . I final proofed for 40-45 min above a tray of hot water, air temperature was around 35C. Then applied liquid dough, docked and baked - all just like in the video. Just this time I split the dough into to loaves, planning to give one away, so I don't end up eating it all again on my own for three weeks.

The loaves looked good, the only thing they had these back spots, which from experience I know show bubbles just under the crust. But what does the presence of these bubbles mean about the dough? I don't know.

Then net day (today) I cut into one of the loaves. And was greeted with this crumb:

Had it been a wheat bread, I would have assumed it was underfermented, with denser areas between large holes. But I've never seen anything like that in rye bread! Would one expect the same crumb structure defect from underfermentation? Or is that another issue? The crumb is not sticky, and not crumbly, can be cut with a serrated bread knife without leaving any marks on it. But the caverns are a clear issue... Tastes good - just like I remember simple mostly rye bread tasting in Russia. Nothing too special, just sturdy with a prominent taste.

Curious what other might think about the issues with these breads, and what could have caused cracks in the first bread, or caverns in the crumb in the second bread.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

This year with CLAS! Will bring the treats to work tomorrow.

Here is the dough formula:

For the filling I found milled and steamed poppy seeds here - Dampfmohn (pricey, but saves a trip to Germany to buy ready made filling, or saves lots of hard manual work with a pestle and mortar). So just boiled those with milk, honey, lemon zest and raisins the day before.

I used quite hot milk/sugar/salt/oil mixture when making the dough, so it was super warm from the beginning and in an hour it was more than doubled. I punched it down and gave about another 25 min before making the hamantaschen.

Then I had a work thing, so punched down the remaining dough and put on the balcony to slow it down, and then after about 2.5 hrs rolled out and made cinnamon buns.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Made another bread with all ruchmehl - a Swiss "semi whole" wheat flour. Used some quite old unfed rye starter from the fridge (maybe around 25 g?), 450 g ruchmehl, 330 g warm water, 11 g salt. Mixed with a hand mixer and spiral attachments until moderate gluten development. Did three folds about 30 min apart, then left at around 28ºC for a few hours, until nicely grown and airy. Preshaped, and then shaped into a batard, left to final proof overnight on the balcony. Baked in the morning on steel 230ºC around 15 min with steam, then 210ºC without steam until good colour.

Again the ruchmehl gave a rather open crumb! It has 14% protein, higher than any flour easily available here. It makes a very nice strong dough. I can see why the Swiss bakers like baking with it.

This time the flavour is clearly a little more tangy (I guess due to low inoculation with unrefreshed starter and long bulk), but still delicious, and the texture is great. Very pleased with this bread, and I think I might just keep using this flour for everyday sourdough bread. Flavourful and so easy to use. I might compare to some German Type 1050 at some point, should be the most similar flour available afaik.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

We bought some cheese on a market across the border in France on the weekend. So my girlfriend requested some baguettes to go with them, since all my equipment including the baking steel finally arrived from Edinburgh. I wanted to try Benny's Yorkville baguette formula (sans any seeds this time), but I needed a slightly different schedule than in Benny's recipe, so I prepared the levain overnight and increased the % PFF, and shortened the bulk fermentation time. I didn't do a very long cold ferment, but after I observed some growth in the dough I kept it on the balcony outside for a few hours (around 12 degrees C), hoping shorter cool fermentation would still allow some more flavour development.

Here is the formula:

And here are the pics:

Very nice oven spring and beautiful look (although just a little wonky shape (but I haven't baked baguettes in a very long time!). I think this is the best crumb structure I have got with baguettes (open and fluffy), although I have a feeling a slightly wetter dough, while more challenging to work with, could improve the texture even further. The crust is nice and crispy. The taste is nice and mild, perhaps a longer cold ferment would improve it further though.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Having source some very coarse rye schrot, I wanted to bake the Frisian Rye bread by hanseata ( that was highly recommended here by someone a few months ago. I still don't have my bread pans, so bought a cheap cake pan. I was aiming for half of the recipe since I just had one pan. I didn't invest the time to measure its volume, and it turned out to be bigger than I expected, so when I tried to fill it with half-sized dough mixture it was way too little. I should have used the whole recipe for just one pan! Still, I just mixed in 50 g whole rye flour, some more seeds, and water to adjust the consistency (and an additional pinch of salt). It was still quite low in the pan, but at least didn't look ridiculous anymore. It came out quite flat because of this. I also forgot to sprinkle sunflower seeds on top :(

Let it rest for more than a day before tasting it just now. Really delicious, very nutty flavour and nicely caramelized crust. Pleasant crumb texture too, well aerated despite the low profile. Really worth repeating in full scale!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Happy New Year everyone. I'm back in Switzerland after holidays and baked my first bread with the local Ruchmehl flour - a Swiss version of high extraction flour. I followed a very simple recipe from

It includes a white flour levain build over a few hours and then exclusively Ruchmehl in the main dough, with high hydration (80%). The main flour is autolysed for 3 hours before mixing in the salt and levain as well. After just a little hand kneading using just firm folding and Rubaud-style the dough was well developed, and a couple more stretch and folds later made a strong, although stretchy dough. After bulk the dough was preshaped and then final shaped. I proofed in a floured towel in a tray placed on the balcony overnight, with night temperature going down to 4°C - just like in the fridge.

Baked with steam on a tray at 230°C. I discovered the oven here has a special mode for "humid baking" - it doesn't let out steam this way (audibly noticeable that the fan doesn't come on, unlike the regular baking mode even without convection), and it's the recommended setting for baking bread. So I used that, and seemed to work. While the shaping wasn't very tight and in proofing the bread spread out quite a bit lengthwise, oven spring was really good, however the slash didn't open very nicely. Maybe I didn't have to score it at all? Interesting.

The crumb is amazingly open, custardy, soft and a little moist - just like in the pictures on the recipe page! It's very tasty, without very strong wheaty/grassy notes like in whole grain bread, but very flavourful.

Overall, very happy with this bake, and pleasantly surprised with the flour!

And just now after baking noticed that there is an English version of the recipe available, and I didn't have to resort to Google translate :)

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I finally got close to where I want to be with ciabattas!

I was going to a friend's flat for an Italian dinner yesterday, so decided to bring a ciabatta, although previously I only had partial success with this style of bread. However Rus Brot has a video recipe for ciabatta, and so far each and every recipe of his have been a great success, so I decided to risk it. The video is unfortunately only in Russian:

Here is the formula, except I increased the amount of CLAS to 5% by flour weight, since my bread flour is a little higher ash, probably:

In addition, I replaced 20% of the flour with semola rimacinata, since I need to use it up soon, and seemed like a fitting bread to add it to.

The process is very simple. The dough is mixed using cold CLAS and cold water (I used, like him, a hand-held mixer with spiral attachments), and oil and some water are withheld. Then after partial development oil is incorporated, and then the remaining water, until very soft consistency - around 80% hydration in my case, all the while developing the gluten. DDT of about 25°C. Then the dough is transferred into a rectangular contained. Folded after 1 hr, and then it goes into the fridge for ~24 hrs. About half-way through cold bulk it's folded again. Before baking it's warmed up at RT for 1.5 hrs. Then in the recipe he does a few folds before dividing the dough and coaxing it into rectangle. I decided to skip the folds at this stage as I felt they would impede open crumb formation, and simply divided the dough in half. It's then proofed at RT for 20-30 min, and baked. I proofed on a couche, and flipped upside down when transferring onto a peel - like you'd do with baguettes. The very tip of one of them got a little stuck on the peel unfortunately, and I think it deflated that half of the bread a little. So I brought the other one to the dinner party. Baked for about 15 min with steam on steel, and then until I liked the colour without steam.

They looked stunning, even is I say so myself, with the beautiful pattern of flour on the crust. Crust was super hard and crispy out of the oven, and stayed so for a little while, but it's always lost here with the humidity we are having. I think addition of a little durum also helped with that.

My friend took a couple of pictures of the food, which included the sliced ciabatta. Shows quite clearly that in some spots it had huge bubbles under the crust, despite being flipped before loading into the oven. Perhaps they could benefit from some light docking, but they were already huge and would barely fit on my steel, if they ended up being any longer it would be a problem.

Here is the crumb of the one I kept at home. It's a bit different in different parts of the bread, some parts more open than others. But I'm not complaining.

And it's delicious! It's awesome how easy it is to bake with just yeast for leavening, and CLAS provides such pleasant flavour. No overt acidity, but a nice lingering pleasant aftertaste, a bit similar flavour to when I tried making ciabatta with a SD biga back during the CB. Nicely caramelized crust. Light and fluffy crumb. I'm very pleased with this.


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