The Fresh Loaf

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40% Rye with Caraway to accompany Chicken Soup with Ginger & Dill

JMonkey's picture

40% Rye with Caraway to accompany Chicken Soup with Ginger & Dill

I swear, it's just about impossible to kill a starter. I'd left my poor rye starter unfed in the fridge for at least three months, and when I opened it a couple of days ago, the top was a slimy grey with some sort of fuzzy stuff starting to take hold. But, as I often find is the case, underneath this disgusting, repulsive crust, though the starter looked tired, it also looked undamaged.

 I fed a dab of this under-crust starter a few times and it soon looked ready to make a loaf of bread. So I did -- a loaf of 40% Rye with Caraway.

Such a tasty loaf. And it paired well with Carol Lessor's Chicken with Ginger & Dill Soup from Souped Up!. I'd been admiring the recipe for some time, but it called for boiling a whole chicken, which I usually don't have handy. At the Winter Farmer's Market this weekend, however, a woman was selling stew hens for cheap, so I picked one up for about $6. For those who have the book, it seemed like overkill to me to boil the chicken and vegetables in chicken stock, so I just used water.

It's a good soup.

The bread was good, too. Here's how I made it (It's the same recipe that I put in the handbook. I adapted it from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread so that it would work with my 100% hydration starter. I also bumped up the water in the loaf and omitted the commercial yeast. I figure the sourdough is strong enough to do the job so long as I've got the time to wait.

Whole rye flour: 40%
White flour: 60%
Water: 75%
Salt: 1.8%
Caraway seeds: 1.8%

40% of the flour (all the rye) is in the starter at 100% hydration

White flour: 300 grams or about 2 generous cups
Rye starter (at 100% hydration): 400 grams or 1.25 cups
Water: 175 grams or ¾ cup
Salt: 9 grams or 1.25 tsp
Caraway seeds: 9 grams or 1 Tbs + 1 tsp

Dissolve the starter into the water, and then add the salt and caraway seeds. Add the flour and mix until everything is hydrated.

Dough development and the first rise
You’ll want to do either the stretch and fold or traditional kneading. Either way, it’ll be a little tricky because the rye will make the dough sticky. Keep at it – the dough will come together, though it will be more clay-like than a 100% wheat dough.

Be gentle. You want to retain as many of those air bubbles as possible. Rounds and batards are the traditional shapes.

Second rise
You can let it rise for another 2 hours at room temperature. You can also speed things up (and increase sourness) by placing the dough on an upturned bowl in the bottom of a picnic cooler, throwing a cup of boiling water in the bottom and covering it quickly. After an hour, throw another cup of hot water in. The rise should only take a 90 minutes this way.

Score the bread as you like. Hash marks are traditional for rounds, and batards usually take a single, bold stroke down the center or a couple of baguette-style slashes.

I baked this in a cloche at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes, taking the top of the cloche off about halfway through.

Tomorrow: a big fat tempeh reuben for lunch! (What?! That doesn't sound good? Truth be told, it sounds awful to everyone else but me in my family, as well. But to me ... heaven.)


dmsnyder's picture

I guess it's the La Cloche that yields that thick a crust. Is it crunchy? Or does it get chewy after cooling?


JMonkey's picture

It was crunchy (that's the Cloche for you), though it's chewy by the next day.

ehanner's picture

Jmonkey, that looks delicious to me. I'll take one of those sandwiches too. It is remarkable how stable a starter is. They seem to be forgiving of our inattention.


crunchy's picture

so open, I can almost taste it. How pronounced is the rye flavor? Tempeh is delicious, I agree. Do you make your own? I never have, but heard there are people who do.


JMonkey's picture

It's defintiely a rye bread by taste, and it combines nicely with the caraway. I've not gotten to the point where I make my own tempeh, and probably never will, since there are several local places I can get good tempeh. Plus, I'm the only one in the house who'd eat it.

Aprea's picture

Pardon me - but I do not know what a 100% hydration starter is.  Does that mean that for every ounce of rye flour, you add the same # of ounces of water?  I am just a little confused ...

JMonkey's picture

Yes. Sorry about that -- I was talking in Baker's Math. Here's a link to a section in the handbook about it.

Basically, the percentage hydration is a way to express how much water is in a dough (or starter or pre-ferment) in proportion to the flour weight. So if it were at 75% hydration, then the water weight would equal 75% of the flour weight.

In this case, I keep my rye starter at 100% (equal weights of water to flour). Does that make sense?

Aprea's picture

I guess I could have looked it up...but I do have one more question.  I just started with my first sourdough starter - wheat AP...  Could I take the portion that I throw out and make it into a rye starter?  The current hydration according to bakers math is 50% hydration.

JMonkey's picture

Absolutely! Just take a bit of your AP starter and feed it rye a few times. Done!

mountaindog's picture

Beautiful open crumb on that rye, JMonkey! Was that Rhonda the Rye that you brought back to life? Do you think the rye starter gave a more sour taste than your wheat starter would have?

I used to maintain a 100% rye starter along with my current whole wheat starter, the rye made things rise a lot faster, all else being equal, but gave everything a much more sour flavor. I made the mistake once of using the rye starter for the King Arthur sourdough waffle recipe - boy did that taste extremely sour in a not good way, that just did not go well with maple syrup! In my efforts to simplify over the past year, I gave up on keeping multiple starters and just have the wheat now.

JMonkey's picture

I used to keep three starters, but now am just down to Rhonda Rye (that's her!) and my trusty whole wheat starter. Rhonda is terribly neglected most of the time. I've let her go months without feeding her, but she always bounces back.

I don'tt know if there's any difference, frankly. Rhonda's such a low-maintennance kind of starter, I've not been tempted to go with only one.