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My journey into high percentage rye breads

txfarmer's picture

My journey into high percentage rye breads

Inspired by Hamelman's book, I've been getting into baking and eating high percentage rye breads in the past few months. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in China, so I was used to those light as air, soft as cotton Asian style breads, while I have baked and loved European style breads, whole grain breads, and sourdough breads for a while, rye is definitely new and different to me. Here are some of my tries and some comments/questions (all of them are from Hamelman's book):

1) 60% Rye with flexseeds, I loved the taste of this bread, but the shaping needed improvement. Had a few blowouts on the sides, and the surface got stuck on the proofing cloth a bit.

66% Ryewith flaxseeds

2) 70% rye with whole wheat. It was just OK, mostly because I couldn't find rye chops (still can't), so I improvised by using the chopper attachment of my hand mixer to chop up some whole rye berries, and shifting out the powder. It didn't work that well, so the "rye chops" tastes a bit too crunchy even after being soaked all night, also there are some cracking in the crumb, no idea why. Anyone here made this recipe before? Is this bread supposed to be this brick like?

3)Detmolder 90% Rye. That's my favorite one so far! With such high percentage of rye, it's lighter than I expected. Great rye taste. I don't have a bread docker, but I kinda like the irregular crackling on the crust.

4)Vollkornbrot with flaxseeds. I made this one this past Sunday, and waited until today (Tue) to cut in. I still used the same technique for rye chops, but this time I used boiling water to soak it, which helped to soften the texture. I am pretty happy with the taste, moist and good texture from soakers. Boy, is this bread heavy! I used pullman pan like the book suggested, got a tasty, dark, heavy, long piece of brick! :) I am no rye expert, does this look about right for volkornbrot? Both the shape and crumb? It rose quite a bit during the final proofing, but not much in the oven. Did I overproof? Should I have gotten a more dome-ish top, rather than a flat brick?

Next, I want to try the Horst Bandel's black pumpernickel, which intimidates me a little due to the long bake, various soakers, and "too wet" problem documented here on this forum. It also calls for rye chops to be added to the final dough directly without soaking, I need to figure out a way to substitute that since I STILL can't find rye chops. Any suggestions? I can't even find cracked rye locally, just rye berries and rolled rye.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It's good you can get berries!  Now if you would like to use sprouted berries soak them 6 -12 hours and drain them, rinse and drain 2 or 3 times a day until they just start to sprout (2 -3 days. Sprout shelf life refrigerated 1-2 weeks.)  Then boil them reserving the liquid (use as water in a recipe) and run them through a metal meat grinder.  That works pretty good. 

You can used rolled rye "as is" without all the fuss for the Horst Bandel Pumpernikel.

Your "brick" breads look lovely.  If you build a house with them, I will come and eat you out of house and home.  The heavy ryes or vollkornbrot do not rise much and yours look delicious!  Detmolder looks perfect, tight moist crumb, beautiful cracks.  The 60% rye w/flax looks a little dark on top, try covering loosely with aluminum foil half way through the bake.  A good time is when the steam is released and loaf is rotated.  Remove after 20 minutes or so.

"Well Done and Great pictures"



txfarmer's picture

I may just use rolled rye in Horst Bandel Pumpernikel, the sprouting sounds interesting, but a little too involved. ;)

I will definitely try the 60% rye again, and use the tenting tip.

Mini, thanks for the tips and encouragement!

plevee's picture

Your breads look beautiful & delicious. How did you manage the temperature changes for the Detmolder process?

I have a used All Grain grain mill I got on eBay several years ago. On a setting 3/4 way to coarse it produces a mixture of a kind of meal and grains broken into an approximation of rye chops. I sieve the result & soak the 'chops' in hot water overnight & haven't had problems with them being crunchy. It might be possible to soak the rye berries first & them chop them in a food processor or similar to approximate soaked chops?

I haven't tried the high percentage ryes yet, but Hamelman's book has tempted me into making many levain variations I wouldn't have tried otherwise & they always turn out splendidly.


txfarmer's picture

I approximated it: certain parts of the house is cooler (I live in Dallas, it's hella hot out, but AC is on 24/7 inside, so there are spots that's 70-75), kitchen is warmer, then for the warmest part, I used a table lamp and aimed it right above the covered dough. I used a thermometer to monitor the temperatures, and they were all within the acceptable range specified in the book.

Soak first then put in the processor! Why haven't I thought of that?! Thank you so much for this good idea! I will check out the mill on ebay too...

xaipete's picture

Great pics and post. Very inspiring.


txfarmer's picture

Guess what, this weekend I plan to try the blue cheese bread from Local Breads. I did a search saw your blog/saga about baking that bread, LOL, a good warning, now I will leave plenty of time to make that bread. Hopefully mine will come out good like yours!