This week I tried the Cromarty Cob from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley. The element that makes the bread distinct is the use of a healthy dose of rye starter instead of wheat starter to kick-off the fermentation. Aside from that, this bread could be put together in whatever way suits your taste. I decided that my taste would be well served by the formula as written (and I was not disappointed!). The flour blend is a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flours. For the whole wheat component I used freshly milled hard red wheat, and for the white component I followed the recommendation in the book – AP flour in the leaven and bread flour in the final dough. I didn’t change much, but I did double the formula to end up with one great, big loaf (about 2kg of dough). I also reduced the water by just a touch, fermented a little cooler and baked a little hotter.
I couldn’t resist the "C" for Cromarty scoring. Actually, I appreciate the suggestion, because I still have the hardest time deciding how to score my loaves! I decided to snip it in with scissors - I didn't trust myself to get it right with a blade. I think the effect was pretty nice.
The result was great. A hearty loaf with a soft crumb and substantial crust. Though, I think the crust would have been even better with a hotter bake. The rye sour adds an extra dimension to what would already be a flavorful loaf. The only problem I had was underestimating the vigor of a liquid rye sourdough. The 200% hydration rye sour ferments at an astonishing rate compared to my stiff whole wheat starter. My first attempt at this loaf was… not good. Now that I know what to expect, however, I plan on keeping my starter this way at least until the weather gets hot. The aroma of the rye starter alone is worth it! I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner.