Sourdough Marble Rye
Hey Fresh Loafers! Apparently this is my first blog post in 10 years! Wow, there have been lots of changes in the amateur artisan bread world. I haven't gone anywhere. I've been baking on and off, in the midst of a busy career and family life, but nothing I felt compelled to post apparently.
Like lots of other folks, I've been spending more time at home during the coronavirus epidemic. I'm so grateful to have a job that lets me work from home and a supportive family.
Being at home all day is just perfect for baking lots of bread. Much of America agrees, if you believe the news. I think it's a wonderful trend, and hope it's here to stay. I don't even mind the empty supermarket shelves with no flour or yeast, if it means that a neighbor has picked up a rewarding and nourishing new hobby.
Trying to schedule bread baking around busy schedule, especially during the work week, was always a complex puzzle. These days it's easy to take a five minute break for that occasional "stretch and fold," to shape a boule, or to preheat the oven.
We all know how rewarding it is to have the fruits of our labor emerge from the oven golden brown, smelling heavenly, and ready to share with family and friends.There is something so comforting and reassuring about making something with your hands that can nourish your body and satisfy your soul.
For today's loaf, I had a couple of pounds of pre-pandemic rye flour left, so decided to make an old favorite, marble rye. For me, a loaf of deli rye flecked with caraway is also nostalgic flavor.
My father's family is German-American, but they were so thoroughly assimilated into Anglo-American culture, that I don't remember anyone ever talking about "the old country" or its ways. No one spoke a word of German nor own a pair of lederhosen. The only vestige of German-ness I recall is that my grandparents would drive from the suburbs into the city to visit a bakery to purchase pumpernickel and rye bread, This was soft deli rye, made with mostly wheat flour I'm sure. It would end up as ham sandwiches for lunch or slathered with peanut butter and jelly at breakfast time.
This time I chose to use my sourdough starter as leavening. Usually, I associated sourdough with crusty, hearth-style loaves, and use commercial yeast to make loaves of soft sandwich bread. But I've found that natural leavening really brings out the best in a rye loaf. I know there's a lot of cool chemistry going on here involving acid, enzymes, and starch. But for me, the take home is acid + rye = good bread.
For my marble rye, I start with the same basic dough, made with 2 parts white flour, 1 part whole wheat, and 1 part rye. After initial mixing, I split the dough in half, with the dark side getting an addition of dark malt syrup, cocoa, and a shot of espresso. The light-colored dough gets a bit of honey and a few spoonfuls of caraway seeds. Both get rolled out into a big rectangle, stacked on top of one another, then rolled up and popped in a greased loaf tin for the final proof.
This was far and away the prettiest spiral I've ever achieved. Sandwich bread like this is so versatile and useful. It makes great sandwiches, and is a great accompaniment to soup. I think there may be veggie reubens or tuna melts on the menu this week. And even my six-year old son loves it for breakfast slathered with peanut butter and jelly.
Anyhow, it's nice to be back. I've been a lurker for a long time, enjoying reading everyone's posts and progress and experiments and encouragement. This is a wonderful and quirky online community and I love all of you!