Lithuanian Potato Rye
This is a bread from Stanley Ginsberg's The Rye Baker. It caught my eye as I was casting about for something to use for the current rye bread Community bake.
It is about as simple as a rye bread can be. There are no multi-stage levain builds, no scalds, no soakers, no seeds, and no spices. The only components are rye flour, potato, water, and salt. My sole departure from the formula was to use whole rye flour, rather than medium rye flour.
The initial sour build the night before the bake incorporates rye sour, riced potatoes, rye flour, water, and salt. That last was a bit different from many levain builds in that all of the recipe's salt goes into the levain. Once mixed, the sour is covered and allowed to ferment overnight.
The next morning, the rest of the water and flour are mixed with the sour. The stiff dough/paste is fermented until it the volume increases about 1.5 times. Then the paste is tipped out onto a floured countertop and shaped into a loaf. The loaf is placed on a lined baking sheet and allowed to ferment until cracks begin to show on the surface. For this bake, I could have allowed the final fermentation to go longer but I could see that there was some sideways expansion in the loaf even though the top was still relatively smooth.
The bread is baked without steam. When it comes out of the oven, it is brushed with boiling water to soften the crust, then cooled.
The photo at the top of this post shows the finished loaf. And here's a picture of the crumb:
Not surprisingly, the crumb is close and dense. Some 40 hours after the bake, the bread cuts cleanly without leaving a film on the knife. It is moist and pleasantly chewy. Thanks to the boiling water application, the crust is somewhat leathery, rather than armor-plated.
Flavor-wise, it is all rye. The potatoes don't lend a discernible flavor note. While I had expected some sourness, it is surprisingly subdued and very much in the background. It will make a very good foil for cured meats, pickles, mustard, and other strongly flavored foods.
Outside, it's cold although this morning's low of 4F is much better than yesterday's low of -13F. There's an ice-fishing derby out on the lake today. A few of the participants and their shelters are visible from the front porch:
There are many more outside the frame of the above photo. I took a walk around and spoke to some of the contestants. My impression is that my bread weighs more than anything they were catching.