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My rye loaf - suggestions to improve my method?

gmask1's picture

My rye loaf - suggestions to improve my method?

I recently posted about baking 100% rye loaves, and how my first attempt resulted in brickettes. Today I've completed my second attempt, and I'm looking for some advice about what I've produced. If I describe my method, and show you a photo (with more available if you want them), can you give me some pointers as to whether I'm on the right track here?

I've followed the 100% Rye Sourdough recipe in the BBA, which asks for a firm starter of barm (1/2 cup) and 1 cup of flour, and a soaker (1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water) to be mixed into 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and up to a cup of water. This makes 2 loaves, though I'm concerned (perhaps unnecessarily) by the small amount of flour used in the recipe to make 2 loaves.

 Anyway, the first loaf out of the oven (both were basically identical) looked like this:

My sourdough rye loaf (rye loaf 2)My sourdough rye loaf (rye loaf 2)

My method: 

My barm is about 15 days old, and bubbling away nicely for the 1/2 cup required. The firm starter had a good rise, as did the final dough (both doubled in size within the four hour period; well, I think that they did). Fermentation was done in the oven, with boiling water in a tray to keep the oven warm.

By the time I got to splitting the dough into the 2 loaves, I feared that I could be in trouble. The loaves were small, and I don't think Rye has a large oven spring (if any). Nonetheless, they proofed to a little bigger than the second rise. 

I noticed some problems in my technique along the way - the firm started was definitely more sticky than tacky, as was the final dough prior to the second rise. I feared the oven might have been too warm, sitting between 85F and 90F. When I baked the second loaf, the water spray caught the top of the loaf, possibly changing the texture of that area of the loaf.

What I got out of the oven was as you see in the piccy - a very low flying loaf, about an inch and a half tall, with a chewy crust and dense crumb, definitely textured and not solid (and much, much better than last weeks). The second loaf was solid in the top area where the water spray caught it. The oven started at near to 500F, and I dropped it to 425F after steaming. The loaves were 200F inside after about 25 minutes of cooking.

The taste is mostly fantastic, though there's a slightly acidic taste left on the tip of the tongue. 

I suppose that my biggest worry is that the recipe is to make 2 one-pound loaves, and the 2 loaves I ended up with could just as easily been merged into one more substantial loaf. 

Any advice you might have would be magnificent! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Looks like you've got the proofing part right too.  That can really be tricky as it is easy to over-proof rye.  So you're on the right track!  Congratulations!

If you want to merge the two loaves together, by all means do!  "The bigger the rye loaf, the better the bread." (Austrian Truism) If you want the sides higher, try using a form with a rounded bottom shape like a small (unscrew the handle) frying pan or shallow bowl (oven-proof), use non-stick or parchment paper or gease & flour.  You can also remove from the form at the end of bake and let it brown more on just the rack with the oven turned up a bit to brown.

I've found that I like to let my loaf cool on a rack over a large bowl, then I tip another bowl, either smaller or larger over that leaving about a 2 inch gap going around the bowls for air to circulate as the loaf cools.  This allows for the loaf to cool without getting wet but holds enough escaping moisture to soften a hard crust.  In a large bakery there is plenty of moisture and this is not a concern cooling on racks but most homes tend to be on the dry side. 

You're doing great! 

Mini O