21 June 2009

bread that actually tastes of something

As I have written in several places, this blog is at least partially about 'reclaiming lost favourites'. Most of the times, though, this means just trying to figure out how to make something I have eaten somewhere and never found a recipe for.

So with me currently working hard on learning how to make bread, it was only a matter of time before I started making the rye bread I knew from my childhood.

It is a rather common, plain bread that is sold all over Germany under what seems to me like several different names per town. What they all have in common is a dark crust, a moderately open crumb and distinct, hearty but not too pronounced taste. It is my bread of choice when you want a sandwich with bread that actually tastes of something.

I started out with Michel Suas' formula for wholegrain wheat bread, navigating by trial and error until I ended up with the bread I was looking for.

But can you imagine my utter astonishment when, after several attempts, it slowly dawned to me that what I had bought as 'rye bread' all my childhood long actually contained mere 30% rye flour?

I mean, those breads always were labeled 'Roggenmischbrot' in the small print, which roughly translates as 'partial rye bread', but 30%? Come on, you gotta be kidding!

But, as widespread tastings in my family confirmed, not kidding at all. This IS the bread I was looking for, and it is as good as any store-bought version. Well, actually I think it's better, because even though I'll probably never get this thick crust in my oven as they do in a bakery, it tastes great, keeps much better than a normal one and makes me proud each time I look at it.

Not much more one can ask of a bread, can you? (Except calling it the right name, for that matter...)

'Partial' Rye Bread
(makes one 1.2 kg loaf)

100g wholegrain rye flour (German type 1150)
50ml water
80g sourdough starter (100% hydration rye)

final dough
100g wholegrain rye flour (German type 1150)
100g high-gluten wheat flour (German type 550)
350g wholegrain wheat flour (German type 1050)
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry yeast
420 ml water, lukewarm

The day before baking, mix all the ingredients for the levain and leave to ferment for 12 hours at room temperature.
In my household, twelve hours are over exactly when I am ready to make the final dough the day after I made the levain. ^^

The day of baking, mix all the remaining ingredients with the levain and knead until medium gluten developement.
Meaning: until the dough starts clearing the bowl or stops being a sticky mess.

Leave to proof for 2 hours at room temperature.

Then, shape into a light ball, if possible without de-gassing the dough, and leave to rest for another half an hour.
Simplest way to pre-shape the dough would be pouring it onto a lightly floured surface and tucking the fringes underneath itself just once or twice so it is more or less round and the dough's surface taut as a bedsheet.

After that, shape the dough again as above, this time turning it around and sealing the seam with a few deft pinches. Put seam-up into a well-floured couche and leave to proof for another 1,5 hours.
My 'couche' is a colander with a floured tea-towel inside, and it works like a charm. It even leaves a faint pattern on the loaves as the colander's holes are arranged in circles, so I don't see any point in getting something 'professional'.
90 minutes are the absolute maximum for the final proof - I somehow lost my schedule this morning and the bread went into the oven 15 minutes later than planned. As you can see, it was already overproofed, not yielding any mentionable oven spring.

Preheat the oven to 250°C.
Do this ahead of time, unlike me. See above.

Once the dough is ready, transfer onto a baking sheet and score.
Score - cut a cross or some pattern into the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.

Bake at a low rack with steam for about 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 230°C. Bake for another 30 minutes until the crust is dark and fragrant.
For baking with steam see my descriptions here.

Switch off the oven but leave the bread inside to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes with the door ajar inprove the crust.

Set on a rack to cool completely before cutting.

P.S.: Once again, this post is submitted to the YeastSpotting section of Susan's formidable blog Wild Yeast. Check it out, it is a great resource and inspiration for all home bakers!

1 comment:

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Well whatever you call it, that is one handsome loaf. Tasting great doesn't hurt either :)