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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Light Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds - Sour Sourdough!

I have been baking from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: a baker's book of techniques and recipes for several months now. It is my go-to bread book. The one I use most for recipes, techniques and general information for anything bread-related.

Now, I started to move to the Sourdough Rye bread section of the book. I like bread with rye flour. It adds extra flavour, not to mention its health benefits.

Given that rye flour requires new routine and I am still learning and getting used to working with the flour, I decided to start with light rye bread containing 15% rye flour.

Rye flour needs different treatment from wheat flour. It ferments faster. It needs strong gluten development. It requires gentler mixing. It benefits more from fermentation at higher temperature. It is also baked at higher and receeding temperature. So, I need to pay close attention to the dough and adjust my bread-making routines.

I used the Light Rye Bread recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread. The recipe calls for yeast (1.5%) and small amount of sourdough starter. The recipe doesn’t give an option of dough retardation as rye flour would not benefit from the long fermentation. moreover, bread made with rye flour is highly fermentable and the retarded dough could easily be over-fermented. And if the rye dough is over-fermented, the bread texture could become unpleasant to eat, with a gluey texture.

I usually retard the dough in the evening and bake in the morning. It suits my schedule better and the bread tastes better after long fermentation. I adjusted the recipe to suit this by omitting the yeast so that the dough won’t be overly active when retarded. I also increased the percentage of mature sourdough starter in the built stage to compensate the missing commercial yeast.

After I retarded the dough, I had a little doubt in my mind that things could go astray. The dough could go absolutely wrong, over-fermented and turn gummy texture. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see that the baking went well. The bread tasted lovely, had a good oven spring, got nice and open crumb and nice crust. I am happy to report that retarding rye dough is doable as long as the dough has a small percentage of rye.

nice and open crumb. It made a good happy weekend for me.

The bread contains 1.7% caraway seeds, which is such a perfect match to rye bread. It lifts the sour flavour and gives a fragrant aroma. The bread seemed to get sourer the next day and the flavour continued to develop. We enjoyed the flavour profile and texture of this bread so much that I will continue to bake it for the next few weeks with slight variations. Next week, I’m planning to add sesame seeds and bulghur into the recipe as well. This way, I can familiarise myself working with rye flour and work with incremental rye percentage in future bake.

If you intend to bake the bread on the same day, you can add 1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast into the dough. The bulk fermentation will need to be reduced to one hour and the final fermentation (proofing) will be 50 – 60 minutes.

There is only one type of rye flour available at retail in Melbourne, which I assume that it is the medium rye, that Hamelman called for.

All rye flour in the recipe is in the sourdough built.

Here is the recipe...

Light Rye Sourdough with Caraway Seeds Recipe
from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: a baker's book of techniques and recipes

make 2 large loaves


Overall Formula
Bread Baker’s Percentage
High-gluten flour
771 g
Medium rye flour
136 g
598 g
Caraway seeds
17 g
17 g
1.54 kg

Sourdough Built
Medium rye flour 136 g
Water 108 g
Mature culture 20 g

Final Dough
High gluten flour 771 g (I used flour with 12.5% protein)
Water 490 g
Caraway seeds 17 g
Salt 17 g (1 tablespoon)
Sourdough 244 g (all of sourdough built less 20 g for future bake)


Prepare sourdough built:  Mix mature culture with water and add rye flour to the mixture. Mix until it is well-combined. Leave the sourdough in a covered container and leave it at room temperature (70°F or 21°C) for 14 - 16 hours until it is ripen.

Mixing: When the sourdough is ripen (it will be dome on top). Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, except salt.  Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Leave it to autolyze in a bowl covered with plastic bag or wrap for 15 minutes. 

Sprinkle salt over the dough surface and mix on the first speed for 3 minutes on first speed and continue mixing on second speed for further 3 – 4 minutes, until a strong gluten development is achieved. Desire dough temperature is 80°F/26°C.

Bulk fermentation: - Leave the dough in a lightly oiled container and cover the bowl with plastic bag or wrap for 2 hours.

Divide the doughs into two equal portions. Pre-shape the doughs into rounds  and let them rest for 10 – 15 minutes under a tea towel. Shape the doughs into oblong (batard) and place into proofing baskets/bowls. Slip the proofing basket into a large plastic bag and retard the dough in the fridge overnight, or between between 8 –12 hours. 

Mist the dough slightly with water and press caraway seeds onto the surface

Baking: take the doughs of the fridge. Let them sit at room temperature to continue its proofing. This will take between 1 –2 hours depending on the temperature. In the meantime, preheat the oven to its highest temperature.

Bake at 240°C (460°F) for 15 minutes with steam, then lower the temperature to  225°C (440°C) and bake for another 20 –25 minutes.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting. 

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