Rye and Whole Wheat Sourdough for BreadBakingDay #3

Rye sourdough loaves

Ulrike of Küchenlatein set the task for BBD #3: bread leavened exclusively with sourdough, preferably rye. The sourdough part did not make me nervous, but the rye part did. Rye bread and I do not exactly have a long history together.

For one thing, I only recently acquired a taste for it. For another, to be honest, it scares me a little. Other than the wheat family, rye is the only grain that contains gluten, but its gluten is much more fragile than wheat’s. It can, therefore, tolerate less mixing and fermentation. The prospect of a twitchy dough made for a twitchy me. Time to be brave.

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Fendu, and a Bit About Spiking

Fendu batards

This was going to be a post about one thing: shaping a fendu loaf. Then I ended up having to improvise a little with the dough formula, so it will be about that, too.

First, the fendu: I’ve been getting a little bored with basic batards lately, so I thought I’d do something just a bit different. A fendu (French for “split”) loaf is an easy variation that looks cool and offers a nice respite for those with scoring anxiety.

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Sourdough Bagels

I am a morning person. If I’m still in bed at 6:30, even on a weekend, I’ve slept in. I love the stillness before the other creatures in my household are stirring, and sometimes I just spend it over the crossword puzzle and a cup of coffee. But if I’ve started bagels the night before, I have some work to do. Just a little, though: boil and bake, and I’ve got these wonderfully chewy gems in time to take to work, or to welcome my family as they trickle out of bed.

Sourdough Bagels

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Flour + Water = Starter

Ah, summer… corn on the cob, lazy reading in the hammock, and… sourdough starter, of course!

Mature sourdough starter

I’ve been taking advantage of this warm weather to try raising some starters from scratch. I had done it before in a week-long class (in fact, that’s the starter I’ve been using for months), but we were able to keep our cultures at a constant 80 degrees F, and we added extra malt to jump-start the process. I wanted to see how it worked with just flour and water, in the warm but fluctuating room temperatures of my non-air-conditioned house in these beautiful early summer weeks in northern California.

Success! Raising a starter seems to be something that is perceived as mysterious, complicated, or hard. But in my experience, it’s not; it just requires attention and patience.

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My New Favorite Sourdough

I love baking all kinds of bread, but a basic sourdough loaf is an essential staple at our house. Good with everything from blue cheese to blueberry jam, and quite possibly even better unadorned, we always feel something is missing if there isn’t a loaf resting on the cutting board, ready for a quick snack or a hearty sandwich.
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