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.
To make the rye starter, I took a portion of my regular 100% hydration white starter and fed it with whole rye flour (equal parts flour and water, by weight) for a couple of feedings.
Most of the sourdough rye recipes in my library call for added yeast, but that seemed to be against Ulrike’s rules, so I left the yeast out and had to make some educated guesses, which turned out to be not altogether correct, about how this would affect the fermentation time.
I meant to proof the shaped loaves until the slashes (which I made just after shaping) just started to crack at their ends. But this happened sooner than I anticipated, and my oven was not hot enough to bake them yet, so the loaves overproofed by about 20 minutes. (The proofing time in the recipe reflects what I think it should be, not what I actually did.) They deflated a bit when I transferred them to the peel, and they ended up flatter than what I had hoped for.
Even so, I’m encouraged by the way the bread turned out. It’s dense and flavorful, and easy to slice very thinly for a cheese board or open-faced sandwich. I think making this has taken a little of the edge off my rye anxiety.
Rye and Whole Wheat Sourdough
Yield: 2100 g (4 loaves)
- Mix/autolyse: 40 minutes
- First fermentation: 1.5 – 2 hours
- Divide/rest/shape: 20 minutes
- Proof: 50 minutes
- Bake: 50 minutes
- Cool: 12 hours or longer (for best results)
Desired dough temperature: 78F
- 415 g whole rye flour (I used KAF organic pumpernickel)
- 415 g whole wheat flour (I used Whole Foods organic)
- 195 g high-gluten flour (I used KAF Sir Lancelot)
- 391 g ripe 100%-hydration rye starter
- 726 g water at approximately 70F
- 24 g (4 t.) salt
- Combine the whole wheat and high-gluten flours with 500 g of the water. Mix on low speed until just combined. Allow the dough to rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt, starter, rye flour, and remaining water. Mix on low speed until the gluten has reached a low-medium level of development, about 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky and will not clear the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a covered, lightly oiled container. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) until the dough has increased to approximately 1.5 times its original volume, about 1.5 – 2 hours.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and divide it into 4 pieces of about 525 g each. Shape each piece into a light ball, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with a towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape the dough into blunt-ended batards with a round cross-section. Sprinkle the tops with flour and score in a chevron pattern or leave unscored. Place right-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
- Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag and proof at room temperature until the ends of the scores just start to crack, about 50 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 500F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Transfer the proofed loaves to a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment paper, and then to the hot stone.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the temperature down to 450F. Bake with steam for 10 minutes, then another 30 minutes without steam. Leave the oven door cracked open a bit during the last 10 minutes of this time to help the loaves dry out. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves inside, with the door ajar, for another 10 minutes.
- It is essential to allow the bread to cool completely before cutting it, or it will be gummy. It is even better the day after baking.