Monday, 15 January 2018

Hye on Rye

For someone who usually cooks with ingredients that grow within a 500 k radius (and most of them within 50k), a bag of flour that has journeyed across two oceans and a few seas can look more than a little formidable. 

So there I was, looking at the bag of rye flour I had ordered on an impulse, and feeling more than a little nervous. Would this new flour get along with my starter? Would it agree to share a loaf with the atta flour I usually use to bake bread? Would I be able to come close to the incredible rye breads I had eaten and enjoyed? There was only one way to get answers to all my questions!

After a lot of time spent browsing on the bread communities I belong to, and recipes on the internet, I went with a simple recipe that used 50% rye and 50% flour+starter.


250 g stone-ground dark rye flour
100 g wholewheat starter (1:1 hydration)
150 g flour
10 g salt
70% hydration


I mixed everything together and waited for the usual autolyse magic to happen, but to cut a short story shorter, it didn't!

I had a wet, gloopy, sticky, clingy, exasperatingly loose mixture that was fierce competition to super glue. I kneaded gently, than with frustration and finally with resignation, but something in that must have worked and I ended up with a mixture that almost resembled a dough. It wasn't silky or smooth, but at least it wasn't glue, and for that I was grateful to the sourdough fairy.
I did a stretch and fold routine every hour for the next couple of hours, and about 4 hours later, the mound of darkish dough had risen. 

I shaped it into a round loaf and let it rest until it rose again... the weather has warmed up a bit here and it took a couple of hours to sort of resemble a respectable loaf.  

After a couple of slashes and a sprinkling of flax seed, into a steaming oven it went at 250 degrees celsius for 12 minutes, after which I turned the heat down to 190 degrees for forty minutes more.  

The bread was close textured and delicious. The texture of rye came through delightfully. The crumb had darkened more by day two, and the bread was even tastier. Is that normal? Could I have done things differently? 

There's still enough rye flour left for another loaf, and I would really really appreciate tips and advice from bakers who have experience with this wonderful grain.