Tuesday, November 24, 2009

rye bread - chapter 1

i've never figured out rye bread. whether i followed my instincts or Nancy Silverton's recipe (the one with cider), the results were dense, hard, and not particularly delicious. so i went back to wheat, telling myself that some day i would spend some time with rye, get to know each other, learn the new set of instincts i would need to bake the chewy, flavorful rye bread i was imagining. and of the things i must urgently do in the last 6ish weeks before parenthood, finding a pediatrician may be somewhat more vital, but so is bread.
Hodgson Mills is the only rye flour at any of my 3 local grocery stores, but it is a very coarse stone ground whole grain flour, in which the bran is barely pulverized, leaving large pieces of what be better described as rye meal. some in blogoland suggest sifting this flour, using the fine stuff in bread and the rough stuff as bird food. i've ordered some white and medium rye flours from King Arthur, but until they get here, i'm playing with the whole grain stuff.
as i converted the starter, the decrease in gluten level was clearly visible. the ripe starter lost its stickiness, so instead of glooping up as i mixed, i could divide it and see a cross-section of the spongy interior of the starter. i fed it twice a day, at around 100% hydration, though i haven't been weighing things, perhaps i should.
i just mixed a dough, using
  • 2 c. rye starter, fed 18 hours earlier
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. wheat gluten
after mixing in those flours, the dough seemed about as wet as i wanted it. i think this is a moderate proportion of rye to wheat, enough so that i don't really know what i'm doing, but hey, it's not a huge loaf and how else am i going to learn.
going to knead now, and add a couple tablespoons of salt.

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