Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Classic Auvergne Dark Rye (Seigle d' Auvergne)

This is an interesting bread but it was troublesome for me on several fronts. This bread used a stiff levain sourdough starter that is fed with rye flour. Unfortunately I do not have access to the light or medium rye flour which is called for in this formula.  Instead of using available resources and/or asking Daniel Leader what to do, (I have since been in contact with his bakery on Facebook) I just went ahead and used whole rye flour.

Whole rye flour is wonderful and flavorful but it soaks up water way more than even whole wheat flour does. It is important to get this into your memory banks.  Remember that whole grain rye flour really requires quite a bit more water. I noticed that the sourdough build was dense, but I let it be. I did not want to tamper with this formula. The sourdough build did grow quite a bit, but instead of mixing it in the morning, I started in the afternoon. I think that the several hour delay was a big part of the overall problem. Another problem, of course, was the huge amount of whole rye flour that I used in place of light rye flour. In the final dough, the percentage of rye flour is 71 percent, and I used 71% whole rye which was much too heavy. I will explain the mixing process in detail because this bread requires three rises and two mixes.

First I will explain what the formula called for and then I will describe my adaptations. The first mix includes the sourdough build, the hot water, and the rye flour. This is then stirred until a thick batter or paste is formed. Then it is covered in plastic and allowed to rise for 60-90 minutes. Next, the bread flour is added and the dough is mixed for 5-7 minutes on speed 2.  This mix is then fermented for an additional 60-90 minutes. The next steps require shaping the dough into a loose boule;  proofing for only 30 minutes and then baking at 500 degrees for 35-45 minutes. This loaf is not scored, and its appearance is rustic.

Now my adaptations: Since my bread was 71% whole rye flour, it was quite dry. When I added the bread flour to the mixing bowl and started to mix, I could tell It was way too dry. I started to add warm water by the tablespoon. Usually, I would add water 1 teaspoon at a time, but I saw how dry it was and I just knew that 1 tablespoon would barely have an effect on this dough. I added 5 tablespoons in all. That is over a quarter of a cup of additional water. I have baked hundreds of breads and I have never added this much extra water to a bread dough mix.  Even this did not correct everything.  

The dough was still pasty and sticky and I was having a hard time mixing it. I started on first speed and noticed it was having trouble mixing. I tried second speed with no luck. Then I said "what the heck" and started using third speed.  It still did not work. The hook could not quite grab hold of the dough. 

Every 30 seconds I had to stop the mixer, lower the bowl and re-wrap the dough around the dough hook. It was quite difficult for this dough to develop the gluten structure that I was looking for. Your "lesson for the day": When you are mixing dough, towards the beginning of the mix the water is well accepted by the dough.  Towards the middle and the end, once gluten has started to develop, it is a bit more difficult to get water into the dough. What happens is that the water sort of sticks to the outside of the dough and almost acts as if it were oil.  It will often slide around the bowl not quite grabbing hold of the hook. BE PATIENT. The water will be absorbed. It just might take some time. Do this on first speed, so the dough does not become over mixed. I have also found that adding the water a little bit at a time can be very helpful. 

Since this dough was heavy, and the starter was quite a bit over-developed, this dough needed much more time in the bowl. I would say that the dough had to rest for at least another 90 minutes. When I tried to shape it, it would not quite form into a boule, so I shaped it into a log and baked it as a pan loaf. I let it proof for another hour. To avoid the 'pan-loaf' like texture I removed the bread from the pan after the initial 10-12 minutes of baking time. I always try to do this if I can (except for volkonbrot)

This bread did not rise much in the oven. I knew this was going to be a dense loaf. I was disappointed, but I had to let it rest and cool. Later that evening I went to my friend Dima's apartment and help him prepare some lentil stew, some pesto and some oatmeal cookies.  (I am teaching him how to cook). When I realized that he did not have half of the ingredients that we needed, we went back to my place to pick up a few things. I asked him if he would like to try this bread. He accepted. Dima told me that it was really great, and that it reminded him of the Ukranian breads he ate as a child. I was pleased by this news. Myself, I did not try the bread till this morning.  It's not the worst that I have made and it certainly is not the best. What pleases me the most is that it was not a failure. I had to make a few adjustments "on the fly", but it became bread. And bread is what we are after isn't it?  This bread is living proof that you have to finish what you started.

One more "tip for the day": When you are making bread and all does not go as planned.......Finish what you started. Don't just throw away your sluggish dough.  At least give it a fighting chance.  Tweak the dough a bit and bake it.  Then and only then you have my permission to feed it to the birds (or you can simply give it to my father and he will gladly feed them for you (or you can even make bread crumbs or croutons).  

Here are a few photos:

You can see all of the carbon dioxide that was created by the natural yeast in the sourdough by the dome that was created by the gas exchange. 

My next project is Alpine Baguettes and I will baking once again with my great friend Caryn!
Keep on Baking and Keep on Reading

P.S I received a comment asking if I could hyperlink the bolded glossary terms to the glossary. I have tried. It will not link to the term itself, but they are in alphabetical order. 


1 comment :

  1. Higher percent rye breads are tricky. I have a few suggestions (having dealt with the same issues).
    If you have access at least to some white rye flour you can use 50% white rye and 50% whole rye - it will not be quite the same as medium rye, but comes much closer.
    Don't use the dough hook with rye doughs, use the paddle instead.
    Baking this kind of bread in a pan first, and then turning it out after it firmed up is a good idea, I do it several similar breads (with Vollkornbrot, too, by the way.)
    Happy baking,
    Karin (Karin's Bäckerei)