Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dark Polish Rye with Pumpkin Seeds

Not only is this an exciting bread, but I decided to chronicle the entire process with photographs. For the first time, I will present you with a time line of the bread's production.  Let me know what you think about it. I encourage your feedback.

I will start off with a picture of the baked loaf so I can discuss my first actual experience using a stencil. Around Thanksgiving, I created a couple of stencils. I made a stencil in the shape of a turkey, in hopes of using it on my loaves which I brought to the Thanksgiving meal.  Unfortunately, the breads were not large enough for the stencil to work properly, so I didn't use it. 

It began last November. I was taking a large corrugated cardboard box to my dumpster because it was falling apart. Halfway there, I had an epiphany.  Why not make some bread stencils out of it.  I have to admit, I might be an artisan, but art, particularly drawing, is not something I have ever really mastered. I was able to make two stencils.  One is the turkey and the other one is the letter "W" which I stenciled on this 2.54 pound (1.08 Kg) boule. I really like the dimension that it added to the finished loaf. Not only did it personalize the loaf, but it also made it classy and rather avante garde. I think that this has inspired me to create some more stencils. Perhaps this will be a "Bake On" staple is in my future. I can almost picture it now!
This is the finished product! I was so pleased with its appearance. I think I had a success dance in my living room for at least 30 seconds. 

Let the timeline begin. 
9:00 pm Tuesday

First I created the sourdough build. Daniel Leader's formula called for white rye flour once again. This is typically what they use in Poland, but I used the medium rye flour that I created by sifting my whole rye flour through a fine sifter. The sifter worked really well. I think it might actually be so well-made that the flour is more accurately a blend of light rye and medium rye flour.  I was very happy with the result. The build was 100% hydrated and included 50g of my German Sourdough starter. The build was a little loose, but the hydration seemed perfect. I think that if I used whole rye flour it would have been much more dense and less smooth. Here are some photos of the sourdough build immediately after it was mixed. 

You can see that the starter is not uniform, there is no need to mix it until it is smooth.

This close up allows you to see that the germ is in fact still included in the flour even after it has been sifted (the flecks of darker brown coloration).

8:00 am Wednesday

As you can see, the sourdough build grew considerably. I am very proud of my starter; particularly my rye sourdough starer. I want to note here that the rye sourdough starter is very hearty. It can remain unfed for months in the refrigerator. The alcohol and water will seperate and float to the top, but when fed for a few days, the starter will be ready to rock. Wheat starters can do this, but they must be fed on a more regular basis. 

Typically a sourdough build that is on the wet side (greater than 80% hydrated) will spread out like this, had whole rye flour been used the starter would have been much darker and much less fluid even with 100% hydration)

You could really smell the acid in this sourdough build. I have to admit that I love the smell of a sourdough build. Its pungent aroma makes me happy to be a baker. Some people have pets, I have starters. I have to admit that starters are much easier to care for than pets.

9:00 am Wednesday 
I began to scale out the dry ingredients and place them in a separate bowl. I always do this in the bowl that I will ferment the dough in. In this case, I used a large glass bowl. Daniel Leader likes to mix the dry ingredients with the water, then he add the sourdough build and then proceeds to the kneading process. My method differs slightly from what Leader does. I prefer to combine the sourdough build with the water and mix this very well with my fingers. I find that the dispersion of the sourdough throughout the water helps to disperse the yeast in the final dough. You may use whichever method your prefer. 

Leader recommends mixing this bread for 7-8 minutes on 4th speed. As you may have read in earlier posts, I really like to mix my bread using first and second speeds.  I will use 3rd speed if it is absolutely necessary. I prefer a longer, slower, and gentler mix to a faster more aggressive mix. I mixed on first speed for close to five minutes. Then I mixed on second speed for 3 minutes. Then I pulled the dough off of the hook and added all of the pumpkin seeds (about 1 cup). Finally, I mixed the dough on first speed for two more minutes. The dough had good gluten development. This is because the final mix contained 150 grams of whole rye flour and 350 grams of bread flour. This amount of bread flour helped to ensure good gluten development. It is possible to make bread without wheat flour, such as the traditional and epic German rye bread called Volkonbrotwhich I will be making in a few weeks.

I just had an idea, Volkonbrot with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, that would be amazing! 

Well here are the pictures of the dough after the mix. As you can see, it is fairly well hydrated, and there is a generous amount of pumpkin seeds present in the dough. 

11:30 am Wednesday

I let this dough ferment for 2+1/2 hours. I could have folded this dough, but I left it alone. I thought it was looking really good, and I am glad that I did not fold it. It looked like it was rising well and I think that if I folded the dough, the crumb would have been more tight. I really loved the crumb that was in the final product. I took a picture through the bowl so that you could see the wonderful air bubbles that were created from the yeast consuming sugars in the dough and releasing carbon dioxide. You've got to eat to grow!

Click on the picture it will maximize and you can see this at a higher resolution.

I lightly floured the counter with rye flour and shaped this loaf into a boule. Then I floured my peel with a generous amount of semolina flour and let it proof at room temperature for 2 hours. When I proof, I usually let a kitchen towel soak up hot tap water in the sink. Then I wring it out and cover the shaped dough with the rag. Regarding plastic wrap: it often sticks to the dough. I have had much better success using the damp rag as opposed to using plastic wrap. 

1:00 pm Wednesday

I pre-heated the oven to a temperature of 500 degrees to heat up the baking stone. The bread will actually bake at 400 degrees, but I always turn the oven to 500 and then decrease the temperture once the bread has been loaded into the oven. I do this because I know that the loading and steaming of the oven will require the oven door to be open for roughly 20 seconds and the oven with lose a considerable amount of heat during this time. If I was using an industrial oven this would not be necessary. You may not find this necessary, but it is just something that I like to do.

2:00 pm Wednesday
This is a picture of the bread just prior to using the stencil. This is about five minutes prior to baking
Uncooked boule with Stenciled "W"

The dough is now ready to be baked, but first it must be scored. This dark Polish rye is typically scored with three parallel slashes, but I wanted to use a stencil.  I decided to the use the box pattern. Be careful and make sure that none of the score marks intersect one another. Once scored I placed the loaf in the oven and immediately steamed the oven and closed the door

3:00 Wednesday 
Low and behold this finished loaf. The pumpkin seeds provided a wonderful aroma in and around the kitchen. I had to let this bread sit and cool for at least two hours, but my plan was to let this bread cool for at least 12 hours (overnight) to settle the crumb and allow the flavors to mingle and spread. 

Here are the photos of the finished loaf and of the crumb.

Look at all those wonderful seeds

I think that this bread had a perfect crumb, tight yet open. Hearty and light at the same time. You can really see all the seeds that are present in this dough. Now if I only had some fresh goat cheese to smear on this bread! Oh, wait, I do! 

Daniel Leader, this is a wonderful bread!  This is another Rye bread that brings a smile to my face!

Now, I would like some feedback. Do we like the the style of this post, with the pictures throughout? Do you like the timeline?  It is a little more work, but it is a lot of fun. I feel that it gives you, the reader, a better feel for the entire process. Please comment and let me know what you think?

Just one more Polish bread to go, the Polish Cottage Rye which is made with a really large sourdough build, I am excited! Then I get to travel to another region to bake some more local breads!

Bake On


  1. Oh my goodness Dave, this bread is GORGEOUS! (Inside and out). I love the close up of the bubbly carbon dioxide-y bread, it's so interesting to see how those bubbles turn into the ones in that delicious looking bread. mmmm. What do you think it will go well with? Also, maybe I missed this when I was reading, but what is it that makes the white part of the W?

    1. I think this bread will lend itself to fresh goat cheese wonderfully. I may have forgotten to mention that after the stencil is plased over the proofed dough, it is sifted with bread flour (or any flour you would like to use). If I had baked a white bread I would have dusted it with wheat flour.

  2. I love the new layout, and this bread looks great. Know what else is great? The grateful dead. Know what that makes your blog? Double great.