Monday, March 5, 2012

Polish Cottage Rye (Wiejski Chleba)

Polish Cottage Rye

This is a short video to share with all of you that I recently came across. This is how I feel about Polish rye bread!

This is the third of the three Polish rye breads found in Daniel Leader's Local Bread. Its characteristics are quite different from the two previous loaves that I posted on. I did not take quite as many pictures as I did with the Dark Polish Rye, but there are still several photos. One of the unique characteristics of the Polish Cottage Rye is the size of the sourdough build. 380 g of sourdough is added to the final dough. In other words, 43% of the total flour weight is pre-fermented in the sourdough build. This is just about the same amount that is used in Vollkorbrot (which is coming shortly). This is a lot of sourdough. The rest of the flour in this bread is bread flour, so the bread is not too heavy, although it does have some heft to it. In addition to the high amount of sourdough, this dough is fairly wet, but manageable. Although it is only 65% hydrated, it seems higher than this due to the high proportion of sourdough in the mix. 

The sourdough build was 100 percent hydrated. I have to mention that I did not have enough medium rye flour to meet the 175 grams. I only had about 100 grams, so I supplemented the medium rye flour with 75 grams of whole rye flour. This most likely added body to the bread because of the use of whole grains. The sourdough would have been slightly lighter, and much more wet had I only used medium rye flour. In the end, I was still pleased with the results. 

Because the final mix was only composed of bread flour and the sourdough, the final color was fairly light with very uniform coloration. I mixed the dough on first speed for about five minutes; then on second speed for five more minutes. The dough was very wet in the bowl. Because of this, every minute or two I scraped down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula.

A dough such as this is not expected to clear the sides of the bowl during the mix. Expect it to be sticky and loose, with noticeable gluten development, because such a large amount of bread flour is used. After the dough was mixed, I placed it in a large bowl and allowed it to rise for 2-3 hours. I decided to give this bread a fold, but I was not overly careful about making the fold as perfect as possible. I was just looking for a little bit of a push in terms of gluten development. I folded after one and a half hours of bench time. 

This is the dough after about 90 minutes of fermentation before the dough was folded.

This is a picture after the dough was folded, as you can see the dough is tighter and has more of a structure to it. Folding dough can be essential, other times it is not necessary. If you think a dough may only need a very small fold simply fold it over itself once, or just give it a little more time to ferment prior to shaping. 
I dusted the counter top with whole rye flour because I liked the texture of the flour. Then I shaped the dough into a rough round because this is a country loaf.  It is not intended to be a tight boule, but rather a lower and more open bread (similar to a miche). This dough was wet and a little bit more difficult to shape than the previous two polish rye breads. I was able to work with it by using a bench scraper and heavily floured hands. 

As you will notice, the bread was not a perfect round. This is okay because you want the bread to have a rustic look to it. Prior to proofing the shaped loaf, I dusted the bread with whole rye flour. This helped to give the loaf a more rustic appearance. 

I am provided a close up photo so that you can see the texture that is achieved by dustin with whole rye flour.

After about 90 minutes, I slashed the loaf with three parallel strokes with a serrated paring knife. Daniel Leader recommends wetting the scoring device to keep it from snagging the dough. With practice you will acquire the proper technique. I used fast, fluid strokes and I did not dip the tip of the knife into the dough. Instead, I used the entire blade without the tip. The next that time I bake with friends, I will take a video of the scoring so that you can better visualize the process. I will do my best to do it in slow motion for you so that you can really see the process. Ideally you want the scores about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch deep (~1cm). 

Here is a photo of the scored loaf just before baking

And a close up of two of the score marks. If you look closely into each score, particularly the one on the left you can see how the gluten in the dough is holding the dough together. This is a sign of wonderful dough strength and it is also just cool to be able to see the physical science behind the chemistry of bread. 

I baked this loaf on a well-preheated stone to 450 degrees with a big burst of steam in the oven when I was loading the bread. As you can see below, one of the scores opened up just beautifully. I love the way the crust looks around this score. It achieved beautiful coloration. 

Here is a close up on the score which opened beautifully. I love the rustic look that was achieved in this bread
Let us take a quick look at the crumb. 

Boy, this is an open loaf due to the high amount of sourdough and the overall hydration of the final dough. Had more whole grain flour been used, the crumb would have been significantly darker and less open. It was not my favorite of the three ryes, but I was still really pleased with this bread.  Hands down, the Dark Rye with pumpkin seeds was my favorite of the three ryes. Overall, this is a good bread. I think this is a perfect picnic loaf. I am a fan of misshapen loaves because I think they have character. Our flaws make us unique as people and I think that the same applies to bread. If you are on a picnic, the loaf is just going to get ripped to shreds anyways. 

I am really glad that I baked all of the Polish rye breads together. It was a lot of fun to 'spend' a week in Poland!

I do have one important note. At the last minute, I decided to attend a potluck for lunch, so I had to put my bread-baking on hold. When I woke up about 8 A.M., I placed the sourdough build in the fridge. I left it there until 11:30 when I left for lunch. I thought that this cooling and the process of slowly bringing it back to room temperature would prevent the sourdough from over-developing. I know that making bread can be really technical at times, but there are ways around some of these technicalities. I thought that this would work well, and it did for me. I would not necessarily do this with all breads, but with this loaf it worked fine.

I am excited to announce that the Volkornbrot is out of the oven and it is gorgeous. I can not wait to show all of you this wonderful bread which defies the need for wheat flour. It is a personal favorite and I can't wait to cut it open. 

1 comment :

  1. Lovely breads. It's always a bit tricky to work with those wet doughs, but the open crumb is worth it. Did you find any errata in these Polish bread recipes?
    I hope your Vollkornbrot turned out nice. I bake it now and then for sale, these very dark ryes being not really my favorites (I guess I am a bad German).