Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rye Sourdough with Walnuts, Pecans and Raisins

I have not made a free formed rye sourdough bread in quite some time and I took the opportunity to create a formula of my very own, and boy is it great!

But before I go into this bread, I want to show you what I made with my best friends Caryn and Brandon! 

Pecan and Walnut Sourdough Rye Bruschetta with Parsley Pesto, Spicy tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Fresh Sprouts topped with Zaatar.
Click on the photo to enlarge to full size!
Actually, I was planning to make the Rye Sourdough with Walnuts from Jeffrey Hamelman's book but I didn't have enough walnuts for it.. Then I considered making Hamelman's Sourdough Rye with Walnuts and Raisins. Looking at his recipe, I saw that it was only 35% whole rye flour by weight, and I really wanted a hearty rye bread, so I decided to improvise a bit.

I knew that I wanted the bread to be at least 50% whole rye flour so I simply stuck with that percentage. The remainder of the flour was King Arthur Bread Flour. I also knew that I wanted the accessory ingredients to be about 20% of flour weight. So I went ahead and used 8 ounces. I only had about two and a half ounces of walnuts, so I added 1.5 ounces of pecans and about 4 ounces of raisins. A few of the bread formulas in Hamelman's book mention soaking the raisins in water. Soaking the raisins does a few things. First off, they absorb some water which makes the raisins much larger.  Second, it helps to keep the raisins from burning in the oven when the bread is baked at above 450 degrees. Lastly, the soaking process creates a wonderful raisin juice, which I just love to drink or add to drinks or even cocktails. It really has a unique and deep flavor that I really enjoy!

I went ahead and created a sourdough with 30% of the final flour. That means that I used 60% of the total whole rye flour in the bread in the sourdough build. I was a bit concerned because I had not fed my rye starter in close to a month, but it was just fine. Fortunately, rye sourdough tends to be very resilient and that is a good thing, because I might be shipping it across the country in the near future. I think it will be just fine. One of my favorite things about using sourdough, is that it collects yeast from the air. That means that a sourdough from Boston will have much different attributes than a sourdough from Mobile or San Francisco. It literally takes on different flavors in different locations. When I move, my sourdough mix will change as it adapts to its new surroundings. I look forward to tasting my next location's yeast. I must admit that I have become quite fond of the Columbus, Ohio yeast. Since I have been in Ohio, I have become a much more skilled baker and I have been teaching others my knowledge. It has been such a wonderful experience.

Now, back to the bread at hand. The sourdough build was 83% hydrated, which is a hydration that I like to use with Rye breads. I do not have a particular reason for this percent, but it has been a lucky number for me.. I like it because it is loose, yet it has a hearty and heavy structure. 

The sour dough build prior to fermentation

Whenever I made a bread with a heavy sourdough build such as this, I always mix the water and the build in the bowl to help to disperse the yeast. I am not so sure that it is important, but I do it none-the-less. Since 60% of the rye was used in the build, the majority of the flour in the final mix is bread flour. I did use a small amount of yeast to make this bread in a shorter time frame. I could certainly have done without it, but, it nould have taken about two more hours of bench time.

I mixed this bread on first speed for three minutes.

Then I mixed it for three more minutes on second speed.

Finally, I  mixed the dough on first speed for the inclusion of the nuts and raisins. It only took about 1 minute until they were well incorporated in the mix. The dough was still loose, but I really do like to keep my rye breads slightly on the wet side, I find that they rise better and they developbetter crumb. I could have added some additional bread flour, but my intuition told me that it was not necessary.

I let the dough rise for one hour prior to shaping it. Since I did use two pounds of flour, I was able to make a medium-large loaf along with eight good sized rolls. I did not bake these rolls right on the stone because they were actually quite wet and difficult to shape and I was afraid it would be a mess or that I would burn myself. I made sure to preheat the stone for at least an hour. I baked six of the rolls on a half sheet pan and the final two on a sizzle platter. I was pleased with the result. Although they did not pick up the same color that the final loaf did, they had a nice crunch and a wonderful nutty and fruity crumb. I had one roll before it was completely cool, and it was a spiritual experience.  Later last night, I had another one with a generous spread of sweet cream butter and it was amazing! I can not wait to eat one with fresh goat cheese.

When i was shaping the round loaf, I did have to add some flour because it was sticking to the bench and I did not want to fuss too much or get aggravated. The trick to making good bread is to not get frustrated. Like Mark Knopfler, the lead guitarist and singer for Dire Straits says:
"Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're are the bug; sometimes it all falls together and sometimes you're just a fool in love"

(I want those yellow pants!)
And how about that pedal steel player! 

Did you know that Bob Dylan thinks that Mark Knopfler is the best guitarist of all time. I guess that's a risky thing to say, but he is a damn fine player and I love his style and his voice. He sort of sings and talks at the same time. He is definitely in my top five favorites right behind Jerry Garcia, Michael Bloomfield and Robbie Robertson.

The finished loaf....what a beauty!

So, I shaped this bread into a tight round, and I gave it about an hour to proof. I basically knew that i would bake the loaf after I baked the rolls and then gave the oven about ten minutes to get back to a rip-roaring 460 degrees. I gave this bread a score that I do not normally use, three parallel slashes, but I was feeling brave and it baked up so nicely. I am so pleased and so excited to be lathering this baby up with some goat cheese!!

Bake On

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