Monday, January 28, 2013

Roggenmischbrot und Sonnenblumenkernen

My good friend Kyle has been trying to get me to bake authentic rye bread with him for quite some time. I am pleased to report that I have finally come around to doing it! Kyle is the kind of guy who likes to experience things as authentically as possible. Therefore, I decided that he and I would bake a rye bread that I have never baked before. It is also a bread that I translated from German. I also knew that I wanted to bake bread that was a Vollkornbrot (or completely whole grain). It is also important to mention that Kyle is, indirectly, one of the driving forces behind my embarking on my German Rye Adventure. 

About two years ago, Kyle and I began a very deep and intense conversation about symbols and symbolism on Facebook. One of Kyle's friends, Alexander, joined in the conversation. Alex and I soon became friends and began speaking on a regular basis. Alex has become my German translator, without whom I could not have even begun my German Rye Adventure. We now speak multiple times a week. 

Kyle is the kind of guy who is very down-to-earth, and the company that he keeps is the same. He is very open minded, friendly and warm. I rather enjoy the conversations that we have. 

It is almost funny that the bread that Kyle and I would eventually bake is one of the most intense breads to bake! I felt that baking this bread with him would make the experience very powerful. This bread requires a very long fermentation; a very long bake; and a very long rest before it can ever be eaten. All of this adds to the character of this amazing bread. 

Rather than spending all of my time on the formula itself, I would like to give my readers a few insights into some of the team effort involved in baking this bread. I will share a couple of my observations of my experience as a by-stander, observing Kyle's experience along with our mutual friend Adam's experience. Adam arrived on the scene after the actual mixing had taken place. Adam is a very deep individual, who has many interesting perspectives to share on many different topics.  While the bread was cooling and coming to terms with itself, Adam and I grabbed a brew and we had one of the most interesting conversations that I think I have ever had. It was very eye opening, and even mind opening! 

I did prepare the sourdough build the night before and I prepared the toasted sunflower seed and rye meal soaker. Due to the large amount of sourdough and soaker included in this bread, very little water is added to the final mix. 

This bread calls for malt powder, but since I do not have any, I used barley malt syrup. I love the smell of malt syrup with its rich and deep earthy flavor that almost has a dirty sweetness to it. It drives my olfactory senses wild. I explained to Kyle that since there is such a small amount of water in the final mix it is crucial to mix the barley malt syrup with the water, and to make sure it is warm so that the syrup will be combined as completely as possible. Another thing I explained was that it is very important to mix the sourdough build with the water to be sure that it becomes distributed throughout the bread. This was particularly important because I forgot to bring the yeast to Kyle's house. Because I had no yeast, we were relying solely on the sourdough starter to allow for rising. Remember that my breads have been slow to rise due to the very cold weather. Fortunately, Kyle's house is not kept at the same frigid temperatures that my house. Since we did not use any instant yeast, we did extend the length of all resting times for the dough. We also extended the fermentation time by an additional 90 minutes and added 110 minutes to the proofing time. Although the bread did not seem to rise too much in the pan I had faith that it would get good oven spring despite the fact that it was 100% whole grain. The bread gods were good to us on this cold and snowy winter day, so I send my thanks to them.

After this bread was shaped into a log, we rolled it in a very generous amount of sunflower seeds. Once again, I used toasted and salted seeds, because I love the flavor that they contribute to the bread. As you can see from the finished bread, this bread has a ton of sunflower seeds on the bread's crust and a fair amount of seeds within the bread's crumb. 

Lastly, I would like to share with you a bit of Kyle's experience, which I captured on video using my cell phone. This brought me so much joy. Kyle's grunting and heavy breathing during the kneading of this bread reminds me that this is a truly a labor of love; we do not use the word 'labor' lightly. 

It is truly a lot of work to produce bread like this. Seeing the finished product reminds us that our efforts were worth it. All of that sweat and work was worth it and gives us a sense of pride and joy as we marvel at the results of the finished product. The look on Kyle's face was perfect! He really got into the process. Adam asked so many questions, many of which I had a hard time answering. It is not that I could not explain the answer, but more along the lines of I did not know how to explain it. Some of my answers were long-winded, but I was able to answer them, no matter how long it took me to explain. When we become so skilled at a task, we take advantage of our understanding, as it becomes an extension of our hands (or knowledge). Explaining these things to Adam, reminded me of how much I know and how far I have come. More importantly, they remind me that I still have far to go and that there is no one destination; only journey and only bread!

Bake On!
DW, -The Bread Barron

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