Friday, January 23, 2015

Sourdough Rye with Roasted Salted Almonds

Recently, I have been milling my own whole rye berries. This is a bread prepared from them. This formula comes from Jeffrey Hamelman's book BREAD. I pretty much followed his recipe to a tee. I only replaced the walnuts with roasted salted almonds and reduced the amount of nuts from 25% to 12.5%. The nuts had a pretty heavy dusting of salt, so I cut the percentage of nuts down so that the bread was not overly salty.

Kelly and I have not yet found a permanent apartment, so a lot of my stuff is still in storage. Since my 5 Qt combo cooker in out of storage and handy, I made one loaf in the combo cooker and the other loaf in a heavy pie pan. When you compare the two breads, you can really see the difference that the combo cooker makes. It gives the loaf character and really distinguishes it. It provides excellent color and a much more robust crust. The loaf that was baked in the combo cooker was also proofed in a linen-lined brotform, and hence has much more appealing color contrast and developed a bit more oven spring. 

Once again, this bread was prepared with a white levain mother though it was fed with rye flour the day before. The resulting levain was then used to bake this bread. I wanted to give this bread a little more punch because my starter was quite separated and it was time for a feeding. Once we are fully settled in to our new place, my plan is to have at least two starters. We have found a place that we like, but we don't know yet that we will be able to can claim it as our own. We will keep you posted.

I am very excited to be working with rye flour again, but I miss my mixer for high percentage of rye flour breads. This is a classic case of appreciating something more when you don't have it. I need to remind you that the hand kneading of these heavier rye breads is quite the task. The doughs are very sticky and hard to knead. I had to wet my hands several times during the mixing of this bread to keep all of the dough from sticking to both of my hands. Special kudos go to my good friend Douglas Rae of Evergrain Bread Company. I learned so much from him in the time that I spent with him in his bakeshop in Chestertown, Maryland. It is times like these when I really appreciate and miss my Kitchen Aid mixer the most. That being said, it is still not enough to go out and buy another one. 

Hand-kneading dough is a lot of work, but I honestly enjoy the hand-kneading process. It makes my breads that much more special. It is part of the antiquity of the whole process. I feel closer to the earth. I like hand-kneading bread for the same reason that I like carrying wood in for the wood stove. It is true labor. Work to feed and work to keep warm. And down the road, I will have the pleasure of doing both when I have my own wood-fired bread oven. 

Back to the bread. This bread was made with 30% pre-fermented flour, all of which was whole rye flour. I left that to rise by the wood stove with 20g of the aforementioned white-rye levain. It was allowed to sit next to the wood stove for 13 hours. In the morning I combined the final dough water with the levain, stirred to combine, and then added all of the dry ingredients. (The final dough is 50% whole rye and 50% high gluten flour.) I added the almonds after 4 minutes of hand-kneading and then fermented the bread for 1 hour before I shaped it into two boules and then proofed for fifty to sixty minutes. I then baked the bread in the combo cooker for 20 minutes, removed the lid and then baked for another 20 minutes. 

I am very pleased with the appearance of the loaf that was baked in the combo cooked. Although the other bread tastes fine, it has a flat appearance and looks less than awesome. It was a good bake none-the-less. More to come soon, and hopefully from a new zip code in the very near future.

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