Wanna see? This is the “short version”, there are lots more photos that, had this worked out, would be in here too, like the usual Mis. I’ll just jump right in then. Come along and see if you can spot where it went wrong.
So I make the rye sourdough. Nothing tricky here: mix and let sit for 14-16 hours, I went with 16. Next morning, it has expanded nicely.
Mixed the dough, except this time I put the pre-ferment into the water and beat it to avoid clumpy issues. Got a nice starter soup and added the rest of the ingredients.
Add remaining ingredients, mix. Transfer to tub to bulk proof.
And here’s where I started to think something was a bit off. Transferring the dough out of the bowl, I felt it was awfully soft. Did I trust my instinct and mix in more flour? No. Proof for 60 minutes.
At 60 minutes, it had risen but not doubled, so I gave it another 30.
At 90 minutes, it had doubled. Hooray! I then turned it out onto the counter. “Glomp!” said the ball of goo as it hit the surface. And spread. This is still wet and gummy, way too soft, I thought. Cut the goo in two and start trying to shape. No way, too sticky. So I try to knead about a 1/2c (I guess, it was several large pinches) of flour to each half until I can handle it enough to shape without it sticking to my fingers. Any trapped gas in this bulk proof is now decidedly gone.
I get the two loaves shaped pretty well in spite of the gooeyness, then plop them into MY BRAND SPANKING NEW CANE BASKETS! They arrived about an hour before this step. Talk about great timing!
They sit for about an hour and, lo and behold, are pretty much risen as expected. I did the poke test and it returned halfway, so not too long and not too short, just right! Over they go onto the peel (with small sheets of parchment for easy moving). Hmm… they’re still quite soft and seem to have chosen to widen.
The loaves are slashed as per suggestion in the book and they look like they’ve spread sideways even more. There’s no point turning back now, so they get placed onto the pre-heated stoned oven. I pop the turkey pan on top expecting the excess moisture to really help steam them.
At the 15 minute mark, I remove the pan and… still flat. Risen but not by much, the slashes have barely expanded. They finish up baking for another 20 minutes.
And here’s our final crumb shot:
(* 20,000 Free Internet Points to anyone who gets the pointless reference!)
Smelled great, tastes really nice, lovely soft crumb with a little tang. Looks: flat out fail.
So I will re-do this in the next couple of weeks and try to figure what went wrong – I’m guessing here but I suspect perhaps too much water! I’ll recalculate basing on the metric amounts and divide by 12.5.
“Where are the recipes?”
I’ve been getting this question a fair bit so I figure I’ll address it here in detail.
This bread, as all other MellowBakers breads, are from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes which is where you can get the complete recipes. We won’t be posting the recipes since a) we’re doing the entire book (or a huge chunk of it) and that would be unfair to Mr Hamelman to put every recipe of his online, and b) there’s so much more info in the book than just the recipe, to pull only the ingredient list out; it would be a disservice to readers to lure them into NOT benefiting from this info. So if you would like to have the recipes we’ll be working on, I highly recommend you get a copy of Bread by clicking the links here or in the Yumarama stores on the right sidebar.
“I hear it’s geared to professional bakers so it will be too advanced for me.”
If you’re just getting into bread baking and learning the basics, then yes, this may be a little too technical. It also doesn’t have all the “bread porn” pictures other books offer as both guide and inspiration. For a novice, I’d suggest Peter Reinhart’s books, such as The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, the previous group bake book you’ll see tons of recipes from on this blog, or his latest, Artisan Breads Every Day. Both these books and others authors like Dan Lepard (The Art of Handmade Bread), Dan DiMuzio (Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective), Maggie Glazer (Artisan Baking) and many others will tackle the idea of baking bread from a slightly less technical aspect and are more suitable to the novice.
But once you’ve got a few breads under your belt (figuratively and literally) this is an excellent book to have if you want to get a really good grasp of the technology that turns your ingredients from mere ground wheat or rye into a beautiful finished loaf. The first 90 pages of the book discuss ingredients and techniques, you don’t even get to the first recipe until page 93. This may sound daunting but is in reality a wealth of information that will make you a better baker who ‘gets’ what’s going on in the dough. Because baking is a science and bread baking brings with it a lot of intricacies that, if you really want to master your bread, you should at least be familiar with. And yes, the book deals with techniques and technical issues but this isn’t to say it’s difficult to read or follow along. Jeffrey Hamelman has put together a great self-teaching course here and it is well presented in a clear, not-too-complex fashion. You will make better bread because you’ll know why you’re making better bread.
Others baking this bread:
Wanna check out people who’s try at this was more successful? Hop over here to the MellowBakers.com’s Light Rye forum. And if you have the hankering, join in! You can hop on at any point, do whatever you want to as “catch up” – we are Mellow after all, so there’s no problem hopping on further down the trail – and bake along with us! All you need are the book and a willingness to share your baking results with others. Heck, we’re so Mellow, even that second part isn’t completely necessary!
See you in a week or two…