When good bread goes a-rye.

Sometimes, things just don’t work the way they’re supposed to. So I’ll just say right out of the gate I’ll be redoing this one because something went quite wrong here.

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:

Final tally:
Dance: 10
Looks: 3*

(* 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.


[easyazon-image-link asin=”0471168572″ alt=”Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OV5EvTM6L._SL160_.jpg” align=”right” width=”130″ height=”160″]This bread, as all other MellowBakers breads, are from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book [easyazon-link asin=”0471168572″]Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes[/easyazon-link] 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 [easyazon-link asin=”0471168572″]Bread[/easyazon-link] 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 [easyazon-link asin=”1580082688″]The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread[/easyazon-link], the previous group bake book you’ll see tons of recipes from on this blog, or his latest, [easyazon-link asin=”1580089984″]Artisan Breads Every Day[/easyazon-link]. Both these books and others authors like [easyazon-link asin=”1845333128″]Dan Lepard (The Art of Handmade Bread)[/easyazon-link], [easyazon-link asin=”0470138823″]Dan DiMuzio (Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective)[/easyazon-link], [easyazon-link asin=”1579652913″]Maggie Glazer (Artisan Baking)[/easyazon-link] and many others will tackle the idea of baking bread from a slightly less technical aspect and are more suitable to the novice.

[easyazon-image-link asin=”1580082688″ alt=”The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51f8aSiQREL._SL160_.jpg” align=”none” width=”146″ height=”160″]  [easyazon-image-link asin=”1845333128″ alt=”The Art of Handmade Bread: Contemporary European Recipes for the Home Baker” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519afMKCuRL._SL160_.jpg” align=”none” width=”127″ height=”160″]  [easyazon-image-link asin=”0470138823″ alt=”Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vYSxF7cYL._SL160_.jpg” align=”none” width=”119″ height=”160″]  [easyazon-image-link asin=”1579652913″ alt=”Artisan Baking” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zW6g6TfUL._SL160_.jpg” align=”none” width=”114″ height=”160″]

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…

9 Replies to “When good bread goes a-rye.”

  1. A failed bread but an enjoyable post nonetheless.

    Where did you get your baskets? Look nice with a nice pattern. Is there a liner in there or is that just flour?

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Dave.

      I got the baskets from Brotform.com, based in Minnesota, USA. Ordered late Saturday (when it’s doubtful anyone was there) arrived here in Ontario, Canada early Friday, just as I was about to shape the loaves. That’s wicked fast, considering the border crossing.

      No liner, just flour. I first gave the baskets a very light coating of oil, as recommended on their site using the Pan Release and a pastry brush, then the generous flouring. Very simple, really.

  2. My sympathies…. Rye is a pain, isn’t it? The more rye, the more pain, it seems.

    Still, your loaf beats mine into submission.

    Loved the pattern of lines in your loaf, I really need to work on my technique
    .-= SallyBR’s latest blog post: BLACK OLIVE BIALY =-.

  3. Sorry to hear that this one didn’t cooperate for you. It still looks yummy. And I love the baskets. I really need to get some sort of brotforms one of these days. I’ve heard from others that they’ve had good luck ordering from that site.
    .-= Di’s latest blog post: Confidence =-.

  4. Hi Paul,
    I have come across your site by an accident. I’m glad to find your site. 🙂 You’ve explained each recipe with wonderful steps. I will be following your site from now-on-wards.

    But, can you please tell me where is the ingredients part of each recipe? If I want to try something from here, where can I can find your ingredients list?

    Thank you!
    .-= Sonia’s latest blog post: Pound Cake =-.

    1. Hi Sonia,

      I’ve added a section to the blog post above, at the end, to try and explain the process of Group Baking from a book. Hope this answers your question!

  5. I just finished baking some bread, I doubted myself on adding more flour but it failed and I was left with a deflated sourdough baguette. 🙁

    Ooh, and to finish some of the line:

    Dancing for my own enjoyment.
    That ain’t it, kid. That ain’t it, kid.

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