Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Minnesota Sourdoughs, Wheat and Rye added

Warning - long post alert!

There comes a time where you have to go for it. 

Today is that day.

I have been making sourdough breads since last November, and I am always impressed by the differences in flavor that can be had from the same starter.  

Now, to be fair, I fed my pet starter some whole wheat flour before using her in that huge Miche a few posts ago, since I really did not know what to expect.  I knew that sourdough, at least my Gladass, loves rye flour.  A lot.  With salt, please, but that is another story.
So, in Hamelman's  excellent book 'Bread' there are three 'Vermont' sourdoughs.  Today I am starting the second and third recipes, one with added Whole Wheat and one with added Rye.  You can find the first Minnesota Sourdough version on a previous post.  You won't find it my house, since even the crumbs are long since consumed.

Phoebe even got some of Demeter's Currant Jelly on her ears. That is true dedication to the job.

My Sister, the Beneficent Demeter herself, gave me a very nice scale to use.  I ought to use it more, and so I shall.

Today I am setting the levain, or pre-ferment, for both of the added grain varieties, and I will attempt to do them side by side.  For convention, I will try to show the Whole Wheat justified to the left, and the Rye should be the right justified pictures.

To begin with, I have always read about the discrepancies between volume and weight with flour.  I thought I would give it a try.  On the right, 4.8 ounces of flour, on the right 3.25.  The volume given was one cup and three quarters cup.

What with me not being the best photographer, you cannot really see the contents of the cup too clearly.  I will ask you to trust me that the next two shots of the cups are indeed the ones in the scale picture. 

 But you can see that if I had measured by volume, I would have been over on the weight.

Flour, Water, and Sourdough Starter are all that is called for in this recipe for the levain.  I thought that maybe I should check in on Gladass, my trusted old friend, and see how she was holding out.

I wish that you could smell this container.  She might be a little hungry, but there are still lots of bubbles, that great aroma, and the semi-gelatinous feel to the wort.

Time to combine the  few ingredients.

That's Gladass, top off and center stage 
whenever she can be.
Three quarters of a cup of water on the left, 
one half on the right.
Two tablespoons of starter on the left, 
one and one half on the right.

Next, everything gets a quick stirring.

But wait, don't forget to feed that starter!

There is slightly more volume on the left.
Both get covered in plastic wrap, time stamped, and set aside.


See you after at least 12 hours!  

Hmmm.  Maybe I should check the website for possible errors in the recipe.  Mellow Bakers, here I come.

Update:  Thank goodness I checked.  I really must remember to never, ever, rely on my memory; ah - er, wait.  I have to start being better at remembering!

Indeed, the Rye version had a correction.  To the 3.25 oz. of flour already in the wort, I added another 3.15 oz. for a total of 6.4.  To the 4 oz. of water, I added another 4 oz.

Now the Rye is a little larger in volume than the Wheat levain.  I forgot to wipe off the sides, so the Rye looks a little messy, but you can sorta see it is bigger now.  No?  Well, trust me.

The good news is that either way this levain smells wonderful.
  It had already worked up quite a nice froth in a couple of hours.


Now I will be back in 12 hours, minimum.

'cause I am hungry, doggone it!

...and I am not alone in that sentiment.

Getting wet makes you hungry, and it is raining like cats and...

...sorry about that, Ladies.

It is really raining here.

Update Number one:  June 9, 8 :30 pm
It is a beautiful spring day,
but Man, that dough is cold.

The Darling Bride was busy.
Too busy to take it out of the cooler for me.
But still, not too busy to pick me up 
from the bus stop, so I better be nice!

Here is the wheat flour.  I folded it before I even thought about taking pictures.  Hey, I never said I was bright.

It looks good, though.  I believe it will make a good loaf.

Here is the rye.  Before I folded it, thank you very much.  Two items of note, both doughs sweated water on to the plastic wrap.  Also, both doughs resisted taking on any oil.  I had sprayed the bowls, lightly, with Pam, since I did not know how they would release.  When I went to tip the dough out, the oil had nearly all worked its way to the surface edges of the dough.  Rude.  I dumped it out, and resolved to use less next time.

Both doughs got a nice lengthy stay on the counter top while they were stretched out.  Hopefully that will aid the warming.  Both are now folded, once, and back in their bowls. 

 See you in a few hours for the next update.
 Update:  the next day.

It is morning, and it has been a long night.
A confirmed morning person, it  is rumored that I turn into a pumpkin around 11 pm.  Last night, at five to eleven, I had just finished dividing and shaping the loaves for the final proof.

Flattened, rolled, and formed, I noticed that there was a subtle difference between the two loaves already.  The Wheat was not as elastic.  It would tear more easily. 
While the Rye was a much more robust and stretchy dough.  
 Since my sleep starved brain could not figure out a way to used the peel twice, I decided that I would bake one set of bread on a cookie sheet instead of the stone.

So, the pan was sprinkled with some corn flour and the Rye dough was set out for final proofing, then covered with plastic wrap.

One ready.
I read in Hamelman's 'Bread' that the final proof 
for these is 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours. 

I started to whine.
1 p.m.?   For bread?

That little voice says, 
" A lack of planning on your part
does not make for an emergency on my part."

Man, I hate little voices.

Then, the Wheat got the same treatment, except on my peel.
Luke (my oven) was ready to go and set for 350 degrees F.  The Wheat was slid off the peel onto the stone, water spritzed into the oven, and my mother-in-law's egg timer set for 35 minutes.  Soon, the T.V. was on and the couch was warmed up.  Oddly, both dogs decided that they were going to get more sleep 
upstairs with the Darling Bride.
Just as soon as my eyes were closed, 
I could smell the bread.  You know that 
special smell you get from a loaf when it is done?  
There is a difference.  
There it was, all right, that 'done' smell.  
The egg timer went off, 
and when Luke was opened up, 
this is what I found:
A little dark, but not too bad.  
Man, that is the most temperamental oven...
In went the Rye.

Spritzed with water, Kosher salt sprinkled on top, it was not the prettiest loaf I had ever seen. But it was going to have to be good enough.  Sleep was only an hour away!
This time the temperature knob was set to 325 F., and the timer set for 35 minutes.  Much better.  Sleep was going to be that much better, knowing that the rye was not burnt.

The secret to me not cutting open a fresh loaf has been discovered.  Sleep deprivation.  If you go to bed, you don't cut open the bread till morning!  Here is the crumb shot of the wheat.  Finally, there are some major sized holes like I see over on the Mellow Baker's site.
The holes in the crumb of the Rye were not as large as the Wheat, but still pretty good.  When the Darling Bride woke up to give me a ride to the bus stop, we had a taste test.
She really liked the wheat.  The crust that I thought was scorched was actually just really brown, not burnt at all.  It was more tender than the Rye.  The Rye was my favorite, had a little more of a chewy crust and custard-like crumb, with a distinct twang from the sourdough that was no where to be found on the Wheat. 

My Darling Bride started to fuss over to whom she could give all this bread.  I volunteered to eat more than my share, and the Dogs were willing to back me on that plan, but then she looked at my waistline and quickly remembered some starving neighbors.

She agreed to leave one half of each loaf, so that we can taste it later, after it has had a little more time to set. 

At least three of us can't wait!
When did bread baking become a three day process?


  1. Wow, look at you fly! Thanks for getting going on the MN sourdoughs...hopefully I'll catch up soon! But maybe I'll wait for your review of which of the three is best, in case I don't have time for them all....

  2. Please don't keep us hanging for too long.

  3. Rosemary and Garlic; I am trying the refrigerator retard method, but I have a promise from my Darling Bride to take them both out of the fridge at 4 today so that I can work with them tonight.

    Hmmm. Thanks! You have given me an idea for another post.

    Abby, I am biased already - I really love the rye flavor best, just from tasting the doughs. Yeah, sick, I know, but I was curious, so after setting things aside I took a clean knife and took samples.

    I wish I would have done all three at once. It seems like there is a lot to learn. It will be interesting to taste the difference once they are baked.

  4. What an epic and detailed post! Looking forward to your conclusions. What did you feel about volume vs weight Steve? Being English I don't use cups and sticks, but grams or ounces, I know boring, but I read American recipes that talk about scooping unsifted flour from the bottom of the bag and I just don't get it. Do you scoop salt or do you weigh it? Anyway, I have those scales too! They were a birthday present. I've already broken the little cover thing. But I like them anyway. Thanks for a great post, I really enjoyed it :)

  5. Steve, you crack me up!:D

    I enjoyed reading your 3-day bread adventure and glad you like the rye version too.

    I haven't found the time to bake the WW version yet athough I finished the Beer Bread today.

  6. That there is a nice bucha bread sir!

    Shame you didn't get to chow down the lot, with only a half loaf, you won't get to enjoy the bread as it develops over the next few days.

    But your neighbours sure are darn lucky!

    Keep at it!

  7. For what it is worth, I got home late from lodge and made myself two sandwiches last night. One from the rye, and one from the wheat. With the TV as the only light, I grabbed what I thought was the rye, only to taste the wheat. It has gotten a LOT better a few hours after baking! It really came together nicely.

    Joanna, you are exactly right on the flour. I am trying, but it is hard to stop being a 'dumb guy' cook. In the past, my Y chromosome took over, and I would even convert recipes to fit units, i.e., one bag of pinto beans, one bag of brown sugar, six cans of tomato soup, one bag of bacon, etc..

    I am slowly changing, and this bread making venture has been a huge help! Sadly, I use my hand to measure the salt. It's a hard habit to break.