This BBA Challenge is getting serious. A bread with no wheat? A bread with no commercial yeast? Yes, a challenge indeed. That’s right; the 100% in the 100% sourdough rye refers to both the leavener (sourdough) and the grain (rye). That means none of the structure created by wheat’s strong gluten, and none of the predictability of commercial yeast to inflate that gluten network. It’s hard to say what is more intimidating, but I’ll have to go with the 100% sourdough part of the equation: though I have managed to keep my starter alive, a small part of me is still a doubter and it’s always a leap of faith for me as to whether it’s going to rise.
Here’s the barm, looking rather insubstantial.
And here is the mixed dough mid-rise.
Looking good, right? While I had to help things out by moving the dough to the sunroom (where it is, as you might have guessed, warmer) it did eventually rise.
It was when I formed the batards that I worried. Or I came out of denial and admitted to myself that there was a problem. I actually had an inkling way back at the kneading stage. Peter Reinhart cautions strongly against overmixing the dough when using rye–apparently it can become quite gummy if it is worked too much. Combined with the fact that I think I am not mixing my doughs on high enough speed, my kneading here was probably not up to snuff. While I’m guessing that lackluster kneading is more forgivable with wheat flour (due to how easy it is to form at least some gluten) I think with rye the balance is much more delicate, as its gluten is similarly delicate. In fear of gummy bread, I almost certainly always underknead. (Question at end; hint hint!)
When forming the batards, rather than getting any surface tension in my loaves, the dough ripped apart. I smoothed it out, but the look of things after the second rise only further confirmed my fears–instead of rising my loaves responded to the action of the yeast by tearing raggedly apart as if brutally gashed open–no need to get out my lame, apparently.
Having come this far, of course I baked my loaves off. And I did find that the bread had a wonderfully earthy and complex taste. I need more practice to be sure, but luckily being off the mark didn’t mean I had a bread brick. Peter Reinhart’s sourdough rye is supposed to be quite dense in any case, I just don’t think quite so dense as mine turned out to be. (Note: my suspicion about my rye kneading problems was confirmed when I made the BBA Pumpernickel Bread, blogged here.)
One question I’ve always had is the speed my kitchenaid mixer should be set at. The instructions for my mixer say that you should never set the speed above 2 when making bread, but I’ve never achieved anything close to a windowpane being a good girl and following the manual. It seems that Reinhart means for you to knead at a higher speed (see here, just as an example). Do other people knead at a higher speed, and if so, what? Have you had problems with your motor as a result, or do you just watch to make sure it doesn’t overheat? As you can tell, I baby my kitchenaid stand mixer a bit. Hey, it’s not cheap.