Having finally figured out how to achieve windowpane using my machine, and having finally “gotten religion” about creating a steam environment in my oven, I have been newly inspired in my bread making pursuits. (Not that I needed encouragement). I even decided to try to cultivate my own rye starter using Dan Leader’s instructions in Local Breads. Given my bad luck with wheat, it was all the more exciting when in only four days I was ready to go. Rye is supposed to be far easier to ferment than wheat, which I am sure was helpful; in addition I used organic pumpernickel grind from King Arthur and filtered water from my fridge water dispenser unit. (The other bonus of having a rye starter–I can bake for people with wheat allergies).
Have new sourdough, must bake! I quickly settled on a Czech bread from Local Breads. I remember often buying this bread when I lived in the Czech Republic, though my memory fails me as to the exact taste. Light rye is a little more approachable than 100% rye bread (which I do like but to me is slightly less versatile).
There are a few interesting steps here. After an initial kneading for 7-8 minutes you allow the dough to rest. Here’s the dough at the end of the first knead:
And here’s the dough after the second knead. I imagine the rest in between allows the gluten to develop in the wheat while preventing the rye from being over-mixed. The windowpaning isn’t completely obvious in this photo (and perhaps it’s a touch underdeveloped) but it’s certainly far better than my past doughs. You can also see that this is a fairly tacky dough, but not as sticky as it appears in my photo. (I can only do so much without a photographic assistant in the kitchen!)
The usual: set the dough to rise; shape and set to rise again…
Interestingly, here rather than score the bread you prick it all over, known as “docking.” The idea is to promote an even rise. Like scoring, this step is also to allow an escape for the steam building up inside the bread. By creating “escape hatches” you can control where the steam escapes, rather than your loaf ripping open wherever it feels like it. (It’s an aesthetic point, as the bread still will taste fine).
If you were wondering what it looks like when this happens, I have a photo for you. It turns out I did not dock my loaves aggressively enough–you’ll see how they split open in the heat of the oven. I didn’t mind–this doesn’t typically happen to me and I chalked it up to the fact that I am doing a better job developing the gluten as well as creating a good baking environment. And myabe they split open, but as aesthetics are subjective, I can say I liked it!
Pretty on the outside
And a nice crumb inside.
I used regular rye flour as I don’t have white rye, which has to be specially ordered–which I may just do with my next King Arthur order. It’s quite versatile as the rye flavor is mild, and like all sourdoughs, keeps wonderfully (it does have a bit of commercial yeast as well). The only tweak I need to make is to figure out how to keep my crust from going soft after the loaves cool.