week fortnight (!) gone by has been one of doughy fingernails and floured pants.
There have been more breads than we can handle, and a number of things have not been going to plan (An oven that lies! Doughs that stick! A poorly arranged bread schedule!) We are slowy addressing the offending variables – which is proving difficult – and we are continuing
to stuff our faces with so much bread data collection!
Variables: Human Error and Salt
Owing to a temporary lapse on my part, we answered the accidental question: “HOW WILL THIS BREAD TASTE WITHOUT SALT?” in our first attempt at baking Rustikales Bauernbrot (minus 9 grams of essential chemistry). In spite of hoping it wouldn’t notice, the otherwise virtuous loaf could not be saved by slatherings of salted butter and other distractions.
It was voted Inedible, and donated to local bird families. But even they wouldn’t destroy the evidence.
We turned to the book for some answers, and found that the role of salt is more integral than I’d thought:
“At 1.5 – 2% of the flour weight, salt tightens the gluten network and improves the volume of the finished loaf. […] In sourdoughs, salt also helps limit the protein-digesting activity of the souring bacteria, which can otherwise damage the gluten.”
Respect the salt! O tightener of gluten strands! This is the tip of the iceberg, I fear, and what about all the other ingredients involved? (For example: the absorption of water by different flour types! The water’s hardness! The power of one’s starter!) So we stride boldly on, feeling ever so Wissbegierig (curious; greedy for knowledge) and increasingly desperate to taking bread-baking classes.
The second attempt turned out more beautifully, the lovely wooden proofing basket leaving behind a flour-y spiral.
Fragrant, springy. It paired so well with Fondue (of cheese)! And sliced thinly as a breakfast bread! In the excitement, I did not photograph its moist crumb, but I assure you he was beyond satisfactory. This bread made us as happy as these bathing capybara.
How it started
The image above is our ‘Mother Rye’. She is bubbly, having been activated 18 hours beforehand, and is thus ready (we THINK – there is so much we don’t know yet but we’re Doing it Anyway) to contribute a 15 gram dollop to the pre-dough (pictured below, top left) which then becomes a puffed up sour sponge 20 hours later (below, top right).
Enough. Perhaps you would like the recipe? The link is below (and above) but I shall translate Plötz’s instructions into English for those of us who aren’t deutschsprachig by nature. Meanwhile, here is a helpful piece of advice from Salvador Dali, as a bird:
Rustic Rye Bread/Rustikales Bauernbrot
Translated from Plötzblog
(I am apprehensive regarding how the flours we use translate to those used outside of Germany! Agh! This blog though has some information that could be useful and accurate when it comes to American flour types)
100 g Whole Rye Flour (Roggenvollkornmehl)
50 g Medium Rye Flour (Typ 1150)
150 g Water
15 g Active starter
Main dough, (20 hours later):
200 g Medium Rye Flour (Typ 1150)
100 g Wheat Flour, high gluten (Typ 1050)
50 g Wheat Wholemeal Flour (Weizenvollkornmehl)
175 g Water
9 g Salt
Combine ingredients for the pre-dough and leave covered at room temperature for 20 hours to ripen.
Stand mixer instructions: Combine all ingredients and knead at the lowest setting for 5 minutes, then for a further 2 minutes at setting 2. The dough will still be slightly sticky. (we kneaded this stickily by hand for about the same time. Unsure if this is equivalent but we will find out eventually)
Leave to proof for 90 minutes at 24°C, punching down 45 minuntes through.
Form the dough into a round and place seam-side down into a well-floured proofing basket.
Leave to proof for a further 45 minutes at 24°C while you preheat your oven to 250°C.
Turn bread out; send him seam-side up into the oven with half a cup of water thrown in for steam production. After 10 minutes, drop the temperature to 220°C and release steam by briefly opening the oven door. Bake for 50 minutes in total.
[The next post will be about the soft doughs we have been struggling with lately. You know what I would like? A kitchen machine]