Mellow Bakers April 2010: (1) Light Rye Bread

I recently became a member of a new baking group: the Mellow Bakers. We bake our way through the book “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman at a rather relaxed pace. One of the breads that was randomly picked for April was the Light Rye Bread which you can find on page 197 in the book (or online here).

I had some problems in the beginning because I took my starter right out of the fridge. To make up for the cold, I used warm water to mix the sourdough, but it seems like it was still too cold because it hadn’t risen at all after about 16 hours on the counter. So I asked for help in the forum. Paul‘s answer really cracked me up so I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it here. I wrote that for future bread I would take the starter out of the fridge earlier and he replied:

“This is likely the best way to go, give the starter a feed or two before it’s going to be put to “work” after a long sleep in the fridge. This not only warms it up sufficiently, it also gives the critters a fresh batch of food and a “get up and go” attitude so they’re ready to tackle the rising of the bread. Imagine all of them in their little jogging shorts and sweat bands, if you want, vs just getting out of bed all sleepy, cold and groggy.”

LOL. This is just too funny. Now I always picture little critters with jogging shorts and sweat bands!

Anyway, I put the sourdough in the oven which was still warm from baking a banana bread, and after a couple more hours it had risen about 50%. Good enough for me, so I went on mixing the final dough and proofed it for about 1 hour. Then I wanted to shape 2 oblongs. This is where I ran into trouble again. I knew the BBA method, but I wanted to follow Hamelman’s instructions. I should have better skipped that because even though there are drawings for preshaping and final shaping, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. I had to stop halfway through and couldn’t finish. What a disaster! I don’t think it is a language problem – I just have a terrible spatial sense. So I just pretended I hadn’t started shaping yet and started all over again, this time à la BBA. I felt much more comfortable with that version. I put the loaves on a sheet pan for the final fermentation (see the pictures below for the “dramatic” rise), preheated the oven, slashed the loaves, put them in the oven, did some steaming à la BBA and baked them for about 35 minutes. After about 20 minutes I covered the loaves with aluminium foil because I was afraid they would become too dark.

The crust looked beautiful, and also the crumb was more open than I had anticipated. Flavorwise, this bread was really nice, too. Mildly acidic, not too much rye (my German tastebuds don’t mind rye, though) – a nice, palatable bread.

Other Mellow Bakers who baked this bread

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14 responses to “Mellow Bakers April 2010: (1) Light Rye Bread

  1. Nice looking loaves. Isn’t it interesting how you get used to one person’s directions? I was like, wait a minute shouldn’t this say prepare the oven for hearth baking??

  2. Yum! That looks delicious. I’m looking forward to making this one. I recently made the Soft Sandwich Rye from Artisan Breads Every Day (also has sourdough) and I want to see how this one compares.

  3. Beautiful loaves. I am always afraid of baking. I did my cuban bread on one of my posts and walked away from baking. Your blog is great and you make everything sound so easy. If you have a good pretzel recipe…send it ot me,
    Happy Easter!

    • Thank you! Hamelman has a pretzel recipe in his book but I haven’t tried it yet. It will come up sooner or later in the Mellow Bakers’ Challenge, so stay tuned. You can also find the recipe here.

  4. Your loaves look delicious! I’m looking forward to baking this one. I find myself doing things the BBA way as well. Creatures of habit I guess.

  5. You are seriously making me reconsider skipping this bread (in order to keep my month more mellow) . . . . your loaves look wonderful! And I completely agree about being thrown off-guard when things are worded differently or in a different order than the BBA!

  6. Hello!

    You have a cool foodblog!! Yeah!!

    Your light rye bread does looks so tasty & fab!

    MMMMM,…

  7. That’s a good looking rye bread! :) I have a different problem, I am used to following Dan Lepard’s recipes and instructions, and don’t have a food mixer so have to ignore all those instructions about how long and what speed to mix on. I tend to do short kneads and folds as my default. I haven’t done the BBA challenge, but I do have the BBA book at home and have to say I have…shhh… never baked anything from it… As you say it gets really confusing chopping and changing when you are learning new recipes! So when I started out I worked my way through the HandMade Loaf and Dan’s Guardian recipes and then for rye recipes I turned to Hamelman. Two masters was enough for this baby baker! But I should try BBA recipes as I have the book, is there one or two you would particularly recommend to try? Zeb

    • There are definitely some recipes from the BBA I can recommend. Check out my BBA Summary – there you’ll see my most favorite and least favorite breads. And when you follow the links you can read about each bread.

  8. Looks perfect! Mine is right now in the oven. Unfortunately I didn’t proof it long enough, so it looks not so nice.

  9. Pingback: Mellow Bakers April 2010: (3) Rustic Bread + GIVEAWAY! « Family & Food

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