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.