Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Russian Rye Sourdough Bread - A Daring Baker's Challenge

Rye Sourdough bread, made with out commercial yeast.

 I am very worried I just don't have enough to do.  The winters are long and dark, and my kids all live somewhere else.  I cook, I sew, I work with stained glass, I go to dinner with my friends, I work full time, even though I retired.  But I was worried I might not keep busy enough.  Something about idle hands...
So, I signed up for Daring Baker sometime in November and anxiously waited to be accepted and get my first challenge.  Daring Baker is a group from the Daring Kitchen (  There are two groups Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks.  Each month you get a challenge and everyone posts their challenge results on the same day.  I found them one day while cruising through Tastespotting and saw about 7 of the same recipe.  When I went to those different sites, they mentioned Daring Bakers and I was ready to add that to my list of things to do.
My first challenge was sourdough.  Oh! I knew I had this made.  I've had a sourdough starter in my fridge for the last 30 years! I wanted to participate in the whole challenge so I decided to make the sourdough from the very beginning.
I set out to make a whole wheat starter and a rye starter.  You start with flour and water and let it set out someplace warm.  Every day you add more flour and water to feed the little yeasties growing in the flour.  After 4-5 days you are able to make bread!  The longer you keep your starter the more pronounced the sour taste in the finished bread.  The rye starter was a success.  I had to remake the wheat starter as the first one never grew yeast.  So much for me having this challenge made in the shade.  I purchased new organic whole wheat flour and used bottled water and the second time around I was successful.
The following directions are from this months Daring Baker's host  Jessica from My Recipe Project.

Russian Rye Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves and excess rye starter to keep for further baking.
Rye Starter - Day 1:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total scant ½ cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86°F/30°C if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer. It should  be a very sloppy, runny dough, which will bubble and grow as it ferments.
Rye Starter - Day 2:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1/2 cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
My sourdough starter warm, on a table next to the fireplace.  I had a thermometer close to keep an eye on the temp.

Rye Starter - Day 3:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (9 oz/255 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place. If you notice it has a grey liquid on top, just stir this back in and continue as normal.
Rye Starter - Day 4:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (255 gm/9 oz) starter from Day 3
Total about 1¾ cups (440 ml) (12 oz/340 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

Russian Rye Bread - Step 1: Production Sourdough
1/4 cup less 2 teaspoons (50 ml) (50 gm/1 ¾ oz) rye leaven (starter)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) water
Total 2½ cup (600 ml) (500 gm/17½ oz/1 lb 1½ oz)

1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours, until bubbling. Set aside the remaining starter for further loaves.

Russian Rye Bread - Step 2: Final Dough
2 cups (480 ml) (440 gm/15 ½ oz) production sourdough (this should leave some (½ cup) to become your next loaf of bread!)
2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (330 gm/11 ⅔ oz) rye flour (light or whole)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm/.2 oz) sea salt or ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm/.1 oz) table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (200 ml) (200 gm/7 oz) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons (1245 ml) (975 gm/2 lb 2⅓ oz)

1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. With wet hands, scoop the dough up and put it in a well-greased loaf tin.
2. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag, blow it up, and seal it. This should make a good little dome for your bread to proof inside. Set aside somewhere room temperature to warm.
3. The dough should be ready to bake with in anywhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how warm it is. I proof mine by a sunny window in about 4 hours. If the dough was halfway up the tin when you started, it will be ready when it reaches the top (i.e. almost doubles in size).
4. Preheat the oven to very hot 470°F/240°C/gas mark 9. For a large loaf, bake for 50-60 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after about 10-15 minutes. If baking in small loaf tins, bake for 35-45 minutes, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes. If you are unsure about whether it is done, give it a few minutes longer – it is a very wet dough, so the extra time won’t hurt.
5. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, and rest the loaf for a day before eating it.

I keep my sourdough in the fridge between uses.  The night before I want to use it I put it in a glass bowl, stir in equal weight of water and flour and let sit on the counter overnight.  I put 1 cup back in the glass jar in the fridge and use the rest for what ever bread I am going to make.

The rye bread is much wetter than any sourdough I've ever made. But I've always used commercial yeast with my sourdough.  I was really surprised when it worked!  It was more like a batter than a bread dough.

When my whole wheat starter didn't start the first time, I found a great site on the internet with tips.  If you are interested here it is:

December 28, 2011    Daylight  3 hours,  48 minutes,  4 seconds     Current Temp. -17º F

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! I made the rye bread and mine too was more like a batter than a bread dough. I essentially just poured it into my bread pan. It was delicious though!


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