Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBA Challenge Week 19—Marble Rye

marble rye-spiral loaf-cut-horiz

Check out that beautiful marble rye—and I didn't even have to steal it from an old lady!

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with 200+ other amateur bakers. Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

rye flour

Can you believe it? Bread #19. Seems like I started this challenge just the other day, yet here we are, 19 weeks later. Nineteen breads baked (some twice). Nineteen chances to learn just a little bit more about this whole bread baking thing. Seventeen new recipes (I'd made the poor man's brioche and cranberry walnut bread before). And 19 different ways of combining same or similar ingredients to achieve unique results each time. Ain't bread cool?

I wasn't sure about this one, Marble Rye. For some reason I was thinking I wasn't a big fan, but now I wonder if I had a different bread in mind. Pumpernickel, maybe? The process, though, was intriguing, because I'm a fan of fun shaping techniques.

I re-read the recipe earlier in the week to make sure I had what I needed on hand. All was easily available, save the secret to making dark rye dark—caramel coloring. Who knew? Not me, that's for sure. I assumed the darkness of the bread came from the flour itself. I thought there were different kinds of rye flour, dark and light, that created the variation in color, but I was mistaken. The formula for both the light and dark dough is exactly the same, with the exception of added, natural food coloring. Peter Reinhart offers some alternatives to caramel coloring. You can use instant coffee, carob or cocoa. I settled for coffee.

marble rye-coffee

Unfortunately, it barely made the dough darker. So I committed what might be a sin in bread baking, and added food coloring. Like the kind you use to tint frosting. You know how when you were a kid, you'd think, "Hey if red and blue and yellow are so great on their own I bet they're AWESOME all together" —and then you'd end up with a brown sludge? I used that principle to create a murky brown-bordering-on-black food dye and added that to the dough. It still barely budged the color. Rather than taint the dough any further, I called it good enough and moved on.

marble rye-bowls of dough

Here are the two batches of dough after the initial rise. Kind of hard to tell the difference in color, isn't it?

Something Shiny tangent: See how coarse the dough looks? Apparently, I was supposed to sift the dough before using it. Sift it TWICE, as a matter of fact. I didn't realize this as I read the recipe. PR talked about how "white rye flour" is sifted twice to remove the bran and germ but I didn't know that he expected ME to do the sifting. Oops. I had no idea I'd goofed until I read Frieda's account of her beautiful Marble Rye. Over at Lovin' from the Oven, Frieda talks about grinding her own rye into flour then sifting it. Oh, so THAT'S why mine was so coarse. I mentally slapped myself on the forehead and thought, "Next time." She also used the caramel color, so you can see what the dark dough is supposed to look like.

OK, back to the process...

marble rye-dough hunks

Since this makes two loaves and I needed two layers of each dough for each loaf, I weighed and divided the dough in four equal pieces. My math skills are pretty mad, right?

marble rye-2layers

I rolled out each chunk of dough, then alternated layers of light and dark. I mean, "barely noticeably darker".

marble rye-4layers

marble rye-spiral loaf

Then rolled it up, sealing tightly, tucking under the ends, and putting it into a prepared bread pan. One down, one to go, and I had a plan for the other one. A half-cocked plan, but a plan nonetheless.

I was going to, wait for it... braid it. Oh yeah.

marble rye-strips

I stacked the layers as with the spiral loaf, then rolled them out a bit more, as a group. Then I cut it in threes and started braiding.

marble rye-half braid

marble rye-braid

marble rye-braid-stripes

Hey, look at that! My not entirely well thought out plan WORKED.  


marble rye-proofing split

Oooh, that looks bad. Hm. Guess I pulled a little too tightly, or rolled it a bit too thin. And the coarseness of the dough isn't helping matters. Why the heck is this dough so coarse? Oh, right. Moving on! Baking time. I carefully brushed egg wash over the increasingly delicate braid, slid the pan into the oven and hoped for the best.


marble rye-exploded
That braid didn't stand a chance. It totally blew up in the oven. Oven spring can be your enemy too, you know. 

But check out the nifty stripy bits on the left side. You can totally see the dough strata. Cool.

marble rye-baked loaf-both
Ah, my lovely loaf. This is both sides of the same loaf. This one also broke from oven spring, but it's on the side and doesn't detract from the loveliness. And you can see the layers a bit on the other side (bottom pic).

marble rye-spiral loaf-cut

Nice swirl, no? I'm pretty proud of that, even with the light and barely-darker dark making a less than perfect contrast. Check out Phyl's bread over at Of Cabbages and King Cakes. SUPER gorgeous.

marble rye-braid-cut-stacked

And the braid? Not half bad! I think the idea is sound, but the execution went awry. Next time.

marble rye-braid-cut

There will definitely be a next time, because this was wonderful. One of my favorites, at least as far as sandwich types of bread go. It had great flavor and texture. I liked this better than the light whole wheat and ate a LOT of it, mostly plain because it's that good, but also with a little bit of butter, and a few times with jam.


Even the part that looked like an exploded alien.


  1. But does it stay on a fish hook?

  2. I loved the idea of layering and then braiding. It may not have worked, but a great idea nonetheless. :)

    Looking forward to Rye myself. But I'm not there yet.

  3. Even when it doesn't go the way you planned, you still manage to make excellent breads. You are rocking this challenge, Kelly!
    Kudos to you!

  4. Nice job, Kelly! I like your adventurous spirit. And thanks for the honorable mention.

  5. didn't have to steal it from an old lady... ha - nice Seinfeld reference :)

  6. I love the idea of braiding the dough creating a really nice marbling pattern.

  7. Love your detailed post. Layering and then braiding was a cool idea. This recipe reminded me of play-doh when i was a child. Lots of fun to shape, but way better to eat.

  8. This is actually very beautiful! Cool idea to braid it!

  9. Beautiful bread. Reading your blog makes me want to make better bread. I'm not looking forward to the rye bread, which I was previously dreading. Even if I don't like it in the end, I can do something fun with it...

  10. Hey...thanks for the blog nod. I LOVED your idea of layering and braiding the bread~ this is a learning experience, after all!

    Your bag of flour doesn't indicate if it is light or dark flour, so go ahead and blame the bag~

  11. Bravo for braiding your bread! After the Challah and the Cranberry Walnut bread I'm beginning to seriously wonder about my dough braiding skills. It's an art, just like making perfect bread, which yours appear to be :)

  12. Daniel - that's a hellova compliment - thank you!

    Danielle- Thank you! I love braiding bread, even if they blow up in the oven. :) BTW, you have a beautiful blog-just gorgeous!


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