Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #32 — 100% Sourdough Rye


This'll be quick. No one wants to dwell on this one, trust me — 100% Sourdough Rye.

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a few have finished!). Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

So. This bread – if you can call it that – was strange and weird and seriously wrong right from the start. As with other sourdough breads, this is a multi-build, multi-day process, beginning with a firm rye starter.
SDR-firm starter

At the same time, you also make a rye soaker. This consists of coarse rye and water. I didn't have coarse rye, so I used the bran I'd sifted out of the white rye. Don't know if that had anything to do with what happened later, but I wasn't sure what else to use.


The next day, the firm starter and soaker combine with the final dough — more white rye, salt, caraway seeds (if so inclined, I used charnushka seeds instead), and water. 

I knew things were going horribly wrong when my firm starter did basically NOTHING and looked like this:
It was the strangest texture—gritty, pasty, unlike any starter I've seen.

And the dough didn't improve from there. It was the same thick, pasty, gritty consistency of the firm starter. There wasn't a hint of gluten in this blob of dough.
Again, I got no rise out of this dough after 4 hours so I just "shaped" them, proofed for 2 hours (waste of time) then baked them.
SDR-shaped loaf
"shaped" loaf


TA-DA! I made bricks. Weapons, really. You could inflict some serious collateral damage with these bad boys. I did eat some. The flavor wasn't horrible, but I about broke my bread knife trying to slice it, so you can imagine what chewing it was like.

I wasn't the only one in the BBA group that ran into this scenario. I think the biggest chuckle I got was from Mags at The Other Side of 50. Check out her post; it's a hoot!

Like Mags, I threw my bread out for the birds. I really hope I didn't kill any with that bread!

It gets better from here, thank goodness. I've since made the next two breads with much better results. Now I just have to post them!

Monday, April 12, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #31 — NY Deli Rye

Here we are at the second bread in the sourdough section of the book—New York Deli Rye. 

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a few have finished!). Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

In addition to a rye starter (made using our regular ole starter), this formula contains instant yeast. That always makes me feel a bit better about how the bread will turn out. I'm comfortable with commercial yeast. Wild yeast starter all by itself—not so much.

This bread also called for 2 cups of onions. I'm not much of an onion person, so I skimped on that, adding less than 1 cup. I have texture issues with onions. With the way the onions just melt right into the bread, though, it wasn't an issue here. Next time, I'll add the full amount.

I also omitted the optional caraway seeds, but I found something else. These:
NYDeliRye-charnushka seeds

Charnushka seeds. I discovered them while pouring over a Penzey's catalog. I placed a large order before Christmas, purchasing both presents for family and friends and a few things for me. I can't help myself, plus I love seeing all of the new-to-me spices available. And this was one. It caught my eye because, according to the description in the catalog, charnuska is
"Tiny, black, smoky flavored seeds found atop Jewish rye bread in New York. Used in Armenia, Lebanon, Israel, and India. Also referred to as black caraway or kalonji, charnushka is used heavily in garam masala."

I knew I had a number of rye breads coming up in the BBA Challenge and thought I'd give them a shot.

Before anything can happen with the bread, though, you have to sift rye flour. That is, if you can't find "white rye" flour ready to go. To get white rye, you need to sift regular rye to remove the bran. In fact, you need to sift it twice. So I did. There was a fine mist of flour dust all over my kitchen.
Rye sifted bags
I was really surprised at the amount of bran in the flour.

This recipe made a LOT of bread. Two nice sized loaves, so I gave one to a friend. It was perfect timing, too, as St Patrick's Day was just around the corner (I made this a while ago) and corned beef would be aplenty!


I wasn't sure what to expect with this bread, but I ended up really liking it. The crumb was soft and flavorful and the crust was nice and crusty. The charnushka seeds added an almost pepper-like flavor to the bread, giving it a bit of a "bite" that I really enjoyed.  So far, this is the one sourdough I would make again.

              Wednesday, April 7, 2010

              Latest Treasures

              In less than a week, I've received three new cookbooks, two as gifts from my sister for my birthday (thanks Lisa!), and the third from me. I'd pre-ordered the book February 22 and almost forgotten about it. Happy Birthday to me! 

              These are from my sister:
              Good Housekeeping's The Great Bake Sale Cookbook, full of fun, delicious-sounding treats in a cute little book with a great design. Easy to read, wire bound so it opens flat, and lots of tasty images.

              So many fun things to make, and extras like metric conversion charts and tear out labels.

              The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook. Another beautifully designed book, bursting with mouth-watering recipes. And the photos? Simply stunning. This one contains both sweet and savory recipes, including an entire chapter on bread. Oh, yeah.

              But check this out:
              Caramel Bread Pudding? Yes, please!

              And finally, my gift to me, David Lebovitz's latest book Ready For Dessert, a collection of his best recipes, some from books no longer in print. I love "the best of" cookbooks because they're full of tried and true recipes.

              I poured over it yesterday, as soon as it arrived, oohing and aahing over so many recipes. The first few pages are filled with incredibly helpful information on ingredients and baking equipment. And while some recipes are more involved than others, none seem particularly difficult, some downright easy. Of course, after baking so much bread, anything that takes less than 4 hours seems like a breeze to me!

              gingersnaps pic
              I think these might be the first thing I make. Gingersnaps. Don't they look incredible? I love ginger cookies and especially like soft versions. This fits the bill. Oh, and they're fat free. No, I mean it. See:
              gingersnap title

              Needless to say, I'm going to be keeping myself busy with these new treasures. I think it's time I finally hosted a tea party. Goodness knows I'm not wanting for ideas on what to serve. Oh, and you're all invited. It'll be QUITE a party!

              Friday, April 2, 2010

              They say it's your birthday...

              It's my birthday, too!

              I'm so old.

              How old are you?

              I'm so old that:

              I remember when gas was 75¢ gallon.

              I was around when leg warmers were "in" the first time around.

              The young girls in my modern dance class weren't even born when I graduated from high school, and some even before I graduated college.

              I can say things like, "I haven't seen that person in 20 years" and I'm talking about someone from high school.

              I got the Thriller album when it was released. And it was an actual ALBUM, as in a vinyl record (and, yes, I still have it — along with the Xanadu album {I see that eye roll})

              I remember when weekend television programming was AWESOME. Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, The Muppets... Oh, yeah.

              The first time I used electronic mail I was in college and the program was in DOS.
              I actually say things like, "When I was a kid, we didn't **fill in the blank**" making me sound like the old fogey I am.

              Man, that IS old! I think I need a nap.
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