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Archive for January 2009

Crusty rye

with 9 comments

Boyo, rye sure ain’t revealing its nature instantly to the helpless home-baker like me. You have to put the dough into different states to find out about it, like in a scientific experiment. “Light rye breads suck”, I thought, ‘light’ not as in ‘with little rye flour’, but say breads made with more than 60% of rye and then let come to full volume in the final fermentation. These doughs will have a light crumb (and also spread if not baked in a tin, because the dough gets softer when a lot of gas has developed), but lose a quality, German bakers refer to as “Schnittfestigkeit” – resistance of the crumb against the force of a serrated knife. So with steadfast resolve I went ahead and underproved this one.


Pulled a light rye bread out of the oven. Nature is absurd, everyone knows she is… Apparently I had done the calculation without taking into account the combined leavening power of a yeasted poolish, rye sourdough and a very wet dough. I will never be a theoretical baker but that’s okay.

Crusty Rye Loaf


  • 65g strong white flour
  • 65g water
  • 0.1g fresh yeast

Mix and let stand covered at room temperature for 14-16 hours.

Rye sourdough

  • 135g whole-rye flour
  • 100g water
  • 1/2 tsp mature rye sourdough, hydration: 100%

Mix and let stand covered in a warm place for 14-20 hours.


  • 250g strong white flour
  • 45g rye flour
  • 150g water
  • 9g salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar beet syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground caraway/coriander mix
  • Rye sourdough
  • Poolish

Bulk fermentation: 20-30 minutes
Final fermenation: 30 minutes
Bake at 220°C for 30 minutes, for 190°C for additional 20 minutes.


Written by theinversecook

26 January 2009 at 22:58

Pain au levain with mixed sourdough starters

with 6 comments

For some time I’ve had this bread from “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman on my imaginary To-Bake-List.I wanted to see if the additional effort of including an extra rye starter to a levain bread was justified in terms of flavor, texture, keeping quality or other properties. The amount of rye flour is minimal, so there is not much acidity gained, nor does the rye starter give a yeast boost, nor will it extend shelf life much. This is as good as any levain bread, so I don’t see a reason for including a handful of rye to a wheat bread via a separate sourdough. It is a good excuse for not sharing the real secrets of bread making – “Oh, we use two different kinds of starters, spring water and unwashed sea salt from France”. The real secret being, of course, using good flour, hand-shaping, a perky leaven and having a baker in charge who will not rush the dough before it is ready. This loaf sports a good aeration without having too loose a crumb, it will pass the runny-honey test easily if butter is generously slathered onto the slice beforehand. Excuse the awkward quantities in the formula, I broke the recipe down to 450g of flour.

Pain au levain with mixed sourdough starters

Levain build

  • 36g strong white flour
  • 45g water
  • 7g levain, hydration: 125%

Mix and let stand for 16 hours at room temperature.

Rye sourdough build

  • 36g whole-rye flour
  • 30g water
  • 2g mature sourdough, hydration: 100%

Mix and let stand for 18-20 hours at room temperature. The rye sourdough should start to fall in the center or even flatten out.


  • 342g strong white flour
  • 36g whole-wheat flour
  • 235g water
  • 9g salt
  • Levain build
  • Rye sourdough build

Bulk fermentation: 2.5 hours.
Final fermentation: 2.5 hours or until ready.
Bake at 240°C for 40-45 minutes, or at 240°C for 10 minutes and additional 45 minutes at 200°C to get a thicker crust. The German flour Type 550 usually gives a thin and brittle crust, that softens quickly after the bread has cooled, so I did a longer bake.

Source: Bread. Jeffrey Hamelman

Written by theinversecook

21 January 2009 at 20:41

Posted in Bao, Bread, Brot, food, pain, pane, Recipe


with 9 comments

Katrin mentioned liking the flavor of Grünkern. I don’t remember eating it, and I had associated it with “health breads” and therefore bland tasting. How silly. Not entirely my own silliness; there are bakers who say:

“I know whole-grain flours do not taste as good as white flours, but let’s make the best out of them so we can eat healthy.”

Compromising flavor for health benefits by replacing white with whole-grain flour seems strange to me, ideologic and patronizing in the worst case. I have never baked a loaf because it was thought of healthier than others, while not denying the superior nutritional value of whole grain flour, flavor is king. That is like taking the crème out of crème brûlée. Or the actionistic EU Salt Reduction Initiative , which aims at reducing salt quantities in food, like bread and seems to be on its way already..

I think the flavor of Grünkern, i.e. spelt that is harvested when the grain is still “green” and then slowly roasted, is sensational. It is smoky, and sniffing at this bread I began to think I had accidentally dropped some smoked Tiroler Schinken into the dough bowl. But the smokiness is more like Latakia tobacco or smoldering wood. The carrot adds moisture and a weird color.


Grünkern Soaker

  • 100g coarse Grünkern meal
  • 100g warm water

Mix and let stand overnight.


  • 200g strong white flour
  • 200g dark rye flour
  • 100g rye sourdough, hydration: 100%
  • 160-280g warm water to make a soft and sticky but not loose dough
  • 1 carrot, grated, approx. 80g
  • 5g fresh yeast
  • 10g sea salt
  • Grünkern soaker

Bulk Fermentation: 1 hour
Final Fermentation: 45-60 minutes
Baking: 240°C for 10 minutes, additional 50 minutes at 220°C.

Written by theinversecook

16 January 2009 at 02:50


with 6 comments

Clearly, adding old dough to a new dough is not confined to white flours. I had a small bowl of excess Schrotbrot dough left, which went into a very basic rye dough. Final proof was in the fridge. Very moist and good.


Mix and knead 250g old dough and 300g new dough (110g rye flour (= 60%), 70g wheat flour (= 40%), 125g water (=70%), 2g fresh yeast (= 1%), 2 tbsp sugar beet syrup, 3 tbsp rolled oats, 4g sea salt (=2%)), prove for 1 hour, then shape, put into a tin and let rest in the fridge overnight. Baket at 220°C for one hour.

Written by theinversecook

12 January 2009 at 16:29

First bread

with 6 comments

I was browsing through images on an old hard disk and did not expect to find it. My first sourdough bread I have ever made.The recipe came form the German TV show “Hobbythek”, a broadcast for the handy(wo)man and lover of alternative lifestyles. It was legendary in the 80s and became even more famous when it devoted entire shows to remote subjects like bowel health, home-made cosmetics and how to tell jokes. It was always very well-researched, the author and host Jean Pütz being a science buff, alert citizen and altogether good guy. Every show was accompanied by a booklet called “Hobbytip”, which summarized the contents. I believe they had two bread baking shows, the first one from 1977 being the one and only in my opinion, because in the second one they made you believe you needed pea fibre and extra gluten to bake proper bread. Later, Jean Pütz, said in an interview, that he regretted misinforming people about this.

The bread is a rye sourdough, the starter being made from scratch. It takes a couple of days to complete and I remember baking it in huge rounds. I believe it was edible and even enjoyable. The crumb maybe a bit dense, but with a pleasant sourdough flavor and a good crust. I am tempted to try it now to see how it compares to the breads made with my current starter, which is about two years old.

The mentioned booklet from 1977 is in German, but by its layout you will recognize it as historical document of importance. :-) The instructions on shaping the loaf are accurate and the tip about baking in a foil bag is a good one. Hm, that kind of devotion to one particular subject by a curious mind is rarerly found today on TV.

Edit, 22. July 2009: Above link not valid anymore.

Written by theinversecook

10 January 2009 at 05:00