Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In a rye mood

Dear Bread,

Hey. Me again. So, here we are at the end of this part of our journey, and I must say, being with you, Bread, has taken me down one of the most splendid forks in my private little road.

You've taught me so much Bread, and I feel that I've gotten to know you so well, what makes you thrive, what makes your spirit wane. I know how the warm weather makes you ornery, uncooperative, and frankly a little gassy. I know how you prefer to be handled gently, in private, even though you flaunt yourself with lovely frocks as though you want the world to believe that you're impenetrable and immune to defeat.

Most significantly, you've taught me patience Bread, and that alone has allowed our relationship to flourish. I know now that you need a lot of time and space alone to energize, and when I don't push you too hard, you are a reliable partner who feeds me everything that I could possibly ever need. Bread, I'm just going to say this, while our romance is stronger than ever, you've also become my closest friend.

I'm so glad that we've recorded our romance and shared it publicly, aren't you Bread? Its kept us accountable, and I love to be able look back and see all that we've learned together, all the wonderful ways that we've grown.

I hope that other people have been able to learn from our lessons too Bread, and I think they have, because they email us and encourage us to keep going with our relationship. Sometimes they give us advice, and even ask us for a few tips to keep their own relationships alive and strong.

I know our romance has not always been smooth sailing, we've had our ups and downs. You know, the silly little phase where I wouldn't touch you at all, and then those moments when I forced you to drink too much water because I thought it would be good for your complexion, and instead you almost drown. But you always forgave me Bread, you always gave me space to noodle around, even though you foresaw that some of the things I was doing was going to yield unsavory results. You somehow knew that if I was not allowed to make those mistakes, I would never truly understand you.

Now I see that you were trying to teach me that even though sometimes things are challenging, if we see our difficult moments as learning experiences instead of failures, together we can flourish.

So, today I'm in a rye mood, because we've come this far and now we have to take things to another level. I've gotten comfortable, I will admit, but you're right, we have to keep challenging one another if we are to stay interested enough for this thing to grow. What did you say to me the other day? Something about not always knowing where the path will lead, and that if we trust in one another, we are destined to become part of something that is so much bigger than ourselves? I don't know Bread, you are just so wise, and sometimes I don't fully understand.

I'm ready Bread, to move on to the next phase, a deeper place, and I'm honored that you feel that I'm worthy enough to meet some of your dearest friends. Brioche, the rich prima donna, and Croissant, the little prig, and that English chap that you lovingly call 'Muffin', they sound like such an interesting bunch. I'm glad that you warned me that they can be a temperamental lot, fussy sometimes, uncompromising at their worst, but I promise I will do my best to try to understand them too. I know that once I've won their affections, they will be putty in my hands, just like it was with you.

You know, Bread, even though I'm scared that we are getting more serious, I think that with all that I have learned from you that we have a good chance at success, and I think that our love will be everlasting.

I just want you to know that loving you has made my life so much better, and as our bond deepens, I know that as long as we are committed to learn from one another, this relationship will take us to places that not too long ago I had only dreamed of.

I love you Bread. Then, now, always.

Tartine Country Loaf, In Rye

800g h20
200g rye levain (see below)
830g KA bread flour
170g Bob's Red Mill medium rye flour
20g salt

15g active rye starter
100g h20
50g Bob's Red Mill medium rye flour
50g KA AP flour

1) Make the Levain:

Levain in full bloom

Dissolve 15g active rye starter in 100g h20. Stir in 50g medium rye flour and 50g AP until you arrive at an amalgamated paste. Let this ferment overnight. My levain is usually in full bloom in 8 hours.

2) Dissolve the levain in 800g of h20. Stir in the 830g bread flour and 170g rye flour with your hands until you reach a shaggy mass. Autolyse for at least an hour.

Dough ready for autolyse

3) Squish the 20g of salt into the dough with your fingers until it is fully incorporated, let it rest for 30 minutes.

4) After 30 minutes, you will perform 4 series of turns every 30 minutes, which will comprise 2 full hours of your fermentation. Perform your turns like this: dip your hand under the bulk of the dough, and fold the bottom up over the top of the dough, give the bowl a 1/3 turn and repeat until you have done this three times. Be gentle with the dough. You are not kneading, you are stretching the dough and organizing the gluten molecules into long strands. The dough will strengthen via fermentation. Forget about all of the Cranford BBC movies on PBS where those 19th century women beat the crap out of their dough to illustrate hard livin'. Gentle and patient is the name of the game here.

Rye flour is extensible, rather than elastic, as shown here

5) After 2 hours of gentle turning, let the dough ferment unmolested for another 2 hours at room temp if it's cool enough in your area.

Dough after first turn

Dough after 4 hour fermentation

6) After the 4 hour ferment, turn the dough out onto a well-oiled (or floured, your call) workspace.

7) Divide, shape into loose rounds, and cover with 2 bowls for their 15 minute bench rest.

8) After the bench rest, shape into boules, then get them into bowls that have been lined with linens dusted with brown rice flour. Pop them into the fridge for a 4 hour proof

9) With 25 minutes left of your proof, preheat your oven to 500 degrees with two combo cooker sets inside. After the dough is fully proofed, cut out a square of parchment, place over the mouth of the bowl, and invert the bowl onto a peel. Remove the bowl and the linen carefully (in case there are any sticky spots, you don't want to yank the linen off too hard and rip the dough).

10) Score the dough, slide it into the shallow part of the hot cast iron pan, mist with a water bottle set on the MIST setting. Cover with the deep part of the comb cooker. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake for 30 minutes covered.

11) Remove the cover from the combo cooker, then bake until done. My bread took another 40 minutes for an hour and 10 minute total bake.

Crust: I think this is my best crust so far. So brittle, it was hard not to slice into it the night of the bake. But I had to wait till the morning light to photograph it for you all.  Crumb/Flavor: Earthy, nice bit of tang, super complex and absolutely delicious. I will pose this question: to degas or not to degas. There are two schools of thought. Some people do, some people don't. I never degas, and with this bake I did. I think that it smashes all of the gas chambers and minimizes the open crumb. I don't think I will degas again. I don't recall the Tartine book saying that we should degas, but I've been reading about all these bakers degassing here and far and decided I might give it a try. I don't like it! And I don't think I will do it again. Anyway, back to the crumb. Full gelatinization was realized, the crumb was chewy and awesome. Great with a ripe brie that I had on hand. Ease of handling dough: Super simple. Just keep in mind that working with rye is a different animal. It's going to feel more 'gummy' than you might be used to because of rye's extensible properties. That means that it's not elastic, like wheat flour (meaning, it stretches when you pull it, rather than snapping back). Bench notes: I didn't like that whole degassing thing, so I want to try this again without doing it to see if it will lend to a more open crumb.

To the staff of life!

This rye post was sent off to Wild Yeast Blog's Yeast Spotting.


  1. Hey Girl,

    The first read in a while of your blog posts. With this re-visit, definitely not disappointed! You and the rye boules rock!

    Carol xx

  2. Oh frankie, what a funny post. You got me laughing at the "I forced you to drink too much water thinking it was good for your complexion"!! L O L . And that picture of the two boules bumped up against each other - just like they're smooching. Very lovely bold bake. Glad to see you're going strong!

  3. Beautiful! I can fully appreciate your love affair with bread.

  4. Award-winning pictures of magnificent loaves. Your blog is truly a joy! I love your ode to bread too...

  5. Thanks MC. Onto laminated breads, yikes!


  7. Gorgeous bread! I love your blog...

  8. thank you Salome. what a compliment!

  9. Awesome!! I too am giving myself a bread intensive at home!! Wondering if you could give a few tips on your photo techniques for the super amatuer?? I love your bread tips!!!!

  10. Thanks Lizt! I don't know anything about photography. I take a million pictures and ferret out the best ones. It helps that the bread is pretty photogenic ; )

  11. ps, invest in a good camera. that helps immensely!

  12. These are the finest loaves I've seen on the internet thus far. NICE work T.B.E.!

  13. Thanks for this. "Extensable rather than elastic," was reassuring (very helpful) to me in my own rye bread endevours. If you are game, consider trying this one simplification on your next batch: Add your salt as "Kosher salt" to Step 2 above (before the autolyze). These larger kosher crystals do not dissolve as fast as table salt, and so you get the autolyze benefit without and the extra salt-mixing step. Try it and see for yourself.


  14. hi john. i actually do use kosher salt already.

    thanks for the tip!

  15. This bread looks amazing. Would love for you to share this with us over at foodepix.com.

  16. I couldn't say it any better myself....this post is exactly my thoughts. My husband and I both have a new love child in our lives and it is bread. We bake it and eat it and invite friends to enjoy it. I'm not sure if we are annoying all of our friends with our new obsession and discussing every detail of the bread with them, from the organic flour to the type of salt, but most usually don't pass up the opportunity to come and taste test our loaves. We've been hit with the bread obsession that seems to be so eloquently described in this post.....

    I am curious at what temp you are at during the "bulk ferment"? I mixed cold water 65 degrees and let my bulk ferment go overnight in a 66 degree house. Then I let it sit out for the final rise for 5 hours, because I read that Tartine keeps things at 80 degrees and one degree off can be a problem. I'd like to change my schedule so I can cook it in one day and it seems like you are happy with your results with a short bulk fermentation and final rise.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Great pics. Two questions: One, if I use sea salt, which I love but which has so many minerals in it, sometimes as much as 15%, should I compensate by increasing the amount of salt I add??? Say by 15% more?

    Two, what about my passion: Caraway seeds? Can we add 'em? and if so, how would this change things?

    1. hey there. i use sea salt and kosher interchangeably. just be sure you use fine or you will get crystals in your loaf. seeds? add em! the only thing you should worry about is when adding dried fruit, always soak because the dried fruit will absorb water from the dough and tighten the crumb. cheers! lol, caraway seeds are one of the two things in the world that i cannot eat! ps, I just posted a new rye formula today. lovely crumb! using sprouted rye flour.

  18. I love the scoring of your bread. Mine can be a bit hit and miss. I generally go for the Tartine method of either a square or a slash. Sometimes this works really well; other times not. I can never quite tell why in each case.


    1. hi paul. ok. the scoring. here's what. seems like you like the 'ears' of the scored loaves. here's what you do: hold the blade and slash at straight angle, or, parallel the surface of the loaf rather than straight down or at 90 degrees (perpendicular):

      hold the blade like this - rather than this / or this I

      holding the blade parallel to the loaves and slashing like this will give you prominent ears. also, slash DEEPLY. surface scoring make the slashes bleed rather than spring. also, if you have overly-hydrated doughs, no amount of proper slashing will give you good ears. those slashes will always bleed. one last thing, be sure that you are properly steaming the loaves at the start of your bake which creates the proper steam force during initial oven spring. it is the steam from the initial steam that forces the slashes open.



  19. I took the hydration down to 78ish%...silly me! While I had a nice open crumb, i realized I totally could have handled the wetter dough and relished in an even BETTER bread! Nonetheless, bravo for another fantastic bread recipe. I love your blog and all the detail you put into each post!

    1. hooray! thanks for writing in. i'm so glad this loaf worked out for you!


  20. uur, where is your brown recycled plastic bowl from....i love it!?

  21. Tim! from ebay. they're 'melamine' bowls from the 50s. kewl, aren't they?

  22. I was wondering if Bob's Red Mill stopped selling medium rye flour, I can't find it.

    Do you have any other recommendations for buying medium, light rye flour? Usually the biggest obstacle is the price of shipping!



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