Wednesday, July 4, 2012

seigle d'auvergne

seigle means rye. d'auvergne means 'of auvergne', or, the auvergne region of france known for its, well, rye bread and cheeses. seigle (pronounced seg, with a very short 'l' that lives as a whisper on the sides of the tongue. so, say 'seg(whisper)l'.

my seigle turned out as well as i had imagined it would. auspicious crackling, very (uber!) moist crumb that will probably keep for the duration of my enjoyment of it. as well we all know, rye breads can last for quite a while.

i used daniel leader's 'classic auvergne dark rye' as a template for this seigle (page 158 of 'local breads'), but i modified the formula quite a bit in terms of hydration, fermentation times, and fermentation method, and type of flour. i used dark rye, i believe his formula calls for light.

the crust was nice and crisp when it came out of the oven. i waited until the next day to slice it, and the crust was as tender as the crumb.

i realized today that this seigle is a window that peeks into my preferences. i'm a product of two hippie parents. we were a farm-to-table family, drawing our nourishment from a very large, urban garden in our back yard. while our neighbors barbecued, our vegetarian family harvested okra and shelling beans. alice waters thinks she began the farm to table movement in america, but i think it was my father. well, at least in my life he did.

we thought he was a crazy old man back then, my father, with his compost pile and a tiller that looked like it belonged to a weathered farmer with sod-caked hands. what he was was an urban farmer with high ideals about what his family should eat.

he orchestrated the planting of our plot and the rest of us, we carried out his vision, one that, of course, at the time i did not appreciate and could not know would be the foundation of how i would think about food when i got older. now, in my adult years, when my friends grapple with weight and urges for fast food, i get hankerings for dandelion greens with a little lemon and olive oil. it is now that i thank my father for honing a natural inclination toward the earth and its flavors. he is gone now, but his vision lives on in me.

seigle. i began this earthy loaf with a 75% hydration starter that i made from the 100% hydration, 100% rye starter that i keep, the mother of all my breads. i have a deep, deep respect for her. she has fed me well, and provides weekly miracles that astound me even still, this one and a quarter years after i first began exploring my bread path with her.

this seigle will happily pair with one of the auvergne-produced cheeses - bleu d'auvergne, salers, fourme d'ambert, saint nectaire, cantal...

saint nectaire is known as 'the rye cheese', since it is aged in rye straw. how much more romantic can one get than that? this is the orchestra of eating that i strive for - this earthy bread, the harmony of a cheese that was borne to wed with it, and perhaps a ripe tomato and a fistful of greens.

i had a ploughman's lunch today with my seigle, a bit of bleu d'auvergne, saint nectaire, some avocado, red onion, cucumbers and the  ripest, sweetest tomato a girl could hope for. (BTW, we grew the best tomatoes in our urban garden, and my mother would can them for the winter months to come. i was a lucky kid. hindsight, you know...).

life is good. but it's so much better with bread that you bake with your very own hands. thank you for meeting me here at the page once again. enjoy your seigle d'auvergne, and please let me know how yours turns out for you!

seigle d'auvergne

the night before the bake

make your levain by mixing the following:

45g 75% hydration 100% rye starter
50g h2o
50g organic dark rye flour, i used BRM

cover and let ferment overnight (mine fermented for 12 hours).

(*to make your 100% hydrated starter into one that is 75% do the following: in the morning of the day before you plan to make the levain, scoop out 36g of starter, add to a jar with 36g of dark rye flour and 27g water. mix and feed once again in the evening. the next day it will be ready to use for your levain).

bake day!

500g organice dark rye flour, i used BRM
200g strong bread flour, i used KA
550g h2o
125g levain
10g salt

in the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the levain in 450g of the h2o, add the rye flour and mix until a smooth, thick, cohesive dough forms.

hey, you know i'm a purest and prefer to make all of my bread by hand, but a dough with such a high percentage of rye will make you grateful that you have a stand mixer. the dough is far too sticky to knead by hand. trust me.

let this autolyse for an hour and 20 minutes.

dissolving the levain, mixing with the seigle flour

the levain, water, and seigle flour amply amalgamated, ready for autolyse

after autolyse

 after autolyse, up close

after the autolyse, add the remaining 100g h2o, the bread flour and salt. machine knead for 9 minutes on the low setting of your mixer using the dough hook attachment (don't use the paddle, even though it might seem like a good idea), scraping down the sides every minute to ensure that all of the flour and water is incorporated.

the dough will be thick and smooth, more like a batter

scrape the sides of the bowl, cover with a plate or a sheet of plastic wrap, or whatever, and begin the 2 hour 40 minute bulk fermentation.

the dough, ready for bulk fermentation

 pre-ferment, up close

 the dough, fully fermented, 2 hours 40 minutes at moderate room temp (73 degrees or so)

after the 2 hour 40 minute bulk fermentation, pour the dough onto a floured bench and rest 10 minutes.

fermented dough on the bench 

the best you can, and don't get frustrated, this is a very sticky dough, and you will not be able to make a perfect boule, shape into a quasi-boule, and plop this (with all your apprehensions in place) into a bowl lined with a linen that has been VERY well dusted with organic brown rice flour. your fingers will be coated with this dough. you will think that you did something wrong, you will want to pitch it, but here's the thing: you did everything right. it is supposed to be sticky with no apparent gluten formation.

pop this into the fridge and proof for an hour and 50 minutes.

your boule, it's gonna look crazy, embrace it!

crazy 'boule' - fully proofed boule

okay, you can get excited after you unveil your proofing dough because it will look like the one above...

after 1 hour 50 minutes (45 minutes before bake time, you should have preheated your oven to 550 degrees with a baking stone in place, and a combo cooker heating up to smoking hot along with it), place a piece of parchment over the boule/bowl, place a peel over the parchment and swiftly invert.

remove the bowl and linen to reveal your beauty.


slide the boule, still on the parchment, into the shallow end of your piping hot combo cooker and pop the deep half of the combo cooker on top. slide it into the oven, turn it down to 500 degrees...

 the boule in the shallow part of the combo cooker

bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. after 30 minutes, remove the lid...

a properly steamed seigle 

turn the oven down to 475, bake for another 13 minutes or so. then turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake till adequately browned. mine baked for another another 17 minutes for a total bake time of 1 hour. of course, cool on a wire rack.

 the seigle is done

it is best to slice high-proportion ryes the next day. the crust, after it comes out of the oven, should be crisp, and the next day it will be velvet-soft. the crumb should be moist, compact, and homogeneous but light, not heavy or gummy.

the headshots

to the staff of life!

this post has been sent over to wild yeast blog's yeast spotting.


  1. yours is one of few true seigle's d'auvergne on the net. thank you for sharing your process in precise language!

  2. you have the best blog on the interenet!

  3. hi Francis-Olive, so nice to see you blogging so much and so well again. love to read about your father, also imagining how much it means to write about him, and remembering, right now.
    I have the book and I have been to the Auvergne this winter, for a work trip. unfortunately I did not read that section of the book until after my visit, which means, I did not care going bakery-hunting and I did not taste any of their famous breads. shame on me. and also on them, considering that in none of the many restaurants I have been and not even in the decent bakery I accidentally walked in I have tasted or seen any of their famous rye breads. so good to see yours here. my old oven is not doing is job properly anymore, so I will have to wait before trying myself...

    1. omg. barbara. i had to deal with a broken oven too. i thought i was going to die, not being able to bake! alas my landlord got me a new one quickly, so, no time was lost.

      ps, it only means that you will have to go back to auvergne!

  4. The bread is beautiful as always but what a wonderful, touching tribute to your father! Thank you for sharing.

  5. thank you! what sweet words anonymous and.... anonymous! (show your face, eh?)

  6. thank you gretchen. he was a cool dude ; ) (still is, in my book!)

  7. Just finished the bake. One of the most beautifully aromatic breads that I've ever baked.

  8. This is a fantastic recipe. I've been combing the internet for the last year to find the perfect dark rye, and this is the best tasting loaf I've made yet! My second loaf is in the oven as we speak. I'll email a photo, as there doesn't seem to be a way to add one to my comments. Thank you!!

    1. Hi BunnyHuggins. Cool. I love this loaf. Esp. with soft goat cheese, onions, cucumber and smoked salmon. Yes! Email me pictures. I don't think you can put them in comments: :)

  9. crazy - i tried Leader's recipie. and started at his 53% hydration. How does one publish such a silly number?? i thought there were editors in the publishing business ... However, knowing far more about 80% rye whiskies than rye breads i went forward on the basis of the bagel-like hydration. After the 53% hydration pre-bread-thing nearly killed my 25 year old Kitchen Aid - i arbitrarily jacked up the hydration to 70%. I bulk fermented it overnight. came out of the oven looking beautiful (the beautiful cracks and the white floury contrast against the caramelized rye), but somewhat brick-like in the crumb - and its weight. I imagine it didn't recover from the beating i gave the dough in the pre-70% hydration stage. I will try again using the above -- thanks for sharing. despite the brick-like nature of this thing the flavor was more than enough to get me back at it.

  10. oh -- one more thing... 20g of salt is too much by just a bit.



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