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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread

A friend gave me a small bag of dark rye flour and asked me to help her come up with a recipe she could use for our climate in Atenas, Costa Rica. It took a couple of attempts, but I think she will be pleased with the outcome. We are in the middle of our rainy season, so you may need to add a little more water when the dry season gets here. I used a sourdough starter, but it will work just as well with instant yeast. I adapted the recipe below from one I found on I modified the ingredients to work in my high humidity climate at an altitude of 700 meters. (2300 ft)

Water:   400 grams, 1 & 2/3 cups
Sourdough Starter:   70 grams 1/3 cup (omit if making the instant yeast version)
Instant yeast:  1 tsp. (omit if making sourdough leavened version)
Rye Flour:  250 grams, 2 cups
Bread Flour:  250 grams, 2 cups
Vital Wheat Gluten:  20 grams 1½ Tbs.
Molasses:   43 grams, 2 Tbs. (I couldn’t find molasses, so I used “Miel de Caña (Sugar Cane Syrup))
Fennel Seed:  1 Tbs. (or 1 tsp if using ground fennel seed)
Anise Seed (not Star of Anise):  1 tsp.
Caraway Seed:  2 tsp.
Salt:  8 grams, 1¾ tsp.
Zest of 1 Orange (Optional)

Sourdough Version:
Mix the sourdough starter and water into a large mixing bowl. I find a large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid works best for me.  Add the molasses, stir to dissolve, and then add all the seeds and orange zest.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, vital wheat gluten, and salt. Run a fork through the mix to make sure the flours are evenly distributed.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet using a dough whisk or spoon until the flour is well blended. Coat your hands with flour and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. It will be sticky but that is the nature of rye flour. Cover the bowl with a tight lid or plastic wrap and let rest it for 15 minutes.  Knead the dough again for a minute or two. Let the dough sit at room temperature for roughly 12-14 hours.

Instant Yeast Version:
The only difference if you don’t use a sourdough starter, add an extra tablespoon of water to the liquid ingredients, and mix the instant yeast into the dry ingredients before combining with the wet ingredients.

Both Versions:
After the long 12-14 hour proof, lightly flour a large board. This is a high hydration dough, so gently scrape the dough out of the bowl. Flour your hands and gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Try not to deflate the gases trapped in the dough. Now fold the dough in thirds and then in half. Gently shape the dough into a boule, or batard (round or oblong) for baking. Gently place the dough in a proofing basket for the final rise. If you don’t have a proofing basket, you can line a bowl with a well-floured kitchen towel and put the dough in there for the final rise. The final rise should take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough doubles in size. Make sure you cover the dough with plastic, or an inverted bowl to keep it from drying out.

Place your baking vessel and lid in the oven and preheat it to 450°F about 30 minutes before baking. I bake in an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, but you can use any vessel you like. A slow cooker’s ceramic pot with an oven-proof lid is also a great choice.

Gently “pour” the dough into the hot baking container. Score the dough with a razor or sharp serrated knife and bake until the internal temp is about 200°F. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes, remove the lid and drop the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for another 20-25 more minutes.

Let cool completely before eating.

I like to prepare the dough for the long proofing time in the evening. In the morning I give it the final shaping and proofing. If you want to prepare the dough early in the day, you can place the dough in the refrigerator and then pull it out for the 12-14 hour proof before you go to bed, and leave it at room temperature overnight.

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