It finally happened. One of my fears (pertinent to baking) culminated last Sunday: a power outage occurred during a bake.
What could I do in such a crisis? Rage and wage war with the power company? No, that’s both irrational and fruitless. All I could do, really, was wait. And boy, was that a long wait…
The primary objectives for the Jewish sourdough rye bread were the following:
- crispy, golden brown, lustrous, moderately to very firm crust
- medium soft, pale brown, slightly open crumb
- faint tangy, spicy (caraway) taste
- faint to mild spicy (caraway), wheaty odour
Adapted from a blog post on The Fresh Loaf, the following adjustments were made to the original recipe:
- proportionately increased recipe amount
- substituted corn starch with wheat starch
- decreased water amount
- implemented different techniques and procedures
Additionally, if available, I’ve listed the brand names of food products used in my baking experiment (please refer to the tables below). Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 1 Jewish rye sourdough bread (loaf)
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 55 minutes
|Preferment: Rye Sourdough Starter|
|Rye sourdough starter||18 g||N/A|
|Mineral water, Above room temp.||261 g||Mineré|
|Medium rye flour / Type 1150 rye flour, Chilled||348 g||Ireks|
|Rye sourdough starter, ~75% hydration||568 g||N/A|
|Bread flour / Strong flour, Unbleached, Enriched||364 g||Gold Medal|
|Mineral water, Above room temp.||181 g||Mineré|
|Roasted sea salt||8 g||Hakata Noshio|
|Caraway seeds, Whole||8 g||N/A|
|Mineral water||64 ml or 1/4 cup||Mineré|
|Mineral water||250 ml or 1 cup||Mineré|
|Wheat starch||15 ml or 1 Tbsp||N/A|
|Cornmeal / Polenta||N/A||Origins|
|Countertop convection oven, Portable gas stove, Digital scale, Parchment paper, Plastic container, Plastic bin, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Scissors, Razor, Spoons, Spatulas, Oven mitts, Towel, Table cloth (Couche), Unglazed clay tiles (Baking stone), Wire rack, Cutting boards|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipe” (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen utensils and equipment, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes:
- feeding the sourdough starter at regular intervals
- lining the rack of the oven (middle slot) with unglazed clay tiles
- cutting a sheet of parchment paper
Step 1: After fermenting at above room temperature for 12 hours, Abital (i.e., my sourdough starter) was bloated with gas, thankfully without constipation.
Note: Refer to Sourdough Starter recipe.
Step 2: Once the ingredients were weighed and organized, I assembled the following materials: bread flour, caraway seeds, sea salt, mixing bowl, and a whisk.
Step 3: Shortly afterwards, I poured the said ingredients into the mixing bowl, whisked the contents until they were evenly distributed, then retrieved the starter and mineral water.
Step 4: Next, I poured the starter and water into the mixing bowl, mixed the ingredients until a shaggy ball of dough was formed, inserted the mixing bowl into a plastic bag, then rested the dough at above room temperature for 15 minutes.
Step 5: Following the rest period, I transferred the dough onto a clean cutting board, then implemented the French kneading method for 10 continuous minutes.
Step 6: Subsequent to kneading, I submerged my hands into a bowl of (mineral) water, shaped the dough into a batard (i.e., oblong shape), positioned the dough onto a sheet of cornmeal-dusted parchment paper, reshaped the disfigured dough, enclosed the dough with a flour-dusted table cloth (i.e., homemade couche), placed household objects adjacent to the table cloth, tented a plastic bag over the dough, and proofed (i.e., rested) the dough at above room temperature for approximately 2 hours.
Further, the oven was preheated to 200°C / 392°F (convection off), containing a rack lined with unglazed clay tiles (middle slot), for 1 hour.
Step 7: Prior to baking, I prepared the glaze by: mixing 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of wheat starch with 1/4 cup (64 ml) of mineral water, pouring a cup (250 ml) of mineral water into pot set upon a portable gas stove, heating the pot until the water was at boiling point, pouring the wheat starch mixture into the pot, whisking the contents for a few seconds, removing the pot from the portable gas stove, whisking the mixture for a brief period, and pouring the gelatinous mixture into a bowl.
Upon the completion of the dough’s proofing period, I removed the table cloth away from the dough, applied a thin coating of the glaze onto the dough, then slashed the dough with a razor.
Note: Apparently, the table cloth wasn’t dusted with enough rice flour. As I tugged the table cloth from the dough, the dough clung to it as if to indicate that the cloth belonged to her.
Step 8: Hastily, I then transferred the dough onto the preheated clay tiles, inserted a sheet pan containing a towel soaked with boiling water into the lower slot of the oven, then baked the dough at 200°C / 392°F (convection off) for 5 minutes.
Once baked for 5 minutes, I then removed the towel-filled sheet pan from the oven, placed the tile-lined rack (where the dough laid upon) into the lower slot of the oven, and baked the dough at 200°C / 392°F (convection off) for 50 minutes, rotating the loaf at 10 minute intervals.
Whoa, what’s going on?!
Instead of baking the dough for 50 minutes as intended, the dough was only baked for 23 minutes. To my dismay, the power went out for the remainder of the afternoon.
Step 9: The half-baked loaf was left in the oven until the power returned sometime in the late evening. Thinking no harm could be done, I proceeded to bake the loaf at 200°C / 392°F (convection off) for 35 minutes, without preheating the oven.
Thereafter, I removed the blackened loaf from the oven, promptly applied a thin coating of the glaze onto the loaf, then placed the loaf onto a cooling rack for several hours.
After twelve hours of being baked, the crust of the loaf was crispy and very firm, whereas the crumb was faintly moist, modestly soft, and cool to the touch. Further, the crust emanated a faint to mild toasty aroma, with the crumb harbouring a light wheaty scent, punctuated by the distinct smell of caraway seeds. In regards to taste, the crumb possessed the bitter-citrusy flavours of caraway seeds, accompanied by a subtle, non-sharp tang.
Note: The Jewish rye sourdough bread was stored at above room temperature.
Of all the sourdough rye breads I’ve baked this particular loaf had the softest and most non-tangy crumb. I was astounded! However, the flavour of caraway seeds had permeated the loaf, which I found a tad too overwhelming, at least when eaten alone.
Questions began to flood my head: What contributed to the cracked crust (above)? Under-kneading and/or under-proofing? Could it be that the dissipating warmth of the oven, plus the long absence of heat, resulted in a tender crumb? What other characteristics of the loaf was affected by the abrupt power outage?
In due time my questions will be answered…
Farewell, my friends, and have a jolly baking! :)