Caraway Light Rye Sourdough Bread
Today’s blog post features a new oven steaming method. (If you don’t know already, crusty breads requires steam—lots of it.)
Amongst The Fresh Loaf community, a website where amateur bakers congregate, the said method is sometimes known as Sylvia’s steaming method or the towel method. Basically, this method involves a thick fabric, very hot water, a very hot baking tray, and a very hot oven.
Surprisingly, I managed not to burn myself. As for the towel, yeah, it wasn’t so lucky…
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the caraway light rye sourdough bread were the following:
Adapted from the blog Bread Cetera, the following adjustments were made to the original recipe:
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: 2 caraway light rye sourodugh bread (loaf)
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 45 + 45 minutes
|Pre-ferment: Sourdough Starter|
|Medium rye flour / Type 1150 rye flour, Chilled||360 g||Ireks|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||361 g||Mineré|
|Rye sourdough starter, 100% hydration||20 g||N/A|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||249 g||Mineré|
|Caraway seeds||15 g||N/A|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached, Enriched, Chilled||545 g||Gold Medal|
|Caraway water, Strained||249 g||N/A|
|Roasted sea salt||15 g||Hakata Noshio|
|Extra virgin olive oil||N/A||Campagna|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached, Enriched||N/A||Gold Medal|
|Countertop convection oven, Refrigerator, Digital scale, Pump spray, Plastic bag, Plastic bin, Plastic container, Sheet pan, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Strainers, Chinese chef’s knife, Razor, Spatulas, Spoons, Fork, Table cloth (Couche), Oven mitts, 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:
- soaking the caraway seeds in mineral water (refer to Caraway Water ingredients)
- resting the caraway water for approx. twenty-seven hours
- straining the caraway water
- feeding the sourdough starter
- cutting sheets of parchment paper
- setting the unglazed clay tiles onto the middle rack of the oven
Step 1: The night before her sacrifice, Abital, my sourdough starter, was fed a large meal of water and rye flour (refer to Pre-ferment recipe). After fermenting at above room temperature for thirteen hours, she had tripled in volume but dropped about one-third of her peak size prior to mixing.
Note: In the above photo, the red elastic band indicated Abital’s original volume.
Step 2: After weighing my ingredients, I assembled the all-purpose flour, caraway water, sourdough starter, and a mixing bowl.
Step 3: Without sifting, I dumped the all-purpose flour into the mixing bowl, then poured the sourdough starter and caraway water into the mixing bowl thereafter.
Subsequent to that, I hand-mixed the ingredients until a shaggy ball of dough formed, inserted the mixing bowl into a large plastic bag (to prevent the dough from developing a dry skin), then rested the dough for approx. fifteen minutes.
Step 4: After fifteen minutes had elapsed, the dough was transferred onto a cutting board and kneaded for two minutes, using the renown French kneading method.
Step 5: Once kneaded for two minutes, I fetched the sea salt, dispersed it across the dough, then proceeded to knead the dough (using the aforementioned method) for an additional twenty minutes.
Note: During kneading, my mind was emptied of all thoughts except one: I need to knead.
Step 6: After reaching medium-low gluten development, I thinly coated a separate mixing bowl with extra virgin olive oil, positioned the dough into the oiled mixing bowl, inserted the mixing bowl into a large plastic bag, then bulk fermented (i.e., rested) the dough for one hour.
Note: Shaping the dough into a ball didn’t go so well. It was like handling wet clay.
Step 7: One hour passed and the dough, depending on your perspective, had doubled or tripled in size.
Step 8: Next, I pried the dough onto the cutting board, chopped the dough into halves, pre-shaped the halved dough into balls (as demonstrated in this video), covered the dough with a large plastic bin, then rested the dough at above room temperature for ten minutes.
Step 9: Ten minutes later, I shaped the dough into a tighter balls (too tight, actually), placed one dough ball onto a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped a pre-dusted table cloth (i.e., homemade couche) around the dough ball, secured the cloth by placing a tea cup adjacent to the cloth, covered the dough ball with a large plastic bin, rested the dough ball at above room temperature for an additional hour, and preheated the oven to 250°C / 482°F for a total of forty-five minutes.
Further, moments prior to preheating the oven, a towel was placed onto a baking tray, soaked with boiling water, then inserted into the lower slot of the oven.
Note: The other ball of dough was placed onto a separate sheet of parchment paper, set into a bowl, rested for approx. thirty minutes at above room temperature, then transferred into the refrigerator (chilled at about 9°C / 48.2°F).
Step 10: Once an hour elapsed, I removed the table cloth from the dough, lightly sifted all-purpose flour atop the dough, then spiral-slashed the dough with a sharp razor blade.
Amidst scoring (i.e., slashing) I paused and asked myself, “What the heck am I doing?” In other words, I did not know how to score a spiral into the dough.
Step 11: Speedily, I placed the slashed dough onto the unglazed clay tiles (on the middle rack), poured boiled water onto the wet towel on the baking tray, then baked the dough at 220°C / 428°F for fifteen continuous minutes (convection off).
Thereafter, I slipped my arms into long-sleeved oven mitts, removed the baking tray from the oven (at which point I discovered that I burnt the towel), re-positioned the middle rack into the lower slot of the oven, then baked the dough for an additional thirty minutes at 210°C / 410°F (convection on), rotating the loaf every ten minutes.
Note: I re-positioned the rack because the dough sprung too high and was burning at the top.
Step 12: Baked for a total of forty-five minutes, the loaf was removed from the oven and cooled on a wire rack for approx. eighteen hours before being sliced open.
Indeed, my patience wore thin by the time I had a bread knife gripped between my fingers.
Step 13: I wish I could say it was over but no…
After twelve hours of being baked, the crust of the loaf was somewhat firm, yielding slightly to pressure of my fingers due to its softened exterior. Wafting a light aroma of caraway, the crumb was modestly soft, cool, and faintly moist to the touch. Moreover, the taste was subtly sweet and nutty, accompanied by a gentle and pleasant piquancy (i.e., tang).
Note: The caraway light rye sourdough bread were stored at above room temperature.
This loaf, without a doubt, was one of the best rye breads I’d ever baked. However, what it lacked was that bitter, licorice punch from caraway seeds. Perhaps next time I’ll ground the seeds and incorporate them into the dough.
Also, I had never scored my dough as a spiral until now, and it seems that the length between the cuts affects how the dough expands. Interesting, isn’t it? No? Well, I found it amusing, to say at least.
Tick-tock tick-tock, spins the arrow
of the clock.
Time for me to go; farewell and
Have a happy baking all. :)