Monday, January 17, 2011

Rosie Tries Bread. Again. Ruhlman's Rye.

I can make a wonderful pizza dough, a hearty rosemary foccacia, and a nicely textured, lovely white loaf with my eyes closed. Or in my sleep. I don't go by directions or a recipe. I go by feel. And it works for me. Every time. Lately, however, I've wanted to branch out in the dough department. If you recall, I recently made a Multigrain Boule, which sounded really good, but the finished product just didn't blow my skirt up. One of my friends emailed me with, "Rosie, I chipped my tooth just looking at that picture." Thank you, unnamed person. That was probably the kindest thing you could have said. Well, Rosie's a trooper. Undaunted, she got back on her horse and turned again to Michael Ruhlman's blog for his Rye Bread.
I followed the directions to a T. OK. Not quite. I'm not saying the resulting bread wasn't good. I loved the flavor. But it was still a heavy loaf, like the multigrain loaf I made. I want a lighter loaf and a lighter texture. Here are Ruhlman's directions:

Classic Rye Bread

  • 12 ounces/340 grams bread flour
  • 8 ounces/230 grams rye flour
  • 12 ounces/340 grams water
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams active dry yeast (if you need a fast rise, you can double this)
  • 1 tablespoon/7 grams caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons/10 grams kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer (or any bowl if you’re mixing by hand). Mix and knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. You should be able to stretch the dough to translucency without tearing it.
  2. Let the dough rise in the bowl, covered, till it’s doubled in size, at least two hours and as many as four.
  3. Knead the dough to force out gas and redistribute the yeast and shape it into a rectangle about an inch thick. Let it rest for ten minutes covered with a towel.
  4. Prepare a loaf pan with vegetable oil spray, oil or butter.
  5. Shape the dough: Starting at the top of the rectangle, fold the dough over on itself and pound it down to seal it. Keep folding and pounding until you have a squat, tubular shape. Roll it back and for the tighten the interior.
  6. Put the dough top side up into the prepared loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  8. When the second rise is done, slash it lengthwise down it the center, and bake for a half hour. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. and continue baking till done, another 15 to 30 minutes. (If you’re unsure about doneness, use a thermometer and remove the dough when its internal temperature is 200 degrees.

Yield: one 2-pound loaf

I measured out twelve ounces of bread flour.
Eight ounces of rye flour.
Packet of yeast going in to twelve ounces warm water.
I always get every little bit out.
And I always add in a little sugar to proof my yeast.
Two teaspoons Kosher salt into the flour mixture.
And a tablespoon of caraway seeds.
The yeast is nice and poofy. It has proofed.
I added the flour mixture into the yeast.
Stir to mix.
I turned the dough out onto my board ...
... and kneaded for about 15 minutes.
I put the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to grease all over, covered it with plastic wrap, and did my Rosie trick to enable quicker rising: Wet a kitchen towel and nuke it for about a minute, then cover the bowl of dough with the towel and put it back in an enclosed area (like the microwave) to rise.
Took about 2 hours for the dough to double.
At that point, I punched it down, kneaded it a bit more, For you fashionistas out there: My Mesa Verde, Colorado, T-shirt and my denim apron from Deadwood, South Dakota. and placed it inside a plastic zip-lock bag and set it inside the refrigerator overnight.
I'll continue the next morning.
The next morning,
I heated up another damp kitchen towel, and massaged the cool dough, inside the plastic, with the warm towel to bring it up to room temperature. Only takes a few minutes.
Then I pressed the dough out into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.
Cover with plastic and a warm towel and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Pull top of rectangle over ...
... and press with heel of hand to seal.
Shape the dough, rolling it back and forth to tighten.
When you get a nice, compact, sturdy loaf ...
... place it in a buttered loaf pan. I like to add a little oil over top. Then I do my little rise-trick again. Plastic wrap over top and a hot, damp towel surrounding the loaf. Let is rise again until double- about an hour or two.
Make a gash down the center of the loaf and bake in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and I baked for an additional 22 minutes.
Maybe I should have let it rise some more since it looks like my slash deflated the loaf a bit.
My kitchen smells like caraway.
Good flavor. Mr. Hawthorne really liked this bread. I had to have the heel - my favorite part - slathered with butter. Pretty good. Would like a lighter texture.
This was my breakfast today. Buttered toasted rye with sauteed ham slices and Swiss cheese run under the broiler.
Pretty darn good.
Dear readers, I'm still on a quest - for the ultimate rye bread. This is just the beginning. If any of you have a great rye bread recipe, please send it to I'll give it a try. Thanks.


Ken said...

Don't know about rye bread recipes, but I've heard that for whole wheat recipes, it can help to add vital wheat gluten to the recipe (I've seen it in the baking aisle near the flour). It is supposed to make the bread a little more tender and I think there are instructions on the box of gluten about how much to add to each recipe.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Hi Ken, I have vital wheat gluten and I used it in my Multigrain Boule which I could have used as a door stop.

I'll keep trying!

Thanks for the suggestion.