Wednesday, December 16, 2009

first rye sourdough a whacking great failure

Wanting to do something else with the home-grown rye sourdough starter I made for the kvas, I turned to this recipe for sourdough rye bread. Man, what a train wreck. I probably erred in not using bread flour, but I had none on hand.

The dough was unbelievably sticky. It was like trying to knead Liquid Nails. I don't think it reached the desired texture but I just couldn't spend more time on it. It remained kind of grainy. Cleaning my hands and the cutting board took nearly as long as kneading. I'm not sure whether I should have just kept plowing flour into it to achieve something workable.

It rose moderately, and for about six hours overall. However, because of the very slack dough the small loaves did not develop much height, and when I slashed them they instantly deflated, leaving me with two football-shaped hamburger buns. I baked on a hollow cookie sheet with corn meal rather than oil.

The crust was rough and decidedly ugly.

I figured I might as well try it hot, so I did. The strong rye and caraway flavors were pretty good, actually. It's about like a rye crisp cracker in flavor, with that kind of crackle when biting the crust, and a soft interior that combines nicely with the crunchiness. It is not terribly dense, defying my expectations for loaves that are less than two inches in height. There's no stretchiness to the crumb. It has no sourness when warm. It made really good toast the next morning, dressed with butter and peach jam. Still no sourness, though. I think the starter may be too young.

I guess it's tasty enough, aside from the aesthetics and awkward dimensions, that I'd try it again. If the dough can be made more manageable and the shape corrected then doubling or tripling the recipe might be worthwhile.

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