Russian Rye

[u]Dedicated to Bill[/u]

It could only happen to me. At the start of May I did a three day ?Going Professional? course with that noble son of Oz, Paul Merry, baker, teacher and oven-builder ? [url]http://www.panary.co.uk[/url]. It was an excellent course, only four of us reducing to two for the last day (not because of the quality of the course ? two people could only escape for a couple of days). There was me, about to set up a bakery, a woman who already ran a café wanting to expand their appeal by producing their own bread, a chef from a famous London museum where they wanted to include good quality bread on the menu, and a biker who was a total beginner. We were allowed a load of scope to say what we wanted to bake.

Excellent experience - get home, oven dies. Spend next few weeks making flat breads in a skillet (but did not succumb to buying bread).

We actually have state-of-the-art NZ oven in storage waiting for new kitchen to be installed but that is weeks away.

Finally buy mini oven off eBay for £34 (note my famous black book under the work surface):

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v236/bethesdabakers/toyoven.jpg[/img]

Spend the first three days baking like a mad thing even though the oven is not a subtle beast. (Found a new way of getting good oven spring. I got carried away with quantities and made two loaves that only just cleared the sides of the oven. Of course after they hit the heat they expanded, hit the sides of the oven and had nowhere to go but upwards! After half an hour after they had firmed up a bit, I prised them out and leant them together on their sides, wigwam style, to finish baking.)

Anyway, one thing I learnt on the course was Russian Rye, a pure sourdough rye which is so simple and really good. Paul reckons that rye starters are so easy to make from just rye flour and water that he doesn?t bother to keep a rye starter but makes one each time he is going to bake. He refreshes his starter in the following proportions ? leaven 1: water 5: rye 3. The basic recipe is ?equal weights of sour leaven and fresh rye flour, sufficient water to put it back to the consistency of porridge and salt at 1% of the whole bulk?.

For a single loaf, this works out at:
Starter:
Active rye leaven 50g
Water 250g
Rye flour 150g

Dough 24 hours later:
Starter 400g
Water 200g
Rye Flour 400g
Salt 10g

Hand mix until liquids absorbed. Oil a bread tin. Wet your hands, lift the dough out of the bowl and roughly shape in the air to fit the tin:

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v236/bethesdabakers/russianrye1.jpg[/img]

Allow to rise. This was 4½ hours but it could be much quicker depending on your starter and temperature:

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v236/bethesdabakers/russianrye2.jpg[/img]

Bake in a hot oven for about an hour. With the new toy oven I burnt the top of my first loaf. With this second one I brushed the top with water before it went in the oven, reduced the heat a little after ten minutes, and brushed it again a couple of time during the baking:

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v236/bethesdabakers/russianrye3.jpg[/img]

I know that a loaf like this does not have the spectacular beauty of a slashed pain de campagne but the subtlety of the olive gold surface on the loaf makes my little knees weak.

Cool, store over night in a poly bag before trying and, unlike wheat bread, keep in a poly bag until used up.

Best wishes,

Mick

8 comments

Thanks again, chaps.

Normbake, the oven is made by Fisher & Paykel - not a specialist bread oven - I was just looking for something reasonably modern with a large single oven, and what won my heart? It was half price. I suppose I was a bit surprised that what was once a country based on manufacturing is now importing something like an oven from the other side of the world. The empire bites back.

Best wishes,

Mick

Very Nice.

Does anyone have a recipe for Russian black bread?


If this 'leak' ever gets to Paul Merry's ears, "Hey, Paul! Great tips! Much thanks."

Mick, you describe the taste very well...just like I think a good rye should taste....better even. I think the unburnt olive golden top loaf should get some extra points for a nice crunch.

Thanks for sharing this with us....or should I thank Bill for prompting this special treat. Don't be a stranger for too long. All the best for the bakery!


Nice looking bread Bethesday looks like a nice soft crumb.
I'm using 50% rye and 50% white in my starter and it sure gives it a boost I keep my starter on the bench.
Winter down here in Brisbane and the kitchen is 14c during the nite so using the rye flour helps.
What sort of oven from NZ is it.
Normbake

Thanks Nina, TeckPoh, Sourdom,

It's hard to claim any credit for so simple a recipe - especially when I stole it in the first place.

Errrm - I'm afraid it's disappeared into the freezer. I sometimes think rye improves with freezing. Here's the crumb of the first loaf with the burnt top:

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v236/bethesdabakers/russianryecrumb.jpg[/img]

As you'd expect it's dense, moist with small holes - just crying out for a slap of cream cheese and a slice of smoked salmon. I'm no good at describing tastes but it's mild, malty with a sort of slow-release earthiness.

Dom, Paul Merry suggests using dark rye for starters and light rye for doughs or, if you only have one choice of flour, sieving the bran out for the starter and using the rest for the dough. He also says that, after building up the strength of you starter through a few days of refreshment, you should let it stand for 48 hours until the solids sink before making your dough. I have to admit I haven't tried any of this.

His Normandy Cider Rye is to die for - but I don't think I should give away any more of his secrets, especially now he is working on his book.

Mick

Mick,

beautiful bread.

the little mouths in this house have a preference for white loaves, but I can see that I am going to have to start their serious education and introduce a little Russian into their diet.

I have started a new starter this week (30% rye, 70% white), it will be interesting to see if it takes (in the depths of a Melbourne winter). Perhaps I will take Paul Merry's hint and try a 100% rye starter if I am having trouble.

cheers
Dom


[quote="nina"]
Ah, that is just beautiful! I'm a big fan of rye breads and this looks really delicous.
The worst part about baking these breads is waiting to cut them.

Laughing

(If it's anything like a danish rye bread it keeps good to eat for at least a week.)

I'm very impressed that you can bake anything this good-looking in that mini oven

Shocked

(No offense to your oven)
[/quote]

I agree with Nina. Except the worst part about looking at that bread is waiting for you to cut it and show us the crumb, and tell us the taste. Looks scrumptious. Couldn't type for a while...weak in the fingers from the gold surface.


Ah, that is just beautiful! I'm a big fan of rye breads and this looks really delicous.
The worst part about baking these breads is waiting to cut them.

Laughing

(If it's anything like a danish rye bread it keeps good to eat for at least a week.)

I'm very impressed that you can bake anything this good-looking in that mini oven

Shocked

(No offense to your oven)