LeadDog's picture
I have been doing some experimentation and thought it would be a good idea to share the end result.

Light Rye Crumb

I have been playing around with a light rye formula and finally made a loaf that is at least the best bread that I have eaten in recent memory.  I also have started baking my bread in cast iron and I love the results.  A while back I found my dutch oven in a deep dark corner of my kitchen and baked a bread in it.  This made all kinds ideas go running through my head on how to bake bread.  One of the ideas was to buy a cast iron roasting pan to make bread in so that it can be used as a loaf.  This works very well and here is a picture of the setup.

Cast Iron Roasting Pan

To use the roasting pan I preheat it in the oven to 425°F then I dump the dough into it.  I cooked this one for 15 minutes with the lid on then 45 minutes at 460°F without the lid.  I think next time I'm going to leave the lid on longer as there was visible moisture on the bread when I took the lid off.  The bread also raised about another inch after I took the lid off.  The bread also ripped open after I took the lid off so I'm hoping that maybe longer time with the lid on will help.  Here is a picture of the rip.

Light Rye Loaf

Now when I cut the bread into slices the rip is hardly noticeable.  Here is the formula I used.

Day 1 in the evening I make my first build.
                               grams    percent
Starter                     14.35    50.00%
Flour                       28.71    100.00%
Water                      14.35    50.00%
Total 1st Build        57.42    200.00%

Day 2 next morning I make my next build.

Starter 1st build           57.42    47.37%
Flour                        121.21    100.00%
Water                           60.61    50.00%
Total 2nd Build         239.23    197.37%

That evening I mix it all up.

Dough Formula           
Flours*                             956.94    100.00%
Water                               765.55    80.00%
Salt                                      19.14    2.00%
Preferment 2nd Build        239.23    25.00%
Olive Oil                              19.14    2.00%
Total                                 2000    209.00%

Bread Flour    861.24    90.00%
Rye                  95.69    10.00%
Total            956.94    100.00%

The Rye flour is fresh ground whole rye.  The storage starter is a course ground whole wheat starter at 50% hydration that isn't refrigerated.
Dissolve the starter in the water then add the flours and mix until it is a shaggy mass.  I let it rest about 20 to 30 minutes.  Then I add the oil and salt and finish mixing.  I let the dough start to rise, about three to four hours, and then put it in the refrigerator for the night.  The next day I take it out and let it finish rising.  There were big bubbles on top of it when I finally got to baking it.  I just dump the dough into the hot roasting pan and even it out a little bit with my dough scraper.  End of part one of this experiment.  I will give the details of how I'm taking care of my starter later.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 February 8
I made the loaf again and left the lid on for 25 minutes.  The bread rose even higher this time and it didn't have the great big rip in it like the first one.  Here is the picture of it.

Light Rye Loaf II

Now for the crazy part of my experiment.  I have been making my starter at 50% hydration since the middle of December with a course ground whole wheat flour.  I leave the starter out on my counter and only feed it three times a week.  I smell it every day and it does end up with a acetic acid smell before I feed it again.  The starter also gets a white coating on it that looks like a yeast bloom to me.  This method of maintaining my storage starter may be taking my starter to a crazy extreme, I'm not sure.  My breads since I have started doing this have tasted better and raised fuller.  I speculate that the course flour, low hydration, and cool weather slow down the fermentation.  Here are some pictures of the starter so you can get an idea of what is going on.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Cheese Bread
Here you can see how course the whole wheat is that I'm using.  I would say on a scale of 1 to 10 it is a 7 or 8.  It feels a little gritty when you pinch it between your thumb and finger.

Storage Starter

Here is the storage starter with the white surface that it gets after a few days.
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 February 9
Looks really good. Thanks for the detailed info. No stencil on this one? ;)

I've been incredibly bogged down, mostly by festivities (seriously grudging these social/family commitments) and a deathly slow internet connection. Hope to share baking fun soon....

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 February 10

Right there is no stencil because I'm dumping the dough into a hot pan.  I want to get the pan back into the oven as soon as possible.  I also think because of the lid being on for the first 25 minitues the flour would all get wet and the stencile would vanish.  The loaf I took out of the oven last night by this method was just beautiful.
Thorpie 2009 February 28

Guys, Just a couple of comments about the flavour and the flying top crust (crack). Leaving the lid on the pan while baking will be trapping the steam from the loaf that is produced during the baking process. Due to the steam being trapped the flavours that are normally (in an open top pan) flashed off and escape with the steam during the baking process, but with the enclosed baking pan these flavours are trapped in the pan and in the cell structure of the crumb for longer and thus increasing the end flovour of the bread.

Also this trapped steam will be ensuring that the top crust stays moist and flexable until the yeast activity in the dough stops (around 56 degrees C dough temp) The flying top is caused by the internal dough still moving (rising) due to yeast activity after the external crust has set.

A couple of things that may be worth a try are:

Use a smaller baking pan and smaller dough weight. A pan that is around half the width as it is long will allow the heat transfer into the center of the dough to be quicker allowing you to bake the loaf without the high crust colour.

To get more oven spring (bigger volume loaf) try putting the dough into a pan that is only heated to around 30c (but you will need to grease the pan) this will ensure that the hot pan is not killing the yeast in the surface of the dough when you place the proved dough in the pan or why not try proving the dough in the greased pan the less you have to touch the proved dough the less damage to the cell structure will be done

Tip: A loaf is baked when the center internal crumb temp reaches 96c, any higher and all you are doing is drying the crumb out.

Let us know if any of the above is of any assistance.

Happy Baking



celia's picture
celia 2009 March 20
Gorgeous looking breads, Duane! Pot baking still scares the heebies out of me - manoeuvering the big hot pot is too much for me... On the starter on the bench issue - I seem to recall a discussion with Dan Lepard about this, and his comment was that the starter can get too acidic on the bench after a while and nuke itself, so watch out for that... Cheers, Celia
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 March 21
Yes I'm aware that the starter can make to much acid and kill itself. There are a range of smells that the starter goes through that I have noticed. The smell of stinky feet is as far as I have let the starter go without feeding it. I'm still treating my starter the same way as documented here and the bread still tastes great and has the nice crumb. A friend of mine is doing the same thing and having similar results also. I also have my discard in the fridge in case something goes wrong. Celia for the hot pots I have really nice gloves for handling hot things. But you are right I was really scared the first time I did it because it does have more risk involved. I guess after doing it a few times that my fear has gone away.

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