Thursday, January 21, 2016

Man vs Rye - episode 94

I thought that it might be worth a further attempt at making a sourdough rye bread. I had not realised that rye is actively malevolent, with a vindictive streak a mile wide. Read on, if you can take the horror.

The main problem with the previous attempts, I think, was that there is so very little gluten in the rye flour that it's well-nigh impossible to give the bread a decent structure. So I substituted 200g of very strong white bread flour for 200g of the rye in the recipe. I left out the runny honey, mainly because that stuff costs a fortune, and added a little extra water because of that. After a considerable amount of work with the dough hooks on my mixer, I ended up with what looked like a reasonably well structured dough. It wasn't particularly wet, and it held its shape.
Anyway, I added some flour to my nice round proving basket, and put the dough in. I knew it was going to need a long prove, even though, this time, the starter had been very active. I sprinkled it with a little flour, covered it, and left it overnight at room temperature.
Next day, it was still looking good. You can see it has expanded quite well, perhaps not the doubling in size that every bread recipe seems obsessed with, but by a respectable amount. So, I put a wooden board over it, and turned it the other way up. It should have fallen gently onto the board, ready to go into the oven after a quick couple of cuts. Look away now, if you wish to avoid the horror.
In an imaginative new way of going wrong, the dough separated into a main chunk on the board, and a smaller one, which was inexplicable stuck to the proving basket. And you can see that somehow, it had become wetter, and was spreading rapidly. At this point, I may possibly have muttered something like "Sod it!" 
Throwing it away, and becoming a monk, might well have been the sensible next move. Instead, I scraped the stuck bit from the proving basket, stuck it on the dough, folded the damned thing like a calzone, so it would fit on the baking stone, put it in the oven, and added water to make steam. The dough was clearly angered by this, and tried to slide off the side of the stone.
Some of it actually managed to flow over the edge of the stone, and drip into the tray at the bottom of the oven, where it turned into these bizarre things. I'm lost for words to describe them, but I can tell you they didn't taste pleasant. 
So, here is the thing that I baked. It smells like bread. It has a nicely baked crust.
It can even be sliced, and eaten. The crumb is much better than previous attempts, although it still has a slightly under-baked layer in the middle. And it does taste very good, in spite of its efforts to become some sort of alien life form.

I mentioned these misadventures to my wife that evening (she was working away from home) and she, very sensibly, said "Why don't you make some ordinary bread, the way you used to?" So that is what I am going to do. Rye is clearly more powerful than me, and I surrender. I will leave it to the superhumans who are able to defeat it, and force it to make proper loaves. I'm even going back to the old recipe I used to use, with a pound and a half of flour and a pint of water. In the event that even ordinary bread goes horribly wrong, and becomes possessed by demons, you will see the pictures here. More soon...

1 comment:

Doctor Dark said...

I can't help wondering why so few of the people who read this bother to comment.