Bread Baking 2: Mix, Form and Rest

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So last time I had four starters going and was ready to wait.  And I did wait – approximately 10 hours.  The exact period of time is something each baker needs to figure out based on the development of the starter and whether or not it is convenient timing life-wise.  If you are using a clear glass bowl/jar you will see many consistent bubbles appearing in the starter. In my research, I have seen that the best time to start your mixing is when the starter is at it’s full height (at some point your starter will double and then fall a little).  This is something you can try to figure out on your own.  You can mark your jar with a felt pen and watch check it every half hour etc. But I am not that type of baker. I leave it for hours and hours – this last time I forgot completely that my starters were waiting until I headed to the kitchen to get a glass of water at bed time. Whoops.  This can be an exact science, or it can also be something you improvise.  And both methods can yield very good results.

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At this point you will need to set up the DIY bannetons. Bannetons are bread proofing baskets.  For this type of bread you want a thick lovely crust and for that you need to let your bread rise in a container that will let the outside surface of the dough dry out. There are professional ridged bannetons that you can purchase at gourmet stores and online sources. I have also read that lined wicker baskets are a common proofing container.  But I get great results with the colander I got a a the dollar store I keep around the house (in a pinch the interior basket of a salad spinner is great too.)  I line the inside with a clean cotton tea towel/ cloth (washed. no fabric softener. Food will be in direct contact with the cloth.) and then generously flour the towel/cloth with the same dark rye flour used for the bread. ( I tried AP flour once but I didn’t get good results). This is my “banneton”:

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Now you will need measurements for the dough:

For EACH loaf – (finished loaf about 1kg): 

  • prepared starter from Yeast Breeding day! post (about 250 g)
  • 500G of Dark Rye flour ( I use Rogers)  ( or if you prefer a mix of rye and “white” flour  good mixes  I’ve used range between 350g Dark Rye and 150g All Purpose and 425g Dark Rye and 75g AP)  – if your white flour isn’t from a Canadian source – use bread flour.
  • about 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 tsp of caraway seed (to taste – or leave out completely)
  •  1 1/3 – 1/2  cups of water – I generally measure about 365g on my scale. A good amount of water for best result for your type of flour and mix can vary.

These is proportions are adapted from online recipe sources – primarily Root Simple –  if you are so inclined you can experiment with adding milk and fats, nuts and oats etc- but I keep going back to the plain simple loaf.

[I did not include typical cup measurements for the flour – because flour measurements by cup can vary so greatly and really affect your baking – if your flour is pack or sifted or wheat etc. and if you are mixing flours to find the taste you want then the cup amounts can vary greatly  – if you are desperate for an estimate it is around 4 cups I believe. I weigh the flour because I get better more consistent results when I do.  I am big on experimenting with recipes though so have at it in whatever way works best for you. ]

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Measure ingredients and pour into bowl. (This is 100% rye flour)

Stir ingredients in bowl with a spoon (I use a wooden spoon) until just combined.

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At this point you can definitely let the dough rest for a half hour or you can just plop the  stirred lump of dough onto a clean, rye-flour covered surface: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now cover your hands with flour- it is a sticky dough. Then use your hands to form it into a flattened ball shape. Manipulate the dough as little as possible.  NO KNEADING! Be lazy! The results are so much better if you handle the dough as little as possible.

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and generously, completely cover it in the rye flour:

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Then place it into the prepared “banneton”

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Then leave it alone.  I formed my four loaves and place them in a warm, dark place then went to bed.

10pm Friday:

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8am Saturday:  SO GOOD!!!  This was an outstanding result. The more “crackling” the better.

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You’ll noticed my loaves differ in colour.  The loaves on the left are 100% Dark Rye Flour. The ones on the right are a ratio of 350g dark rye and 150g AP flour.

Next post: Baking the Bread!

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