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Author Notes: Being of mixed Jewish/Catholic heritage I know everything about guilt there is to know. Thankfully there's some great food in those two cultures to make up for it. The recipe for this tasty and simple rye bread is in grams - I know, I know this site is US centric, but you know, there's cooks and bakers to the north of you and we don't use ounces and the like. Especially when it comes to baking, grams are the way forward, because it's so easy to measure stuff. —Andreas Düss
g bread flour
g rye flour
g active sourdough starter
- Day One Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge. Feed generously. Rye flour is a good choice to get the starter going, wheat will take a little longer.
Day Two, morning
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the starter and stir in. Start kneading, I use a kneading hook and a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, on speed 2. Add the water, adjust until a shiny dough has started to form that comes away from the side of the bowl.
Go have a shower, get dressed, feed the cats. Come back after 10 minutes and check the dough. If you can see gluten development – take a little dough and stretch it – you’re done for now. Take the dough and put it into an oiled bowl. Cover, refrigerate, go to work.
Day Two, Evening
Arrive home, open a beer. Relax. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about two hours. It should have grown a little, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look as if anything has happened.
After two hours, pre-heat the oven to 500º. Take the dough and stretch and fold three or four times. If the video upload on this site would be working I'd show you how to do that, but it doesn't, so I can't. Take it up with the authorities.
- Put into a floured banneton (or brotform) for the last rise. After an hour, drop the dough into an earthenware cloche or on a pizza stone and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the bread has an internal temperature of 200º. Let rest for at least an hour and enjoy.
- When I first started exploring this formula, I started out with a mixture of 300 g bread flour, 200 g rye. The starter I feed whatever I have on hand, bread flour before it goes back to sleep in the fridge, rye if I need activity fast. Ever now and then, as a special treat, I throw in a handful of wholewheat flour, which is the yeast equivalent of feeding tequila to teenagers. I am pretty certain that sourdough purist will faint dead away at this laissez faire, laissez aller attitude but so far the yeast and bacteria population of my starter seems to be both enthusiastic and healthy. Which, in the end, is really all that counts.
- While we’re ruminating on the subject, sourdough is one of these things that a fair number of people get far too mystical about, at least for my personal liking. Before the development of commercial yeast not that very long ago, naturally leavened bread was the only bread there was. Which means that great bread has been produced for millenia by people who a: thought the earth was flat and b: who’s idea of personal hygiene was a bath at Christmas time, and then only if you really needed it.
- What I am saying is, don’t sweat it. We’re surrounded by everything we need to create leavening cultures. All we need to do is create the environment the little critters like to move into. A clean glass jar, clean to make sure the undesirables won’t take hold before the yeasts move in, some, ideally, organic wholewheat flour and water, as well as a source of gentle acidity is all you need. The acid is ideally being supplied by fruit juice, with natural pineapple juice being, apparently, the best and most effective choice. Mix, stir, cover with cheese cloth and wait for a couple of days. Chances are that after a week or so you’ll have your very own bread starter.