Recently a reader tried (and loved) the 100% rye recipe on the website and sent me a few questions. They are great questions, so I thought I would answer them here.
1) Should I buy a 1lb tin, or just double up the quantities next time to adapt to my 2lb tin?
You can just double up the quantities! In fact, why not get a bunch of tins and bake a bunch of loaves at one time. They freeze beautifully and that way you can do lots of loaves for one turn of oven!
2) I used only the 3g yeast you say in the ingredients list. Should I put more next time, to help it rise better? Or (because it’s dark rye) should I sift it to get a “lighter” flour and that would do the trick?
Yes…but….You don’t want more yeast than you need. yeast is simply something we only need a small amount of. Like salt (and lots of other things) we just need what we need. Further, you want the bread to take a long time to proof. That way the flour is well broken down and easier to digest (the main feature of sourdough bread is the digestibility). I don’t find a huge difference between dark and light rye – they can both rise into surprisingly light loaves. If in doubt, add a bit more water so your dough is really REALLY soft and wet. When you pick it up and move it from one hand to another, the dough should be so oft and wet that you leave a hand print in it from just holding the shaped dough.
3) Should I allow more time for rising? Make it 5 hours?
In theory the more the better (until it has over proofed and collapsed). If it’s cool it will take 5 hours. In the fridge it will take about 8 hours. On a hot day it could take as little as 2 hours. Rye does not do too well with hot days, though. Anything over about 28 degrees and it begins to underperform (rise quickly and collapse in the oven).
4) Because the bread sounded hollow when tapped, I think I baked it for the right amount of time. Would you recommend that I simply leave it wrapped in a towel for 2 days before cutting it the next time – or should I bake it for 10 extra minutes as well?
It’s hard to tell with rye sometimes. The very best thing to do is get a probe thermometer. Bread is 98 degrees C on the inside when it is done. Rye bread is sticky by nature. It is a little less sticky when it is made with a sourdough starter, rather than wheat. Try to leave it for at least 24 hours if you can! I think it’s at its best 2 days after baking it.
5) My hubby loved the crust, and said overall it was okay; but he was a bit disenchanted with the flavour. White rolls are his definite fav, so I think he disliked the earthier and denser tones of the rye (not enough sweetness and fluffiness, I think). Is there anything I could add to this recipe – that doesn’t involve sugars, though – that would make it more palatable or interesting to people used to white bread?
That’s a tough one and I would say keep starving him of the white and giving him the rye. I love 100% rye – it’s my favourite bread and I find white bread dull. So, horses for courses. You can add spices (a pinch of cinnamon or ginger powder or cardamom or cumin or coriander – just a half a teaspoon at first to see how you like it) you can add raisins (fennel seed with raisins is good) you can add treacle or honey. Rye does take flavours well because it has a strong flavour of its own.
Have more questions?