PROOFING AND BAKING RYE BREADS
Rye has a talent for fermentation. Rye sours have a long tradition not only do they impart un-equaled fragrance and a savoury tang to the finished bread but they also conditon the dough. We have included a Sourdough Rye recipe below, but it is because of the this talent for fermentation, we want to keep the dough from rising too fast so we make them cool--about 72°F. to 80° F, That means we use a cooler water in the mixing like we described in the last post. Should the dough over-ferment, the loaves are likely to rip open while they proof. To help control the fermentation, before you shape rye dough either let it rise twice at room temperature, or one in a warmer place, but not twice in a very warm place (90°F).
Fermentation or Rising Period: After the dough has risen to about double (about 45 min. to 1 hour at room temp.), deflate the dough when your gentle, wet finger makes a 1/2 inch hole that does not fill in. Try not to let the dough go so long that is sighs deeply around the finger-poke.
Because rye ferments so enthusiastically;, we don't really recommend making a "fast" dough with extra yeast. If you want to hurry your rye bread, give it just one rise in a very warm place.
The gluten in rye dough is fragile, and may tear when handled. To help, overcome this problem while shaping the loaves, use a little water or oil, rather than dusting the flour to keep the dough from sticking to hands and the counter.
Proof the dough long enough with a gentle heat (80°F to 90°F) to let it warm through, and if it has any wheat, rise it well in the pans. Even so, few part-rye breads will rise as high as wheat breads will. Without letting them over-proof, allow enough time before baking so that the dough feels spongy. If you haven't over or under-risen the loaves, you will get a good spring when you put them in the oven to bake. That will indicate if you have done a good job and all has gone as it should in the mixing and rising. The crumb of a rye that has sprung up well is truly superior, but even loaves that aren't so high have a full flavour, and are just as delicious.
Baking: For eons, these hearty, earthy, traditional rye breads have been baked in brick or stone ovens with hight initial heat and then a much longer bake at descending temperature; much of the appeal of these classic breads develops in the oven. Proper baking will make a big difference! Whatever kind of rye bread you bake, make sure it is baked thoroughly--under-baked rye leaves a wet-pinky-woolly taste on the back of your front teeth, quite unpleasant.
With a high temperature in the oven, the problems of flashing--the fluctuation of heat as the heat goes on and off with the oven thermostat--and of hot spots is intensified. The bake is so much better in an oven that can hold a steady, even heat. A simpler and entirely adequate method for making a pretty, shiny dark crust is painting the loaf with the following cornstarch glaze.
Glaze: Steaming encourages the highest rise and the best flavour, but any loaf will be plenty pretty if you give it a dark, shiny crust with this simple and effective glaze.
Mix 1/4 cup cold water with 1/2 tsp. cornstarch and 1 tsp. honey or Xagave, in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes until clear. Brush on the loaf about 1 minute before it comes out of the oven, being sure to cover all the exposed area. For a darker, shinier crust, brush the mixture on during the baking period as well--about halfway through or so, but not before that.
We will discuss making "Black Breads" in our next post.
Peasant's Hearty Rye Bread