Spelt Rye Loaf

Photos to follow. Soon-ish.

Haven't baked a proper loaf in ages and maybe dispensing with the numbering system. Have attempted two or three loaves while back in the States, but my American sourdough (using King Arthur flour) never quite developed the way I expected it or wanted it to. Will maybe update the blog with photos of a few loaves I've baked this year later on.

First time using freshly milled flour (!) and pre-packaged sourdough starter (Natur-Sauerteig) from a shop in Ratingen, Germany. I asked for the spelt and wheat do be ground as finely as possible and requested a slightly more coarse grind for the rye. Using warm water as always, and warmed up the Natur-Sauerteig package in water before using it.

[200WM - 150SP - 150RY - 350WA - 145NS] mix, autolyse (1730 - 1800)
[7SA - 50WA] mix, bulk ferment; stretch & fold (1800 - 2200)

shape, slash, dust, bake - 1115 - 13hr fermentation (1115-1215)

At the first folding there was more gluten development than I expected, either because it's been so long since I baked with either rye or spelt, or because the flour itself has more gluten. On the whole, the dough was still a bit pasty and loose as one might expect when using rye and wholemeal flour. At second folding the dough looked like it had absorbed more water, but was not any more or less stretchy than before. Admittedly, I missed a few folds or did them late, but after four hours of fermentation at room temp there was only a bit more gluten development and very little expansion. Being such a thick and heavy dough, I didn't bother bench resting or shaping it, and chucked it into that fridge after coating the outside with some flour.

The dough had a chance to retard in the fridge for about 13 hours, over the course of which it failed to show any significant expansion or change in texture other than what one might expect from keeping it cold. Roughly shaped the dough into a boule before placing it on a liberally floured baking tray and stuck it into the oven at a claimed 300'C. For some reasons a bit hard to explain, I didn't spray the loaf with water or pour boiling water into a hot tray to create some extra steam. That decision represents one potential failure in this loaf.

forgot to flour the baking sheet properly and I ended up with a hole in the bottom of my loaf. Didn't finish cooking properly because of that; the prevailing texture was that of gumminess. Some parts of the crust were burnt, though not terribly, and the crust was quite dense and crunchy. The crumb was tight (if you can call it that), no large air bubbles. the bread worked well with butter and marmalade, but slightly too heavy to eat with savoury things. Total baking time was about 1 hour, but the effect of the hole in the crust really showed in the uncooked crumb.

Carelessness aside, it was interesting to use the pre-packaged sourdough that I found in the local German market. I didn't see much activity during fermentation and I have to wonder to what extent the pre-made sourdough contributed to that lack of activity. Not sure how a starter can survive in a package on a shelf, when my own starters seem unsuitable for baking unless I feed them regularly. I'll definitely try using the Natur-Sauertag again, but not before reading a bit more about it.


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