Saturday, 27 January 2007

Adventure with Happy End

After my first and failed attempt to make my own sourdough I was pretty discouraged. Without knowing what went wrong - how would I be able to succeed the next time? I don't know what was different but this time everything worked beautifully! My sourdough culture florished, was divided into a pure rye and a wheat part, and continued to multiply. After a few days, I could hardly believe it but it was time to built my own starters for my own sourdough bread. I decided to begin with a rye sourdough starter and with a levain starter from "Amy's Bread". However, after having done so, I realized that there are not many recipes for rye sourdough in this book. Mainly, Amy and Toy are using sponge starters, old dough starters or white sourdough. So I decided to try the Sauerlaender Mengbrot of Petra from Chili&Ciabatta. Her site is a wonderful source for all kinds of bread recipes. And there I finally found what I wanted: A recipe that relies solely on the sourdough starter with no commercial yeast added and that wouldn't take too much time to make. With the levain starter I made a "Country Sourdough Boule" from "Amy's Bread" which was pretty time-consuming as you will see. Anyway, all this starter building, waiting, dough mixing, kneading, waiting, forming, waiting, and baking was well worth it! I proudly present my own sourdough breads!

Sauerlaender Mengbrot

Assuming that only German native speakers are interested in this dark rye bread, I don't translate the German recipe. However, if anyone else wants it, please email me and I'll be happy to do it for you.

Regarding the recipe: I used only half the amounts which still resulted in a pretty big loaf (at least for two eaters). The original rye starter is not quite the same as the one from "Amy's Bread". But the required amount of starter was just as much as I had made so I simply hoped that it would work which it did.

For the final rise, I put the bread into my colander using a floured kitchen towel. I floured it a bit too thoroughly that's why my bread has such a thick layer of flour on top. I gently dumped the bread on the preheated pizza stone and let it bake for half an hour. In hindsight, I should have waited a bit longer to get a crisper crust. However, the color looked already relatively dark. Judging the doneness would have been easier with less flour on top.

In comparison with Petra's picture, the crumb of my bread seems to be a bit sticky but this could also be due to my not-so-sharp bread knife.

And this is the recipe for the rye sourdough starter:

5 ounces/142g rye mother (cold from the fridge)
3 ounces/85g rye flour or pumpernickel flour
2 1/2 ounces/71g warm water

Place all ingredients in a clear plastic container and stir vigorously to combine. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in volume. If it hasn't doubled in 8 hours then your rye mother wasn't strong enough and you have to repeat the process. The mature (doubled) starter is ready to use but could also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Use the amount of starter your recipe calls for and discard the rest.

This was Happy End No. 1 - with No. 2 to come we had a lot of bread to eat in the following days. Luckily, we were invited to several BBQs so quite a few people got some homemade sourdough bread to try. I can proudly say that they all liked it very much!

Making the Country Sourdough Boule really was a lengthy process. I built the levain starter on evening 1, let it mature for 8 hours overnight, refrigerated the starter during the day (due to work), mixed the bread dough on evening 2, chilled the dough overnight to let the flavours develop, got up early on day 3 to take the dough out of the fridge, shaped the loaves before leaving for work, rushed home during my lunch break to bake the risen loaves - and finally on evening 3, I was able to taste the outcome!

Levain Starter

2 ounces/57g white sourdough mother (cold from the fridge)
2 ounces/57ml warm water
5 ounces/142g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (I substituted regular salt)

Combine in a small bowl using your fingers until you get a shaggy mass. It will be very dry and stiff. Knead the dough until you have a smooth ball. Place it in a bowl covered with cling wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in volume. This should happen within 8 hours otherwise your mother wasn't strong enough. Then you have to repeat the process. The doubled levain starter can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Country Sourdough Boule

¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
56g very warm water
214g levain starter
540g cool water
684g unbleached all-purpose flour (I substituted bread flour)
142g pumpernickel (rye) flour
Scant 2 tablespoons kosher salt (when substituting for regular salt: you may want to use more but using two rather heaped tablespoons proved to be a bit too much in fact, it’s the other way round: you have to use less because of the flaky structure of kosher salt)

Place the yeast and warm water in your mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Let stand for three minutes.

Add the levain starter and cool water and mix with your fingers until the starter is broken up in small pieces and partially dissolved.

Add the other ingredients and stir together using your fingers or a wooden spoon.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes until the shaggy mass turns into a supple and elastic dough. Let rest for 20 minutes (this autolyse period makes sure that the gluten can relax; the following kneading will be shorter and easier).

Knead again for 2-3 minutes until dough is very smooth. Place in oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour (it does rise but does not double in volume).

Refrigerate overnight for the flavours to develop.

Remove dough from fridge and let rise for two hours. Line two baskets/bowls/colanders with floured kitchen towels (round-bottomed looks better than flat-bottomed).

Dived dough into two equal pieces, shape into round loaves, let rise in the bowls/colander for 3-4 hours or until doubled in volume (I had to let it rise for 4 1/2 hours which unfortunately resulted in almost no oven spring).

30 minutes before baking preheat oven with pizza stone to 230 degrees Celsius. Bake loaves for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and let bake for another 20-25 minutes. For a crisp crust pour water on the bottom of your oven: three times during the first 10 minutes, about half a cup of water each time.

The sources


Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy's Bread

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Through my searches for original German sourdough rye bread I found your lovely Blog.

I will be very happy if you could translate "Sauerlaender Mengbrot" recipe.

("Assuming that only German native speakers are interested in this dark rye bread, I don't translate the German recipe. However, if anyone else wants it, please email me and I'll be happy to do it for you.")

Thank you,