50% rye, 50% whole wheat bread with a rye flour starter

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A few weeks ago, I found myself without bread flour or all-purpose flour.  I also had a starter to feed.  In desperation, I decided to try using rye flour in my starter.  I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? I kill my starter?  Been there, done that.

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I left the rye starter on the counter overnight.  When I checked it in the morning, it looked like it hadn’t done much.

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But then, when I turned the bowl over, I saw lots of activity.

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pleasantly surprised by how active the rye starter was

By combining rye with whole wheat flour, I had slightly more gluten formation with better flavor than 100% rye bread.

I used a modified 1-2-3 sourdough.

You will need:

185g rye flour

185g whole wheat flour

250g warm water, possibly more

125g active rye sourdough starter

1 tablespoon salt

  1. Mix together the flours and water in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.

DSC027832. Add the sourdough starter and the salt.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until the dough stops sticking to the counter and absorbs all the flour.  Put the dough back in the bowl.  Cover the bowl and let rise overnight or until doubled in size.

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you can tell despite the kneading, very little gluten formation has occurred

Now, you might know about my dislike of kneading.  For bread that is all or mostly bread flour or all-purpose flour, time is usually enough for gluten formation to occur.  In low-gluten flours like rye and whole wheat, you want to capitalize on as much gluten formation as possible.  So that’s why I knead the dough in this instance.

4. Punch down the dough and shape into a boule.  Place the boule seam-side down in a prepared proofing basket. Let rise another hour as you preheat a dutch oven at 500 degrees F.

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finally, the gluten is forming nicely!

5. At this point, I should note that until now, I baked my whole wheat bread at a low temperature.  However, after doing my The Science Behind… series, I now bake at a much higher initial temperature.  This is because the first step of baking is getting the yeast all frenzied up so they release a ton of carbon dioxide initially before they die off.  This is what causes oven spring.  I was worried that I would burn the whole wheat flour, but that doesn’t appear to really be a problem.  I think baking whole wheat bread at a high temperature gives it a more airy crumb, which is important when you are dealing with flours like rye and whole wheat that don’t develop lots of gluten formation.

6. When your dutch oven is preheated, open the lid and gently transfer your dough to the dutch oven so the seam is now side-down.  Using a razor blade or a serrated knife, score your dough.  Replace the dutch oven lid and bake your dough for 15 minutes.

7. After 15 minutes, bump the temperature down to 450 degrees F.  Bake another 15 minutes.

8. After the second 15 minutes, remove the dutch oven lid.  Bake a final 10-15 minutes until the dough is a rich golden brown and the crust is hard when thumped with a fingernail.

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How awesome does this bread look?  I was very surprised and pleased that, despite the high baking temperature (or perhaps because of it), the bread had lots of good oven spring and a very distinct, attractive scoring pattern.  The dough was also very good.  Sadly I did not take a picture of the crumb.  Perhaps next time.

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