Breadbaking is one of those classic dunning-kruger topics: the less you know, the more you think you know about how it works. The way I’ve been able to claim to be an expert breadbaker for the past 10 years is primarily delusion. When you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s all very simple!
I guess what I mean to say is that in breadbaking there’s always something to learn. You can go as far down the rabbit hole as you want, examining the elegant symbiotic relationships between bacterias and enzymes, proteins and starches. Or, you can just rely on the recipes of others who have figured out these relationships and how to coax the best flavors from them.
This week I decided to make a few loaves of rye bread. I added 1/3 of the total flour weight as rye flour and proceeded with my typical 2-3 recipe for bread. But a little voice kept insisting I add some yogurt in there too. My investigation into why ryes and yogurt go together became my last post on The Science Behind enzyme activity.
In a nutshell, Rye contains lots of amylase enzymes that break down the starches in the flour into sugars to give the yeast something to eat. “Some starch, though, is needed to form the structure of the crumb, and if too much starch is split up, the texture of the bread suffers and becomes gummy. Traditionally, this is prevented by acidifying the rye dough, which slows down the action of amylases. This is why breads with a high percentage of rye flour are made with rye sour (rye-based sourdough starter), even if commercial yeast is added.” (The Fresh Loaf)
Another way to increase the acidity of your dough is to add yogurt or buttermilk to your dough. Yogurt is preferable to buttermilk because it gets its acidity from lactobacillus acidophilus, also found in sourdough starter. Commercial buttermilk’s acidity comes from vinegar. However, either one is fine.
Anyway, onto the recipe!
Rye Bread with Yogurt
for two loaves, you will need:
500g all-purpose flour
250g rye flour
100g plain yogurt or buttermilk (or 125g active sourdough starter)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast (or use the sourdough starter instead)
- Mix together the flours and water and let rest for about 15 minutes.
- Add the yogurt, yeast and salt and stir to combine. You don’t want to overmix the dough or knead it. There’s no point because rye doesn’t like to form gluten strands and your hands will just become sticky and gummy.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for about four hours.
- Divide the dough into two loaves, then shape and place into bannetons in the refrigerator for an hour while the oven preheats to 500 degrees F. Preheat a lidded dutch oven inside the oven.
- When the dough and oven are ready, pour out the dough into the dutch oven and score it with a sharp razor blade. Return the lid to the dutch oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- After the first 15 minutes are done, bump the temperature down to 375 degrees F and cook an additional 15 minutes with the lid still on. Then take the lid off for the final 15 minutes, for a total baking time of 45 minutes.
- Remove the dough and let cool completely before slicing. This is particularly important, because the pentosans present in rye dough do not solidify like gluten strands do when baked. They need to cool to set up properly.
This bread was really delicious spread with butter and salt or a thin piece of prosciutto.
I got help for this post from these sources: