It’s that bread again! (the long slow baked rye grain bread with the great back story in Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman) which is one of the Mellow Bakers November breads.
I posted my last year’s version of this a little while ago but I have made it again – practice, munch, practice. It’s fun!
I had a long think about how you could manage this bread without a pullman. I think the answer, (and I will make it a third time to test it out by the end of the month I hope) is to use a regular loaf pan and once the dough is in the tin, grease and flour a sheet of foil, and place it over the top of the tin and either wrap the whole tin in foil tightly or tie it on with string round the rim of the tin. Alternatively if you don’t mind what shape your bread comes out, use any bake proof container that has a sealable lid, so a pudding basin or a cast iron pot or something like that.
The key thing is to keep the moisture in during the long gentle bake.
My other tips are
- Make sure the grains (use wheat if you can’t get hold of rye) are well soaked and really well cooked so they are plump and moist and soft. They act as storage for the water during the bake.
Slice the old bread thinly and bake it a bit more in the oven before you soak it. Only use as much water as you need to cover it; you are only going to have to squeeze the water out later after all.
- The hardest bit is judging how wet to make the dough, too wet and the bread will never really dry out enough, too dry and it will be a bit chewier than you want. That’s not very helpful but everyone’s combination of grains and breads is going to vary. I think I would want to go for a dough that I can shape into a baton that I can pick up without it breaking apart the moment I lift it from the bench, so go for firmer rather than wetter.
I have a milk loaf tin which has a clip on lid so I thought I would try it out in that. In my mind the bread would rise, slowly into the top half and I would have incredibly sophisticated round slices of bread, perfect for canapes. The drawback, pretty major, of these tins is that you can’t open them to check on progress. There is a tiny peep hole in the top of the tin – once the dough is at the top you can see it. This dough didn’t get that far. I stuck a toothpick in the hole every so often to see if I could judge where it had got to, but it never got right to the top. In fact I overproved this one by about 6 hours (!) and you can see the results here. I don’t think it made any difference to the bread though, in fact it might have improved the flavour a bit.
So I ended up with a half round loaf. This time it was completely cooked through and very even in texture. Still not as dark as I would like it to be to justify being called ‘black rye’. I like the taste, much milder than I thought it was going to be; sweet and nutty and very fragrant.