Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bread Number 71: Rye-Einkorn Beauty, But All Purpose Einkorn?

Disaster struck. No beer in the house for the planned second beer bread. Not that there is always beer in the kitchen or in the basement, but usually there is some bottle of craft brew around. I will wait until the spouse buys some; in the pantheon of household tasks, as the beer drinker, he is tasked with beer purchasing. 

So a different type of bread would be made; there was rye flour and rye starter, and the package of einkorn flour that I was curious to open and try.

What do you mean it's not whole grain?
I recently spotted, for the first time, in the local Whole Foods, a store that is a mix of a locally-sourced food emporium and a corporate food behemoth, a package of einkorn flour. Before I set out to work with this flour, I was blissfully unaware that there is more than one type of einkorn flour. Without looking closely, I purchased the "all purpose" variety, a euphemism for a white flour, cleansed, if you will, of most fiber and nutrients. I just assumed it would be whole grain, like everything else in that small part of the baking aisle. Somehow, it seems wrong to sell an ancient grain in a form fit for Wonder Bread.

Ingredients and instructions

94g water
39g rye starter
113g rye flour

Mix and cover. This is not a sponge that will get bubbly. Indeed, I find rye starters a bit frustrating because their expansion is so reserved. No need to worry; if you skimp on this phase, more time will be necessary for the dough to rise. Just a matter of when the fermentation will occur.

221g water
114g einkorn flour
232g bread flour
9g salt
8g caraway seeds (plus more later for sprinkling before putting dough in oven)

Mix, cover, and let rest. This dough rested longer than expected because, I am supposing, I could have let the sponge develop for more time. The dough seemed to be at its peak at 5.25 hours. Nice and big and puffy.

Warning - weird bag of flour makes numbers questionable
My ingredient numbers might be off on this bread, not because my measurements were inaccurate, but because I was working with a King Arthur bread flour package that was especially thirsty. In a bread I make each week, flour from this particular package required a good 50 percent more water than usual, though I always use KA bread flour for this bread.

Also, einkorn flour is said to require less water than wheat. In this recipe, previously using whole wheat instead of einkorn, I generally use 207 grams of water, though for this specific dough, with the weird bread flour package, I used more. I am guessing that with a typical bag of bread flour, from 20 to 50 grams less of water would probably be needed.

Pause - benefit of making same bread over and over
Here I was, making a bread with einkorn flour for the first time, adapting a recipe - bread #27 - I have used about 10 times. I had to feel my way with the water amount because this is not a dough I know intimately. But the reason I could make my weekly challah perfectly even with an extremely thirsty batch of flour is that I know exactly how this dough should be at every step. After 15 years of almost weekly practice, one gains confidence. It was easy to see that the dough needed a whole lot more water. 

So, when trying out a recipe that turns out terribly, do not immediately blame yourself or the instructions. It just might be that one of your ingredients is not acting within the average in some way, thus, throwing off the entire bread. Such a challenge gets easier to spot and rectify with experience.

Pause here for Purim baking
After 5.25 hours, instead of pushing on to prepare for baking, I put the dough in the fridge. I was in the midst of hamentaschen baking for the Jewish holiday of Purim, with a deadline for sending a package to the daughter in college. Needed to roll out the hamentaschen dough, with my grandmother's rolling pin and her yellow baking bowl, and to fill each cookie (pastry?) with fillings modern and old-fashioned. Poppy seed filling, traditional, one daughter's favorite; apricot for my other daughter; and, of course, a universal preference for chocolate.

Morning brain - another pause 
Next morning, instead of trotting off to work, we have another two-hour delay due to ice. Winter this year is reluctant to leave this. As I write, we are expecting not one, but two more storms this week. We are not in Minnesota, here; we should be noticing signs of spring already. 

Because bread is on the brain, I wake up an hour earlier than usual, despite the two-hour delay, and get the bread baked before my usual start of work. 5:45 and I am in the kitchen, brain on autopilot, preparing the dough for baking.

I sit in the kitchen, reading Michael Pollan's Cooked, the part about a perfectionist chef describing a restaurant that operates with precision timing and operations, down to how to load the dishwasher. I realize I am completely deficient on this score. I mostly perform tasks with a "good enough" attitude, or, at other times, I experiment, flirting with failure to move outside my comfort zone. That's what 108 breads is all about. I go for the quirky, but reading at 6 a.m., I feel as though, perhaps, I have never, except for motherhood (where perfection is impossible), reached the point of loving something so much that I take joy in the the consistent performance of a task down to the last detail. 

Maybe it was a little early to be so hard on myself.

Baking preparation
I take the dough out of the fridge, sprinkle flour on a large cutting board, then on top and on the sides of the dough. I do a stretch and fold, cover, and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. 

Shape the dough. Then I put a well-floured kitchen towel in a small wicker basket. I also sprinkle some caraway seeds on top of the flour. Place the dough, bottom up, in the towel inside the basket, and cover. Let rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone and the top of a la cloche, if you have one. (Otherwise, place a pan on the oven shelf below where the dough will be. Right before after putting the dough in the oven, place a cup of water or ice in the pan. This will provide steam for the dough to rise. The la cloche does the same thing without risk of steaming in your face or ruining the oven. It creates a mini-Roman oven in your oven.)

Thank goodness for parchment paper
I put a piece of parchment paper, that miracle invention, on the baking peel, and, in order:
(1) Turned the dough, right side up, onto the parchment paper. 
(2) Generously sprinkled water on top of the dough.
(3) Threw some caraway seeds on top as well.
(4) Did a quick cross-slash cut into the top after that.
(5) Put the dough in the oven. 

Reduce oven heat immediately to 460 degrees. At 15 minutes, reduce again, this time to 440 degrees. I removed the parchment paper at 40 minutes. Total oven time was 51 minutes, but I should have left it in for another three minutes. Just a tiny, tiny tad underdone.

Isn't that beautiful?
Gorgeous oven spring and a great taste, but I'm a pushover for anything with rye and caraway seeds, despite the all purpose einkorn and the need for a few more minutes of baking. This is why I cannot be a perfectionist. I like this really good bread quite a lot; it doesn't have to be perfect. 

P.S. I received a note saying to try stretch and folds even with rye doughs up to 50 percent, so I will try that next time with this bread and report back here.

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