If there is a bread that shows I have learned lessons along the way from bread number zero to 77, this one is it. One word: fantastic. Though I started without all of the ingredients in the recipe from Local Breads, and rejected a couple, my instincts paved the way to an utterly delicious and interesting loaf.
I read those reviews after making this bread and as I generally do not strictly follow recipes, all was good in modifying the flax, sesame, sunflower seed, rye recipe. I left out the sunflower seeds altogether and I only used sesame seeds sprinkled on top and not incorporated in the dough. I also added a sponge phase, refused the instruction to do a second kneading, and I did not use a rye starter. So perhaps the recipe was more a starting point than a guide.
210g rye flour
290g bread flour
6g caraway seeds (and a bit more to sprinkle on top)
28g flaxseed meal
sesame seeds optional for sprinkling on top
20g starter (all purpose flour, not rye) (Used 50g starter for the second try and adjusted other ingredients accordingly.)
100g rye flour
I juggled the amounts of the ingredients so that I could add a sponge phase and to use as much rye as the 60 percent recipe. I used a small amount of starter due to the very warm night, about 80 degrees in the kitchen. This was my first foray beyond 30 percent rye, perhaps on the way to trying a truly dense rye.
Here we leave the realm of recipe and enter into reality. I was going to let the sponge stay out all night, but I woke up with a start at 2:30 - six hours after making the sponge - and put the sponge in the fridge. The fright took hold that the sponge would be past peak by morning. Once I took it out, and accounting for the warm up delay, the sponge had a bulk fermentation time of 9.5 hours in a pretty warm kitchen. When I made this bread a second time, the dough fermented for about 12 hours, but the kitchen was about 10 degrees cooler.
290g bread flour
110g rye flour
28g flaxseed meal
6g caraway seeds (Used 8g the first time, but the caraway might be too overwhelming for some at that amount.)
Sesame seeds and caraway seeds - sprinkle on top before baking.
Use what you have
Another departure from the recipe was that I had flaxseed meal and no actual flaxseeds. I used an equal weight and all turned out fine. I also added caraway seeds because I have the misguided notion that it is illegal to make a rye bread without them. That might be the case in Brooklyn. I admit that using a little less caraway for the second try, which was an improvement.
The recipe called for lots of kneading for a rye, so I did half the recommended time. I kneaded for 10 minutes. I also did not add any commercial yeast; the rising time ended up being about two hours longer than recommended. Mine rose for 3.5 hours both times I made this.
Trust your instincts
For about a nanosecond, I followed the recipe instructions instead of my instincts by just starting to sprinkle flour over the wet dough before shaping. A loud voice in my head screamed out "STOP!" as the first glop of dough began to stick to my fingers. Confident that voice was as it continued to instruct using water instead, which worked out much better; no sticking at all. Worked quite well with water the second time around as well.
I sprinkled water on the counter and my hands for a fuss-free shaping and transfer of the dough to a loaf pan. This dough was not going to hold any shape on its own. I also ignored the instructions that this dough should make two loaves and I made one decent-sized, not actually that large, loaf. Cover the loaf pan with plastic, or, in my case, a shower cap.
Preheat the oven at 400 degrees for an hour while the dough rests. I also preheated the top of the oblong la cloche because it kind of, sort of fits over the loaf pan. The top of the la cloche keeps the moisture in and, therefore, frees the baker from having to throw water or ice cubes into a pan when the oven is burning hot.
At one hour, the dent test passed as much as is possible with a wet dough, it was time for baking. I sprinkled water on top and then sprinkled sesame and caraway seeds.
Oven time at 400 degrees was 47 minutes, two of which were uncovered.
For the second go around, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees and immediately reduced the temperature to 400 when the dough went in. Somewhat more oven spring resulted.
Next to the word "gorgeous" in the dictionary should be a photograph of this bread. And taste - amazing. Total agreement on this in the household. A top pick, to be sure.