Friday, May 29, 2015

Part 2 of Essaying Russian Black Bread

Whole Rye Berries: note the sage green color common in rye
Yesterday I blogged about my adventures in finding out what exactly is either Russian Black Rye Bread or Borodinsky Bread. There terms are not synonymous. Russian Black Rye Bread can be made in Borodinsky style if one chooses, but it is not Borodinsky by its nature. True "Borodinski" bread guidelines were set down in a standardized manner. The bread must conform to these guidelines to be called "Borodinsky".

So far I covered in some detail the concept of malt, malting grains, what that means, how to make it and the differences between diastatic and non-diastatic malt. Though it is time consuming in that it spans three days to create, there is really almost nothing being done by oneself during that time. Hours to soak the grain, hours to sprout the grain and hours to dry the sprouted grains. Wait, wait and wait some more. The plus side is that once the grain has sprouted and dried, and you have an idea of whether to use it as diastatic or non-diastatic, the resulting grain can be kept frozen indefinitely, until needed.

Going into the making of the bread, while malted rye is one of the standards in the making of Borodinski, so is molasses. I am not terribly partial to molasses and did not use any in my recipe, though I might try using it in my next batch of this bread. Honey is sometimes substituted. Another standard in making this bread is making a "mash"; mixing boiling water into some of the rye flour and allowing it to set and cool, either just until cooled, or even overnight. In my case, I chose to set it overnight, alongside the starter batter.

The Starter

very active "reactivated" starter
It is very helpful to have an active starter batter going previously. I have a starter culture that has been alive for a year now. It stays in the back of the fridge if not needed, and is refreshed a day or so in advance of needing it for a recipe. In the parlance, it is being reactivated and awakened. It goes dormant in the fridge. If you are a purist about these things, you can create an all-rye starter by simply refreshing some of an existing starter with rye flour a few separate times until it is mainly rye. I did not do this, but refreshed my starter (to get it active again) with white bread flour. My reasoning is that when using rye or whole wheat, it is far more difficult to get a good rise from the bread, so white bread flour might give it a little more oomph. My wild yeast starter  was made last year following the method set out in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. If you are interested in seeing the progress in my starter last year when I created it, the first post including the starter progress is >>> here, and the follow-up post is >>> here.

Sourdough starters can be made using dry yeast and allowing the mixture to ferment. If you do not (yet) own The Bread Baker's Apprentice, the King Arthur Flour site has a step-by-step process for making a starter from wild yeasts >>> here. The Red Star Yeast site has a recipe for a starter that begins with (preferably their brand) dry yeast >>> here. It will take at least 5 days to get an active starter going by whichever method, and it is best if it is refreshed at least once prior to using it to make the current bread starter (as for the starter for Borodinski, or any other sourdough bread). 

Preparation for Russian Black Rye Bread

Days prior, I made the malted rye, in the manner outlined in my blog yesterday. It was made and then dried over the course of 3 days. On day 3, I opted to make the starter and the "mash" side by side and let them set overnight before making the bread. On Day 4, early in the morning, I combined the starter and mash with more dark rye flour, some coarse whole wheat flour and water for the "pre-ferment" or "sponge", until doubled. Once doubled, the remaining flour and other ingredients were added to make the final dough. This dough was allowed to rise until doubled, then turned into a greased loaf pan and smoothed over. This was allowed to rise again and then baked.
Borodinsky Style Bread


This is always the tricky subject for me; baking. So many bread makers bake at extremely high temperatures, and for amounts of time that I am so totally not comfortable with. I like a nice crust on my bread. That said, I do not like a blackened crust. More often than not, I just use my instant read Thermapen and, depending on the kind of bread being baked, take it out once it has reached 180 to 205 degrees. This temperature is often reached in half the time allotted in my revered Bread Baker's Apprentice cookbook!

Fresh from the oven, Borodinsky Style Rye Bread
Imagine my surprise and dismay when reading recipes for Borodinsky bread where the baking time is 1 1/2 hours! I do realize this bread is very, very dense. I realize it can require a longer baking time to get a dense bread completely baked through. I managed to keep this bread in the oven for a total of 65 minutes, so I believe I did pretty well. It registered 195 degrees at that point, so I assumed it was done. I might - just "might" - leave it in the oven for a trifle longer next time. I will say that though the bread was obviously done, it could probably have stood a little more time with no ill effect, and no blackening.

All in all, without using any precise formula, but only my instincts based on years of bread making, this is my version, to date, of a Borodinsky STYLE bread. I make no claim to authenticity, though I followed most of the standards and strictures.

Borodinsky Style Rye Bread

makes one small loaf
takes 2 days, not including the previously active starter or malting process

2 tablespoons (32 grams) pre-activated starter (see above)
3 tablespoons (47 grams) water
1/2 scant cup (47 grams) whole or dark rye flour

1 cup (96 grams) dark rye flour
3 tablespoons red malt flour (see above, or yesterday's blog)
1 tablespoon (5 grams) whole coriander seed, crushed (amount optional)

1 1/2 cups boiling water

Rye Starter all bubbly, morning after
The evening before, first make the rye starter: In a medium sized plastic or glass bowl, with a wooden or plastic spoon, stir together the pre-activated starter with the water and stir to loosen. Add in the rye flour and stir until mostly combined. Cover the bowl with a lid or with plastic wrap and set in a warm place overnight. I used my oven with the light on, which keeps a constant 82 - 85 degree temperature.

Next, for the mash: In another bowl, stir together the dark rye flour, the red malt powder and the crushed coriander. Pour in the boiling water and stir well to combine. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and set in the same warm place overnight. 

All the (now bubbling) Rye Starter
All the Mash

1/2 cup (125 grams) water
1 cup (96 grams) dark rye flour 

Early the morning after setting the starter and mash to ferment, in a large glass or plastic bowl, combine the now-active rye starter with the mash and stir well. Add in the water and the dark rye flour and stir together well with a wooden or plastic/silicone spoon or spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap of a lid and set back in the warm place to ferment. This could take as little as 3 hours or up to five, depending on ambient temperatures. Once well activated, and doubled in bulk, turn the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.

1 1/2 cups (150 grams) dark rye flour
3/4 cup (105 grams) bread flour
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast, for added insurance ;-)
1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
2 tablespoons (45 grams) honey
2 teaspoons (4 grams) whole coriander seed, crushed, optional

finished dough              |      dough in bucket to rise      |        dough doubled in size      |      dough in pan to rise
With the Pre-Ferment in the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the remaining ingredients and set the dough hook in place. Starting on lowest setting, knead to get the ingredients melded. Raise the speed to normal for kneading and do not exceed 10 total minutes of kneading. Rye tends to stickiness anyway; too much kneading will lend gumminess. It is easiest to knead this dough in a heavy duty stand mixer. It can be kneaded by hand, but its stickiness makes it difficult. Spray a bowl or a dough rising tub and scrape the dough into this bowl. Spray the top lightly and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled. This can take 1 - 2 hours, depending on ambient temperatures. by this time the yeasts should be active enough to achieve rise more quickly.

Grease a smaller loaf pan (4 1/2 x 8-inches or so). It is best not to disturb the dough more than necessary. I scraped the dough directly into the pan, then with wet hands, smoothed the top. Spray the top lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and again set it to rise. When the dough rises above the top of the pan, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes. Raise the temperature to 400 degrees and bake 10 minutes more. Internal temperature should be somewhere between 195 and 205 degrees F. Turn the loaf out to cool on a rack. Once cooled, it should be wrapped in foil and then a towel and left for 24 hours before cutting.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.