Loaves 13 & 14: Auvergne dark rye and wholewheat sourdough from France

Bread is very forgiving: it’s astonishing how many mistakes a loaf can take and still taste good. This time, I accidentally experimented with saltless baking with the Auvergne dark rye loaf. The dough consistency of the wholewheat was also so odd that I suspect I did something wrong there too. Both tasted delicious.

auvergne dark rye

The notorious mistake here, however, comes from Daniel Leader‘s Local Breads, the book on which these loaves are based (I will get over that book, I promise… when I’ve finished baking my way through it). The water quantity in his rye recipe is out by a whole 200 or so ml, so I have LeadDog to thank for a correction.

I still love Local Breads, but I no longer trust a recipe from it without checking if someone somewhere on the bread-making net is complaining about it. This post is right in summing it up as “simultaneously one of the most intriguing and most frustrating bread books.”

I’m going to focus on the Auvergne dark rye. I’ve talked about the Auvergne’s bread culture a bit before, but clearly it was missing a gratuitous countryside photo (source).

auvergne landscape

Ahhh… the water.

The loaf was a beast. Look at its fabulous Martian surface!

auvergne dark rye 2

Taste test: Well… saltless in this case, so there was a curious blandness lurking behind its rye tang. But the crumb was astonishing for a 70% rye loaf: so light and well-developed. I’ve never made a rye like it.

Recipe notes: The method is unusual, involving three quite short risings and a very hot oven. The wheat flour and salt is added after the first rise, to a soupy rye and starter mixture that is made with hot-ish water.

This is what the crumb looks like:

dark rye crumb

I definitely want to make this again, with salt obviously. This version of Leader’s original is edited with the wisdom of LeadDog and Karniecoops.


for the starter
45g stiff wheat starter
50g rye flour
50ml tepid water

for the dough
rye starter from above
500g rye flour
590ml hot water
200g strong white bread flour
1tbsp salt

Bake up the beast

1. 8-12 hours before you’d like to bake, mix up the starter ingredients and leave it to ferment at room temperature.

2. Add the rye flour and the hot water to the starter. The water should be hot enough that you can’t dip a hand in comfortably, but not boiling or it will kill off the starter. Mix it up into a thick batter, cover and leave it for 1-1.25 hrs, until it’s expanded and lightened a bit.

3. Add the bread flour and the salt. If you have a dough mixer, mix it on a low setting for about 8 mins, until the gluten develops body. I don’t have one, so I stirred it vigorously with a spatula for a few minutes and hoped that the high water content would do the work for me. Karniecoops describes the consistency here as ‘like peanut butter’.

4. Leave it in a lightly-oiled bowl, covered, until it’s lightened and soft. Leader says this will take up to 1.25hr, but I left mine for more like 2 hours.

5. Pre-heat your oven to its max temperature, or 260 C if you have a high-powered one.

6. Gently scrape the dough out onto a surface and attempt to shape it into a boule, and place it on a piece of parchment paper. You won’t be able to: it’ll look like a mound of dough. Don’t worry, the key thing is not to over-handle and deflate it. Sprinkle some rye flour over the top.

7. Leave your mound of dough or beautiful boule to rise on the parchment paper until it has spread and the floury surface is cracked.

8. Bake it with some steam for 35-45 mins, until it is a nice dark brown. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting into it.


2 thoughts on “Loaves 13 & 14: Auvergne dark rye and wholewheat sourdough from France

  1. Pingback: Recipe: Easy High-protein Bread | The Rambling Epicure

  2. Pingback: Seriously Sourdough | A Bakers Diet

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