Rye Bread with Flax, phase 1 making a sponge

I am doing a rye bread this week with a few adjustments. I am:

  • using a rye I just received from Bluebird Grain Farms: an organic Dark Northern Heirloom Rye Flour, which comes from the state of Washington, where it is grown on the Bluebird Grain Farms (www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com);
  • modifying a rye recipe from James Peterson’s Baking, 2009, page 314;
  • including flax – to build up the bread’s fiber content; and
  • exchanging King Arthur Flour’s whole wheat flour and ground flax for the all-purpose flour.

In reading about baking breads this week, I noticed that many people, including Peterson in the above book, recommend developing a “sponge” (a flour, water, yeast mixture that rises for several hours to overnight) or at least letting the first rising take a very long time – over night, for example. This rising period is to give the bread more flavor. So, who am I to ignore this enticing suggestion. Anything (within Reason!) to develop a delicious bread.

Even more importantly, this increased rising time helps solve a problem I always run into when making bread – time. How to be in one place over a long period of time in order to follow through with each step of the bread making process. Logisitics. This is a big challenge for all of us, I’d imagine. Work, family, projects, all demand their time & it’s hard to follow a strict schedule for baking. After reading all of this on the benefits of a LONG rising time (which gives me & you a chance to get on with the rest of our lives) I feel liberated.

Yes, I said liberated. Because, while I want to make bread, it is very difficult to plan several hours around a loaf of bread. I thought that this would just be one of the unalterables that I would have to work into my schedule – Now, I know that there is another layer of FLEXIBILITY. Flexibility in timing. We can work fresh bread into our lives – no matter what our schedule might be.

Question: How are you managing this time factor? How do you work bread baking into your everyday lives? Do you use a multiday process? Work it into one day? What’s your process? I’d love to hear how others manage this problem.

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2 Responses to Rye Bread with Flax, phase 1 making a sponge

  1. Penelope says:

    I’ve always loved cinnamon raisin bread, but I’d like to make a version that has less refined flour than what I buy at the store. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Pamela says:

      You are so right. Cinnamon raisin bread, sometimes called cinnamon spiral bread, is wonderful. As with so many breads there are many different recipes – all fun to try. Here are a few:

      Father Dominic Garramone’s Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, p.34, which is a simple, straight forward bread using sour cream and white bread flour. This one is the easiest to begin with. Look for his books on Amazon.

      Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, p.140, which uses a soaker, milk/yogurt, whole wheat + unbleached flour, eggs;

      King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, p.252, which also uses a soaker/pre-ferment, milk, orange juice, whole wheat flour, oats, all-purpose flour;

      You might also want to check out the Bread Baking Experience web site. They have a couple of interesting recipes there, too.

      While I haven’t tried out any of these recipes myself at this point, these are all resources that I’ve used for other baking experiences and they haven’t let me down.

      Good luck finding your perfect recipe. Let me know what you found, baked, and enjoyed the most!

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