Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tales from the (borderline OCD) kitchen: Rhapsody in Rye

The majority of the time, my BIG COOK DAYS are just that, a means to an end: to provide sustenance for the week, made in one big blast of energy on one day. Other times, like this past weekend, it's the result of unresolved anxiety, and my nesting instinct goes into hyper drive.

My "food-speriments" sometimes are done out of a curiosity, or an idea, or a bunch of ideas mashed up into one food item. There are some interesting and delicious outcomes, but there are some failures too, with one first and foremost in my mind that I did so many variations and permutations on banana frangipane, banana sponge and bananas foster, the very last thing I want to do is eat any baked good with banana in it.

Now about this past weekend. That rye bread was a flop show. I know. I got too fancy and used a regular sourdough recipe and used rye flour (3:1 ratio to APF) and it was a dud. So much of a dud, as I pulled it out of the oven and it was cooling off, the OCD trigger was tripped, and I mixed up a batch of dough, using a different recipe, this time, one which was intended for rye, and for sourdough.  

I mixed it up, and then ran out of steam and didn't have the energy to do the final knead, proof and of course bake. So, I popped it into the fridge to retard further fermentation (but to be honest, there was not much of a rise, as the dough was very dense), and I still have about 45 gm MORE of flour to add to it, which I plan on using during the final knead.  

I peeped into the bowl this morning and the dough just stared back at me, with dead eyes, a dolls eyes. Tonight, I know I must deal with this, but I'm unconvinced there'll be enough lift to make the bread less BRICK LIKE. Then there's the issue of the loaf pan wasn't ideal (I think) for this. So I was debating a trip to Sur La Table for yet another item, a specially shaped pan to deal with bread. 

Fortunately for me, I've got friends who are similarly predisposed in the kitchen, and my friend Susan just casually tossed out there the notion of baking bread in a Pyrex bowl. And a light bulb went on for me, reminding me I still have two of the three stoneware bowls my dad picked up for me at a yard sale, and I *believe* they are Pyrex (but more than likely are Pfaltzgraff). (Photo will be snapped, forthwith!). I'm going to look on the bottom just to ensure the manufacturer and do a preliminary search online to see if it can go into the oven, and if so, this solves my baking vessel issue with the rye bread.

Today I also popped over to the King Arthur Flour site and was reading up a bit on sourdough and rye sourdough, and the comments section of the article/thread was so informative, I am now debating the merits of sprinkling a bit of yeast onto the dough as I work that final 45 gm of flour in during the final knead, just to ensure a bit more lift.

Being a fan of parchment paper, I plan on lining the bowl with that, as an insurance policy that I'll be able to dislodge the boule once it's baked. I might even manage to put seeds on the parchment before I put the dough on it, as the bottom of the bowl forms the top of the boule when you dislodge it from the bowl. 

Sometimes I cook to provide sustenance, and sometimes I cook as a means of distraction of self-soothing.  And sometimes, as in the case of this rye bread, the end result is merely a byproduct of a lot of thought, consideration, worry, trial and error. The problem for me (well, besides the obvious and continuous issue I have of insufficient storage in my freezer), is when a recipe or experiment fails, I end up failing to get the blast of dopamine I'd get as a reward for a job well done.

That all being said? If this second loaf fails, I'm making a babka.

On second thought... Fuck that noise. The babka is happening regardless (perhaps this Sunday I'll mix up the dough, and Monday bake it off).  

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