Friday, March 22, 2013

Sharo's Sourdough Rye

Some people like their bread light and fluffy, but I prefer mine to have texture and substance. This bread takes several days to make, so satisfying that sourdough craving needs to be planned in advance. I made a small amount of starter containing active dry yeast for this recipe experiment, but you can also make your own long-term sourdough starter for multiple batches like this. I had a little trouble with the rises because my house is cold right now.

Sharo Briarwind is a minor character in my Echoes of Oblivion trilogy. She's the mother of major character Rhodren Briarwind and the owner of a bakery in the green city of Heren, Maritor. Sharo is a deceptively clever and earthy woman with a complex past, with hands made strong from years of kneading bread. I'm naming this recipe for her because it may have been the same patient variety of rye her son stole from her in his introductory chapter.

Sharo's Sourdough Rye

Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large one.

1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast

Mix together all starter ingredients in a small glass or ceramic bowl (I used a ceramic coffee cup). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set it a warm place to ferment for about 48 hours.

1 cup rye flour
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast

After the 48 hours is up, spoon the starter into a large bowl and mix in the sponge ingredients. Cover and let sit in a warm place for 4-5 hours.

1 1/4 cups rye flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Add the dough ingredients to the sponge mixture except for the sunflower oil. Mix well, then turn dough out onto a floured surface. Let the dough sit for a minute or two while you rinse out and oil the bowl with the sunflower oil.

Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, until it becomes elastic instead of sticky. You may need to add in another 1/4 cup or so of white whole wheat flour if it is too sticky to work.

Place the kneaded dough in the bowl and roll around so the surface is lightly coated in the sunflower oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Place onto a baking sheet, flatten the balls, cover with the kitchen towel, and let rise for 20-30 minutes.

After the second rise, reshape the dough into oval loaves. Cover with a towel and let rise for 40 minutes for the final rise.

Preheat oven to 450F. When the dough has finished rising, lower the oven temperature to 400F. Slice an X diagonally on the top of each loaf. Put the bread in the oven. Before closing the door, toss a handful of ice cubes into the oven for some moisture. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the crust. Remove the loaves from the oven and move to a wire rack to cool.

You can make one large loaf instead of two small ones. The rise times should be about the same, but you'll need to bake it longer, probably about 50 minutes.

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