Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making Czech Rye Bread Using a Starter - Experiment

One of my latest endeavors currently is preparing a Czech rye bread. There are so many variations of how to make a rye bread that it gets really confusing on which one is the appropriate method. One common theme I am realizing while I research via the web is that the rye flour in the states is much different than those sold in Europe. The rye flour here in the states is much coarser and produces a tougher texture than the smooth rye found in the Czech Republic.

I have not begun my search yet for rye flours but will maybe have to suffice with what is available at the local store if I cannot find any refined rye flour. So, the first step in preparing rye dough is by making a starter. Many recipes prefer that the rye bread is made with a starter as opposed to using quick or instant yeast. The "starter" process is basically growing your own yeast /bacteria culture by mixing flour with water and covering it. Throughout the next seven days or  more, the yeast will become active as bacteria enter the mixture. The process takes about a week and requires daily feeding. The feeding process requires adding fresh flour and water to keep the existing yeast culture “fed”. I began this process last night where I mixed a quarter cup of whole wheat flour with equal parts tap water. (I used whole wheat as I am anxious to get this process started now even though I don’t have rye flour). The mixture was covered with a towel and placed on the counter. I will check the mixture every day and feed it (with rye flour and water) and provide updates in another week. This currently seems more like a science experiment as opposed to a kitchen creation. My overall goal is to produce a decent quality bohemian rye bread seven days from now, caraway seeds and all! Iif I fail, I will defer to the Czech bakery in Berwyn. Only time will tell.

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