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Light rye bread using a wild yeast starter

Day 1: last thing at night

Place 100g of starter with 250g of flour, this can be a blend of strong white and rye flour, mix with sufficient water (around 200ml) to make a very soft dough. Leave to rise overnight.

Day 2: first thing in the morning

Add a further 250g of flour, again a mix of strong white and rye and enough water to make a very soft dough. Leave to rise all day.

Light Rye Sourdough BattardDay 2: last thing at night

Add 750g of flour, predominantly strong white. Add only enough water to make a soft but manageable dough, mix thoroughly enough to amalgamate all ingredients but not to develop gluten. Leave to autolyze overnight.

Day 3: first thing in the morning

Add 20g of salt and mix well in but again not long enough to develop gluten. Set aside to rise (bulk fermentation).

When the dough appears to have doubled in size, this will depend on the ambient temperature (I avoid heating my house as much as I can so during the winter this can take3 hours rather than 1-2 during the summer, I just keep an eye on it) I tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface being careful to de-gas as little as possible, I stretch and fold the dough a couple of times, then return the dough to rise again.

I repeat this process at hourly intervals another 2 times then divide into loaves.

I form 3 roughly round shapes and leave for 15 minutes before shaping into battard shapes. I leave them to rise, seam side up on a piece of linen that has been well floured with rice flour.

The loaves should be ready to bake in around 2 hours, again the ambient temperature will affect this. I bake the loaves at a temperature of 220 degrees on a heavy iron flat griddle (Welsh griddle iron) which I pre-heat in the oven, I spray the oven every 10 minutes during baking to create steam. The loaves are ready after 30 minutes.

During the summer I find I need to place the dough in the fridge for the autolyze period.

I would say the most recent and significant aspect of baking which I have learned is the importance of shaping the final loaf. It is only when the skin has been stretched sufficiently that the loaf will “bloom” during the baking process and produce that attractive “ear”. Historically baking apprentices in France would be expected to hold up their loaves by the “ear” to show the master baker, if the “ear” was not created then the apprentice would clearly need more training and practice.