For a special lady's birthday I wanted to do something special. I should mention that she loves the cocktail ryes I make. So how to tweak something that had a pretty good flavor and texture to begin with?
The answer is to attempt a Detmolder method of sourdough rye. This involves building a rye sour (levain) in three stages. Each stage is intended to bring out fully a characteristic of rye sourdough. The process spans a day as the sour is first allowed to develop its maximum yeast production. In the second stage, by manipulating temperature and hydration of the sour, it develops its full acetic acid (sour) potential. And finally, in the final stage of development, the sourdough develops lactic acid which serves to smooth out the acidity developed in the second or "basic sour" stage.
A full accounting of this arduous, but ultimately satisfying method of making rye sourdough is found in Jeffrey Hamelman's masterful book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.
Developing the rye culture that would eventually be incorporated into the final dough required constructing a makeshift proofer that allowed me to fairly accurately maintain differing temperatures within the sour during each stage of development.
A buspan with a lid, and a breadpan filled with a wet towel that had been heated in the microwave served to generate sufficient heat to maintain the desired temps.
Because the leavening power of the sourdough is developed so extensively during the three-stage build, once the final dough is mixed, there is a very short fermentation period before the dough is shaped and allowed a final proof.
In this case, the rye I decided upon is 72% rye flour and 100% hydration, meaning that it contains as much water as flour. The resulting 'dough' is in true a paste, and shaping is little more than pouring it into a breadpan and then gently pressing it out to fill the pan. I also added sunflower and sesame seeds which impart a nice added flavor to the sweetness of the rye - all the more so if it is lightly toasted.
The fermentation period was just under 30 minutes. Final proof after shaping was a brief one hour, and then the bread was baked at 460 degrees F for 15 minutes, before lowering the temperature to around 400 degrees for an additional 45 minutes.
The end result is a loaf that still requires nearly 48 additional hours for the crumb to fully develop and dry out sufficiently. Once cooled, the loaves were wrapped in linen and stored on the counter for 2 days.
A long wait, but ah, one that was truly worth it. This cocktail rye is moist and sweet and the nuttiness provided by the sunflower and sesame seeds makes for a nice contrast with its sweetness.
This is rye that demands much attention in its construction, but whose payoff is undeniable!