Pandemic Bread Progression

May 2020
Yeast, sourdough, and milling

Like many others, I have taken up the “hobby” of bread baking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long hours trapped at home and renewed vigor in house bulk buying inspired many loaves. Baking in the earlier months was more sporadic, and generally defaulted to a standard long-rise (12-20 hr) yeasted crusty french loaf. In August, spurred by the desire to make rugbrød, I purchased 50 lbs of rye berries and began milling my own flour using our house’s trusty Retsel grain mill. A rye starter was birthed around this time and loaves after late August turned to sourdough.

Boredom led to experimentation: mix-ins, toppings, different flour blends and the like. Among the more extreme things I’ve tried are a 100% whole wheat loaf (meh, just not for me) and adding lots of carmelized onion and cheese. My new normal: a medium-to-high hydration overnight sourdough that’s around 80% bread flour and 20% whole wheat + rye. All boules are baked in a Dutch oven at high temperature following the 30 min covered + 12-15 min uncovered paradigm. Rugbrød is 80% rye and 20% bread flour with an overnight soaker baked in a 13 inch Pullman combining features of True North Kitchen’s overnight and sourdough variants.

a grid of images of sourdough bread