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Sunday, 21 July 2013

"Local Breads" - Czech Country Bread (Zitny chleba)

Well I had a HUGE day in the bread kitchen this weekend!  Made 4 different breads, have given them all away, and would love to do the same again tomorrow . . . . . too bad I have to go and earn my keep!

I made this first bread in the Czech chapter last weekend, and made it as per the recipe (including the yeast), docked the loaf instead of slashing . . and was very disappointed with the result.  The docking didn't allow for the big oven spring I usually get, so it split as well as being hampered by it's tight skin.  It tasted just fine, just didn't look very interesting.  So I decided to revisit it this weekend, leave out the yeast and slash to my heart's content!  And yes, I got a much better result!

So to the recipe:

Fed my rye starter at 10.30pm Friday night - 50g starter + 100g water + 75g rye flour.  Left it at room temperature overnight, and it ended up sitting there all day as well, as I left house to go for a walk with the dog at 10am, but didn't end up getting home until 8pm!  No I wasn't walking the dog the entire day, but ended up visiting friends, staying for dinner etc. so into the fridge the rye starter went at 8pm.

150g rye starter, 300g tepid water, 400g bread flour, 100g rye flour (fine), and about 14g salt (recipe also calls for 5g yeast, but I gave that a miss) - mixed this all together in a bowl until formed a rough dough, then covered with a plastic bag and let sit for about 30mins to autolyse.

My day got interrupted yet again by a walk around Panmure basin with friends and dogs, so the dough only got a couple of 10sec kneads before I had to head out the door.  It rested about 15mins between kneads.  And got to relax in a bowl inside a plastic bag whilst I was out getting some air and exercise.

(Theses photos are from the first take making this bread last weekend.  Only the last couple of photos are from today.)
Dough fermenting
At 12.30pm on my return it got another knead, back in the covered bowl, folded about an hour later, then at 2.15pm I shaped it into 2 boules.  The dough hadn't risen that much during fermentation, but on slicing into 2, there were nice bubbles in the dough.  The boules rested in my couche at RT until about 4.30pm.
Shaped and ready to proof

Sprinkled with rye flour ready to bake
The oven was heated to 210C an hour prior to baking.  I slashed the loaves in a circle around the "shoulder", just for something a bit different.  I haven't yet found the ideal way to slash round loaves.  Last weekend I slashed a pain de champagne doing a sort of branched pattern down the loaf, but the slashes weren't big enough as the loaf burst through, and ended up a really ugly shape, so didn't want to try that again.  I have only slashed around in a circle when I made an Auvergne couronne, so was expecting a similar result.

Docked loaves from last weekend - see the splits/tears

The loaves were baked for a total of 40mins (with 5 ice cubes thrown in at the beginning for steam), with a rotate at half time.  This time around I got a fabulous oven spring and my loaves completely popped their tops!  I think they look super cute.

My popped tops from this weekend
You almost wouldn't think they were the same recipe.  Admittedly I did use quite a coarse rye flour last weekend and a fine one this weekend, so my dough was a bit of a different texture.  I haven't cut one of these open yet, so will how the crumb looks tomorrow morning.  One of them got given to a friend and I have kept one for myself to compare it to last weekends effort.
Today I also baked the 4 pain au levain I started last night when I got home - 2 had linseed, 2 plain.  This pain au levain is pretty much my favourite and most often baked bread.  All 4 loaves were given to friends tonight on a neighbourhood bread run at about 6pm.  I just love making bread!
Not a bad looking day's work!

PS. here is the crumb shot taken the following morning:

Decided to send this one off to Yeast Spotting on - cheers Susan!


  1. Quietly hoping -hard- that the "popped top" was eaten as a slice in itself...

  2. Friends I have given these loaves to have definitely eaten the popped-top as the starter slice! :)