Rye Sourdough - Your thoughts

My first rye loaf which was made with 25% rye flour, balance white bread flour and 81% hydration and sourdough starter. The loaf proofed for approximately 10 hours, the resulting dough was too wet to handle, kind of wrangled it into a parchment lined proofing basket, and transferred parchment and bread into a hot long loaf clay baker. Scoring this loaf was impossible with the score just closing over. The loaf was baked at 500F for 14 min with lid on and 14 min lid off. Final temp 210F. The bread tasted great, but I would have preferred a taller loaf.

My questions are:

How do I get a more manageable loaf (decrease hydration? by how much?)

How would I figure if I need to decrease proofing time?

How can I get more oven spring in this loaf?

Is this a good looking texture for a rye loaf? What would improve it?

What conditions improve the ability to score a loaf?

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Looks like a lovely loaf to me. At 25% whole rye and 75% bread flour perhaps 80% hydration is too high. Why not drop down to 70% and only add extra water if you think the dough needs it. At 10 hours bulk ferment I’m assuming you used a low percentage of starter, around 5% give or take, or if you used significantly more it was done partly in the fridge. What was the recipe?

Other then that it certainly looks good and if tasty then its a success. Its all down to the eating.

Thanks so much for your response.

The recipe is
50g starter (50/410TFW=12%, 50/800TW=6%), my starter is roughly 55:45 flour: water) how does one calculate % starter based on total starter weight relative to total flour weight or total weight)
1t kosher salt
1.5 T caraway seed
332 g water
410g flour (100 g rye, 310 g bread) with a little extra rye is too sticky
800 g loaf and 81% hydration

10 hours on counter no refrigeration. Would you have expected less time at room temp?

Flour = 100% and everything is a percentage of that.

So if your recipe has 410g flour and the starter is 50g then…

50 / 410 x 100 = 12%

There are different ways of determining the ferment time, for a guide only, one of which is prefermented flour but if one does prefer starter % it just mounts to the same thing as long as you’re aware (which comes with practice) of how much time you roughly have.

Now at 12% starter and 10 hours bulk ferment it depends. How warm is it? How active is your starter? How much wholegrain is in there etc. Quite do-able if its on the cool side but on a warm day it might be over doing it. I suggest 6-8 hours if warm and keeping an eye on it. If it needs longer then by all means give it however much time it needs. But start watching it about the 6 hour mark.

You can also try dropping the hydration and perhaps the rye % if you want. At 25% its going to start having a noticeable affect on the dough when it comes to stickiness. Try 15-20% and see if that makes a difference. Otherwise stickiness is to be expected. And height too!

TBH I see a really lovely loaf and if you can handle the stickiness and don’t mind compromising on a little height (but it still is a very respectable risen loaf) then I think you’re onto a winner and just enjoy it for what it is and don’t compare it to tall lofty 100% strong bread flour loaves.

Thanks for your insight and kind words. I have to confess that I was pretty pleased with this as a first attempt. However, I want to gift a loaf to my dad and step mother and they can be tough customers. So, I want it to be as “impressive” as possible so I am running some trials… I will incorporate your insight into future trials…

Thanks again.

Looks like a great loaf you baked, I’ve never tried 25% rye before, I’ve always been too scared to go that high. You did very well.

The crumb and fermentation look really good! Here’s a blog post I wrote on scoring – the short version: colder and dryer dough is easier to score. Also, less proofed, but I think your proofing here is good.

Personally, I’m not sure sure you need to decrease the hydration, you might just need to get used to rye dough feeling different, especially if you ever want to increase the percentage of rye. Personally I think that loaf looks great and if you decrease hydration you may sacrifice some of the openness of the crumb.

Also rye loaves are often not scored, and high hydration, loose loaves like ciabatta are also traditionally not scored. I would not view that as a problem. On the other hand, if you let it proof uncovered and / or coat it with flour before proofing it might develop enough of a skin to score.

Of course anything is a problem if it’s not what you want from your loaf, I’m just suggesting that you could consider this a perfectly successful loaf, in a different style than you may be used to.