Further, I am torn between wanting to bake bread in the German style (which tend to be rather solid), and bread that appeals to my American family -- i.e. "fluffier", or at least not so dense!
Here are some rye breads I found on blogs:
Caraway-Molasses Rye by Ananda on The Fresh Loaf.
Here is a Jewish Pumpernickel from dmsnyder on the Fresh Loaf, adapted from Secrets of a Jewish Baker, by George Greenstein, which is described as " moist and chewy. It is not the dry, dense German-style pumpernickel. "
1 T active yeast, dissolved in 1 c warm water
1 T molasses
1 c rye starter
optional: altus (old rye bread, soaked and "wrung out")
1 c dark rye flour
3 c+ white flour -I used King Arthur all-purpose, which has good gluten content
optional: 1-T additional gluten
1 t salt
Optional flavors: caraway seed, minced onion, flax seeds (soaked overnight), sunflower seeds, raisins; and if desired to achieve darker color, instant coffee or cocoa.
To get a rye stater, I took my white flour sourdough starter (Pedro), and fed it twice with rye instead of white flour. I named my new starter Gudrun. Why Gudrun? Here's a brief summary of Norse mythology from Wikipedia:
Photo credit: http://www.neuschwanstein.de
Gudrun fell in love with Sigurd, who did not care for her, because he was in love with the valkyrie Brynhild (Brünnhilde), to whom he gave the ring Andravinaut. Gudrun's brother Gunnar, however, wished to marry Brynhild, but this was impossible because Brynhild, knowing that only Sigurd could do so, had sworn to marry only the man who could defeat her in a fair fight...
Gudrun's mother Grimhild, who is called Ute in the Nibelungenlied, gave her a potion to make Sigurd forget his love for Brynhild. Gunnar allowed Sigurd to marry Gudrun under the condition, that Sigurd would win Brynhild for him. Sigurd succeeded in doing so; taking the shape of Gunnar, he took the ring Andravinaut from Brynhild and gave it to Gudrun as his morning gift. Both queens, Gudrun and Brynhild, were married on the same day.
Now on to the baking of the bread, which is nearly as exciting as a battle in the Nibelungen saga -- will Gudrun succeed?
I did make a sponge first, let it sit about 1/2 hr, then added rest of ingredients. When dough started getting hard to stir, I turned it onto a floured surface and finish kneading (dough is definitely "stiffer" than my other breads). NOTE: this stiffer rye dough is supposedly a good candidate for mixing by machine.
Then I let it rise, kneaded, and retarded by setting dough in frig overnight.
Next day, I kneaded and let it rise again, using a springform pan for a "backform" or baking form (Alternatively, divide dough and use 2 loafpans). Took it out at 6am, baked at noon.
Right before I'm ready to bake this bread on my pizzastone (oven preheated, 375 or 400F) with steam pan ready, I poked several deep holes into the dough with a skewer, to allow air to escape (this is traditional for rye breads). Bake 30-45 min, until bottom tapped sounds hollow.
Bread was a bit on the dense side! Next time, I plan to try this without the retarding step -- I think it did slow the process down too much, and probably should have allowed more than the 6 hrs for the rising of the cold dough.
I'll post pictures soon...