Thursday, June 16, 2011

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou

I’ve had problems making rye bread.  It just never seems to come out right.  It turns out that the rye flour you buy in a store is ground too fine and that makes the bread like glue inside.

That’s why most recipes instruct to mix some wheat flour with the rye flour.  Even better, buy rolled rye flakes, put them in the food processor or blender and grind until it is the texture of cornmeal.

Then use whole wheat flour made from hard wheat instead of regular white flour but add about 25% unbleached bread flour for a portion of all flour.

The dough should be fairly heavy and sticky because the coarse rye and the wheat will soak up some water during kneading, rising and baking.

You do NOT need caraway seeds to make it taste like rye bread.  I like them so I add them.

You don’t need a sour.  You can get by with making a "young" sour or sponge the evening before you bake.

This is the recipe I used.  It came out better than other rye breads I have made.  Very tasty.

Makes one 1 3/4-pound round loaf

3/4 Cup Bread Flour
3/4 Cup Rye Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water, At Room Temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
1/2 Plus 1/8 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
2 Tablespoons Caraway Seeds
1/2 Tablespoon Coarse Salt

Dough And Baking
1/2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
About 2 Teaspoons Cornmeal For Sprinkling

Make the sponge: Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge: In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)
Mix the dough [Either with a mixer] Add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.
[Or by hand] Add the oil and, with a wooden spoon or your hand, stir until the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a very lightly floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, after which it might be a little sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic and your upper arms are strapless gown-ready.
Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Flip the bowl over and let the dough fall out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the (re-oiled) bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.
Shape it and wait out the final rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. When it is gently press with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.
Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 450°F for about 30 minutes
Slash and bake the bread: With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot stone or hot baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
Cool the bread on a wire rack.

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