Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This is the third post in a series (more to follow) or recipes that exemplify the correct use of basic ingredients and simple techniques. The idea behind it all is that by learning the basics we can then apply what we learn, creatively, to truly attain great heights in baking.
This bread it especially close to my heart. It evokes in me all those best childhood memories, back in Nova Scotia with my grandparents, now long gone. It reminds me of cold mornings, breath steaming in the really, really crisp air waiting patiently outside for our turn to buy bread. Fresh, baked bread, still hot from the oven. Wrapped in paper, not plastic so it could cool without getting soggy. It was that fresh. When we arrived back home with our precious packages, everyone waiting impatiently, the rye bread was unwrapped and we all started the Sunday morning ritual. My grandparents, being from Eastern Europe, and blissfully unaware of things like cholesterol, high-salt diets etc. would slather schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) on the still warm bread. Maybe sprinkle a few pieces of raw onion, some salt and gulp it down. Believe me, two or three pieces of that and you're set for the day, or the week. Sometimes this was augmented with a slice of hard-boiled egg. But not always. Purists frown on such things after all.
Despite all this, and the fact that I wouldn't dare eat those things anymore, this bread makes a perfect sandwich bread for all things savory. In other words, it is great for deli sandwiches, and for sharp cheeses. It is attached at the hip with sharp mustard. There is nothing better for a steak sandwich. Nothing. You will love it I promise.
This bread uses rye flour (duh!) in combination with regular white bread flour. The rye flour is for the taste and contributes to the color. However, rye has very little gluten (but enough so that people with gluten intolerance cannot use it). So to provide the structure and volume, regular bread flour is blended in. Also, I have added gluten (available at health food stores). The caraway seeds are optional, I know not everyone likes them. I do. Enjoy!
Here's what you'll need:
2 Tbs (30g) butter, melted
2 cups (about 280g) white rye flour
3 cups (about 420g) bread flour
1 packet (7g) yeast
2 cups (500ml) water at 105 F (40 C)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs caraway seeds (optional)
1 Tbs molasses
Here's what you'll need to do:
1. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Lightly oil either two loaf pans, or a baking sheet if you want to make free-standing loaves. (I use loaf pans because afterwards the shape is better for sandwiches). If you use the baking sheet, sprinkle it with cornmeal after greasing.
2. Measure out the flours into a bowl. Add the extra gluten then stir to combine.
3. Using a mixer with a dough hook, place about 1/3 of the flour mixture in the bowl and add the yeast. Add the water and mix briefly to make a very wet slurry, then gradually add the rest of the flour along with the salt, the optional caraway seeds, the molasses and the melted butter.
4. Mix vigorously for 3 or 4 minutes until a soft, but not sticky dough forms. You may have to add some flour to 'dry' the dough a bit. Or water to dampen it. Be careful. Add flour or water 1 Tbs at a time so the dough remains soft and supple.
5. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl to rise until it doubles. This could take 1 1/2 hours.
6. Gently deflate the dough, then either make free-standing loaves or shape them into loaves for your prepared pans.
Let the loaves rise this second time until doubled. They will be 'springy' to the touch.
7. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Bake the bread for about 35 minutes. It will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
8. Let the bread cool on a wire rack at least 30 to 40 minutes before slicing (if you can).