Sunday, March 1, 2009

Deli-Style Rye Bread

Mary: Bread... that this house may never know hunger.
[Mary hands a loaf of bread to Mrs. Martini]
Mary: Salt... that life may always have flavor.
[Mary hands a box of salt to Mrs. Martini]
George Bailey: And wine... that joy and prosperity may reign forever. Enter the Martini Castle.
[George hands Mr. Martini a bottle of wine]

I got this recipe from my December sister. I have no idea where she got it, so I'm just going to go ahead and give to you. I call it Plagiarizing it Forward.

Deli-Style Rye Bread *click here for printable version*

Makes 1 large or 2 smaller loaves

2/3 cup rye flakes (optional--and I didn't use)
2-3/4 cups water
1-1/2 tsp dry active yeast
2 Tbsp honey
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or bread flour)

Rye Bread:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
3-1/2 cups rye flour (I used dark, but medium or light would work just as well)
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp table salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling

1 egg white
1 Tbsp milk

1. For the sponge: heat oven to 350 degrees; toast rye flakes on small baking sheet until fragrant and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Mix water, yeast, honey, rye flakes and flour in the large mixing bowl of a heavy duty mixer to form batter.

Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until bubbles form over the entire surface, at least 2-1/2 hours. (Can stand at room temperature overnight.)

2. For the bread: Stir all-purpose flour, 3-1/4 cups rye flour, caraway seeds, oil and salt into the sponge.

With machine fitted with dough hook and set on speed 2, knead dough, adding remaining 1/4 cup rye flour once the dough becomes cohesive; knead until smooth yet sticky, about 5 minutes.

With moistened hands, transfer dough to a well-floured counter, knead it into a smooth ball, then place in a lightly greased bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1-1/4 to 2 hours.

3. Generously sprinkle cornmeal on a large baking sheet. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and press dough into a 12x9 rectangle. (For 2 smaller loaves, halve the dough, pressing each portion into a 9x6 1/2-inch rectangle.) With one of the long sides facing you, roll dough into a 12 inch (or 9 inch) log, seam side up. Pinch seam with fingertips to seal. Turn dough seam side down, and with fingertips, seal ends by tucking dough into the loaf.

Carefully transfer shaped loaf (or loaves) to prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let proof until dough looks bloated and dimply, and starts to spread out, 60-75 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower center position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

4. For the glaze: Whisk egg white and milk together and brush over sides and top of loaf (loaves). Make 6 or 7 slashes, 1/2 inch deep on dough top with serrated knife or single edge razor blade. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of loaf registers 200 degrees, 15-20 minutes for small loaves and 25-30 for larger loaf. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

As I think I've confessed before, I am no bread expert. Far from it. But I realized while making this bread, that most of the time when I make bread I'm in a big fat hurry to get it done in time for dinner. Which may account for some of my frustrations and missteps with the process. This time it was different. I don't know if that's because this recipe is easy, or if it's because I gave myself more time to prepare it and wasn't working under a "deadline". But really, I was surprised at how easy it was and how nicely it turned out.

I was a little skeptical about using the mixer with the dough hook. My own dough hook is as yet unused. But it worked really well. And "with moistened hands" took me aback as well. But, yet again, it worked perfectly. I got the machine-kneaded dough out of the bowl and off the hook (HA!) and onto my kneading surface without covering my hands with it. I've also never tested the temperature of my bread to check its doneness. Again, I did it and it was perfect.

It's not as high of a loaf as I would like to have (you know, for pastrami sandwiches), but maybe if I use bread flour the next time, it will be a little puffier. It was, I humbly submit to you, perfect as breakfast toast (with butter).

I chose this recipe this week because of the quote at the top. As we move into our new home starting this coming week, those are all things we deeply wish for: food at our table, spice in our lives, joy and prosperity. But why rye bread, you ask? Well, because I've never made it before. And because it reminds us of a deli that we loved in a place that I still think of as home.

TGIP Rating--Deli-Style Rye Bread--KEEPER--Try with bread flour. And see if you can find rye flakes. I can't help but wonder how/if they would change the taste and texture.

Next up: The move catches up with me. I leave you in the capable guest-blogging hands of the Pie Queen.

P.S. to my December sister: I think it is the rye flour that makes the bread seem not so smooth. The flour itself has a lot of texture to it.

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