Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cookbook Adventures: Fresh-Baked Rye Bread

A key component in my plan to make Reubens this weekend was a nice fresh loaf of rye bread without any (evil) caraway seeds in it... I realized a few months ago that rye bread isn't my enemy, only caraway seeds are. Turns out rye bread can be absolutely delicious... Who knew?
The recipe I turned to for my first-ever loaf of rye was Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible.
A year ago, the sugar and water would be the only ingredients I had on hand but, thanks to all the cooking during this last year, instant yeast and bread flour are now pantry staples. Rye flour was easy to track down, and the malt powder (which can be replaced with honey or sugar) was easy to order from one of my favorite spice purveyors online.
These ingredients are combined with water in a stand mixer, whisking to incorporate air, before a mixture of bread flour, salt, and more instant yeast is distributed over the top. (This is the mixture that would contain the caraway seeds, if you're a weirdo who likes that kind of thing...)
Ideally I would have liked to use the option of letting the dough rise for an hour then refrigerating overnight... but I was having pain issues the night before, so I had to do this all in one day. Unfortunately it was a day when my heat stopped working and outdoor temperatures were below 10°F, which was non-ideal for dough-rising. I gave the dough about 5 hours, and it looked like this:
After kneading in the KitchenAid for 10 minutes, the dough was shaped into a ball and allowed to rise for another 90 - 120 minutes, until doubled in size.
From here, you implement a "business letter fold." This involves stretching the dough into a rectangle and folding one third over the middle, then the other third on top of that...
The dough is then turned 90 degrees and the fold is repeated. The folded dough goes into an oiled bowl and rises for about 45 minutes.
After this rise, the dough is shaped into something resembling its final shape and allowed to rise for another 75 minutes...
Finally, slashes are cut into the top and the dough is ready for the oven.
After 15 minutes at 450°F, the temperature is dropped to 400°F and the bread bakes for another 30-40 minutes. The result is kinda gorgeous:
I finished baking this loaf at around 1am... which wasn't exactly in line with my original start-the-day-before plan. Oh, well. It was ready for me to have a couple delicious slices as toast in the morning, so I can't really complain...
Will I Make This Again? Totally.
Was it Worth the Work? Next time I'll start the night before to avoid the 1am finish-time, but it was totally worth it even when it kept me up half the night...


Anonymous said...

I know "who knew? about Rye Bread...it was Max Power! He deserves some culinary credit. It looks like you made a perfect loaf.

emmo said...

I made sure to give him an acknowledgment in my full Reuben post:

The idea that I could have missed out on this sandwich experience if Max hadn't set me straight... I shudder to think... =)