Monday, November 21, 2011

Rye Bread

The smell of bread baking in the oven has to be one of the best smells in the world.  We love homemade bread here at 4 Pears and so we almost never buy bread from the grocery store.  When I first started making bread I strictly used my bread machine.  The bread machine is a very trusty appliance.  Simple and easy to use, you just toss in the ingredients and 3 to 4 hours later you have a fairly consistent and yummy loaf of bread.

Lately, though, I've finally ventured away from the safety net of the bread machine and started making bread by hand.  Surprisingly, it hasn't been very tough at all!  Baking outside the machine gives you so much more freedom for pretty  and shapely loaves and rolls. My braided challah is delicious and beautiful.  It makes for some pretty awesome french toast.  Last week I made some pretty great wheat bread too...but my favorite bread, in general, is rye.  This recipe for rye bread is so wonderful.  It makes for perfect sandwiches, keeping wonderfully in an airtight bag for at least a week!  (and by not using the machine there is no hole in the bottom, woo hoo!)

Since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching keep in mind that rye bread is also great to use in "stuffing" or "dressing" too...however you choose to say it.  Forget the stove top.  Rye bread, celery, onions, chicken stock and some seasonings....that "stuff" (har har) couldn't be better.

But even if you can't put down that Stove Top box, try this rye bread for leftover turkey'll love it.

Light Rye Bread, adapted from "George" at Simply Recipes
(for 1 loaf!)
1 package of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups of warm water  (just warm from the tap is fine)
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups bread flour (follow the link for a substitution if you don't have bread flour)
1 cup rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

In a large glass measuring cup add the yeast and molasses to the warm water and stir them together.  Pour the  mixture into the metal bowl of your mixer.  (I don't actually use the mixer in this recipe but I do use the bowl.) Mix in the caraway seeds, salt, oil and cocoa powder.  It will look kind of lumpy at this point but don't worry about that.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in a cup of the bread flour, then mix in the rye flour. Now, mix in one more cup of bread flour.  At this point it will be getting pretty hard to mix.  Put the remaining 1/2 cup of bread flour out onto the clean counter and turn the dough out of the bowl onto the counter.  Knead the rest of the flour into the dough. Knead it for about 5 minutes or so.  The dough will feel smooth and be elastic when it is done.

Coat a large glass bowl with some more vegetable oil and rub place the rounded ball of dough into the bowl.  Coat the dough with a bit of oil too.  Cover the bowl and allow it to double in size.  That should take about and hour and a half.

Once doubled, punch the dough down and knead it again, just a time or two.  Form it into an oval shape and place it in an oiled loaf pan.  Cover it, and again let it rise.  This time you only want it to rise until the dough just begins to peak over the edge of the pan.  It will take about 45 minutes. 

Bake the loaf in a 350 F oven for around 30 minutes.  Tap on the loaf after 30 minutes...if it is done it will sound hollow!  Turn it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!!

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