Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bread - Number 10

Bread - Number 10: A rye sense of humor

Dedicated to that spark that got me out of bed to start the next batch of dough after taking it easy over the holidays and then holding off due to a mid-winter sinus thing that took a while to go away, like it was welcome at all.

As part of that hibernation-mode, mid-winter inertia, could not get myself to commence the sourdough starter process or make an ambitious bread. Like someone with writer's block who just has to write something, anything, I just had to figure out the recipe and start mixing ingredients. And then, on the day planned to mix up some dough, I was out and about the entire day and well into the evening, by which time the making of a bread had been entirely forgotten. Oops.

As if to add insult to injury, also forgot I had wanted to try the River Cottage Bread Handbook two-step dough mixing process. That is what happens with a very early morning wake up, dragging one's feet into the kitchen, eyes barely open. Looked at a few recipes for rye bread, as the rye flour has been waiting for a few weeks to be opened, and settled on the easy way out with a modified rye bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. As most rye bread recipes call for starters and I have not started on that process, the field was limited. This recipe uses about one third each of rye, white and whole wheat flours. I used bread flour instead of all-purpose white.

1 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/8 cups rye flour (just use almost one half for that 3/8)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp caraway seeds (3/4 get mixed into dough)
1 tsp vital wheat gluten
2 cups water

1. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Yes, trying a little, a reduced amount of vital wheat gluten. Have found that my breads taste better without it, but playing with less in case it actually adds something beneficial to the bread, which supposedly will be a better rise for a bread heavy on the whole grains.

2. Add water. Mine was a nice wet dough, so it took about five to 10 minutes to mix all through, but it was easy.

3. Cover bowl loosely with plastic. Really should use a plastic bag as reuse is possible, but have not gotten out of habit of using plastic wrap. Feeling environmental guilt in ruining the planet due to extreme laziness.

4. Let the dough stand for 12 to 18 hours. Mine needed 13 hours and that was in a warm kitchen. Refrigerate for up to four days or start the next step with the dough.
[Dough after rising for 12 hours.]

5. Sprinkle the dough with flour. This is a pretty sticky, wet dough so don't be shy. Sprinkle a wooden board or counter top area with flour and when ready to remove the dough from the bowl, cover your hands with flour as well.

6. Put the dough on the board or counter. Flatten the dough into a somewhat irregular, though loosely rectangular shape. Apologies to any geometry teachers. From either end of the not-quite-rectangle, fold in one third to the middle and then from the other side fold in a third to overlap the first fold, as if folding to make an envelope. Now with the new rectangle of dough, fold the long side in half. Feel free to shape a little more.

7. Let stand on the board or counter - loosely covered in plastic - for 15 minutes. Mine rose quite well.

8. Generously sprinkle flour into a bowl or proofing basket (still on my wish list) and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 60 to 90 minutes.

9. At about a half hour in, preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a la cloche, put it in the oven to preheat as well.

10. While waiting, feel free to watch bread baking videos or ponder starting a sourdough starter, for which there are innumerable websites, recipes, and discussion forums.

11. Tilt bowl with dough onto well-floured baking peel or onto parchment paper placed on the baking peel. Since the dough was wet and not standing well (getting me nervous), I used parchment paper this time so that dough would not end up sticking to the peel.

12. Wet a baking brush with water. Brush on top of bread. Sprinkle top of bread with caraway seeds. Amount optional. (Another method I read about in the River Cottage Bread Handbook is to dunk the dough in a little bit of water and then roll it lightly in a bowl with seeds.)

13. Place dough onto baking stone or bottom of la cloche and then cover with already-heated top of la cloche. Leave for 30 minutes.

Note: While one may make bread without a baking stone or a la cloche, in my experience the results are so much better using these that it is not even worthy of discussion.

14. Reduce heat to 450 degrees, open oven and remove top of la cloche and the parchment paper if you used it.

While the  bread is baking is an appropriate time to confess doubts . It stayed quite wet and did not hold its own shape. Worried about it and don't want to see a bread that shows tell tale signs inside that it did not rise well. Perhaps should have allowed it to rise for longer period initially. Feeling like a good bread baking course would be in order.

15. Remove bread from oven after 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand on a rack for two hours if you can manage not to touch this amazing looking bread that smells like a rye bread strolled out of a bakery oven and into your kitchen.
[Bread right out of the oven.]

Ye of little faith
Oh my god, amazing. Tasted like an incredible rye bread. It is an incredible rye bread. Wow, this is a keeper and it is two-thirds whole grain. Despite fear that this bread would not rise, it rose so well and has a wonderful crumb with lots of air pockets.
[So proud, could not resist adding another photograph.]

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