Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Prairie Rye Bread

We'll be leaving for Boston soon to help out my mother in law during her recovery from surgery (no, burglars, this is not an announcement of availability of my elderly used junk. We will have someone house sitting).

In the mean time Shana and I are calming ourselves as best we can - she's grilling and I'm baking/knitting/reading/surfing the Internet (Yes, I am a busy person, why do you ask?). I am not only baking, but baking bread. I don't know anything else that provides the same heavenly smell and comforting taste as home made bread.

My favorite recipe is one I got from Bon Appetit, probably in 1995. for a while I could find the recipe on Epicurious, but lately I have been unable to find it. The only place I have it is in a cookbook put together friends at a former employer. So for posterity here it is:

1 Cup Raisins
Boiling water

Cover raisins with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3 Cups warm water
1/2 Cup yellow corn meal
1/3 Cup unsulphured molasses
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Cups rye flour
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
6 Cups (scant) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except rye and all-purpose flours. Stir until yeast dissolves. Add rye flour, then all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Knead by hand or in your mighty mixer until the gluten is active (you'll start to see the little stretchy strands that tell you it's ready) and dough is not sticky. Add raisins. Set aside to rise; when doubled punch down and form into two loaves, either in large loaf pans or oval loaves set on a cornmeal covered baking sheet. Slash the tops of the loaves, allow to rise again. Bake about 45 minutes. Loaves will sound hollow and release easily from the pan when done.

I find that the dough is kind of tight until I add the raisins. The extra liquid clinging to the raisins gets it to just the right texture. Don't use rapid rise yeast. It tastes awful. Don't leave out the salt - in most bread recipes the salt is necessary to regulate the yeast and help the loaves brown. You can cut it in half is you absolutely have to, but the taste will be affected.

And if that is not good enough: it's a very adaptable dough. The current loaves have half raisins, half cranberries, about 2/3 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of ground flax and hemp seeds mixed in. I cut the flour to 5 1/2 cups to accommodate the additions I did not have any molasses so I used pancake syrup. It's delicious. You can substitute honey for molasses; you can use a little less rye flour if you run out. You can use bread flour for a finer crumb and a higher rise. You can put it in the fridge between rises and make your loaves when you are ready. You can use shortening instead of butter for a vegan version.


lacochran's evil twin said...

Rye bread with raisins? Sounds--and looks--fantastic!

zippiknits...sometimes said...

What a fantastic bread recipe! Thanks for sharing it. wow!

Good news about the Mamma. Happy for Shana, too. People should live where they can find peace for their minds. The Cape has to be one of the better places to live, even sans PTrans.