Sunday, March 3, 2013

Caraway Rye Bread; a Favorite

I love bread. I guess too much of anything is not great, but it is difficult to live without bread. When I started delving into the concept of Gluten Free baking, what I read everywhere is the lament about good bread being a scarce commodity on that kind of diet. I did find lots and lots of recipes for gluten-free breads. I was just afraid to try them out. My best and longest friend decided to go gluten-free long ago and told me how, despite that she is an excellent baker, her GF breads came out like bricks.

Well, being me, and having been making bread for over 40 years, this seemed like a challenge. I tried a recipe from Gluten Free Girl's website, going on the concept of a no-knead bread, and while it made two exceptionally tiny loaves, the bread was just to-die-for good. Ever since, I have been meaning to go back and try some others, just so I can say I CAN do it, but so far other things have gotten in the way.
Three loaves of Caraway Rye Bread

Meanwhile, I still make all our bread in the house. Regular bread with wheat flours, of course. To my knowledge I am not gluten intolerant, so it has not been a priority. When I discovered Mark Bittman's adaptation of Jim Lahey's No-Knead bread recipe, I totally fell in love. I have been making that bread nearly constantly for almost 2 years now (hard to believe). In a recent blog post I talked about the different variations I have tried of this bread, but mainly I just love the plain no-knead bread. It is marvelous. Why mess with such a great thing?

However, despite how  much I love that bread, I still make my Mom and Grandma's rich egg bread that was made only for Easter and other holidays. I loved that bread so much when growing up that I began making it at age 21 and continued on through my whole life. Almost 42 years later I still make it as our daily bread. The other breads are just extras. One of those extras is Caraway Rye bread, which I love. I have tried various recipes, and have distilled down the things I like best about them all. I made it yesterday again, though it has been a few years since I made it last. This time I was curious whether it could be baked in the enameled cast iron pot I use for my No-Knead bread. The recipe can make two large loaves or 3 slightly smaller ones. I decided to go with the three, and make one of them in the enameled cast iron pot.
Caraway Rye Bread made in the enameled cast iron pot

Making it in there worked like a charm, and I wish I had divided the dough into only 2 loaves to work with, but that's hindsight. Meanwhile, that is one gorgeous loaf of bread. Not that the others are anything to sneeze at, mind you. I made the other two in long thin loaves and placed them on a parchment and cornmeal lined baking sheet. They are lovely. The crust is soft though, where the one from the pot turned out crusty. It doesn't stay crusty, if the bread is stored in plastic, but it does stay chewy, and I think that is one of my biggest cravings - chewy things. Chewy, gooey caramels. Really chewy bagels. Ice cream with gooey bits in it. Cinnamon buns with thick gooey caramel. You get the picture, I am sure. I think I may have to invest in a second enameled cast tron pot to keep up with this bread making thing I have going. But if you love bread, give this recipe a try. Add or leave out things as desired. Use more or less caraway, or none. Use dill or dill seed, if desired. The bread is delicious.

Caraway Rye Bread

Makes 2 or 3 loaves

2½ teaspoons (1 packet) instant/quick-rise yeast
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Caraway Rye Bread:
Round loaf made in heavy enameled Dutch Oven;
Long loaves formed on baking sheet
1 cup medium rye flour
2 cups warm water, 110 degrees
1 cup bread flour
½ cup Sir Lancelot high-protein flour (or all bread flour)

½ cup medium rye flour
½ cup dry milk powder
3 heaping teaspoons caraway seeds, or to taste
2½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons Rye Bread Enhancer, optional
3 tablespoons cooking oil (olive, canola, walnut, other)
2 - 2½ cups Sir Lancelot high-protein flour, or bread flour

MAKE SPONGE: If using the instant yeast and high-protein flour, use the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Otherwise, use a large plastic or glass bowl. Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Add in the brown sugar, rye flour, instant yeast and flour(s). With whisk attachment or regular whisk, combine ingredients well. Allow the sponge to rest for at least an hour. If using regular yeast and just bread flour, this mixture may be allowed to rest for 4 hours or up to overnight.

MAKING DOUGH: In a small bowl, combine the medium rye flour, dry milk powder, caraway seed, salt and Rye Bread Enhancer, if using. Stir well to combine these dry ingredients, then add to the sponge, along with the oil of choice. With dough hook or wooden spoon if by hand, combine these ingredients well, then begin kneading in the Sir Lancelot high-protein flour, or bread flour, ½ cup at a time. until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Remove dough hook and allow dough to rest for about 1 hour (2 - 2½ hours if using regular dry yeast), or until doubled in bulk.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 2 or 3 portions. Form into loaves of your choosing. These can be long loaves, round loaves, braided or placed into loaf pans, as desired. If making long or round loaves, place parchment onto a large baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal. If making in loaf pans, spray with cooking spray. Allow loaves to rise until doubled in bulk.

This bread may also be made in a heavy enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Unless you have two of these Dutch ovens, the loaves will have to be made sequentially. To prepare the dough, make a tight round loaf and place onto a towel (not terrycloth) strewn with cornmeal. Cover with another towel and allow to rise.

To bake loaves on baking sheet or in loaf pans, Preheat oven to 450 and bake the loaves for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for a further 5 or more minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If baking in the Dutch oven, preheat the pot in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven, remove lid and set aside. Place hand under the towel holding the bread and quickly invert the loaf into the extremely hot pot. Replace lid and place in oven. Time for 20 minutes. Depending on how dark you like your crust, remove the lid and bake for a further 5 or more minutes.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.