Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Books, Breads and Dreams

I have been cooking and baking a lot as usual. That said, I haven't got a specific recipe to share today. I could. I have made many good things that I could share. But everything today is taking a back burner. I am so excited.

Unidentified Bread Pan
To start with, a couple of months ago my sister-in-law brought me a bread baking contraption I had never seen before. Someone came and donated it at the museum, but they had no real use for it, and I am into the old, the new, the different. I have no idea at this time if I will ever use this device. It is a closed, two-loaf affair, making round loaves with ridges. My concern is twofold; first, what kind of recipe would be made in something like this, and second, as these hold a lot of dough, and as it is obviously closed for baking, how would I know if it is baked through? 

If anyone seeing this happens to know what it is for, specifically, or what sort of bread would be baked in this mold - please leave a comment!


When she brought this mold to me, my sister-in-law also noted that at some unspecified time she would have a set of glass tube bread molds to bring. This unspecified time happened to be last evening. In the past I had owned a set of glass tube molds for bread, though they were much smaller in diameter. The ones she brought last night are a far larger in diameter, probably a good 4 1/2 to 5 inches. This would make a more normal sized loaf instead of a "tea bread" loaf. I am interested to try them out.

Stack of Books
Then last weekend, I was helping my sister-in-law to move some furniture out of a storage unit and I happened to notice she had Rose Levy Berenbaum's "Bread Bible" setting on a shelf! OMG! I asked if I could borrow it, and she said, "Certainly. Actually, you can have it." I was in love. I sat to start reading and got teary just reading the introduction. I can so identify with all the feelings about bread making. It enchants me. I have continued to read bits and pieces, along with looking through various recipes I find of interest. I have already learned quite a few things about the chemistry of bread making that I never knew. I have always made bread in the manner my Mom did, and her Mom before her. If I tried another recipe and it didn't work right, I continued to apply the methods I knew and went from there. All in all, with fair success.

But the thing that really threw me into the stratosphere was that she brought over 6 cookbooks, 3 specifically on breads and the rest on other baking subjects. The bread books are large hardback books, with beautiful color photos so very evocative and enticing. They make you want to take a big bite right out of the book, the photos are so wonderful. There are few things that I love more than great books. So, this morning I started reading one of these new books on bread. Reading about the varying types of flour grinds was enlightening. The chapter on making a starter batter from scratch was a revelation.

Oat Groats front, Wheat and Rye berries behind
Long ago (back in the 80s) I made a sourdough starter and used it to make breads, pancakes, cakes. The starter dough was made using a tiny amount of yeast to jump start the batter. This use of commercial yeast is done often, making it very easy to get a nice batch of soured dough to use to make a loaf. I kept the starter going for some time, but eventually lost interest and tossed it out. In this (new to me) book, there was a recipe for a "seed" starter where you are truly starting from scratch, waiting for wild yeasts to invite themselves in. On reading some of the theory, they explain that rye carries more natural yeasts on the grains than does wheat, so if possible they advocate using rye flour for the initial starter mixture, then adding wheat flour to "feed" this over the next days. Once this mixture has caught the yeasts and is fully alive, it is called a "seed starter." 

Caraway Rye Bread
I do not keep rye flour or whole wheat flour as they tend to go rancid so easily that most times they already taste off before even using them. I do, however, keep whole wheat berries and whole rye berries in the freezer. I own both a hand grain grinder and a grain attachment for my Kitchen Aid. I found that to make a Rye Bread recipe that caught my fancy, I would need a total of 3 cups of rye flour; one for the initial "seed" starter, one more for the rye bread starter using the barm (the seed starter plus additional flour and water, yet to be made), and another to add later to the actual bread dough recipe. Unfortunately, once I ground the rye berries I still had, it only yielded just over a cup. That's okay though. I ordered some more today and in the meantime it will take at least 3 or 4 days to get the seed starter and then the barm going. The barm does not have a time limit. Once it is made, all that needs be done is feed it occasionally. The rye bread can be made at any time. 

I have made variations of rye breads many times in past: Caraway Rye Bread, Swedish Limpa Rye Bread and others.

Swedish Limpa Rye Bread 


Makes 4 round loaves
Swedish Limpa Rye Bread
Swedish Limpa Rye Bread


2 packages regular dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 cups sifted rye flour
¾ cup dark molasses
½ cup shortening
2 teaspoons salt
2½ cups boiling water
6 cups bread flour

Mix the yeast into the ½ cup of water; set aside. Combine the rye flour, molasses, shortening salt and the boiling water and blend well; allow to cool to lukewarm. Add in the yeast to combine, once the temperature is cooled. Begin adding the 6 cups of bread flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a well floured surface, cover and allow to rest for10 minutes. Knead the dough for 15 minutes, place in to a lightly greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough, cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Turn out the dough and divide into 4 sections. Shape the sections into round loaves and place on greased baking sheets, well apart. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

NOTES: If you are using Rapid Rise, or Instant Yeast, just add all of the water called for into the second step when mixing the rye flour, molasses, shortening and salt. Add the packets of instant yeast to part of the white flour and mix before adding to the cooled mixture.

If you have a Bread Dough Enhancer, a mixture with a combination of ingredients, including extra gluten to help with rising, add according to directions, into some of the white flour before adding in to the cooled mixture.



Now and again I just get the yen for some nice caraway seed rye bread and I enjoy it for breakfast with jam as much as at lunch for a sandwich. I have used King Arthur Flour's "Sir Lancelot" flour when making rye breads in the more recent past, as it has a far higher gluten content and helps with the rising. Rye may have more yeasts, but it has less gluten, necessary for rising. King Arthur Flour also has a product called Deli Rye Flavor, which gives more of that real bakery rye flavor to your bread. I have used that also to great advantage. But for the first time ever, this time I am making a real, true starter, waiting for those little elusive wild yeasts to come calling and do their magic for me in the seed starter. For the first time, I will make a starter sponge before diving in with the dough. And for the first time, hopefully, I will be able to create a real, true, deli rye bread that rises properly and tastes great without the enhancement of added flavors. I am just dreaming, totally on cloud 9, waiting for this event to happen.



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.  

 

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