Recipe contributed by Lauren Groveman
Eastern European Rye
Ahhhh... Julia Child. Many cooks have been inspired by her. I do recall catching her a few times on PBS and she was always a kick to watch - and I have to admit I loved the movie Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep; I even have the DVD.
I have had a longing to make fresh homemade bread but have always shied away due to my fear of yeast which I am slowly overcoming. I have had recent success with Parker House rolls and knotted dinner rolls which have given me the confidence to give this a try. I think it would be wonderful to have fresh bread to make sandwiches from. Andy always orders his sandwiches on rye so I chose the Eastern European Rye loaf.
Reading through the ingredient list I see that the recipe calls for solid vegetable shortening; something I usually steer away from or substitute butter for. Being that I am not an accomplished bread maker I did not want to do any substitutions on the first run. In regard to the caraway seeds needing to be finely ground, if you don't already have a coffee grinder go out and get one (to be used only for grinding spices). We just recently gave ours away to our daughter since we had not used it in I don't know how long. I tried grinding the seeds in a mini-processor and in a pestle & mortar to no avail - had to make a quick run to Target.
I did it!! I'm so excited! The bread is soft and chewy and the crumb (the pattern of holes inside a loaf) is perfect - no large tunnels running through it.
I think everyone should try making bread from scratch at home at least once. I chose the old fashioned way, kneading by hand, not using a stand-mixer with a dough hook. The scent of the yeast is wonderful and the aroma of baked bread is amazing.
Success meter (1-3): 3
Still too seedy after running through
a mini-processor and pestle & mortar.
Much better after using a coffee grinder.
Yeast before proofing.
Yeast after proofing - a bit dome shapped
and creamier looking.
I like to place my dough in
the oven (turned off) to rise.
Too" punch down" the dough, flour the backside
of your hand and quickly "slap" the dough
with the back of your fingers.
"Pinch" the dough after each roll
by poking the edge with your fingers.
If you will be baking bread often
you may want one of these.
Eastern European Rye
Makes 2 large oval loaves
1 ½ Tbl active dry yeast
2 ¾ cups tepid water (80° - 90°F)
1 Tbl. sugar
1 scant Tbl salt
¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
3 cups medium rye flour
2 Tbl finely ground caraway seeds (grind whole seeds in a spice
or coffee grinder)
1 ½ Tbl caraway seeds
3 ½ cups (approx) high-gluten flour, bread flour, or unbleached
Melted butter, for greasing the mixing bowl
Brush a large (about 8 quart) bowl with melted butter; set aside.
Mixing and Kneading: Whisk the yeast into ½ cup of the water. Add a pinch of the sugar and let the mixture rest until the yeast dissolves and is creamy, about 5 minutes.
Pour the remaining 2 ¼ cups water into another large (8 quart) bowl and add the remaining sugar, the salt, shortening, and the creamy yeast. Working with a sturdy wooden spoon – and energy – stir in the rye flour and caraway seeds. When the mixture is smooth, start adding the high-gluten flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is difficult to stir (about 2 ½ - 3 cups).
When the dough is too hard to stir in the bowl, turn it out onto a work surface dusted with high-gluten flour and knead until smooth and elastic, 10-13 minutes. The dough may seem a little pasty at first – because of the rye flour – but its texture will change with kneading. While you’re working, add only as much additional flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking to the table and your hands. (You can make this dough in a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Once the rye flour and caraway seeds have been added, add 2 ½ - 3 cups of the high-gluten flour. Beat on medium-low for about 3 minutes, gradually adding as much additional flour as needed to make a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.)
First Rise: Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in volume.
Second Rise: When the dough is fully risen, deflate it, turn it over, cover as before, and let it rise until it doubles in bulk again, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Rolling and Shaping: Deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it in half. Work with half the dough at a time, keeping the other half covered with a towel or plastic wrap. Lay two clean kitchen towels on the counter and sprinkle them with flour; keep close at hand.
With a rolling pin or your hands, work the dough into a rectangle about 7 inches by 10 inches. Starting at the short end farthest from you, roll the dough into a tight roll, pinching and sealing the seams you form with each roll as you go. Stand the roll on end and push your fingers down into the loaf, tucking some of the dough into the loaf as you burrow your fingers down into it. Then squeeze the end of the dough to elongate it, pinch it to seal, and fold each corner into the center, creating two triangles – it’s like making hospital corners on a bed. (to see a video of this process click here – it is about 22 minutes in.) Tuck the end under the bread, attaching it to the bottom seam, and repeat the burrowing, squeezing, folding, and tucking with the other end of the coil. Rotate and plump the dough to get a nicely shaped, rounded oval. Place the loaf, seam side up, diagonally on one of the floured kitchen towels and form a sling by joining the opposite corners of the towel that are farthest from the loaf. Punch a hole in the ends of the towel, slip an S-hook through the hole, and suspend the sling from a cupboard or doorknob (or tie the ends of the towel together to form a sling and suspend it.) Shape the second piece of dough in the same manner and tuck it into a sling.
Rest: The loaves should rest undisturbed in their slings for about 30 minutes.
The Glaze and Topping
1 large egg white
1 tsp cold water
Caraway seeds (optional)
Kosher or coarse sea salt (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. If you’ll be baking the breads on a baking or pizza stone, preheat it too and generously dust a peel with cornmeal; set aside. If they’re going on baking sheets, brush or spray one or two large, preferably dark steel, baking sheets with vegetable oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. (To create steam in the oven, you’ll be tossing ice cubes and water onto the oven floor. If you don’t think your oven floor is up to this – it can be tricky with a gas oven – put a heavy skillet or roasting pan on the oven floor (I chose the latter) and preheat it as well.)
Whisk the egg white and water together and push the mixture through a sieve; reserve.
Release the slings and gently transfer the loaves, smooth side up, to the prepared peel or baking sheet(s), keeping the loaves at least 3 inches apart. Give the loaves a last plumping with your hands and, using a sharp serrated knife or a single-edge razor blade, slash the top of each loaf 3 times: The slashes should run horizontally across the loaf at a slight angle and should be about 1 inch deep. Paint each loaf with a generous coating of glaze, taking care not to paint the slashes. Sprinkle the loaves with caraway seeds and salt, if you’re using them.
Baking the Bread: Put 4 cups in a 1-pint measuring cup and add ¼ cup cold water. Put the loaves into the oven, immediately toss the ice cubes and water onto the oven floor (or pan if using), and quickly close the oven door to trap the steam produced by the ice. Bake the loaves for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more. (The internal temperature of the loaves should read 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.) Turn off the heat and let the loaves remain in the oven for 5 minutes more. Remove the loaves and cool on a rack. The loaves must cool completely before they can be sliced.
Storing: Packed in plastic bags, the loaves will keep for 2 days at room temperature; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.
Baking with Julia/Dorie Greenspan