Friday, February 26, 2010

Foe no more: Rye Bread, Part III

Some of my older readers know that rye and Bread Maiden have something of a fraught relationship. It has been documented here: Rye Part I and here: Rye Part II

I was ready to give up hope. The loaves didn't rise and the spices gave it a funky flavor.

Also, they just looked really unappealing.

However, I decided to give it one last try. Peter Reinhart has a recipe for rye bread in his newest book, Artisan Breads Every Day.

Now, this is not 100% or even 50% rye flour. It's about 20% rye flour. But it tastes good. And sometimes that trumps purity snobbery.

The thing I like about Reinhart's ABED book is that he seems to have learned a lesson from WGB and now his recipes make enough for two loaves. However, one thing I dislike is that he has taken the water/flour ratios out of the book so you can't scale up or down the recipes yourself based on hydration.

And as you know, I love bread math.

Peter Reinhart's Soft Rye Sandwich Bread

Rye Starter
56.5g starter (Reinhart keeps his at 66%, but I used my 75% starter)
213g rye flour
170g water

all of the rye starter
383g water
28.5g molasses
56.5g vegetable oil
7g instant yeast
680g bread flour
28.5g cocoa powder
17g salt
1/4c minced fresh onion
2 tbl poppy seeds

1. mix rye starter together and let sit for 6-8 hours covered.

While you're waiting for the starter to activate, you can take a look at Mr. Bread Maiden's new project, homemade sauerkraut, currently stinking up our kitchen.

2. mix together the molasses, veg oil, yeast, and water.

3. chop up the pieces of rye starter.

4. Let the yeast mixture sit for a few minutes, then pour over the rye starter pieces. Mix on lowest speed to soften the starter.

5. Add the flour, cocoa powder, poppy seeds, salt, and onions. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for about 4 minutes.

6. The dough will want to ride up on the dough hook, so keep pushing it down. When it looks about like this, let it rest for five minutes.

7. After five minutes, mix on medium-low speed to make a smooth, tacky ball of dough.

8. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a bit on a floured surface.

When it starts looking good, put it in a well-oiled bowl to rise for another 90 minutes.

Looking good!

9. Prepare at least one piece of parchment paper with rice flour. Partition out two equal sized loaves.

10. Form one into a ball and place on the parchment paper.

11. Sprinkle some of the rice flour on the top of the loaf to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let sit another hour or so.

12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you're using a dutch oven, put the cold dutch oven into the oven to warm it up.

13. Score your loaf and put it in the warm dutch oven in the oven for 25 minutes with the lid on, then 25 minutes with the lid off.


Verdict? Really really tasty. You can definitely taste the rye, even though there isn't much rye flour in it. The poppy seeds and onions help add flavor too.

The onion pieces made funny little air pockets, which helped it not be so heavy like other rye attempts.

One downside is that this really isn't a breakfast loaf, which is when Mr. Bread Maiden and I usually eat bread, usually slathered with butter, jam, or peanut butter. This bread likes to be eaten without accompaniment. It goes well with soups though.

All in all, I would definitely call this a success! The mission for 100% and 50% rye flour breads just never resulted in very satisfying loaves for me. Maybe I did them wrong, or didn't like the taste, but this Reinhart Soft Rye Sandwich bread is very tasty and sometimes that is enough for me.

Go make these! Now!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shortbread and Shaun of the Dead

Sometimes I feel like Shaun at the beginning of the movie Shaun of the Dead, where he's so distracted by other things going on in his life that he fails to notice that everyone is becoming zombies around him. Sometimes he notices little things, but it's always peripheral, and doesn't grab his attention until the zombies are (literally) knocking down his door.

That's how I've been feeling about shortbread the past week. Someone will mention it in passing, then I'll hear a Splendid Table podcast, then I'll be looking at a news article about Scotland and it's mentioned. The shortbread is just lurking at the periphery.

Until one day when Mr. Bread Maiden casually mentions, "you know, you could make shortbread." He's much more perceptive than I.

And then, because I love Mr. Bread Maiden, I make shortbread.

Also, when I make him things like shortbread he gives me jewelry like the ring in the picture. I can't complain.

I got this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini, a wonderful blog. You can check it out here:

The one thing I did change is I added a bunch more salt, to both the recipe and then I sprinkled it on top of the shortbread before baking it. It moderates the sweetness a bit, which we happen to like.

Shortbread Recipe:

150 grams top-quality butter
70g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
70g stone-ground cornmeal (I used mostly fine-ground but also some coarse-ground)
150g all-purpose flour
a couple teaspoons of kosher salt or sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter a 9.5" round glass pie pan. Set aside for now.

2. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the flour and whisk together. Set aside.

3. cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in the food processor.

4. Add the cornmeal and pulse until it's blended in.

5. Add the flour and salt and pulse until it starts coming together but is still flaky and mostly in small balls (not unlike food processor pie crust).

6. Remove the mixture from the food processor onto a clean surface. Gently form into a ball but don't worry if it doesn't come together very well.

7. Pat the mixture into the buttered pan so it fills the pan and is flat.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in your fridge until it's cooled down a bit, maybe 15 minutes.

9. Take it back out from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Flatten out the top and edges a bit, if you need to (I needed to). Poke little holes in the top with a fork and sprinkle with some salt.

10. Put in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden. Mine definitely took the whole 40 minutes.

11. Remove from oven and immediately cut into triangles with a knife.

12. Let it sit until completely cooled.

Don't let the pictures fool you; it's still really crumbly. My first few pieces out of the pan were a sacrificial offering to the crumbly shortbread gods.

Conclusions? This recipe is so, so yummy. It doesn't look like much but it is seriously addictive.

Success. Go make this! Now!