Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Basic Rye Sandwich Bread

Once each week, most weeks, anyway, I manage to bake a loaf of sandwich bread, usually this one. Once in a while, I’ll make a rye sandwich loaf instead. I’m quite a fan of rye bread, actually, and always have been. I have lovely memories of warm sandwiches made with rye toast and slices of cheddar cheese just getting soft from the residual heat from the toaster. That childhood rye was most likely store-bought (although my mom is a good baker). Now, I take a surprising amount of pleasure (and a small amount of pride, I must admit) in making my own rye bread, which I make with a somewhat coarse stone-ground rye flour and a flavorful dose of caraway seeds.

I’m sure I made rye bread years ago with a soft rye flour that was easy to acquire from any grocery store. I can’t seem to find such a thing anymore, but the stone-ground flour I can find (marketed by Hodgson Mill) is so fragrant and delicious, that I don’t really miss the more refined stuff. Rye flour is short of gluten compared to wheat flour and those bits of bran and other good stuff in the stone-ground flour can slice through strands of gluten as they form. For those reasons, I use a 1-to-2 ratio of rye flour to bread flour to give my sandwich bread the desirable texture and loft, and I add a tablespoon of vital gluten flour.

I find that it is easy to let this dough get too stiff and leaden so that the loaf ends up like a doorstop. To prevent this, I like to hold back enough flour to allow the dough to stay a little bit sticky and wet. It’s a little bit harder to handle and shape this way, but the dough rises nicely, given time, and makes a fairly soft loaf with a nice, brown and crisp crust.

This is a delicious bread suitable for just about any deli sandwich. I don’t find the caraway flavor to go quite as well with something like a peanut butter sandwich, but I do like slices of this bread toasted and spread with jam, or, even better, with a good ricotta cheese and jam. Of course, a just-beginning-to-melt slice of sharp cheddar is still rather good. And you can't go wrong with a nice swipe of butter. Not at all.

Caraway Rye Sandwich Bread

I like to use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to mix and knead bread dough, but you can mix and knead the dough by hand if you prefer.

If you do not care for caraway, you could leave it out of this recipe.

1 cup warm water (100-110 F)
2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast (1 envelope)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soft butter
1 cup rye flour
2 cups bread flour, divided
1 tablespoon vital gluten flour
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fine salt

1. Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if mixing and kneading your dough by hand). Let stand about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

2. Add the butter, rye flour, 1 cup bread flour, gluten and caraway seeds. Stir with the paddle attachment on low speed until a wet batter is formed. Cover the bowl with a towel and let stand 15-30 minutes.

3. After the batter has rested, it should have risen noticeably and appear slightly foamy. Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Add about half of the remaining bread flour. Using the dough hook knead the dough, adding as much of the remaining flour as possible while creating a slightly wet and sticky dough. Knead for a total of about 10 minutes. (I use setting #2 on my Kitchen Aid mixer to knead.) Alternatively, mix in some of the bread flour with a spoon and knead in the rest by hand.

4. Shape the kneaded dough into a smooth ball. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball in it. Spray the dough with more cooking spray and place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise about 1 hour or until double in size.

5. Gently deflate the risen dough and form it into a new ball. Let stand about 5 minutes. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let stand about 1 hour or until double in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the dough in the pan for 35 minutes or until the bread tests done (sounds hollow when tapped or reads about 200 F in the center on an instant-read thermometer). Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes a 1 ½ pound loaf.

One year ago: Irish Cream Brownies

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