Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rye Bread

After being pretty satisfied with the whole wheat bread I made from Jim Lahey's book My Bread, I decided to try out making rye bread. As with the last loaf, with minimal effort I got a wonderfully crusty loaf with a soft and airy interior and tender crumb, perfumed with the delicious scent of fermentation. This bread made both delicious grilled cheese and was the perfect vehicle for a heap of Stoddard's smoked chicken breast, topped with Spirit Valley maple mustard and lettuce.

Rye Bread
from My Bread by Jim Lahey
makes one 10-inch round loaf, 1.25 pounds

2.25 cups/300 grams bread flour
3/4 cup/100 grams rye flour
1.25 teaspoons/8 grams table salt
1/2 teaspoon/2 grams instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups/300 grams cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water
Rye flour for dusting

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

3. Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with rye flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with rye flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4.5- to 5.5-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution-the pot will be very hot). Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

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