Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rye bread (baking after a long gap) - creating an herb loaded artisan bread the no knead, no mess way

The recipe is right on the box, but when you cook a recipe with passion, you elevate even a box recipe - chef Jacques from 32 Yolks

I went back to baking after a long hiatus. As some of you may have noticed, my baking recipes have almost dwindled in frequency lately as I haven't baked much. It feels like an extravaganza to bake just for the two of us while DD is away at school (yep, I go through those mom guilt trips) also logistically it doesn't make sense to bake a big batch of something while neither BH nor I will be able to finish it before it goes bad. When DD was home, either she would devour it or have friends over to share. And then we also went through a phase of consciously reducing the amount of flours in every day food, so bread was the first one to feel the pain of the axe :-).
I bought Rye flour in the local grocery store a few months back after eating a byte of the hearty, slightly dense textured store bought rye bread as part of a potluck dinner. The intention to bake a rye bread at home was urgent and genuine but the universe conspired against it from becoming a reality sooner. New year rolled in, on one of my regular 'clean the pantry' efforts, I found the desolate box of rye flour in the dark corner of my pantry completely forgotten and uncared for. Now that cannot be good at all, right? I honestly believe any ingredient that I purchase has potential to turn into something delicious and soul satisfying even if it is the forgotten rye flour. So out came the box and as I went into my deep, meditative thoughts about how to use the rye flour I kept turning the flour package in my hand which is how I ended up seeing the recipe for a traditional rye bread right there on the package cover :-) (That wasn't a surprise, was it? all flour packages logically have a recipe for a bread and a cookie atleast. I was just trying to build a story up:-))
The recipe had the usual suspects, part rye, part bread flour, yeast, a little salt & sugar to activate yeast and ofcourse water. The only deterrent was the step that said, knead vigorously for 10mins with a push and pull method to help develop gluten strands in the dough. Any bread baker worth her (or his) salt is familiar with the kneading process. Somehow that step about kneading didn't sound appealing at all. Lately with the weather being cold and wet, I am not feeling like dealing with wet things for long duration in the kitchen and was in no mood to stand and knead the dough for 10mins. I know I have said before that kneading bread dough is therapeutic but it doesn't feel like it just right now, not yet. May be once the weather warms up a bit, I will be my normal self rearing to go and build my biceps and triceps in the name of kneading bread dough. So, my very smart (and completely lazy) brain was directing me to find a short cut and avoid if possible the part about the kneading. And the smart brain also knew that I had to bake the bread that day otherwise the flour would return back to its desolate corner or vanish into oblivion all together (read as 'end up in the compost bin' because I overlooked the expiry date).
I have baked "no knead" breads before and like the concept of letting the dough develop flavors and rise on its own accord with time instead of trying to speed up the process with the kneading. So off I went to search for a no knead rye bread recipe and stumbled on this video here. After trying this recipe out, (see my slow rise pita bread if interested) I am convinced that a naturally ripened bread dough yields a better tasting bread than a 'on a yeast boost' and artificially prepared dough to get the bread into the oven quickly. Simply put, I love the slow rise bread and the fact that there is no kneading involved was a nice bonus on top :-). Slow rise dough also gives the bread a crusty outer later with a wonderful texture on the inside. If you are still not convinced, think one single vessel to wash when this is all done and absolutely no messy counter top to clean up, ah I can see you rushing to your kitchen right this moment to bake a delicious no-knead bread :-), wait, you haven't read my recipe yet.. you are almost there if you have come this far (psst, feel free to skip the next paragraph as it is mainly collected facts about health benefits of rye, the main source being guru google which you can do on your own and at your own convenience :-))
I went back and forth on writing about the health benefits of rye. Given that I am not a nutritionist or even someone that has diligently studied nutrition out of curiosity, my knowledge comes from the all pervading internet just like for most of you. While the free information overload can be overwhelming, my motto is to stay within reasonable limits, eat everything that your body doesn't seem to reject outright and do the physical activity that it takes to digest and use the nutrients well. With that astounding wisdom, I will only point out a few facts about Rye without any personal recommendation to include it in your diet, it is up to you. Rye is a type of grass, at a very broad level belongs to the wheat family. Usually it is unpolished as it is not easy to separate the germ and the bran and hence retains a lot more nutrients than polished wheat. It is a whole grain and is known to help many conditions including diabetes. It does have gluten though much lower than that found in wheat. If you are looking for a lighter, airier bread you need to add wheat flour/bread flour to compensate the gluten deficiency. If you like the hearty flavor of rye and do not mind the denser texture, use all rye in your dough.
Rye breads traditionally use caraway seeds to infuse a distinct aroma. Caraway seeds also known as meridian fennel are one of those ingredients that impart a distinct flavor to the dish. Caraway is also a carminative herb that prevents bloating. I don't have it in my pantry and was not going to hunt for it in my stores for what I thought would be a one time fancy baking. So I used the regular fennel seeds (saunf in hindi) instead. But, added a whole bunch of chopped fresh dill to add that delicious aroma into the bread. You can skip fennel, add just fresh dill or chopped onions or crushed ajwain or shah jeera(black cumin) or regular cumin. Imagine the best flavor that you would like to see your bread infused with and go with that ingredient, nothing stops you from being imaginative in the kitchen.
The recipe uses a scoop and shake method as he says clearly in the video. No weighing of ingredients on this one. So, watch the amount of water you add as you might scoop more, shake less or the other way around and may need a little bit more or less water than prescribed below. My scoops seem to be lighter (or the shakes more vigorous) that I have only used 12Oz water on both attempts that I have made this recipe. See the picture of dough to understand the consistency you are looking for before letting it stay on to raise on its own.
What do you need to make rye bread?
Source: ArtisanbreadwithStev
1 cup rye flour + a tbsp for shaping
2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt 
1/4 tsp instant yeast (bread machine yeast)
2 Tbsp caraway seeds (I didn't have, replaced it with fennel seeds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
12-13 Oz water
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill

How do you make rye bread? 
  • Take a wide bowl (make sure it has space to let the dough rise). 
  • Add the dry flours, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl. 
  • With a spoon or back of a ladle (I used a colorful wooden chop stick that I have not yet used for noodles :-)) and mix all the ingredients well so they are uniformly incorporated. 
  • Add the seeds if you are using at this time and mix them in. 
  • Add the olive oil and start with 11oz of water. Stirring the contents with your spoon, bring them together and add the remaining water slowly to make a slightly wet and loose dough. The amount of water depends on the variety of flour and also the accuracy of your scoop and shake :-)
  • With the weather being cold, I left the mixed dough outside on the counter top for close to 35hours before taking it for the 2nd rise. 
  • Cover and let it rest for atleast 18-20hours but upto 40hours.
  • This dough will not double in size but looks stringy and elastic when you take it out after the rising period. 
  • Spread a tbsp of flour on a working surface, turn the dough on to it, add the finely chopped dill leaves if using and fold the dough a couple of times to incorporate the leaves homogeneously.
  • Shape the dough to suit your baking pan. 
  • Take a second similar shaped pan, put a parchment paper on it and lightly grease it with a spray cooking oil. Set the dough on it, cover with a cling wrap and let it rest for another 45mins to an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 450F along with the baking pan you will bake the bread in. 
  • Once the second rise has taken about an hour, open the oven and get the heated baking pan outside (USE GLOVES AND BE CAREFUL HANDLING HOT UTENSILS PLEASE). 
  • Lift the parchment paper along with the shaped bread, drop it into the hot baking pan, score it a couple of places to open it up while backing. 
  • Cover it with the lid and return it quickly to the oven. 
  • Bake the bread for 25mins with the lid on. 
  • Remove the lid and let it bake for 2-3 mins to get a golden crust. 
  • Take the bread out and let it cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy the warm, crusty slices or let it cool completely and turn them into a sandwich of choice. 
Baking pan tips: 
  • Rye bread bakes at a high temperature of 450F, choose a baking pan that can withstand the preheating and the baking periods. 
  • The shape of the pan is only a personal preference. 
  • I used my dutch oven to bake the bread which took most (little more than 3/4 of the dough) to make a big one and used a smaller clay container to bake a tiny bread :-). It was just cuteness that I couldn't resist.
  • Use a pan that has a lid so the moisture is captured inside while baking. 
  • Don't be afraid to play around with the proportion of rye and bread flour until you reach your preference for taste and texture of the bread. 
  • Replace half the quantity of water with room temperature milk to make the bread softer. 
  • If you are in a hot climate, leave the dough outside for about 30mins once you mix it in, cover and refrigerate for anywhere between 24-48 hours before starting to bake. 
  • It is important to completely mix the dry ingredients first before starting to add oil and water. There is no kneading and hence yeast doesn't spread evenly if you do not mix the dry ingredients well. 
  • It is important to pre heat the baking pan before transferring the shaped dough into it. 
  • Alternatives to caraway seeds - fennel/saunf seeds, shahi jeera/black cumin, crushed cumin, ajwain seeds or kalonji/nigella seeds.
  • I like to lightly dry roast the seeds if using, cool and crush them before adding to the flour to get a more pronounced aroma of the herbs. 
  • I have made the bread with a 1/2 cup of sauteed onions added along with fresh dill as well and the crunch from onions makes this bread so much more delicious. 

1 comment:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful and tasty recipe