Saturday, March 31, 2012

Light Rye Bread

When I was growing up, I remember spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Many mornings, I would wake to the sound of Grandma humming in the kitchen. She was usually baking or cooking. She was the best cook. She made 'simple' foods, but they were awesome. One of my favorites was her homemade German Rye Bread. It was dark and crusty, with a chewy texture. It was dense and wonderful (and seedless!). It made a great buttered bread and also was a great vehicle for ham salad and liverwurst. It wasn't 'wimpy' and didn't crumble as you put your toppings on.

She stopped making it regularly when getting the bulk rye flour stopped making sense. I can remember buying her bread at a bakery near Cleveland that I would stop at when I visited my boyfriend's family called Michael's. They made Grandma's bread. Unfortunately, I don't have Grandma's recipe, so now I am on a quest. I haven't been able to find anything - most have the caraway seeds -yet, but as I enjoy bread, am willing to experiment.

I even found this little shop run by Mennonites, that in addition to having great prices on deli meat and cheese, also sells small packs of 'bulk' products for a good price. I stopped by on Friday and picked up a bag of Rye flour so that I could make a Light Rye recipe that I found on

I probably knew as soon as I saw the recipe name that it wouldn't be quite the same, but I wanted to give it a try. Even if it was light in color, if it fully delivered on flavor and texture, the color was of lesser worry to me. The bread has a great flavor, but the crumb is not quite dense enough or the crust quite chewy enough. Although, it did seem to be denser when it was cooled, versus eating it nearly hot from the oven. My daughter did say, 'no matter how you make this bread, it is always the best is really good' and my son said, 'the secret to good bread is to eat it warm'.

Light Rye Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2/3 cup molasses
5 cups bread flour
2 cups rye flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the molasses. Put mixture into large metal bowl.
2. Add salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, rye flour and 2 c of the bread flour, mixing after each addition with a wooden spoon.
3. Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not sticky and is hard to stir. Spread your surface with 1/2 c flour and put the dough on the surface.
4. Knead the dough, adding additional bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency. Need for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Pour some vegetable oil into a large bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover witha damp cloth and let rise at room temperature until it has about doubled in size. Around 1 1/2 hours.
6. Gently press down dough to release some air. Knead the dough a few turns and then divide it into two with a sharp knife.
7. Shape each half into a loaf.
8. Place onto flat baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal and cover with damp cloth.
9. Let rise again, until it has risen by about 1/2 above its original volume, about 40 minutes.
10. Place in a preheated 350 oven. Mist the dough with a little water for the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until done. Bread will sound hollow when tapped.

(still warm)


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