George’s Light Rye Bread

As long as I’ve known my friend George he has been an enthusiastic bread maker. George lives in Carlisle, Mass, and when I go out there to visit his daughter and grandchildren George often has a freshly baked loaf of rye bread for us to enjoy. This month George came to visit my family in Carmichael and naturally, I put him to work, showing me the way he makes his rye bread. The following is a recipe that will yield two loaves. Actually, I don’t think one can easily learn to make bread by reading about it. You have to get your hands in it and learn directly from someone who can say, “See? This is the right consistency for the dough.” If you are interested in learning more about bread making there are a few links at the end of this post that you may find useful.

As for the bread? It was wonderful. Light, soft inside, and a crusty crust. Dad doesn’t like caraway seeds so they were kept out. I love them so the next time I make this bread they’re going in.

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups of warm water (just barely warm to the touch)
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

Method

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1 Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the molasses. Put yeast mixture into a large metal bowl.

2 Add caraway seeds, salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups of rye flour and then 2 cups of baking flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon.

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3 Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not so sticky and it is too hard to mix it with the wooden spoon. At that point, spread a half cupful of flour onto a large, clean, flat surface and put the dough onto the surface.

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4 Knead the dough by pressing down with the heel of your hand, stretching it, turning the dough a quarter-turn, pulling the dough back toward you and then pressing and stretching again. Knead additional bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency. Knead for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

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5 Spread some vegetable oil around a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it so it gets coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

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6 Gently press down on the dough so some of its air is released.

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7 Knead the dough a few turns and then divide it by cutting it in half with a sharp knife.

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8 Shape each half into loaf. Place dough loafs into either oiled bread loaf pans, or onto a flat baking sheet or peel that has been sprinkled with corn meal, depending if you want to cook the loaves in pans or directly on a baking stone. Cover with plastic or a damp cloth.

9 Let rise again, this time not doubling in volume, but rising by about half of its volume, about 45 minutes, half as long as the first rising. The dough should be peeking over the top of the loaf pan if using a loaf pan.

10 If you are using a baking stone, place the stone in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F for at least half an hour before baking.

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11 If baking on a stone, score the dough a few times on the top of the dough right before putting it in the oven. Put dough in the oven. If you have a mister, mist the dough with a little water the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until done. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Main Ingredients

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