When it comes to baking my own bread, taking baby steps has been my top rule. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of kneading dough, the fears of over- or under-kneading pervading my thoughts and squelching any optimism I might entertain. Quick breads were a happy compromise as they kept me from coming face-to-face with the bane of my bread-baking fears: yeast.
Then out comes the New York Times recipe for No-Knead bread and the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. With the latter, I’ve been able to bake bread successfully for the last couple of years. The Master Recipe is all over the web and I highly recommend it.
This weekend I was finally able to branch out a little and tried my husband’s favorite, rye bread. I already had the dark rye flour and caraway seeds but I thought to replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat since I mistakenly bought white whole wheat flour last week. The good: Regular (red) whole wheat and white whole wheat have the same nutritional content (save for a minor difference in protein content). The conundrum: I wasn’t sure if the latter would substitute easily in place of the all-purpose.
I’ve been reading another bread book and from it I’ve gleaned that accurate measurement is crucial to good bread (my kitchen scale has really helped with my baking). Here I was considering a substitution for a key ingredient. Oh, what to do. In the end, I decided on a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. I became annoyed with myself for over-thinking this so much.
And I’m so glad I gave this a go! My bread looked and tasted like the rye bread that my store is always running out of. Well, okay, if Acme’s New York Rye is a solid A+, my bread is an A-/B+. The caraway seeds smelled so good. The crust was firm, the inside was sturdy but not too dense. It might have been best to wait to slice the loaf until it had cooled down but we were very curious.
I couldn’t exactly call this a sourdough rye as I didn’t use a sourdough starter and only let the dough rest for a few hours. The next few loaves I make from this batch should become a little more sour as the dough ages. My only complaint is that the portion recommended makes a very tiny loaf. I think I’ll try to get two larger loaves out of the remaining dough instead of the three estimated. The rye bread was great toasted with a little butter and Stonewall Kitchen’s Orange Cranberry Marmalade. Now if only I knew how to make my own jam…
No-Knead Whole Wheat Rye Bread
Adapted from: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling on the top
- 1 cup dark rye flour
- 3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Cornmeal for pizza peal
- Cornstarch wash
Mixing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt and caraway seeds with the water in a 5-quart bowl or food container (not airtight). Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon. You can also use a food processor with the dough attachment or a mixer using the dough hook.
Cover the mixture and let rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, minimum two hours. The dough can be used after the initial rise but it is easier to handle after it has been refrigerated. The dough needs to be refrigerated and used within the next 14 days. This recipe makes 4-one pound loaves.
On baking day: Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut-off with scissors a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour, as needed, and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Elongate the ball into an oval-shaped loaf and let rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 4o minutes (I actually let rise for about an hour or more).
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat your oven to 450º F and place a baking stone on the middle rack. It’s important that you place the baking stone while the oven preheats to allow it to warm up. Place an empty broiler tray on the bottom shelf.
While the oven preheats, brush the top crust with cornstarch wash (recipe below) and sprinkle with additional caraway seeds. Slash the top of the loaf using a serrated knife.
Slide the loaf on the hot stone and pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is a deep brown and firm. Allow to cool before slicing.
Corn Starch Wash: Create a paste using 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and some water. Add 1/2 cup more water and whisk with a fork. Microwave mixture until it appears glassy, about 30-60 seconds. The wash will keep in the refrigerator fro about two weeks.