Jewish rye or not? Starter sour dough or a “sponge”? Knead not?? There are so many ways to bake a bread and so many ways it would seem... to go wrong.
“Nonsense!” Michael Rulhman writes, “Bread at home is easy and if you want to make it, mix five parts flour with three parts water by weight, add a couple big pinches of yeast and salt, mix till elastic, let rise, knead, shape, rise, bake.”
Okay, with that out of the way, I head to my Mistress and Muse of complex recipes, Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen, and find her recipe. Time consuming. But do-able on a Sunday afternoon.
As for tea as a mix-in ingredient, it would never occur to me. Until I opened a packet of dried herbal tea to find a delectable bouquet of floral and fruited “spices.”
Add two tablespoons of caraway seeds to anything and it will taste like a Jewish rye, so here you have it. A most satisfying Rye. Try it, you’ll like it.
1 3/4 pound loaf
whole wheat flour (to be divided between "sponge" and dry flour mixture
cup rye flour
1 1/2 tablespoons
1 1/2 cups
strongly brewed tea,at room temperature
To make the sponge: (this is the wet portion of the dough) In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup rye flour, half the packet of instant yeast, molasses, and liquid tea. Whisk until very smooth to intentionally add air. Note this will yield a sticky batter. Set aside.
To make the flour mixture: In a separate large bowl, whisk 2 1/4 cups of flour, the other half the packet of yeast, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and salt. Scoop flour mixture evenly over the sponge to cover completely. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and allow to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge should bubble through the dry flour mixture.)
Mix the dough: Add the oil. Using the dough hook on an electric mixer at a low speed, mix sponge and flour mixture together, until moistened enough to form a rough dough. Then raise the speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Let the dough rise again. Place it in a large bowl, lightly oiled. Allow to rise until doubled in size - about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a baking sheet or bread stone, sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape it and allow it to rise a second time. Cover with plastic and let it rise, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Yes, 450. The hotter the oven, the better the crust. With a sharp knife, cut deep slashes into the top of the dough. Mist the dough (if you want to get fancy). Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees.
Bake until golden brown or a skewer inserted comes out clean.