Monday, October 11, 2010

Old Country Rye Bread

My home made bread... pumpernickel at the bottom, and rye at the top.Yesterday I posted a recipe for my mom's split pea soup. You can't eat that soup without a slice (or two or three) of mom's rye bread. She didn't bake it very often because rye flour is more expensive than wheat. But we always knew that if split pea soup was simmering on the stove there would be a loaf of rye bread in the oven too.

Mom's rye bread isn't the traditional dark loaf studded with caraway seed. I don't think we ever had caraway seeds in the house. Her bread was more dense and earthy, and I'm sure it's exactly the way her mom made rye bread in their village near the Caspian Sea, and her mother before her, and so on, and so on.

Old Country Rye Bread
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 pkg dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
2 cups rye flour
3 cups white flour

Place water and milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at full-power for 45-60 seconds or until warm (NOT hot) to the touch. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over liquid in bowl, stir to moisten, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in salt, sugar, shortening and flours. Knead on well-floured surface for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl with shortening or cooking oil. Place dough in bowl, turn to coat on all sides. Cover with waxed paper and set in a warm, draft-free place until double in size, about 1 hour. (Here's a hint--the dough is doubled and ready to shape if, when you gently press two fingertips quickly into the dough 1/2 inch, the indentation remains).

Gently punch dough down. Divide in half and form each half into a round ball. Place on a greased cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan and let rise till doubled in size again (about 1 hour).

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

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