When it comes to breads to use for sandwiches, rye bread is at the top of my list. That chewy interior, a crusty exterior – flavorful caraway seeds studded throughout. I just love it. When I saw Tara make a homemade version several months ago, I added the necessary ingredients to my next King Arthur order. But, I never got around to actually making it.
Last week while we were stuck inside with Hurricane Sandy’s wrath outside, I decided to give it a go, and finally make the rye bread. I actually had gone to buy a loaf before the storm, but the only thing left was wheat bread. Which, by the way – people were walking by as if it weren’t even an option. You’d rather have no bread than wheat bread? Sometimes I just want to hit people in the head with a stick! So yeah, I came home and threw together the sponge for the bread. Then a few hours later I was putting the bread into the oven.
It turned out so well. Like, the best rye bread I’ve ever had in my life kind of “well”. I made the 2 smaller loaves, but I think the one big loaf would be better for sandwiches. We enjoyed one loaf with chicken & rice soup that night during the storm, and then we made sandwiches with the other. Turkey, swiss, avocado, sprouts, and spicy mustard on the slightly toasted rye. Wowzers, it was good!
If you live in a city, you can probably find most of these ingredients at Whole Foods or a specialty bake shop. But, if you don’t – King Arthur Flour has everything you need, and much more! Any excuse I have to order from them, I do. I’ve gotten more into bread baking this year, and they really have been an indispensable resource.
Homemade Rye Bread
For the sponge:
2 tsp rye bread flavor (optional)
2 3/4 cups water, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tbsp honey
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups rye flour
2 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp table salt
cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet
For the glaze:
1 egg white
1 tbsp milk
Mix water, yeast, honey, rye bread improver, and flour in the large mixing bowl of a heavy-duty mixer to form a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until bubbles form over entire surface, at least 2 1/2 hours. (Can stand at room temperature overnight.)
Add all-purpose flour, 3 1/4 cups rye flour, caraway seeds, oil, and salt into the sponge. Stir to combine. With machine fitted with dough hook and set on speed 2, knead dough, adding the remaining 1/4 cup rye flour once the dough becomes cohesive; knead until smooth yet sticky, about 5 minutes. With moistened hands, transfer dough to a well-floured counter, knead it into a smooth ball, then place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/4 to 2 hours.
Generously sprinkle cornmeal on a large baking sheet. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press dough into 12×9-inch rectangle. (For 2 smaller loaves, halve the dough, pressing each portion into a 9×6 1/2-inch rectangle.) With one of the long sides facing you, roll dough into a 12-inch (or 9-inch) log, seam side up. Pinch seam with fingertips to seal. Turn dough seam side down, and with fingertips, seal ends by tucking dough into the loaf. Carefully transfer shaped loaf (or loaves) to prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let proof until dough looks bloated and dimply, and starts to spread out, 60 to 75 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower center position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk egg white and milk together and brush over sides and top of loaf (loaves). Make 6 or 7 slashes, 1/2-inch-deep, on dough top(s) with a serrated knife. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of the loaf registers 200 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes for small loaves and 25 to 30 for larger loaf. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.