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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recipe: Rye Bread

Baked Rye Bread

Recipe: Rye Bread



Rye Bread is a bit of a Christmas tradition in my family. Year after year, Dad would wake early on Christmas Eve morning to battle the frantic hoards at a local bakery just to get a couple loaves. The bakery would actually limit the number of loaves per customer. If you added a few wheelbarrows full of Deutschmarks to the scene, I'm sure it would have appeared positively old-country.

Last year I finally cut Dad a break. Armed with a suitcase full of cooking supplies (when traveling for the holidays, never assume you are walking into a fully equipped kitchen) and some early morning ambition, I made the family several fresh loaves.

This year brings more change. A newborn son provides a very valid excuse for a total unwillingness to travel, but the bread must go on! So, when Grandma and Grandpa come to visit this week, they'll be sent home with some frozen loaves - yes, Rye Bread freezes remarkably well and is delicious when served warm, slathered in salted butter.

For some additional tips on baking Bread, be sure to check out these helpful illustrations!

Close-Up of Baked Rye Bread
Made with a lower protein content flour, Rye Bread is a denser, heartier loaf than one made exclusively from wheat flour. Dark Rye Flour results in the densest loaves while Light Rye Flour makes for a more leaven bread. 

Rye Flour does not provide what many consider to be the signature flavor of a Rye Bread Loaf. That comes from Caraway Seeds, which can be added whole or ground.  

Another key feature of a good Rye Bread Loaf is a thick, chewy crust. In order to develop that crust, Rye Bread is baked in an oven filled with steam. Professional bakeries have special equipment; however, at home, an oven can be filled with steam by placing a large pan of water on an oven rack placed below the baking loaf.

Rye Bread Starter
Making a flavorful loaf of Rye Bread begins by mixing a Starter at least four hours (ideally the night prior) before mixing the Rye Bread Dough. The longer the Starter has to rest before mixing the Rye Bread Dough, the more flavor it will develop through the fermentation process.

The Starter is made by mixing Light Rye Flour, lukewarm Water and a small amount of yeast into a very thick mixture. The Starter is then covered and set aside in a warm place to rest and ferment.

When the Starter is ready, it is placed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and gently mixed with more lukewarm Water, Yeast and Bread Flour until it is well combined.

The Rye Bread Dough is then covered and set aside for a resting period of approximately 15 minutes. During this resting period, gluten develops as the Bread Flour hydrates and starches break down. This mixing technique is referred to as "Autolye" and results in a smoother, more elastic dough.

Testing the Gluten Structure by Pulling a Window
After 15 minutes, return the bowl to the mixer. Add the Salt and Caraway seeds to the Rye Bread Dough. Knead the Rye Bread Dough on medium speed until it is smooth and the gluten structure is well developed - approximately 10 minutes.

Because of the Rye Flour, which has a low protein content, and the hydration level in this recipe, even well-mixed Rye Bread Dough will tear slightly during the "window test" (i.e. a piece of dough stretched between your fingers does not tear but rather forms a "window" or thin pane) and will remain slightly sticky to touch.

The Salt and Caraway Seeds are added to the Rye Bread Dough after the Autolyse because Salt and other additives can kill Yeast and disrupt the fermentation process.

Rye Bread Bulk Proof
Once the Rye Bread Dough is kneaded, it is time for the bulk proof - the first of several rises for this dough.

Use a bowl scraper to remove the Rye Bread Dough from the mixer bowl and form it into a ball. Transfer the Rye Bread Dough to a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place (approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit / 24 degrees Celsius) to proof until it increases 50% in volume - approximately 45-60 minutes.

Rye Bread Second Proof
To further develop the structure of the Rye Bread, the dough is then de-gassed, folded and turned. This process helps to further develop the gluten structure, redistributes the Yeast and its food source, and releases carbon dioxide.

Remove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. De-gas the Rye Bread Dough by gently pressing it into a rectangle approximately 9" x 18".

Perform two "letter folds" - fold the Rye Bread Dough into thirds like a business letter. Next, rotate the Rye Bread Dough 90 degrees. Perform the second "letter fold" by once again folding the Rye Bread Dough into thirds like a business letter.

Place the Rye Bread Dough back into the proofing bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside to proof again until it increases 50% in volume - approximately 45-60 minutes.

As the Rye Bread Dough continues to proof, place two racks in the oven - an upper rack for the Rye Bread and a lower rack with a large pan of water to generate steam during the baking process. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).

Formed Rye Bread Loaf
What follows is a two-step shaping of the Rye Bread Dough into a loaf. Rather than immediately form a loaf, the Rye Bread Dough is pre-shaped into a ball and then allowed to rest. By shaping the Rye Bread Loaf in two steps with a rest in between, the final shape is easier to achieve.

Once again, remove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. First, pre-shape the ball of Rye Bread by gently grabbing the Rye Bread Dough from the outer edge and folding it up into the center. Next, form the Rye Bread Dough into a tight ball by cupping your hands over the Rye Bread Dough and rolling it in a tight circle on the work surface. Place the ball of Rye Bread Dough back into the proofing bowl to rest for 20 minutes.

Once it is rested, remove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Gently stretch the Rye Bread Dough into a square approximately 12" x 12". Form the Rye Bread Dough into a Bâtard (this external video is very helpful for those who prefer visual tutorials).

First, fold the top edge of the Rye Bread Dough down into the center of the square, forming a seam. Next, fold the bottom edge of the Rye Bread Dough up into the center to meet at the same seam. Gently press these top and bottom edges of the Rye Bread Dough with your finger tips to seal the seam.

Once the seam is sealed, fold what is now the new top edge of the Rye Bread Dough over that seam to meet at the bottom edge of the Batârd. With your finger tips or the palm of your hand, press the Rye Bread Dough to tightly seal this seam. Place the formed Bâtard seam-side down on a parchment lined sheet tray. Loosely cover the Rye Bread Loaf with a piece of plastic wrap prepared with non-stick spray. Set the Rye Bread Loaf aside for the final proof - approximately 30 minutes.

Scored Rye Bread Loaf
Before baking, score the proofed Rye Bread Loaf about 1" deep with a sharp knife. Make the score marks either as a series of diagonal cuts or as a long horizontal cut along the surface of the Rye Bread Loaf. Scoring the loaf creates natural points at which the Rye Bread Loaf can expand in the heat of the oven. Without the score marks, the loaf would have irregular tears. 

Spray or gently brush the top of the Rye Bread Loaf with water and place it on the upper oven rack (i.e. above the pan of water.) If all of the water in the pan has converted to steam, add more water.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) and bake the Rye Bread to an internal temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius) - approximately 30-35 minutes. Rotate the Rye Bread Loaf halfway through the bake time to ensure even baking. If at any time the water in the steam pan evaporates, add more water.

Be EXTREMELY careful when opening the steam-filled oven. While baking the bread in an oven with steam develops a better crust, it can be very dangerous. The blast of steam that is released upon opening the oven door can cause serious burns.

Baked Rye Bread Loaf
Lean breads such as Rye Bread are best served the day they are made. They should be stored wrapped in paper at room
temperature. 

Rye Bread can be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Rye Bread to cool completely and then double wrap the loaf in plastic wrap. Allow the Rye Bread to temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic wrap. before serving. The Rye Bread is then best served after it has been heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 5-10 minutes.




- The Recipe -




Rye Bread:


Yield: One ~15" Loaf


Ingredients:

Starter:
  • Active Dry Yeast*: 1g
  • Water, lukewarm: 80g (1/3 Cup)
  • Light Rye Flour: 105g (1 Cup)

* If using Fresh Yeast, use twice as much of the recipe weight (2g).


Dough:
  • Starter: 1 recipe (see above)
  • Water, lukewarm: 300g (1.25 Cup)
  • Bread Flour: 510g (4.25 Cups)
  • Active Dry Yeast*: 6g
  • Salt: 12g (2 Tsp)
  • Caraway Seeds: 10g (1 Tbls)

* If using Fresh Yeast, use twice as much of the recipe weight (12g).



Directions:

1. Make the Starter: At least four hours before mixing the Rye Bread Dough, but ideally overnight, combine the Yeast with the lukewarm Water (approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit / 32 degrees Celsius) in a small bowl. Stir in the Light Rye Flour and mix the ingredients until they are well combined. The consistency will be very thick so you may find it easiest to use your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for at least four hours. 

Chef's Note: The longer the Starter has to rest before mixing the Rye Bread Dough, the more flavor it will develop through the fermentation process.

2. Mix the Rye Bread Dough: Transfer the Starter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the lukewarm Water, Active Dry Yeast, and Bread Flour. Mix the Rye Bread Dough on the lowest mixer speed until it comes together into a rough ball - approximately one minute. Scrape down the Rye Bread Dough from the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for 15 minutes (i.e. Autolyse).

Chef's Note: Autolyse is a mixing technique that makes for a smoother and more elastic dough. During the resting period, gluten develops as the flour hydrates and starches break down.

3. After 15 minutes, return the bowl to the mixer. Add the Salt and Caraway seeds to the Rye Bread Dough. Knead the Rye Bread Dough on medium speed until it is smooth and the gluten structure is well developed - approximately 10 minutes.

Chef's Note: Because of the Rye Flour, which has a low protein content, and the hydration level in this recipe, even well-mixed Rye Bread Dough will tear slightly during the "window test" (i.e. a piece of dough stretched between your fingers does not tear but rather forms a "window" or thin pane) and will remain slightly sticky to touch.

4. Bulk Proof the Rye Bread Dough: Use a bowl scraper to remove the Rye Bread Dough from the mixer bowl and form it into a ball. Transfer the Rye Bread Dough to a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place (approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit / 24 degrees Celsius) to proof until it increases 50% in volume - approximately 45-60 minutes.

5. De-Gas/Fold/Turn the Rye Bread Dough: Remove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. De-gas the Rye Bread Dough by gently pressing it into a rectangle approximately 9" x 18".

Perform two "letter folds" - fold the Rye Bread Dough into thirds like a business letter. Next, rotate the Rye Bread Dough 90 degrees. Perform the second "letter fold" by once again folding the Rye Bread Dough into thirds like a business letter.

Place the Rye Bread Dough back into the proofing bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside to proof again until it increases 50% in volume - approximately 45-60 minutes.

6. As the Rye Bread Dough continues to proof, place two racks in the oven - an upper rack for the Rye Bread and a lower rack with a large pan of water to generate steam during the baking process. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).

7. Pre-shape the Rye Bread: Once again, remove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. First, pre-shape the ball of Rye Bread by gently grabbing the Rye Bread Dough from the outer edge and folding it up into the center. Next, form the Rye Bread Dough into a tight ball by cupping your hands over the Rye Bread Dough and rolling it in a tight circle on the work surface. Place the ball of Rye Bread Dough back into the proofing bowl to rest for 20 minutes.

8. Form the Rye Bread LoafRemove the Rye Bread Dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Gently stretch the Rye Bread Dough into a square approximately 12" x 12". Form the Rye Bread Dough into a Bâtard - First, fold the top edge of the Rye Bread Dough down into the center of the square, forming a seam. Next, fold the bottom edge of the Rye Bread Dough up into the center to meet at the same seam. Gently press these top and bottom edges of the Rye Bread Dough with your finger tips to seal the seam. 

Once the seam is sealed, fold what is now the new top edge of the Rye Bread Dough over that seam to meet at the bottom edge of the Batârd. With your finger tips or the palm of your hand, press the Rye Bread Dough to tightly seal this seam. Place the formed Bâtard seam-side down on a parchment lined sheet tray. Loosely cover the Rye Bread Loaf with a piece of plastic wrap prepared with non-stick spray. Set the Rye Bread Loaf aside for the final proof - approximately 30 minutes.

9. Before baking, score the proofed Rye Bread Loaf about 1" deep with a sharp knife. Make the score marks either as a series of diagonal cuts or as a long horizontal cut along the surface of the Rye Bread Loaf. Spray or gently brush the top of the Rye Bread Loaf with water and place it on the upper oven rack (i.e. above the pan of water.) If all of the water in the pan has converted to steam, add more water. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) and bake the Rye Bread to an internal temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius) - approximately 30-35 minutes. Rotate the Rye Bread Loaf halfway through the bake time to ensure even baking. If at any time the water in the steam pan evaporates, add more water.

Chef's Note: Be EXTREMELY careful when opening the steam-filled oven. While baking the bread in an oven with steam develops a better crust, it can be very dangerous. The blast of steam that is released upon opening the oven door can cause serious burns.

Storage:
- Lean breads such as Rye Bread are best served the day they are made. They should be stored wrapped in paper at room temperature. 
- The Rye Bread can be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Rye Bread to cool completely and then double wrap the loaf in plastic wrap. Allow the Rye Bread to temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic wrap. The Rye Bread is then best served after it has been heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 5-10 minutes. 


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