Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:42 pm
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Dark, dense, flavorful and really easy to make! This whole rye berry loaf (recipe from Daniel Leader's extraordinary book Local Breads) - also known as Vollkornbrot in German is a traditional eastern European bread that is entirely made with rye, hence no wheat or gluten in sight. You know those small little pumpernickel cocktail breads you can buy at the store, or perhaps you're familiar with the small packages of thinly sliced rye bread they sell at the health food store for a rather hefty price? Well, then you might have some idea of what this bread is like.
This is not a toast bread, it's not fluffy white and suitable for French toast. No, this is something entirely different and it's absolutely wonderful. Slice it thinly and eat it with good butter, or cream cheese or even a nice liverwurst. Top that with some cucumber, or sprouts or thin slices of tomato. It doesn't get much better than that, and what most people probably don't realize is how extremely easy this bread is to make. Sure, you need some sourdough, rye preferably, but once you have that this bread is surprisingly simple to produce. There are just a couple of steps, and you don't even need a mixer, in fact it's unnecessary to use one, it's just as easy to use a bowl and a wooden spoon. Since rye doesn't produce much gluten, you don't need to work the dough. This loaf is also very dense (that's why you slice is so thin) so it won't rise much, hence there are no long periods of rising. The one thing is: you have to account for a pretty long baking time - about two hours that is. And yes, that's right, it bakes for two hours (!) in a low temperature oven with a lot of steam which produces a very moist bread.
But once you're done with these few steps you'll be greeted by a flavorful loaf that lasts a surprisingly long period of time. I baked this a week and a half ago, and it still tastes wonderful, and is moist with no sign of mold. In fact, I've read that if you store this bread in a plastic bag in the fridge, it supposedly lasts a few weeks.
You can easily double this recipe. I recommend you actually boil the rye berries so they're soft instead of soaking them overnight. That way you won't have any hard kernels in your thin slices.
One loaf pan
1/4 cup (50 g) rye sourdough
112 g water
150 g rye flour
Using active sourdough (refreshed within 12- 24 hours), mix 50 g with the water and flour, 12 - 24 hours before you're planning on baking.
125 g rye berries - whole or cracked
Boil the ryeberries for about an hour until soft, and then store in the fridge until ready to bake.
Rye sourdough from above (about 400 g)
50 g water
the soaked or boiled rye berries (125g)
200 g rye flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
In a bowl, add the sourdough, pour water over it and stir. Add the remaining ingredients and work the dough with a wooden spoon until you have a thick batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Oil a loaf pan, then coat it with rye flour. Scrape the dough into the pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap.
Let rise for 45 min - 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. There is no need to preheat it too long. Also make sure you have a cast iron pan at the bottom of the oven as you need steam.
Put the loaf pan in the oven and pour 3/4 cup of ice in the cast iron pan to produce a lot of steam. Bake for about 1 hour 50 minutes - 2 hours. A wooden skewer should come out clean.
Leave the bread in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it over and remove the pan. Let cool completely on a rack. Ideally wait at least 12 hours before cutting into to allow flavors to distribute.