I’m not sure how it started, or even when I first encountered it, but for as long as I can recall, I’ve loved rye bread. All sorts of rye bread. Pumpernickel, caraway…I’m a fan. Slathered with butter, or combined with pastrami and sauerkraut for a delicious Reuben, or even (I know this is a bit weird) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, rye bread is delicious.
But rather than always opting to buy a loaf at the grocery, I opted to bake my own. I’ve only fairly recently gotten into baking (non-gluten-free) bread. I had just started to do so back in 2009, but I went gluten-free, and so instead baked gluten-free breads for years. The process is so different, in a way, I was thankful I hadn’t learned regular bread baking very well before I went gluten-free. It meant I didn’t have to “unlearn” a lot of information.
Now that I’ve been able to eat gluten once again, I have fallen in love with bread. Kneading dough is therapeutic. It’s also remarkably easy to bake a decent loaf. The process is usually very much the same. Mix ingredients, knead, allow to rise. Knead again, allow to rise. Shape into loaf, allow to rise. Bake. Cool. Devour. While there are slight variations to that theme, that’s pretty much the routine.
But it’s not a process that can be hurried. You cut it short on your rising time and you have a dense loaf of bread. So it’s something to do on a day where you have time. I’m often a hurried cook, trying to throw together dinner on a weeknight after sitting in traffic for an hour and a half, and I don’t always have time to bake bread. But when I do, I make something like this. It’s soft, yet has a lovely chew on the crust. The caraway seeds and the secret ingredient – pickle juice – add a tang and a bit of spice.
All in all, it’s a real treat to enjoy – both the baking and the eating.
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup stone-ground rye flour
- 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 2½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- ¼ cup sunflower oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
- ¼ cup sour dill pickle juice
- Place the flours, potato flakes, caraway seeds, brown sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together. Stir in warm water, oil, and pickle juice with a large spoon until the dough comes together but is still shaggy-looking.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead by hand for 12 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. (You can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook for this - if you do, only mix for 6-8 minutes.)
- Form the dough into a ball and place into a clean, oiled bowl and turn the dough around several times to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Oil a 5X9 inch loaf pan. Remove dough from bowl and shape into a log, and place in the prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until the top of the dough has risen above the top of the pan, 1-1½ hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf until golden brown and cooked through, about 35 minutes. (The internal temperature should be about 190 degrees F) Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove and allow to cool completely on a rack.
Want a bread that resembles rye in heartiness, but is gluten-free? Check out my Honey Teff Bread. It’s a delicious bread that holds up beautifully for sandwiches!