I never could stomach blackbirds baked in a pie, even when they miraculously stayed alive to sing for the king afterward. But I sure can imagine a pocket full of rye.
In fact, I love this wonder grain known for its many nutritional properties and health benefits. The high-quality fiber found in whole-grain rye promotes heart health, fights diabetes, and does everything short of achieving world peace, or at least that was the impression I got after reading this site 🙂
But seriously, I love rye because it gives me a chance to incorporate another grain into mealtime, and also because I do enjoy rye bread. In fact, although rye bread tends to be more dense than breads made with wheat flours, I love the flavor and texture it has.
This bread needs a sponge starter which didn't take as long as a sourdough starter, but helps immensely in giving this bread its unique taste and texture. It does take a six-hour rise for the starter, though, so be prepared. The trade-off in flavor is totally worth the time.
I'm feeling very Friday-ish right now, as you can no doubt tell, because there are two wonderful days of leisure (sort of) to look forward to. I'm also really thrilled because as I write this, I'm listening to the amazing Gore Vidal make a lot of sense on the Bill Maher Show. I love hearing people who make sense, don't you?
For the sponge starter:
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
Add 3/4 cup o bread flour. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the batter starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl in elastic strands, about 1-2 minutes.
Cover the bowl, and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 6 hours. The sponge will triple in volume.
To make the bread:
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, place:
3 1/2 cups rye flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water
Mix together and then knead by hand for about 7-8 minutes, or on medium low-speed for the same time. The dough will be smooth.
Transfer it to an oiled bowl and turn over once to coat with the oil.
Cover and let the bread rise in a warm place for exactly 1 1/2 hours. Don't let it stand any longer because the loaf will get too dense and heavy.
Divide the dough into two, and shape each ball into an oval by pulling on the sides and tucking them under. Place the loaves next to each other, but with a few inches between them, on a large, oiled baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
Cover loosely with a napkin and let the loaves rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
Half an hour before the loaves are ready for the oven, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
A minute before you put the loaves into the oven, spritz the walls of the oven with water using a spray bottle.
Quickly score a cross into the top of each loaf using a very sharp blade. It's important to use a quick, single motion so as to not deflate the loaves.
Bake the loaves in the oven for 45 minutes or until such time as the bottom of each loaf sounds hollow when rapped.
Allow the loaves to cool on a rack.