So many things have changed our bread during the last 200 years, that it's rather difficult getting the perfect loaf for perfect heath. It is not the grain as such which makes eaters unhealthy or gluten intolerant. We get sick from plant breeding, spraying, preservatives and other ingredients in supermarket breads and very important: from fast leavening of the dough (I probably will have to write more about this, but let's keep it hands on today).
There are great artisan bakers around, but with teenagers stomachs to fill you will probably have to refinance your home.
This is about rye bread, because I like rye, I'm German after all. Rye makes a different bread, it is heavier it looks like an brick and compared to wonder white, tastes like an acid yummy brick.
Rye tastes very different to wheat. Rye contains gluten, but a different form of gluten which does not benefit from prolonged kneading like wheat. My recipe is rather rough and simplified, there are great artisan bread books on the market, but they require precision and a lot of dedication, one day when I have a lot of time.....
I think it's important to get good quality flour without roundup and other toxic residues. Rye flour is available at the Food Coop in Katoomba, or at Honest to Goodness (discounts for bigger orders).
I use a kitchen mixer for the bread. This recipe is super simple and makes a dense loaf which is quite sour. I adapted this recipe from the book "100% rye" by Shannon Stronger.
1. Build up a sourdough starter
This procedure is not time consuming, but it needs at least four days to get an active starter. You will need a jar which holds around 1 litre. Mix around two tablespoons of rye flour with roughly the double amount of non-chlorinated water. Stir well, scrape down the sides. Cover with a cheese cloth or similar. The jar should be in a warm place. Let stand for a day and repeat feeding your starter until you have around three cups. The starter should be bubbly and smell sour, the consistency is equal to a pancake batter.
In case mold develops, throw it out and start again.
It might take you several attempts until it works. Every time you bake you leave a bit of the starter and continue feeding it.
2. Bake your bread
The first time you make a loaf the starter may not be strong enough, I would use a little (1 tsp) commercial yeast to prop it up.
You will use most of the starter for your bread and have some left over to maintain your starter. To avoid mold, I use a fresh jar and transfer the left-over starter into the clean jar and start feeding it right away.
I measure 2 cups of starter, 5 cups of rye flour, 2 1/4 cups of water, salt to taste and 4 tablespoons of molasses (optional) into the mixing bowl.
The molasses gives the bread a nice colour and taste. It's cheaply available at the coop (no, I am not affiliated). Mix everything thoroughly together until well combined. No need to knead. The dough will have a much moister consistency than a yeast dough. Cover the bowl with a turned over plate and let ferment for 12 hours. The longer you ferment the more acid the bread gets (there is probably a point where it's too long and the bacteria lack food).
Stir the dough to degas. Grease and coat with flour one or two smaller loaf pans, Spoon the dough in and smooth it with a wet spoon.
Let it sit for 2-3 hours. Put a heatproof dish with some water in the oven. Heat the oven to 200C, and bake the bread for 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove the bread from the pan immediately and let it cool on a rack.
Simple and easy.
You might want to make much more elaborate loaves reading all these great bread books, but I need it plain and simple, something for everyday use. So how do you like it? Is it too acid? Too heavy? Too moist? Or just right?
Here's a short version of the recipe:
1. Starter: 2 tbsp flour + 4 tbsp water, stir repeat for at least four days
2. Combine: 2 cups starter, 5 cups of rye flour, 2 1/4 cups of water, salt, 4 tbsp. molasses.
3. Let ferment 12 hrs
4. Stir, spoon dough in prepared pan, preheat oven
5. Bake at 200C for one hour.
Written by Nicola.
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