Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hearty Rye Sandwich Bread with Caraway and Dill

Rye bread has multiple personalities, have you noticed? Seeded or unseeded? Structurally sturdy enough to handle the savory components of a grilled Reuben sandwich, or soft and tender? Boldly seasoned rye complements the strong flavors of spicy pastrami, grainy mustard and dill pickles, while other rye recipes produce bread lighter in flavor, color and texture. Cut it thick for Reubens, or use a single thin slice of dense sourdough rye bread packed with seeds and grains to provide the base for a more refined display of smorrebrod toppings. It is hard to choose just one favorite rye bread.

My bread baking efforts typically involve French bread baguettes or sourdough boules. I must have been hungry on Monday morning while watching Pasadena's Tournament of Roses Parade on tv. Old memories of Pasadena dining events popped up, some involving rye bread. Dad loved the 'world famous' pastrami from The Hat on north Lake Street. He rarely ate at the restaurant, preferring instead to order a pound or two of the delicious brined, smoked meat wrapped for takeout, a treasure to build into Dagwood-style sandwiches on rye at home. Dad's creations were piled mile-high and ahhhh-mazing!

Mother/daughter shopping adventures on south Lake Street often ended with a stop at the iconic Konditori (long closed), a notable bakery and cafe in the midst of a favorite shopping district. I can't recall a single pastry, but oh! my, those amazing open-faced sandwiches are still dreamworthy. Small, thin slices of rye slathered with butter &/or dill sauce and topped with tiny shrimp, dill fronds, slices or wedges of boiled egg... maybe a few opaque rounds of cucumber... "Oh my, yes! let's order another."

Photo: my version of a smorrebrod treat

Rye bread moved to the top of the Must Bake List (sorry RL, sweets have to wait for another day). A thick King Arthur cookbook provided the basic recipe and included some unusual items: potato flakes and dill pickle juice. I added dried dill weed to the mix, and proceeded with this intriguing recipe.

The dough was tacky, as the reciped noted, but I resisted adding more flour to the bowl. My stand mixer didn't care, carrying on without issue, but hand-kneading would have been a sticky, messy chore. It took 2 hours for the dough to nearly double in size for the first rise, longer than a typical rising time for non-rye yeast loaves in my 66 degree kitchen. The second rise, covered in a greased glass loaf pan, ran a full 90 minutes. After 40 minutes of baking in a preheated 350 degree oven the bread did not require the suggest tent of aluminum foil. In fact more browning would have been welcome. Hmmmmm, it's time to recheck the oven's temperature.

The aroma alone of this loaf stirred my appetite, making the wait for the first taste a difficult exercise in patience. It was worth the wait! One freshly-cut warm slice, slathered with salted butter, was so tasty that I promptly had another, this time toasted and topped with a slice of white cheddar. Mmmm, the rye flavor, balanced with caraway and dill and just a hint of sweetness, is a very good thing. We might have to arm wrestle to see who gets the last slice.

Photo: Hearty rye toast with melted cheese
This hearty rye makes excellent toast and even better open-faced sandwiches; new smorrebrod combinations tempt me daily. Stored in a plastic ziploc bag the remaining bread was still soft and seemed fresh on day four. And now it's gone. I have some plans to tweak the next rye loaf, not that it needs adjustment, but now I'm ready to try a Swedish limpa with some cardamom, orange peel and anise or fennel... or maybe a molasses dark rye... or... 

Sandwich Rye Bread with Caraway and Dill
Base recipe from The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook , King Arthur Flour Co., 2001

1 loaf, 16 slices

2 cups (8.5 oz) AP flour
1 cup (4 oz) dark rye flour
¼ cup (1.4 oz) light rye flour
1/3 cup (.75 oz) potato flakes
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dill weed
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
¼ cup (1.75 oz) vegetable oil
¼ cup (2 oz) dill pickle juice
1 cup (8 oz) water

If you use instant yeast, mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Otherwise, proof the yeast in water and wait for some action before proceeding. Add the oil, pickle juice and water; mix until a shaggy mass forms. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes to allow the flours to absorb the liquid and give the yeast a head start.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until firm and smooth though somewhat sticky. (Kneading in a stand mixer is highly recommended!) Place into a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl loosely and let the dough rise until doubled, roughly 1-2 hours depending on your kitchen temperature.

Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into an 8-inch long roll. Place in a lightly greased 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until barely crowned over the edge of the pan, approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 35 minutes, until deep golden brown and the internal temp registers 190 F. on an instant-read thermometer. If the bread spears to be browning too quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil, shiny side up, for the final 10 minutes of baking. (NOT an issue in my oven.) Remove the bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing.

Note: delicious as is or toasted, but especially recommended for a Reuben Sandwich, Patty Melt or Open-Faced Smorrebrod.

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