Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stalking the wild rye

I was going to discuss real coffee drinkers vs. pseudo coffee drinkers in this blog post.

My cup of morning coffee is on the left and Dean’s cup is on the right. Seriously? His counts as (snort) coffee? .................  But then I saw the pancakes he was cooking for me, weighed the risk that making fun of his coffee might result in my weekend breakfasts becoming cold cereal, and had a change of heart.

Instead, this post is all about bread.

Sometimes when I want to bake bread, but no recipes are calling out to me, I will ask Dean what bread he would like me to bake. On the rare occasion when he actually cares, he will suggest rye bread. So for the past few months I have been on a mission to find the perfect rye bread recipe. I wanted to present him with a beautiful, brown, steaming loaf of rye bread. Actually, I should say a steaming, brown loaf of rye bread minus those caraway seeds. I hate caraway seeds.  I love him, but not enough to put caraway seeds into a bread I would also want to eat.  As it turned out, finding rye flour was almost as hard as finding the perfect rye bread recipe.  Who would have thought rye flour could be such an elusive commodity?  I was dauntless in my search for that flour and finally discovered it at Albertsons and even then it was in hiding. I, innocent bread baker that I am, thought it would be kept with the flours, but no. It was in a completely different section keeping company with other exotic food stuffs like soy flour and buckwheat flour.

Anyway, I have attempted to bake rye bread three times. The first time must have been such a traumatic failure that I have blocked most of the details from my memory. Dean will eat even what I consider to be a baking failure, which means he’s not a good judge of my baking skills. However, I kind of remember throwing my first rye bread attempt into the garbage, which means it was so bad that even Dean wouldn’t eat it. The second recipe was a sourdough rye bread. I really figured this would be a success. Every sourdough bread I’ve baked has been light and tasty with great texture. I knew rye bread would be a bit heavier, but the resulting bread from this recipe could have been used to brick a house, although it did have lots of flavor---if you had the strength to lift a piece to your mouth. That’s it, I told myself.  I quit.  I give up. There will be no fresh-baked rye bread in this house. Ever. Then Leslie called me last week and told me she had found a rye bread recipe in the collection of my mom’s recipe cards that my dad had given her. Really? Rye bread? From Grandma? Rye bread will not defeat me. I will not be bested. I refuse to give up.

I knew hoped this recipe would be THE recipe. Once I got hold of the little recipe card I noticed that “mom” was written in the upper right corner. This recipe not only came from my mom, but her mom. It had to be good. My mom wouldn’t keep a recipe that wasn’t good. However, that didn’t mean it would be good for me. I once told my mother that it was impossible to make good fudge in Wyoming. Your recipe just won’t work here. It’s the altitude, I told her. No matter what I did, it came out grainy or too hard or too soft. And rolling too-soft fudge into balls (which, it turns out looks very similar to elk scat) and sending it to school with your youngest daughter as her contribution to the Christmas feast, can cause irreparable trauma to one so young. My mom came for Christmas, scoffed at my altitude excuse, and whipped up a batch of fudge. It was perfect. It was not grainy. It was smooth. And it was soft but not too soft.  Not soft enough to make into elk scat.

So as I was saying, I mixed up my mom’s recipe for rye bread knowing it should be good, but under no illusion that it would be good. Guess what? It WAS! The only thing missing is pastrami and swiss cheese.

My mom's Swedish Rye Bread

3 cups rye flour
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 packet dry yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups regular flour

Mix first five ingredients.  Cool to lukewarm.  Stir in yeast and flour.   Knead good.  Let rise til double (about two hours).  Punch down.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Shape into three balls.  Cover.  Let rise ten minutes.  Shape into round or long loaves.  Cover.  Let rise 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Bake 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Bon Appetit!◦


abby rose said...

I could never forget briging the "elk scat" fudge balls to school, that was one of the most embarassing moments of my young life, only one other moment has topped it since. Thanks Mom.

Art Elser said...

Gee, I wonder if the "elk scat" so scarred Abbey Rose that she's left the country. I'm beginning to wonder about you, Cathy. "Elk scat," indeed!

Leslie said...

Better you than me Abby! :)
I'm so glad that the recipe was good and it worked. I love grandmas recipes, they're the best!

Cathy said...

That "moment" wouldn't have anything to do with an outhouse at the soccer field would it, Abby?

Lesley Collins said...

Looks good to me.

emily said...

I'm so going to try this recipie! I haven't had the baking bug for a while, but this might kick it back in!