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Although I've been griping about the cold temperatures and lack of local produce, there is a benefit to this time of year in Minnesota: it's bread season. I love to bake bread, but it's a winter sport for me. From May through September, I spend my weekends blitzing though the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, trying to fit in as many farmer's markets, festivals, picnics, lakeside walks, and patio dinners as possible. My warm weather priority is to spend as much time as possible enjoying said weather, and I don't want to be tied down to my kitchen for the three to four hours it takes to make a loaf of bread. Once October and cooler temperatures hit, I pull out my yeast again, but I don't really get into the bread baking groove until the holiday hustle has died down.
I rely on two cookbooks for bread recipes, my well-thumbed copy of Beard on Bread and Great Whole Grain Breads, by Scandinavian baker extraordinaire and fellow northern Minnesota native Beatrice Ojakangas. I like Ojakangas' book for its sheer volume of rye recipes, each subtly unique. The Heidelberg Rye Bread has been one of my favorites so far: it's a moist bread with just a hint of caraway and is an excellent keeper. I've adapted the recipe to yield one 8 x 4 loaf, just enough for two bread lovers. If your grocery store doesn't stock rye flour, try checking the bulk bins at your local co-op--you can buy just as much as you need and the price is usually quite affordable.
Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads by Beatrice Ojakangas
Yield: one 8 x 4 loaf
- 1 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups rye flour
Combine the bread flour and yeast in a large bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine warm water and butter and stir until butter has completely melted. Add molasses, instant coffee, caraway seeds, sugar, and salt and stir until combined.
Add the liquid to the flour and yeast and stir until smooth. Gradually add the rye flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and bounces back when pressed lightly. Form dough into a ball and let rest until slightly puffy, about 25 minutes.
Form dough into a loaf and place in a greased 8 x 4 loaf pan.
Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush top of loaf with water and slice three 1/4 inch deep parallel cuts into the surface of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Bake until loaf is crusty and sounds hollow when rapped on the top and bottom, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Store completely cooled bread in an airtight container at room temperature.