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Old World Rye Bread
Rye bread and split pea soup. Peasant food at its finest.
Recently I posted a recipe for my mom's split pea soup (Mama's Split Pea Soup Recipe). If you were a member of my family you would vow that you can't eat Mom's split pea soup without a slice (or two or three) of her rye bread.
Mom didn't bake rye bread very often because rye flour is more expensive than wheat. But in our family we always knew that if split pea soup was simmering on the stove there would be a loaf of rye bread in the oven as well.
Mom's rye bread wasn't the traditional dark loaf studded with caraway seed. (I don't think we even had caraway seeds in our house). Her bread was dense and earthy, and I'm sure it's exactly the way her mom made rye bread in their village near the Caspian Sea, and her mother before her, and so on, and so on.
Equipment You Will Need
- Microwave-safe measuring cup
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Stand mixer with dough hook OR sturdy spoon
- Plastic wrap
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Large baking sheet
- Silicone mat or parchment paper
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk, whole or 2%
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast, (not quick rise)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 2 cups rye flour
- 3 cups all-purpose white flour
- Place water and milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at full-power for 45-60 seconds or until warm (NOT hot) to the touch. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over liquid in bowl, stir to moisten, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Stir in salt, sugar, shortening and flours. Knead on well-floured surface for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl with shortening or cooking oil. Place dough in bowl, turn to coat on all sides. Cover with waxed paper and set in a warm, draft-free place until double in size, about 1 hour. (Here's a hint--the dough is doubled and ready to shape if, when you gently press two fingertips quickly into the dough 1/2 inch, the indentation remains).
- Gently punch dough down. Divide in half and form each half into a round ball. Place on a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan that has been lined with parchment paper or a silocone mat; let rise till doubled in size again (about 1 hour).
- Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
How to Knead Dough
Fold the dough over and push down with the heels of your hands. Give the dough a quarter turn, then fold and push again. Repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic.