I cheated. I so wanted to bake a bread for the 7th World Bread Day. I even refreshed my sourdough starter for days, sniffing the sour champagne like aroma, weighing attentively the bread flour and the rye flour to make it strong and alive. It was bubbling, it was ready. I had no time.
The fact is, you need time to make a sourdough bread, time to have the starter ready, time to have all the flour you need on your counter. You’d better follow all the required steps and the given times, from refreshing the dough to let it rise properly, otherwise all you’ll get is a tough marble like stone, useful to stop your door in a windy day. Or, if you master skillfully the bread kneading and making art, you could also speed up the process and squeeze a bread turning among feeding the cat and cleaning the mess I made to cook the roast fowl for the Christmas lunch (yes, in October…). I was missing time, and I was missing also those mythological bread making skills, though I was striving to accomplish some confidence in the last months.
So I cheated. Wait, I don’t mean I bought a just baked bread from my local bakery, dusted it with flour and arrange it prettily on a tablecloth to take a tempting photo, playing with the light to make it look crusty and fragrant. I just took the shortcut.
I took one of my cooking bibles, Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and browsed through the recipes to find a good bread. I found a crusty rye bread dusted lightly with flour – so tempting! -, and reading the introduction I got stuck on this sentence: if you’ve ever thought you don’t have time to bake bread, I suggest starting here. I was sold.
I played along with the ingredients, using durum wheat flour instead of all purpose flour, and with the circumstances: no buttermilk in my fridge (it is quite difficult to find it here in Italy), so I substituted it with an equal amount of whole milk and whole plain yogurt, increasing the quantity to knead the durum wheat flour. The result is a dense and nutty bread loaf, I like it sliced and topped with my grilled fresh pecorino cheese, drizzled with some olive oil and chives. Toast it the day after and slather with chocolate spread: you won’t waste a single crumble.
- 275 g rye flour
- 225 g durum wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 375 ml whole milk
- 375 ml plain whole yogurt, plus more for brushing
- Preheat oven to 205°C with a wire rack in the middle of the oven.
- Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
- Mix the milk with the yogurt and pour it into the bowl. Stir all the ingredients until everything comes together in a dough. Turn onto a floured countertop and knead briefly until you get a cohesive ball.
- Lightly flour a baking dish and place the ball of dough on the flour.
- Brush all the surface with yogurt and sprinkle generously with flour and a good pinch of sea salt.
- Make a cross incision across the top of the dough and bake for about 30 minutes, then quickly move the rack ond the bread up a level so the top of the bread gets brown and toasted.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until a hard crust forms.
- Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with your favourite spread.
You can find countless recipes for interesting rye bread loaves in books and blogs, these are a few interesting ones I will bake, sooner or later, when in shortness of time:
- Smitten Kitchen‘s New York Deli Rye Bread. It takes some time to rise, but the idea of spreading it with cream cheese and topping it with radishes… mmmh…
- Simply Recipes‘ George’s Light Rye Bread. I love the idea of adding cocoa powder and caraway seeds, the bread looks even more perfect for my favourite chocolate spread.
- Micheal Rhulman‘s Classic Rye Bread with caraway seeds. This is probably my favourite one so far: no fat added, no sugar added, just good flours, dry yeast, caraway seeds and kosher salt. A recipe to be bookmarked.
- 101 cookbooks‘ Six-seeds soda bread. This is clearly not a rye bread, but while I was browsing for rye bread recipes, here I found this rustic bread loaf. It will be my next experiment.