~ Try My Rye: It's Homemade in the Bread Machine ~
Rye bread is a staple of Eastern European cuisine, so, I grew up eating rye bread and loving it. We ate it toasted for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch and as our bread course for dinner. Some of the best rye breads I have ever encountered have come out of the Jewish bakeries of New York and New Jersey. I'm no innocent when it comes to knowing great rye bread. My favorite rye breads are light ryes (as opposed to dark ryes) containing caraway seeds (a staple in the Eastern European pantry). In fact, it is the nutty, pungent, slightly-musky flavor of the caraway seeds that I like even better than the slightly-tangy flavor of the rye flour. In my opinion:
A bit about caraway seeds. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong (or give it your best shot), but the moment you open a jar of caraway seeds you smell rye bread, and you should. They are not put in rye bread for texture or garnish, they are put in there for aroma and flavor. They are a member of the the parsley family, which includes fennel, dill, cumin and coriander -- while they all may look sort of similar, they all have a very different, distinct flavor, and, once one has been added to a dish, you know it is in there. When I walk into an American bakery that does not put caraway seeds in their light rye, I walk out the door!
A bit about rye flour. Let me start by saying, rye bread made with rye flour alone, while palatable, is very very dense and heavy. Rye flour is usually combined with whole wheat flour, white wheat flour, or occasionally, all-purpose flour, to produce a lighter loaf. Why? Rye flour on its own, while it does contain gluten, does not contain enough to allow the bread to rise. When rye flour is combined with any type of wheat flour (proportions vary depending on the wheat flour and your texture preference), rye bread delivers all the complexity of heartier, whole-grain breads.
A bit about high-gluten/vital wheat gluten flour: Made from a protein found in the wheat berry, this is an additive/gluten booster for all-purpose flour and weaker flours. Boosting the gluten content is important when baking certain types of bread: rustic loaves, like French baguettes and Italian ciabatta, which require a long rising time in order to achieve the desired airy holes in their crumb and a chewy texture; breads made with coarse, whole grain flours and/or cereals, which contain little gluten on their own (rye flour is one of them), and; flat breads like focaccia and some pizza doughs.
Some rye breads are made with sourdough starter, and, I love a well-made loaf of sourdough rye too. Alas, a sourdough rye starter can take weeks to produce, and when I'm wanting homebaked rye bread I don't usually have that kind of time. THAT is the point of THIS post, and:
This post is about light rye, not black bread or pumpernickel!
Bread machine bread is rectangular or square in shape. No matter what size loaf you elect (most machines give you three options: 1-pound, 1 1/2-pound, or 2-pound loaves), they all get baked in the shape of the loaf pan that came with the machine. What is wrong with that? Technically nothing. Visually: Even though it rises and browns beautifully (thanks to the many options the bread machine offers), it "plainly" is not going to win any "bread beauty contests". This is a give-and-take you'll forget the moment you taste the bread!
Note: Because rye flour down-sizes the amount of rise, I always make and choose the 2-pound cycle.
5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 extra-large eggs, preferably at room temperature, lightly beaten
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or, unbleached white whole-wheat flour (Note: I use them interchangeably and I like the results I get from both.*)
1 cup rye flour, preferably all natural, stone ground, whole grain
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons granulated yeast, NOT rapid-rise (1 packet)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
They both taste the same. The loaf made with all-purpose flour is, however, lighter and closer in texture to white sandwich bread, while this one, made with white whole-wheat flour is denser and closer in texture to whole-grain bread. Your choice!
~ Step 1. This is the rectangular-shaped bread pan that came with my machine. The paddle (which will do the kneading) has been inserted. The instruction manual said to always start with the paddle in this position before adding any ingredients, so I do.
~ Step 2. Cube the butter as directed. In a 1-cup measuring container, heat the milk until it is steaming. This is quickly done in the microwave. Add the butter cubes, sugar and salt to the hot milk. Using a fork, stir until butter is melted.
Note: If milk is steaming and butter is soft, this will only take a minute.
Pour the mixture into the bread pan.
When making bread in a bread machine, always add the wet ingredients first!
~ Step 5. Using your finger, make a well in the flour (but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer). Add yeast to well. Note: It's important to keep yeast away from wet layer until machine kneads them together because the warm liquid will activate the yeast.
Follow your instructions to operate your machine, these are mine:
~ Step 6. Insert bread pan into the machine and press down until "clicked" into place. Close lid and plug machine in. Press "select" and choose "white bread". Press the "loaf size" button to select "2-pound loaf". Press the "crust control" button and select "light crust".
Note: Depending upon your bread machine, a 2-pound loaf will take 3 hours to knead, rise and bake.
Walk away. Do not lift the lid to check in on the process. The moment the timer signals, the bread is done. I broke this rule for this photo because you needed to see the lovely rise.
Turn the bread pan to a 30-45 degree angle and gently slide the loaf out onto its side. Turn the loaf upright and place it on a rack to cool completely. If the paddle remains (stuck) in the loaf, which does happen occasionally, I find it best to cool the loaf before removing the paddle (when the loaf is hot, this damages the bread).
No matter how you slice it (I like mine sliced thinner rather than thicker):
Special Equipment List: bread machine; paring knife; 1-cup measuring container; fork; pot holders or oven mitts; cooling rack
Cook's Note: My recipe for ~ Bread Machine Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~, a sweetened yeast bread with milk, butter and eggs, can be found in Categories 2, 15, 18 & 20. It makes great grilled cheese sandwiches too -- and "to die for' French toast!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)