I was about thirteen years old when I first made bread. It was a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread complete with a swirl of cinnamon. The recipe came from the Joy of Cooking and I simply followed it. I had no idea what gluten was and certainly had no understanding of the importance of kneading. The end product was homely and delicious; that I had made bread with my own two hands – a miracle.
Perhaps because my first experience met with success and not failure, baking bread has never intimidated me. This puts me in the minority of cooks. Even with the most well-written recipes in hand, most cooks balk at the idea of baking bread. It’s too laborious, complicated, or time-consuming to name just some of the excuses I’ve heard throughout the years. Bread baking, one might surmise, is best left to bakers and only the most experienced cooks.
What a shame. No-knead bread recipes (like this one or this version) require little to no experience and yields terrific results and even the most involved bread recipes, provided they are written well, will yield loaves that make your house smell like a home, put a swagger in your step, and take even the most humble sandwich to the next level.
Such is the case with this loaf of homemade rye bread. Rye flour has very little gluten which means that when used on its own it makes a very dense loaf of bread. While a far cry from light white bread, it is wonderful as the base for an open-faced sandwich for dill egg salad, I enjoyed it as toast for breakfast, and think it would make the ideal base for many a canapé. In short, it’s worth the trouble and toil to yield two very good loaves of homemade bread. And if you are still wary of that whole baking bread thing, then at least attempt the recipe for dill egg salad below. It comes together in a flash and tastes delicious on its own or atop a slice of bread, store-bought or homemade. Happy cooking!
Dill Egg Salad – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes enough for 2 to 3 sandwiches
I’m a purist when it comes to egg salad. I like celery for a little crunch, just enough mayonnaise to lightly coat everything, and only a hint of sweet pickle relish. I love fresh dill with my egg salad; it’s especially delicious when paired with the rye bread.
6 large eggs
1 chopped celery stalk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
Salt, only if needed (try before adding)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For serving: chopped fresh dill, homemade rye bread and fresh salad greens
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover the pan and remove it from heat. Let the eggs sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the cooking water and peel.
Roughly chop the eggs and add them to a medium bowl. Stir in the celery, mayonnaise, dill and sweet pickle relish. Season to taste with salt (only if needed) and freshly ground black pepper. Serve on your favorite bread or as an open-faced sandwich on homemade rye bread with some fresh salad greens. Garnish with some chopped dill if serving as an open-faced sandwich.
Homemade Rye Bread – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes two small round loaves
Adapted from the recipe for “All-Rye-Flour Bread” from the classic cookbook, Joy of Cooking
When my husband first saw this loaf, he said “it looks like a geode and feels like one too.” Not a ringing endorsement, but this is dense bread that is a far cry away from a loaf of supermarket rye for sandwiches. I love this bread for open-faced sandwiches or toast and I think it would be excellent baked as a small loaf for canapés. This bread is dense as rye flour lacks the gluten of wheat flour. If you prefer a lighter texture, look for a recipe that blends rye flour with all-purpose or bread flour.
½ cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups rye flour, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Vegetable or Canola oil, for greasing the baking sheets
Combine the active dry yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Let sit until the yeast dissolves and the mixture starts to foam. If the water-yeast mixture does not foam after five minutes, discard and start again with new yeast.
Stir in the warm milk, melted butter, honey and salt. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir in two cups of the rye flour. Don’t be alarmed if the dough appears to be almost a batter. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour.
Gradually add another 3 cups rye flour to the dough. Stir in the egg, caraway seeds, and white sesame seeds. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. Cover with the tea towel and let rise in the warm spot for another 2 hours. This is dense bread so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t appear to rise as much as other breads you have made.
Sprinkle some of the remaining 1 cup of rye flour on a clean countertop. Turn out the dough and knead it for about 10 minutes gradually working in the remaining flour. The dough will be tough, but still malleable and should be neither sticky nor dry to the touch.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a round. Place each round on a greased baking sheet and brush the top of each loaf with a little more oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the bread and bake for 1 hour until the internal temperature of the bread is above 200 degrees and the bread sounds hollow when knocked. I baked my loaves for 1 hour and 10 minutes but I recommend checking the loaves at 1 hour. Turn off the oven and allow the loaves to sit in the oven (door closed) for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack before slicing. Once cool, the loaves can be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer safe bag for freezing.