26 January 2014

seeded rye — returning to bread

As the "Polar Vortex" descends upon Chicago again, I decided that I needed a good, hearty bread for lunches this week. I made Dan Lepard's seeded rye (from Short and Sweet), using anise seeds, coriander, caraway, and lemon zest as its spice; I substituted apple cider for the recommended malt vinegar (which I didn't have), and I added a bit of diastic malt for good measure. The recipe calls for honey or molasses, so I used a very dark buckwheat honey.

The dough is a thick paste, foreign even to someone like myself who has made breads with a lot of rye (and even Vollkornbrot, but the texture is very different with all the rye chops, which are nearly impossible to find). It rose slowly, and baked beautifully:

Making bread is something I've just started again after a hiatus of four or five years — I developped baker's asthma, a common form of occupational asthma, and I've only recently begun baking bread (pastry, quickbreads, and the like are less of a hazard). I haven't worked in a bakery in about five years, and have since started a PhD in literature.

Now that I'm returning to bread, I've been avoiding the phenomenal Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, partially out of the trauma with which I associate his phenomenal book (the book was an inspiration, and having to leave my career as a baker because my work was literally suffocating me is something I'd never wish on anyone).

And here I am, returning to bread, more careful than ever, and my apartment smells glorious.

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