After talking about vacation food, I got to thinking about some of the food I like to make at home. For me, learning to bake bread was a turning point in my cooking “career” – and let me tell you, it came about LATE. Let me share with you an easy way to make rye bread. In future posts, I’ll share about white and wheat breads as well.
When my husband and I first got married, I did not know how to cook, bake, saute, scramble – nope, couldn’t even boil water. The only thing I ever learned how to make was from my college roommate – Shake and Bake Chicken, canned green beans, instant mashed potatoes and canned biscuits. That, my friends, was my go to supper of choice. Yum! LOL
The longer we were married, one of the things I wanted to learn how to do was make bread. However, this was NOT an easy task. My mother hadn’t made bread for years, and even my mother-in-law, who was nothing short of perfect, hadn’t made bread since her sons were little. So I really had no one to teach me how to make bread.
I attempted on several occasions to teach myself, checking books out of the library, asking some of the older ladies at our church, watching cooking shows on the few TV channels we had then – and no matter what I tried, my bread came out bearing more of a resemblance to hockey pucks and paper weights than real, actual, light as a feather bread. Each attempt reinforced my self-imposed notion that I was not a bread maker – would never be a bread maker – and could not possibly learn to be a bread maker since my hands were all thumbs.
For Christmas after we had been married about 7 or 8 years, my hubby (bless his sneaky little heart) went to the Black Friday sale at Wal-Mart and bought me a bread machine. That was the most wonderful Christmas present I had ever received and I wore that silly thing out making bread. I had tons of bread machine cookbooks and tried just about every combination under the sun in that bread machine. It was awesome – I could feel complete as a homemaker.
After I destroyed my original bread machine (I think I stripped its gears!), I had a series of other bread machines make their way across my counter. At one point I even had 2 so I could make white in one and rye in another. They were constantly going and produced some really good loaves of bread. What more could I want, right?
Then, a few years ago, I discovered a book titled The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I will tell you, that book changed the way I viewed bread. It had instructions on how to make bread with 4 ingredients and make it every day where you didn’t even have to knead it very much. I was both skeptical and intrigued. I bought the book, and started reading. I figured I would give it a try – after all – what could it hurt, right? I had already progressed into make bread bricks! And, besides, I figured I could prove it wrong – the only bread I had ever found I could make in 5 minutes (other than Southern Buttermilk Biscuits) were refrigerator rolls (and we will visit those in future posts as well!).
But this time, something changed. My bread was delicious – amazing – and beautiful! Could this really be me?? But time and again, every time I made the bread, it was like something you would buy in a deli, or from a bakery. I started branching out and making other types of bread. And Every. Single. Loaf turned out great.
Today I want to share with you the Rye Bread recipe I use and make regularly. My husband loves rye bread and so that’s what I make most often. I have taken the recipe from The Artisan Bread book and modified it where it works for me. I will share a recipe with you soon for delicious white bread that makes great sandwiches. But this rye bread is definitely something that you’ll want to try.
Homemade Rye Bread
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (I have found warm tap water works well for this – some recipes give you an approximate temperature of 110 degrees, and if you have a thermometer, slide that sucker in and check your water if you want. I’ve finally decided the right temp is about what you would feel from a warm baby bottle!)
- 1 tablespoon of yeast – or 1 packet from the grocery store -I usually buy my yeast in bulk, sometimes from Sam’s Club, sometimes from here
- 2 cups rye flour – I love Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Rye Flour, 5-Pounds (Pack of 6)but if you feel this is too expensive check out other ones on Amazon such as this.
- 2 -3 cups all purpose or bread flour – any kind will do but my favorite is White Lily (I’m Southern after all!) but any flour will work.
- 1 tablespoon of salt – I like Kosher, but table salt works fine – just DON’T forget it – trust me when I say it tastes like cardboard ….. well cardboard may taste better, truthfully!
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (more if you like bread a little sweeter)
- Caraway seeds (optional)
I have always used a stand mixer to mix and knead my bread. If you don’t have a mixer, these steps can be done by hand – it will just take a little more elbow grease!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a loaf pan – any kind will do but I am partial to glass Pyrex bread pans like this. However, metal works well too – this metal pan by USA Made Bakeware is amazing, and gives a nice soft crust to any bread recipe. Grease whichever pan you choose with either butter, cooking spray or shortening.
Please note – if you want an artisan style bread (round or oval shape), use a baking sheet of your choice or even a stoneware pizza pan for baking and grease the pan.
In the bowl, put the warm water, the yeast and the sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes until you see it starting to get foamy and smell “yeasty.” (Yes, I do know how that sounds – my hubby has gotten on me for years about fish tasting “fishy!”). I will try to share pics but not one at a time – that way you won’t get tired of seeing ALL of them!
Once the yeast mixture begins to foam, put in 1 cup of the rye flour and 1 cup of the regular flour. Start the mixer (don’t forget to use the dough hook) .
When the 2 flours are incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape the sides. Add in the 2nd cup of rye flour, another cup of all purpose flour, the salt and the caraway seeds (if you are using them). I did not put a measurement of seeds because this is strictly to taste. My hubby loves them and would be happy with half the bottle I think.
Begin to mix again and watch the dough as it starts to form. If it is still too sticky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add in a bit more flour, about 1/4 cup (or even less) at a time. You don’t want to add too much because the dough will end up stiff. If it is looking stiff, add warm water about a tablespoon at a time.
Watch again – you are looking for the dough to begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl and climb the dough hook. It will start forming a ball of dough. One thing to remember – this dough will be a little sticky. The first time I made it, I tried to add flour to where it felt springy. While that tastes okay, if it is a LITTLE sticky, it tastes better.
After letting the bread knead for about 3-4 minutes (until the bread looks kneaded well), stop the mixer. Coat your hands with a little oil or some flour, and remove the dough. Pat the dough out into a rectangle, then roll it up and make a loaf shape, making sure the seam is on the bottom. Place the dough in a warm place free from drafts, covered, and let rise If you are using a baking sheet or stoneware pizza stone, then shape the bread into a round or oval shape, make 3 slashes across the top, and then cover and place somewhere warm.
I have always used the back of my stove, with my oven turned to 400 degrees. Others I know use their oven, warmed to about 300 degrees, then turned off, and put the dough in to rise while covered. Just recently I purchased Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer. I will do a post on this soon – it was one of the best purchases EVER!
Just so you know, this bread only takes one time to rise. That’s why you are shaping it already. Let it rise until about double in size – usually about an hour for me.
If your bread is already in the loaf pan, go ahead and slide into a 400 degree oven. If you want the artisan bread, shape into an oval or round shape, place on greased sheet and then make 3 slashes across the top. This goes into the oven on the sheet.
Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. At 20 minutes, test the bread with a toothpick or cake tester. If it comes out clean, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped, it is ready to be pulled out.
If bread is in loaf pan, remove from pan and place on cooling rack, or remove bread from baking sheet and place on cooling rack. If you want a soft buttery crust, take some butter and rub all over the crust – all sides, top and bottom. You can also do this with the artisan style. Let cool. Of course, if you’re like my hubby “cool” is a state of mind, as he cannot wait to cut a piece, and ends up burning his fingers every time!
This bread freezes well and I will sometimes pre-slice the bread and store half in the freezer, pulling out as I need it so it doesn’t mold. It is delicious and I think it’s better than store bought (of course, I could be a bit biased?!)
Try it and let me know what you think. Do you have favorite bread recipes? Is this something you’d like to see more of on the website? Drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!