Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ultimatte Assss-townding Bred

Some of you understand what the title is all about. The rest of you are wondering if I've fallen off the deep end. (Actually, that happened a long time ago....about the time I started having children.) While title is a bit of an inside joke (really, the whole post is full of them; forgive me), the actual topic is no joke. I have finally found the ultimate, perfect bread recipe. (And all thanks to an imaginary internet friend!) I present:

Root Beer Rye Bread
- From "Pig Out" (a fabulous out-of-print cookbook)
An excellent sandwich bread and superb bun for bratwurst and kraut sandwiches.
Planning: Allow rising time
Preparation time: 4 hours
Quantity: 3 loaves
Baking time: 40-50 minutes, 375*

2.25 cups root beer
2 packages dry yeast
1.5 cups rye flour
1/2 cup sorghum
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 tbsp caraway seed
5 cups white flour

1. Warm the root beer to 100-110*; dissolve yeast in warm root beer.
2. Add rye flour, sorghum, salt, shortening, caraway seed, and 2 cups of white flour. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour.
3. Knead 10 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled.
4. Pund down; let rest 15 minutes. Shape into 3 loaves and place in greased 8" x 4" loaf pans. Let rise until doubled.
5. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 375*.

I cannot thank my friend CatholicMom enough for sending me this cookbook. I've been struggling for a bit now to make a good loaf of bread. While I did discover that part of my problem was not kneading the dough sufficiently, I also needed to find a solid recipe. Enter CatholicMom, my imaginary internet friend. She kindly sent me the Pig Out cookbook and stongly endorsed this family recipe.

I cannot rave about this bread enough. I was a bit concerned that the rye flavor was going to be strong. Not something that would bother me, but would likely bother my own WunderHubbee. I need not have worried. The rye flavor is there, but light and pleasant. It slices beautifully and is absolutely the most delightful bread I have made or tasted in ages.

Random notes:
1. I found rye flour in the organic/natural section of my local HyVee.
2. Sorghum was on the bottom shelf by the corn syrup.
3. I didn't have/couldn't find caraway seeds. I would definitely like to use them next time, but I thought the bread was fine without it. (And if anyone has suggestions on where to find caraway seeds, I'm all ears.)
4. I used lard, and will continue to do so in the future. I'm sure shortening is fine (after all, the recipe says that it is), but I've always been partial to lard.
5. I baked the bread 45 minutes. I was advised that the recipe needed to be followed exactly, so I set the timer and walked away. Next time, I'm going to be sure to check it at 40. As you can see in the picture, the tops of my loaves were pretty dark. However, the flavor of the loaves was unaffected.
6. I've found that I need to literally set a timer when I knead bread. 10 minutes is a lot longer than you think, at least when it comes to kneading bread. I have a feeling that with the rye flour used, sufficient kneading is especially important to this recipe.
7. I'm contemplating halving the recipe next time, and making one loaf and some dinner rolls. Three loaves of bread is a lot for us to eat. I will say, however, that it seems to keep quite well. I made it last Friday, and is just beginning to get dry.

And I'm going to end with a gratuitous baby shot:

(Don't let that smiling face fool you. This is the face of a Demon Baby. It was, like, 9:30 p.m. when I took this picture. WAY past her bed-time.)