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Catcher in the Rye Bread | Sortachef

Catcher in the Rye Bread

I was trying to shut out the buzz at the table when I realized my dad was talking to me. Just to humor him I listened to his dumb old story about going to a deli about a hundred years ago. They probably had cool things like cars with big fins and transistor radios and space travel back then but he was talking about bread. My dad’s always talking about bread.

With love to my son Kevin as he embarks on his 15th year.

Before I knew it we were in the car headed out of the city. A fat woman with orange hair cut us off on the freeway so I gave her the evil eye while my dad cursed and honked the horn. Once I gave the evil eye to the lunch lady for giving me this miniscule piece of pepperoni pizza and she was out sick for the next three days. That fat woman is going to be sorry now for sure.

Anyway, we pulled up to the biggest, bluest store you ever did see, emblazoned in gigantic yellow letters ‘IKEA’ on the side. This is where Will Horowitz came to buy his crappy old bedroom furniture and he told me that people get lost here all the time, but when I grumbled about that my dad told me to put a sock in it and push the cart. It was one of those carts like they have in Italy on which all the wheels swivel, so you can push them sideways as easily as forward. I had fun with that, until I almost ran down this guy walking with a cane.

After walking for about a mile, we came to some shelves of food squeezed between the restaurant and the area where you can order a whole kitchen. My dad said he expected it was somebody with ‘Scandihoovian humor’ who arranged the store this way. I knew he meant to say ‘Scandinavian’ but instead of correcting him I pretended to be interested in some jars of pickled fish. Boy, the things they eat in those countries; it’s no wonder they give their kids names like Bjorn and Gunhilda.

On the way back my dad went on and on about ancient grains and fiber content and reindeer lichen, so I was pretty glad to be home again and slammed the door behind me. When the bell rang my dad was standing there red-faced on the porch. I don’t know what he was so upset about, but to show him I’m not a total stooge, I left him to make his bread by himself. I guess when you get to his age you need some time to yourself.

The bread turned out okay, I guess. Anyway, my dad wasn’t so grumpy anymore. If you’re old like him, you’ll probably want to see the recipe, so I’ll let him tell you all about it. Here it is:

Catcher in the Rye Bread

 

Makes 3 loaves

Takes 8 hours

 

2.2 pounds Finax brand Lingonberry bread mix from Denmark, available at IKEA

10 ounces (2¼ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of active dry yeast (about ¾ of one of the two packets attached to the mix)

26 ounces (3¼ cups) water at 100°

½ cup flour for bench work

1 egg + 1 teaspoon water for glaze

 

Make the dough and let hydrate: In a large mixing bowl, dry mix the packaged Lingonberry bread with 10 ounces of all-purpose flour. Make a well in the center of the mix, pour in a half-cup of the water and two teaspoons of the yeast that comes attached to the package, and mix together. (Unless you’re in a real hurry, it’s best to use this slow-rising method to allow the full flavor of the bread to develop.) Let sit for 10 minutes until the yeast begins to froth. Now add the rest of the water and, using the handle of a wooden spoon, mix to fully incorporate the flour and water, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes before kneading.

Premixed grains available at IKEA

Kneading and first rise:

After a rest, lightly sprinkle a counter with flour and knead the dough for a minimum of 5 minutes, pushing and folding the dough until it’s soft and supple. Put dough back into a clean bowl, cover and let rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or up to 6 hours in a cooler location.

Second rise: Deflate the dough on a lightly floured counter and fold it over several times, kneading lightly. Return to the bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for another 2 hours.

For baking in a woodfired oven: Light a moderate fire in the center of your oven, gently warming up the stones in the first 1 to 1½ hours with a succession of small to medium-sized logs. After this time, put on two chunky logs (about 6” in diameter) and let them burn brightly. In the last hour, keep these going by adding some smaller support branches and move the fire side to side to heat the oven floor evenly.

Shape the loaves and third rise: Fit 3 round baskets with cloth napkins or dish towels, and sprinkle wheat or rye flour on them. Cut the dough into three pieces of 25 ounces each. Knead each piece lightly and shape into a ball; insert each ball face down into the baskets and draw the edges of the cloth over the dough to cover lightly. Let rise a further 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature.

Once risen, turn loaves over onto lightly floured paddles (or the backs of cookie sheets) and brush twice with egg wash. Slash lightly if desired to decorate.

To bake in a conventional oven: Fit quarry tiles or a pizza stone on the center rack of your oven and preheat for at least 30 minutes at 425°. Slide loaves directly onto the tiles or stone and bake for 15 minutes. Turn loaves around with a spatula, lower heat to 375°, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer until the loaves are medium brown in color. Remove to a rack to cool before eating.

To bake in a woodfired oven: Move the fire to the back of your oven and sweep the floor clean of ashes. Slip the loaves into a semi-circle about 12” from the coals and close the door. Turn 180° after 20 minutes, a quarter turn after another 20 minutes and all the way around for 10 more minutes. Loaves will be done when they are medium brown and the crust has taken on a lacquered sheen. Remove to a rack to cool.

In any case, let cool for at least 1 hour before digging in. These loaves keep well for up to three days in paper bags, but they’re so good they rarely last that long. Enjoy!

Edible Book Note: This bread will be available at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford as part of the Seattle Edible Book Festival. See their blog HERE for more info.

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At Woodfiredkitchen.com, Sortachef takes you on adventures in the kitchen and beyond, with tales to suit. Many of his offerings are woodfired - a flaming good recipe for pizza, bread, or something different. All recipes are original and tasty. Enjoy!
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