Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Yes, And I Feel Fine"

Song Pairing:
Something In the Way She Moves by James Taylor
There are few things in this world more soothing and appealing than James Taylor singing . . . anything.  Anything at all.  He and his guitar can melt away the chaos of modern living and, wherever you are when you hear it, becomes a far away meadow.  He sings of simple settings and simple truths.  Sometimes these simple truths are hard to hear and understand.  But he has taken the time to find the words and the music to make it all palatable, pulling our heartstrings to where they should be.  He's a lyrical storyteller and I can't get enough of him.  In just a few notes of intro "I feel fine."  I'm sure you feel the same way.

Simple and comforting - much like the staff of life.  The world around, nothing speaks of home and comfort more than fresh-baked bread.  Each culture has their version.  Today I'm sharing just one of my family's favorites.  

Oh - the ultimate reason I chose this song today?  It's one of my daughter's favorites and today is her birthday!

Several years ago I wasn't feeling well and a friend brought dinner in to my family.  Sweet, right?  Well, she is a very sweet lady and we really appreciated it!  My friend, however, wasn't happy with the results of the rolls she brought and returned later that week with a "proper" bread offering.  The most delectable loaf of rye bread I had ever tasted!  I feel bad that she felt bad about her original offering, but, let's face it - if it's the catalyst behind getting this bread into my life, maybe I don't feel so bad after all!

I sliced up the loaf and served it with dinner that night.  I could see my daughter (yes, the birthday daughter) give her initial appraisal of the bread.  It wasn't white or even off-white.  It was quite dark.  This is the daughter who had rather particular tastes when it came to food.  Most of my children were pretty good eaters but I'm pretty sure she had the longest list of grievances.  She would cut through the kitchen while I was making dinner just to ascertain whether or not I was putting "fungus" (her affectionate term for mushrooms) into the meal - again.  Each child was allowed one food that they did not have to eat - she chose peas.  There was no way I was going to get peas into that girl.  So be it.

Back to the bread.  It was passed around the table and, surprisingly, she took some.  If I had known the relationship that was to develop between her and this bread I would have grabbed the camera for it was love at first bite.  I was astonished!!  I was pleased!!  I needed to get this recipe - and fast!!!

I asked my friend and she was happy to share.  But she would like to "show" me how to make it - and since it took a bit of time to do so, with it having three risings and all, why didn't I come over and we'd make an afternoon of it.  I love a gal that can turn any opportunity into a girls "time out!"  She chose some great chick flicks to watch during the risings and she showed me the way to rye heaven!

Over the years this has become this daughter's "home" food.  She is now grown into a beautiful woman, a mother herself.  I love her more than shrimp and pesto and chocolate ganache!  (She will understand these units of 'love' measure.)  Although she lives over 600 miles away, I am making this rye bread for her special day because it helps me feel close to her - a wish my heart whispers daily.  I think she's a brilliant writer and she's wise beyond her years, this daughter of mine.  I am constantly surprised by the wisdom she has to offer her old mum.  Indeed - "If I'm feeling down and blue or troubled by some foolish game she always seems to make me change my mind."  Happy birthday, B.  Love you so much!

 Marbled Rye Bread
printable recipe
1 T. yeast
1/2 c. warm water

1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 c. rye flour
3/4 c. molasses
2 t. salt
2 c. very hot water

6 c. all-purpose white flour

* (for marbled rye) 2 T. Caramel color powder + 2 T. rye flour

In a small bowl, mix the yeast and water and set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, mix together the oil, rye flour, molasses, salt, and hot water.  Add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of the white flour.  Mix well.  Slowly add the rest of the white flour and let the mixer knead for 7 minutes with a dough hook.  The dough will be quite sticky to the touch.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and turn the dough out into the bowl and give it a turn to coat the whole ball of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double.

Empty the dough out of the bowl to deflate it, ball it back up and return to the bowl for a second rising - covered.

Note:  if you do not wish to make a marbled rye, you can skip the rest of the instructions and merely form the dough into 2 - 3 balls, make three slits across the top of the dough, cover and let rise until double.  Bake and cool as described below.

For marbled rye:
Mix the final 2 T. of caramel color powder and the 2 T. of rye flour together.

After the second rising, divide the dough in half and knead the caramel color/rye flour mixture into one of the halves.  This will give the dough the darker color.  You can use the machine to do it - which is probably the wisest course since the coloring tends to be a bit messy.

Lightly flour a large surface with flour and roll out the uncolored half of dough into a rectangle that's about 10X18.  When the color has been kneaded into the other half, roll it out into a rectangle the same size as the other half of dough.  Carefully place one on top of the other.

Starting along the long edges, tightly roll up the layered doughs together - keeping it tight as you go.  When it's completely rolled up, pinch the seams together and roll so the seam is on the bottom.  Use a bench scraper or knife and divide the roll in half.  Take the ends of the rolls and slightly fold them to the bottom.  Place in sprayed loaf pans, seam side down.  Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost double.

Preheat the oven to 350.  When risen, carefully remove plastic wrap and bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool, in the pans, on a rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.  Wrap in plastic when cool.

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