Therapeutic Bread Baking!
I love bread baking and the time I spend in my home kitchen making amazingly delicious loaves of oven-fresh bread; especially on a cold winter day like today!
There is something very satisfying about making bread and sometimes even therapeutic! Those of you who’ve been to one of my bread baking classes in the past know that I bake bread all the time . . . . but especially when I’m upset or angry about something!
Don’t think it’s the bread’s tempting smell, flavor or texture that will comfort my body and soul . . . and get rid of some of my frustrations! On the contrary, a bit of exercise through energetic kneading will normally do the trick! If that is not enough, then I suggest you try slapping the dough with a sturdy wooden stick!
Yes, you read correctly! I literally hit the bread dough with an old wooden Pizza stick with terrific results! It not only sooths my nerves but it also speeds up the kneading time and gives me a superb textured bread! A win-win situation . . . angry or not!
One of my favorite winter bread recipes, that I've been making for years, is a deliciously crusty and moist rye bread which is lovely with soups and salads or for breakfast, fresh or toasted with yoghurt, honey and/or fruit preserves.
When I entertain, I often turn this bread into a trendy looking garlic herb bread that everybody loves! See the recipes for the bread and garlic herb bread below & Enjoy!
Crusty Rye Village Bread Recipe
35g fresh yeast (3 ½ tsp dry yeast)
1 cup water (40 - 46 C / 105 -115 F)
1 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
300 g whole coarse rye flour 300 g strong white bread flour 250 g 10% fat Greek yoghurt 1 Tblsp olive oil 1 Tblsp salt
In a large bowl, mix the yeast with water. Add sugar and mix. Add rye flower, olive oil, salt and a bit more than haft of the white the flour. Mix. Keep adding white flour until you have a pretty firm dough that you can easily handle.
Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead for about 10 minutes or until you have a dough that is firm but slightly sticky. If the dough is a too wet, add a little flour but don’t overdo it!
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Oil top of dough and cover with plastic wrap, or a kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
When ready, punch down dough and knead slightly. Form dough into 2 round loaves. Place on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise for a second time (about 45 minutes). Do not cover.
Spray top with water, sprinkle with white flour (optional) and bake in the lower half of a pre-heated oven, 180 C (375 F) for about 45 minutes. Move to middle of oven and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes. During baking, spray the bread frequently with water to achieve a crispier crust or even better, place a small baking pan filled with ice cubes at the bottom of oven for extra humidity!
Once baked, cool on baking rack and then . . . . . Enjoy!
Yield: 2 round bread loaves
If you have a strong electric mixer with bread hook, use it to make this dough. It’s the quickest way and really Easy2!
If you like, you can add a handful of chopped fresh herbs, sundried tomatoes olives or walnuts to the dough before the second rising.
Store at room temperature covered with a tea towel. This bread freezes well.
Crusty Rye Garlic Bread with Herbs
1 loaf of crusty rye village bread
(1 – 2 day old) 80 g unsalted butter at room temperature
4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Salt & dried oregano, to taste 2 – 3 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme Yield: 1 bread loaf (6 – 8 generous slices)
Place the butter, olive oil, garlic into small bowl and mix with a fork until you have a smooth like mixture. Add the salt and dried oregano, to taste and mix well.
Using a serrated knife, cut bread into slices but be careful not to cut all the way through as you want to keep the bread whole and the slices attached. If you need help, before slicing, push a thin metal skewer through the base of the bread lengthways . . . which will not allow you to cut all the way through, thus preventing any accidents! Remove skewer after slicing!
With a spatula or butter knife, spread the garlic butter generously on both sides of bread slices and tuck in the rosemary sprigs . . . . Wherever you want!
Wrap the loaf with a plenty of aluminium foil and place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in pre-heated (200C/400F) oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, discard the aluminium foil and serve immediately. For presentation purposes, you might want to replace cooked rosemary sprigs with fresh ones!
For something really simple, you can serve fresh rye village bread with the garlic butter, olive oil, herbs and salt to the side!