After one year and 104 recipes, I finished the Brooks Bakes Bread Project on March 27, 2012. You can still find me baking and cooking at my new blog, Tangled Up In Food.

Archives: 26 June 2011

Finnish Sour Rye Bread
June 26, 2011

by stacy
Published on: June 26, 2011
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“I find this fine-grained, well-flavored rye bread a pleasant change from other breads in its category.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Several of the recipes in Beard on Bread use rye flour.  It took me awhile to find a good source for reasonably-priced rye flour (I found it in bulk at the Linden Hills Co-op), and then I had to contend with Mike’s attitude.

“There are HOW many rye bread recipes?  But I don’t like rye bread!”

To pacify him, I let him pick the first rye bread recipe I tried.  He settled on Finnish Sour Rye Bread, which also gave me a chance to commune with my Finnish heritage.

I started the bread on Wednesday night, when I mixed one cup of rye flour with one cup of water to make a starter.  Over the next four days, I stirred the starter once a day.  At first it got bubbly, but then it went flat.  I was concerned that I had somehow killed it, but the noxious, fermenting smell assuaged my fears.

This afternoon, I mixed the starter (pictured in the clear plastic container) with the rest of the ingredients.  The rye flour is in the plastic bag on the right.

Finnish Sour Rye Bread Ingredients

Finnish Sour Rye Bread is only half rye flour; there is an equal amount of all-purpose flour.  However, the rye flour made the dough much softer than a typical white bread.  I let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours while I sat on the deck, enjoying the summer weather with the New York Times and a blended coffee drink.  Then I shaped the dough into two round loaves, taking care to shape them tightly to avoid the problems I faced with my Irish Whole-Wheat Soda Bread that burst apart.  After rising for 40 minutes, the loaves were ready to go into the oven.

Finnish Sour Rye Bread After Second Rising

Mindful of my under-baked soda bread, I baked the loaves for the entire recommended baking time of 45 minutes.  At that point, I removed them from the oven and thumped the bottom to check for doneness.  The loaves sounded done, so I let them cool while I finished cooking some soup.

Finnish Sour Rye Bread

At this point, Mike had been lured downstairs by the aroma of fresh bread.  “That smells really good,” he commented, apparently forgetting that he didn’t like rye bread.  I cut off a few slices.  Mike took a bite and chewed thoughtfully.  Then he turned, looked me in the eye, and said, “Congratulations on an excellent loaf of bread.”

And it was an excellent loaf of bread–there was only the slightest bit of tang, despite how pungent the starter was after fermenting for four days.  The rye flavor was balanced by the white flour, resulting in a perfect texture and taste.  Finnish Sour Rye Bread is a delicious bread–even for those who don’t like rye bread.

Crumpets
June 26, 2011

by stacy
Published on: June 26, 2011
Categories: Crumpets, Griddle Breads
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“Crumpets bear a close similarity to English muffins and to English muffin bread.  Rather soggy and holey, they must be toasted and treated to quantities of butter and good homemade jam.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Last night I made my last recipe from the “Griddle Breads” section of Beard on Bread: Crumpets.  To make crumpets, you mix up a thick batter and cook it in metal rings on a hot griddle.  If you’re frugal (like me), you may want to try a test batch of crumpets before you invest in a set of crumpet rings.  In that case, Beard recommends using empty tuna cans with the tops and bottoms removed.  I do not recommend using empty tuna cans, because your crumpets will become adhered the the cans, you will make a mess trying to get them out, and then you will be reduced to cooking an entire batch of crumpets using one small round cookie cutter.

Anyway, back to the beginning.  Here are the ingredients:

Crumpets Ingredients

Even though no kneading is required, the batter does need to rise twice.  I made the crumpets last night, so they would be ready for breakfast this morning.

The batter mixed up nicely, and I poured the batter into my two tuna can rings.  Everything seemed to be going well until I tried to remove the tuna can and flip over the crumpet to cook the other side.  I tried gently lifting up the can–the crumpet didn’t budge.  I tried loosening the edges with a knife–the crumpet refused to dislodge.  Finally, I held the can upside and shook it, spraying batter across my kitchen, but at least finally separating the crumpet from the tuna can.  Then, I got to repeat the process with Crumpet #2.

Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to a night of fighting with tuna cans and crumpet batter.  The only other round, ring-like object I have is a small round cookie cutter that I use for making biscuits.  It worked wonderfully as an impromptu crumpet ring–the only problem is that it takes a long time (about 45 minutes) to make a batch of crumpets when you can only make one at a time.  I tried using my pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, but I couldn’t get the crumpet out because batter got stuck in the pumpkin stem.

It took much longer that it needed to, but I managed to make a nice-looking batch of crumpets.

Crumpets

Mike and I ate our crumpets for breakfast this morning, toasted and with my mother’s delicious homemade strawberry jam.  Crumpets are somewhat like English muffins, only better: they are light and spongy, with a delicate texture.  For anyone who is curious, here is a nice blog post outlining the difference between crumpets and English muffins.

Crumpet Close Up

Since the crumpets were such a success, I bought a set of 4 crumpet rings.  If you want to try crumpets, I recommend that you do the same–I haven’t tried the rings out yet, but they have to be better than a pumpkin cookie cutter.

 

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About the Baker
I'm a paralegal living and working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Besides baking, blogging, and eating bread, I love knitting and enjoying the Minnesota outdoors. My husband, Mike, is the Brooks Bakes Bread website developer, bread photographer, and chief taste tester.
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