Friday, February 15, 2013

Flashback Friday: Great-Grandma's Rye Bread

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I interrupt my citrus soup spree with a thick, hearty slice of bread.  Because really, what pairs better with hot soup than homemade bread?  Okay I wouldn't pair this particular bread with those particular soups, but interruptions don't usually go together now do they?

Right, so this bread.  The recipe belongs to my great-grandma, Hattie, whose Soda Cracker Pie we made a few weeks back.  Apparently the neighbor kids would hang around the back door begging for hot scraps of crust.  It didn't take me long to figure out why.  At first I thought the loaf was a little to dense and dry, but I found myself nibbling at it every time I walked past, especially the crust.  I almost wish I did have to beg for a piece, then there'd be a little more left.

Hattie's recipe called for a square of yeast.  Since squares of yeast are no longer common fare, I had to do a little figuring.  It seems that one packet of active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp) is the modern day equivalent to one square of yeast.  I went with that, but the bread didn't rise as much as I would have liked.  This link mentions that cake yeast came in two sizes, which leaves me wondering if Hattie's square was a different size.  Next time I'd would double the yeast in hopes for a better rise.

I also had to add a quite a bit more flour than indicated in the recipe.  Perhaps she never measured and just went by the feel of the dough.  Had I known the loaf needed that much flour, I would have used more yeast in the first place.  Oh well, live and learn.  Regardless of the rise and final shape, the bread still contained all the homemade goodness to convince you that the 'wonder' in store bought bread is more akin to, 'I wonder why they call this bread?'  Did that make sense?   I hope so.

Anyway, this hearty bread has sweet molasses and rye flavors.  My loaf was dense and a tad on the dry side (due to the extra flour I added), but still soft.  I'm sure a little more yeast would improve that, but then again a thick, dense slice might be just what's intended here.  It sure hit the spot today.  Though good enough to eat plain, this bread would also be delicious with a slice of cheese.

Great-Grandma's Rye Bread
recipe from my Great-Grandma Hattie

1 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
1/2 square yeast, crumbled in 1/4 cup of the water (I used 1-1/8 tsp active dry yeast. See above for possible improvements.)
2 Tbsp shortening or lard
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup molasses
2-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1-1/4 cups rye flour
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour ( I had to use 2 cups to get the dough to a kneading consistency)

* Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in shortening, salt, molasses and brown sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat in rye flour.  Beat in white flour.  Turn dough onto floured board and knead 6-8 miutes, adding more flour if dough is too sticky.  Place dough in a large, greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size.
*Shape dough into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan (I used an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan here). Cover and let rise until double in size.  Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

Food for Thought: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful." -John Maeda 

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