Ladies, happy International Women’s Day! I know it’s not much here, but back in Russia you get showered with flowers, presents, dinners, songs, poems, romantic movies, and whatever else you can possibly imagine. The rules are simple: every female gets to be admired on this one day, and every male gets to participate in accomplishing the task.
Early in the relationship I managed to train my husband to deliver on this holiday. It started beautifully with a home-made cake (from a box) broken in half by an accident and drowned in chocolate pudding (also from a box) – the most romantic dessert I’ve ever had! It continued with shampooed carpets in our apartment in Houston. It migrated to dates at our favorite restaurants. And it finally arrived to “I’ll be home early for the holiday dinner”.
Ah, the honeymoon stage, where art thou?
Well, to remind myself of home, and the good times everyone is having there, I’m simply baking bread. It doesn’t quite look as the black bricks we used to buy, but it surely smells and tastes like them.
SOURDOUGH RYE BREAD
- 200 g leaven
- 760 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
- 40 g dark molasses
- 170 g whole-rye flour
- 830 g unbleached bread flour
- 20 g salt
Yields 2 loafs
Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour. Mix well, loosely cover the tope of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight. Discard the rest of the starter.
Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.
Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix very well.
Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.
Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.
After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough. Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.
After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two balls.
Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball. Let rest on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.
Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface. Fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf. Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.
Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
To bake: place an iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C. Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down.Cover the iron pot, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.
After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.
Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.
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