Saturday, November 27, 2010

Go-To Bread

The thought of making bread usually intimidates people (unless they have a breadmaker machine, which I think is cheating anyway). Around the holidays, I hand-make (and hand knead) several loaves of bread. I think bread is one of the most versitile gifts you can give.
Last year, I gave loaves of bread as "thank-yous" to neighbors who had loaned us miscellaneous items when we first moved into our home.
This Thanksgiving, I brought a loaf of bread as a gift for our generous hosts. This is a long-standing tradition in my family. Every year, my mom makes the same loaf of bread to bring to Thanksgiving. This no-knead bread is both visually appealing and delicious.

Finnish Rieska
2 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp. crushed caraway seeds
1 package active dry yeast (not "quick rise")
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 c. pumpernickel rye, graham, or whole-wheat flour
3 c. bread flour

1 egg white beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Fresh herbs: sage, chives

In large mixing bowl, stir together water, yeast, brown sugar, and salt. Let stand 5 minutes until yeast begins to foam. Stir in the dark flour, then bread flour and caraway seeds. Beat well. Cover with damp dish towel and allow dought to rise in warm place until doubled, about 1-2 hours. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large pizza pan. Coat parchment paper with dark flour. Turn dough out onto paper and flatten with your hands to make a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Cover and let rise until puffy. Preheat oven to 375. Brush top of loaf with beaten egg white and water. Arrange fresh herbs in decorative pattern on the top. Brush loaf again with egg white, making sure to coat the herbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the loaf spring back when touched. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Here's about what it should look like:

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