We relished our long-awaited first taste of cool, dry weather last week. A glorious shock to the system. In spite of a predictably hasty return to the summer status quo, it gave me hope. Sooner or later the time will come when I can crank up the oven without harsh looks, trading hands routinely caked in soil for flour in my hair and dough under my nails. Looking ahead today with a tribute to rye.
The original loaves of northern and eastern Europe and Russia were 100% rye flour. Dark, dense, strong, filling, sustaining. As the bakers and their traditions came to America, the loaves lightened in both color and heft as portions of the rye flour were replaced with softer, cheaper wheat-based flours. For better or for worse, the blend stuck.
There are many, many different recipes. This example is made from one part light rye flour to two parts bread flour, and incorporates olive oil and molasses, all of which contribute to a rich, hearty yet fluffy bread. Sweet licorice-y caraway seeds add a gentle crunch and drive home the classic flavor.
On the inside, the tell-tale spiral of dark and light. This “marbling” is created by layering and rolling together portions of plain rye dough + the same with cocoa powder worked in for color (some recipes call for coffee or a flavorless caramel coloring). My marbling was faint, and next time I might increase the amount of cocoa or try a cocoa powder-espresso powder combo to give it a boost. (The lack of intensity could also be the result of overworking the stacked and rolled dough; see recipe for more notes.)