The takeaway quote on this bread (provided by, who else, my husband) is: “what’s going on with this bread? It looks like plate tectonics in here.”
So you may have already guessed that the “marbling” process on this BBA Challenge bread did not go so well, but otherwise the bread was delicious. Let’s not be superficial about how the bread looks, okay?
The most interesting thing to me in making this bread is how LITTLE kneading time is required. I threw the ingredients into my kitchenaid, flipped it on, and walked away (half expecting that it would require more kneading than usual as we were not dealing with pure wheat, meaning that we’d really need to “activate” the gluten). Then I tidied up the inevitable flour spills, (and inevitable little e spills that I had only just noticed–who knows how long they’d been there), looked at the book and saw that it said to only knead FOUR minutes! I hadn’t yet gone over the limit, luckily, but I turned off my mixer pretty soon after that. It turns out, as PR explains in his margin notes, that a particular quality of rye makes it quite gummy if it is overkneaded. What’s more, once you’ve gone gummy, you can’t go back; adding additional wheat flour just won’t help.
You repeat the process adding one of various options to color the second batch of dough a darker hue (I went for cocoa powder, after I saw that my granulated coffee–purchased for cooking, don’t worry–had gone past its date). You add a healthy measure of caraway to both loaves too–how could you have real rye bread without that most Central European of flavors? Then let them rise, side by side!
Now for the marbling! PR suggest two ways to do it: one which we could call a more “abstract” approach and one which we might designate a more classical style. Since this recipe makes two loaves, I figured I try one of each. In both cases you cut your dough into multiple pieces, but in the first method you “smush” it all together (that’s the technical term) and in the second you roll each piece out with a rolling pin, stack them up, and form that into a loaf (“bullseye”).
I didn’t do the best job of putting humpty dumpty back together again. Maybe my dough should have been a tad bit wetter, or maybe I wasn’t thorough enough in forming my loaves. In any case I sort of hoped that when the loaves were set out to rise again, the disparate pieces would grow together into one. (As I write this post, I realize I should have just rolled them along the counter to smooth out the rough edges. Oh, now you tell me….)
And looks aside, they turned out really well. Evidence of the potentially graver misstep of overkneading–gummy dough–was not in evidence. I’d love to make this again though given how these turned out aesthetically, I don’t think I’ll bother with the marbling. It’s the flavor for me! I have always liked rye bread, maybe it always seemed somewhat exotic to me (Maybe this sounds crazy to say about a humble rye bread, but “New York Style Jewish Deli Rye”? Practically every component of that name would sound unusual to someone growing up in Oklahoma. ) Also, is it just me, or does rye bread tend to be a bit drier than other breads? Not a complaint, but just an observation. Probably makes it so great for sandwiches as that drier nature allows it, perhaps, to be a bit sturdier as well and allow those toppings to be piled on.
In closing though, I suppose I must admit that they do look a bit as if, deep below the surface, some subterranean force is quietly causing the loaves separate and grow apart from within…