Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cocktail Rye Bread

Cocktail rye was pretty common when I was growing up, but it's been a while since I've seen it. Maybe it's a regional  thing, or maybe it has gone out of style. It's not so much a style of bread, but it's about the shape. Cocktail rye was a small loaf, thinly sliced.

In our house, it was typically served as the base for chopped chicken livers, or sometimes cream cheese, always served open-faced. Cocktail rye was the untoasted rye version of crostini.

Most of the bread that came into our house was destined for very utilitarian sandwiches, so little bread seemed very fancy to me. Even if it was just a snack in front of the TV, it felt like a party.

I used pumpernickel flour, but I know that most stores don't stock a lot of different rye flours - you can use whatever rye flour you have on hand, or whatever you can find. I'm usually a big fan of giving precise measurement for baking recipes, but in this case, you might need to adjust a bit, depending on the rye flour you use. It's more important to have the right texture than to adhere to precise measurements.

Cocktail Rye

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup pumpernickel or dark rye flour
2 cups bread flour (plus more, as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Combine the water, yeast, and rye flour in the bowl of your stand mixer and stir to combine. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It should be a bit bubbly.

Add 2 cups of bread flour, salt, and cider vinegar. Knead with the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the dough is elastic - it won't be smooth because of the rye flour. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the oil is incorporated.

Turn off the mixer and touch the dough - it should be tacky rather than sticky. If the dough is still sticky add more bread flour - perhaps up to another 1/4 cup - as needed. Add the caraway seeds and knead until they are well distributed.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size - about 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Flour your work surface, turn out the dough, and divide it into 3 roughly equal pieces. Form each piece into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between them for them to rise.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Let the loaves cool completely on a rack before cutting.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.