Adapted from Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett. Copyright © 2009. Published by Wiley. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved
About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie or @cookistry.
- Yield:makes 2 medium loaves, 12 to 14 slices each
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:up to 2 days, depending on rising method
- 2 1/2 cups (17.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose white flour
- 2 cups (10 ounces) rye flour, plus 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces), plus more as needed
- 2/3 cup light or dark molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 3⁄4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1 1/4 teaspoon instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
- 1/4 cup corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil
- 2 cups ice water, plus more if needed
- 1/3 cup good-quality instant nonfat dry milk (don’t use a generic brand)
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
First Rise: In a very large bowl, thoroughly stir together the white flour, 2 cups of the rye flour, the salt, caraway seeds, anise seeds, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk the molasses and the oil into the water until well blended. Vigorously stir the mixture into the bowl with the flours, scraping down the bowl sides and mixing until the dough is well blended and smooth. If too dry to mix completely, a bit at a time, add in enough more ice water to blend the ingredients and yield a firm but not hard-to-stir dough. Brush or evenly spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
Second Rise:: In a small, deep bowl, stir together the dry milk, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water until well blended. Gradually stir the milk mixture, then 1/2 cup of the rye flour, into the dough until well blended and no streaks remain; the mixture will be hard to stir, so you may prefer to work in the flour with well-oiled fingertips (or use a dough hook and heavy-duty mixer on low). If necessary, working in the bowl, lift and turn it while dusting with and smoothing in more rye flour, as the dough should be very stiff. Cut the dough in half with well-oiled kitchen shears. Put the dough portions in two 8 1/2x 4 1/2-inch well-oiled loaf pans. Lightly brush the tops with some of the remaining melted butter. Smooth and press the dough evenly into the pans, tucking it under at the ends. Brush with more butter. Cover the tops with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap.
Let Rise Using Any Of These Methods: For a 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1- to 1 1/2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or, for an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 48 hours, then set out at room temperature. When the dough nears the plastic, remove it and continue the rise until the dough extends 1/2 inch above the pan rims.
When Ready to Bake: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350ºF.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF. Bake on the lower rack for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the loaves are very well browned. Cover the tops with foil and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with slightly moist crumbs on the tip (or until the center registers 202º to 204ºF on an instant-read thermometer). Bake for about 10 minutes longer to ensure the centers are done. Brush the loaf tops evenly with the remaining melted butter. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the loaves to loosen, then turn out onto the racks. Let cool thoroughly.
Serve warm, or cool, or toasted; the bread slices best when cool. Cool thoroughly before storing in plastic or foil. Keeps at room temperature for up to 3 days. May be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.