Rye and I have never been best of friends. I never really ate rye bread during my time in the States. It simply wasn't available. When it was, it was laden with those tricky caraway seeds that were just too strong tasting and smelling. For me, rye bread was simply bread with caraway seeds.
I never gave much thought to the actual rye part of the bread because for me, the two were inseparable. However, when I moved to Germany, I would pick up kilo-and-a-half loaves of rye bread for just under one Euro. The thing is, I ate so much of this bread that I ended up hating rye bread.
When I got back into baking, I was fiercely anti-rye. It was all-wheat all-the-time for me. I would ask bakeries what percentage of rye was in the bread. If they couldn't tell me, I would just move on. I even had a mini-argument about sourdough with someone at one of my favorite bakeries. They claimed that you need rye for sourdough. I stood by my anti-rye stance.
I think that if I hadn't taken part in this challenge, I would never have given rye a second chance. I dragged my feet through the Marbled Rye Bread, and the bread ended up surprising me. Amy even liked the cakey crumb. She said it reminded her of her grandmother's breads. I also dragged my feet through all the rye breads in the sourdough chapter, and ended up on the other side really liking rye. I'm not going to put it in every recipe, but I will definitely and discreetly add some to my future doughs.
The first step was rather puzzling. You sauté onions for a bit and then add them to the sourdough starter. I did this late at night and left the sourdough on the counter until the next day.
Normally I have a much neater mise en place, but sometimes there is so much going on that I can't clear off half the counter to get a good shot. Or, in this case, I couldn't be bothered to find the other lens to take the shot. Well, actually, both.
The dough is mixed gently and left to rise. This winter, I've been putting the breads on the dining table, which is in the living room, one of the two rooms to receive heat during the winter. I would love to heat the kitchen, but there's no door on the frame, and the heat would just dissipate into our very long hallway.
The dough rose nicely, and the bits of onion were still very visible. I don't know if the rye bread in New York also had onions in it. I don't think I ever had a slice of rye when I lived there. I didn't visit any real delis. All the ones I did visit just offered very packed cheese sandwiches in soft baguettes for two bucks.
I decided to use my quarter sheet pans to do free-form loaves.
I should have noted that the dough was quite delicate. It was slack and structureless.
Unfortunately, the dough rose outward instead of upward. Plus surface tension was just not there. My blade just kept dragging, so the cuts came out far from perfect.
The final product, however, was intensely aromatic, and the crust came out mottled. Perhaps some of the onions were too heavy and collapsed in the rather slack dough. The final loaves were only about 4cm high.
Two quarter-sheet pans don't fit in my tiny oven. Which means that a half-sheet pan would be completely useless to me. As it was, I had to stack one edge of one pan over the other one, resulting in a malformed loaf that looked like a wedge more than a bread. That's the second loaf, above. Also, this bread would have been awesome in a loaf pan. Which would make sense since a New York Deli Rye would be used to make sandwiches.
What I loved about this one was that it was another of those just-sneak-another-slice breads. I meant to take a crumb shot, but I was just too busy noshing on this one. The onions were sweet and very much complemented the rye. This is definitely one that I think I'll make again, but next time, it will be snuggled securely between the walls of the loaf pans.
Though I am behind in reading and posting- I still want to give a shout out to my favorite New York Deli Bakers:
Sally from Bewitching Kitchen
Paul from Yumarama
Anne Marie from Rosemary and Garlic
Mags at The Other Side of Fifty