The Uncommon Loaf
Living in southern Japan, where even the most basic of ovens, beloved from childhood , are rare and extraordinarily expensive makes a baker's life challenging, and a home baker's more than just a bit frustrating. In need of crusty, heavy, unsweet breads, my sweetheart of a husband purchased an 'oven' for me quite a few years ago. At least he thought it was an oven. Really its internal measurements are about double of an oven toaster, and it can- microwave, top and bottom electrically heat, convection heat but only if the round microwave ceramic plate is used, top toast, grill, heat sake to the exact temperature required, proof bread, and yes, talk to you. I never would have believed then how comfortable and devoted to this bizarre machine I have become. Together, we have baked as many as 20 loaves in a day, a therapeutic response to having left my work in Europe and wanting to keep my skills on par, I sent my spouse to work with paperbags full of breads almost every week for months .
And then I found them, after weeks and months and constant vigilence lest they close suddenly; bakeries making quite good baguettes, whole grain malt breads, rye breads. The sad part was they closed often, unable to find a wide enough market willing to part from supersoft, superwhite supersquare 'bread'. Those that did not close modified their recipes to meet the taste and texture that would sell better and in some cases, simply stopped making the breads I craved. I special ordered one bread in particular- Pan d'Fruilli was their name, pronounced as padufrui.And I experimented at home, until I got it almost exactly as remembered,but not perfect. And then, one day, I went to order and they had closed. In its place was a German bakery, which often made one or two very nice creations but! not my rye bread that barely rises and is filled with chopped nuts, cherries, peel and spices.
Unable to give up my morning ritual of thinly sliced and toasted bread with butter and a cup of tea, I set out to recreate it once again, only half the standard size so it might fit inside my oven. I searched recipes high and low, Laurel's Kitchen, Rustic European Breads to name a few of many, and hours on the internet. I even wrote my fellow bakers overseas,and finally I sat down with my very first bread book I ever used, Tassajara's Bread Book and significantly modified their recipe . I cut the measurements in half so it would fit in my little oven and waiting for the results. After much tampering with the recipe, and allowing for vast variations in the supplies of flour and ingredients that were available, I am happy to say, I now have my bread and tea again.
- 3c.warm water
- 1tsp yeast
- 1/4c.corn syrup/honey mixture
- 1/4c. dry milk powder
- 2-5 cups unbleached white flour
- 2-4 cups rye flour
- 1/4 cup melted butter or oil
- extra white and rye flour for kneading
- 1 cup dried marinated mixed fruits(cherries, raisins, orange and lemon peel)
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts-walnuts
- orange liquer/rum as soaking agent for fruit
- 1tsp salt
Dissolve the yeast in water. Stir in sweetener and dry milk. Stir in enough white flour mixed with salt until a thick batter is formed. Beat well (I use the kitchenaid mixer).Let rise 60 minutes until frothy and spongey.
Fold in salt and oil and additional flour-rye, until it comes away from the bowl. Knead in machine or on a board until smooth. Alternatively, the throwing method works well. Let rise until double,about 50 minutes. Punch down.
take 3/4 of the bread and flatten, mix fruits and nuts with cinnamon, spread on dough and roll up. Make a round shape and wrap remaining dough around it.
Let rise about until 2/3rds about 25 minutes.
Bake at 175 c.350f. Bake until hollow sound and hard tapping, nicely browned, about one hour.
rest and cool.