Warning: I have not baked this bread! Now that that's out of the way...
I have a 1948 edition of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer. It had belonged to my mother; a wedding gift, I believe.
Although the CAI (not to be confused with the CIA or with the other CIA--good grief, now I'm getting confused!) itself had a rather spotty history, it's cookbook lives on in various reprintings. For its time, it was a big deal in cookbooks. It has a profusion of photographs, some in color. It's big--over 1000 pages, including the index. It covers everything from basic information about ingredients to advice for planning a party; from appetizers to pulled sugar work. More than just being a cookbook, it strives for a certain sense of personality or style. As Ms. Berolzheimer put it, "The elusive charm of this personality stems from clear overtones: a light touch--a sense of humor--a flair for the clever idea in cooking and serving that results in something called style, but above all a feeling for the kind of beauty that women want about them in their work-a-day world." I suspect that what I saw in the kitchen of our small farmhouse in northern Michigan was probably something different than Ms. Berolzheimer envisioned while she lived in the big city of Chicago.
In any event, the book also contains recipes for various yeasted and quick breads. This one for Dark Rye Bread caught my eye and I thought that some of you might be interested. Note that a bread with the same title is still included in the newer editions of the book but that the contents have been radically changed.
Dark Rye Bread
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cake yeast
15.5 cups sifted light rye flour
1 cup freshly mashed potatoes
1 quart lukewarm water
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons caraway seed
Mix the sugar and crumbled yeast; allow to stand until the yeast liquifies. In a large bowl, sift in 6 cups of the rye flour. Combine the sugar, yeast, potatoes and water; then stir into flour. Mix until smooth.
Add the salt, the caraway seed, and another 6 cups of flour. Mix thoroughly rather than kneading. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in bulk.
Place the dough on a floured board and knead in additional flour until the dough is smooth and almost stiff enough to hold its shape as a single large loaf. (This may take 3-4 cups of flour to achieve.)
Round the dough up into one large loaf and place it on a floured baking sheet. Let it rise until it has doubled in bulk, perhaps 1.5 hours.
Pierce the dough lightly with a fork, brush the top with cold water, and place it in an oven that has been preheated to 425F. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and bake for 45 minutes longer. Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the top with cold water.
Makes one very large loaf. (Ya think?!)
As I said at the top, I have not made this bread. For one thing, locating light rye flour is something of a challenge for me. But even if it weren't, I'm pretty sure that I would not be a happy camper with it as written. Picture the poor soul who is acquainted with wheaten breads that tries to make this for the first time ever. Oh, the stickiness! Frankly, I'd skip the knead-on-a-floured-board business and just leave the dough in the bowl. That would at least allow me to keep one hand clean for things like adding flour while using the other as my kneading/mixing implement.
I would also convert this to use a rye sour, rather than using commercial yeast. There are so many advantages that accrue from using a sour in a 100% rye bread. But then, I'd be making a different bread, wouldn't I?
Anyway, there you are; a small look back at baking at home in the mid-20th century.