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"Yet another Rye bread," I thought; but this was not your ordinary rye. In fact, I daresay this wasn't even close to the rye flavor that I have been gradually getting used to thus far. Apparently, this bread is also a traditional Christmas bread and usually heavily spiced and flavorful. Reinhart's version is leaded with molasses, orange peel, anise, fennel, and cardamon. When this bread was baking, it perfumed the kitchen with an incredible aroma, and I was drooling the whole time because I loved the smell of all these wonderful spices together. My husband usually hates anything with cardamon, but he loved this bread and promptly devoured it in a matter of a couple of days. If you like baking with exotic spices, this bread is definitely for you! Follow along on page 257 in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and you too can have an incredibly aromatic kitchen. Another one for yeastspotting!
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The day before making the bread, the aromatic sponge was made by cooking the molasses, orange, spices and water to a low boil.

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The mixture was then cooled to lukewarm and into it was added the rye flour and "Adam", my wild yeast starter. It was left to ferment for a few hours until foamy and then refrigerated overnight. Here is the sponge the next day.  .

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The final dough was made using bread flour, brown sugar, shortening, a little more wild yeast, and salt. The dough was kneaded until it registered around 77 degreesF. It was then left to bulk rise until almost doubled in size.

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The dough was then divided into two loaves and I opted to make them in loaf pans.

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delicious with a little butter!
 
 
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I am actually happy that this bread recipe came up after some weeks had already passed from the holidays. I love eating all the celebratory sweets and goodies during the winter festivities, but to be honest, I may not have enjoyed the taste or the smell of this bread quite as much as now. Earlier in the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart gave us the pannetone recipe which was super (and I am not sure if it's the different alcohol soaked fruit, or the powdered sugar), but, I believe I liked this bread a little better than the former. However, Peter says that this recipe can double as pannetone as well. This is bread #36 in the Bread Baker's Challenge and you can follow along in the book if you have it, or you can find the recipe from a fellow baker here.
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The night before, the sponge is made using warm milk , flour, and I used "Adam", my wild yeast to get things going. Cover and let ferment until foamy bubbly and when tapped on the side, it collapses.

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After putting the sponge aside, soak a combination of dried fruits with alcohol. I used dried papaya, golden raisins, and dried cranberries soaked in Grand Marnier liquor, and orange extract. Cover, and toss after a few hour to make sure the alcohol is distributed evenly and all the fruit has soaked up the lovely juices.

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The next day, mix together the flour, water, sugar, egg, salt, orange and lemon zests, along cinnamon and butter to form a "tacky but not sticky" dough. Cover the dough at this point and let rest for 10 mins or so.

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Next comes the mixing of the fruit into the final dough. because of the wetness of the soaked fruit, I found this step a little harder than I thought. The dough was left to bulk ferment and it took mine about 6 hours to almost double in size.

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I took out the risen dough and then punched it down and divided it into two sections. As for the filling, Reinhart gives you the option of either putting blanched, slivered almonds into the center, or using marzipan. I went for the almonds and both sprinkled it over the top and in the middle before shaping into a crescent shape.

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Fresh from the oven, the bread smelled delicious and was ready for the oil to be bushed on top before so the powdered sugar can stick.

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Sprinkle the powdered sugar wile still hot, and Reinhart's instructions were to "generously" coat the bread with the sugar. This seemed to be an important step because the heat of the loaf seemed to melt away the sugar. So, I added even extra after a minute or so. the book tells you to wait an hour before digging in, but I found that to be difficult as well. I sliced it after 30 minutes.
Yeastspotted.

 
 
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I love sunflower seeds. They are delicious, nutritious, and have a very happy name that makes me smile whenever I eat them. So, when I saw this next bread I was overjoyed to be using them in this recipe. By now, I have already baked and eaten my weight in rye breads, but somehow the sunflower seeds just makes this next one seem less disheartening. This is bread recipe #35 in The Bread Baker's Apprentice book by Peter Reinhart, and according to Mr Reinhart, this recipe is an adaptation of Craig Ponsford's 1995 Coup du Monde team. Mr Reinahrt uses both a soaker, a wild yeast starter, and commercial yeast, but if you ahve been following along while I am doing this Challenge, you will see that I am attempting all of his recipes using only wild yeast. As per the rules of the Challenge, I will not post the recipe, but you can follow along on page 249 in the book, or find a copy here.
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So, my wild yeast:"Adam" is alive and kicking on the left, along with the rye soaker left overnight on the right.

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The next day, the soaker, Adam, and the rest of the final dough ingredients gets to be all cozy together into a tacky but not sticky ball.

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Now here is where the good stuff goes in- the addition of toasted sunflower seeds. The smell of toasted sunflower seeds made me a little crazy when they came out of the oven, because I was eating a kernel here and there while they were cooling off. So, I may have had slightly less seeds in the final bread than the recipe called for.

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After I managed to incorporate all the seeds into the flour, the dough cam together rather nicely. It was left to bulk ferment until almost doubled in size. For me, that actually took about 5 hours.

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After bulk fermenting, the dough was then divided into two and shaped into the "couronne" loaves as you can see. They were then left to rise again until almost doubled in volume and to be put into a screaming hot oven.(500 degreesF along with poring boiling water into a pan) I then lowered the oven temp to 450 degrees F and continued baking until done-- around 25 mins or so.

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The final loaves were beautiful and oh so tasty. I found the sunflower seed taste to be just as "loyal" as Mr Reinhart says, and the slices were perfect as an accompaniment to cheese and wine. Who knew sunflowers and rye would be such a delicious combo. I will definitely be making this one again!
yeastpotted

 
 
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So, here is another rye recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I am one of many people across the online community of bakers who is participating in the BBA Challenge, only I am planning to do all if not most of the bread recipes using wild yeast only. As per the rules of the challenge, I am not posting the recipe but in case you still don't have your copy of the book you can find an adapted version here. This is bread number 34, and If you have been keeping up, I have been really impressed by the rye bread recipes so far. Not being a huge fan of rye breads in the past, I am slowly re-thinking my distaste for rye breads. I always thought of Pumpernickel bread as being dark from the color of the rye itself, but it appears that is not the case at all.
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This is a 2 day bread using a wild yeast starter, and in my case ONLY wild yeast. "Adam", (my wild yeast) was refreshed and bubbled away like a champ.

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The recipe also says to use bread crumbs,preferably rye bread crumbs. I had some leftover rye bread from the previous rye bread and toasted and then ground coarsely for texture as was recommended by Reinhart.

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Here is the final dough kneaded and oiled-- ready for the initial rise. This one was also not over-kneaded so as not to make the rye become "gummy".

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The second rise took forever. I waited for 7 hours before putting the loaf into the oven, and it still didn't have an impressive rise. I don't know if that is the nature of rye flour or not, but so far, none of the rye breads had an impressive spring.

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This loaf was very chewy and dense with a heavy crumb. I now understand why as a kid I always saw pumpernickel breads sliced so thin. Also, Reinhart was absolutely spot on about the addition of day old bread to improve the texture, which seemed give a interesting crunch that was unexpected. The tasty loaf was probably my favorite so far and quite difficult to resist when hot from the oven. yeastspotted.

 
 
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I was actually a little intimidated when I first thought of making this bread. In case you've missed out, I have been baking my way through the cookbook: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This bread, which is on the cover of his book, mimics the bread Lionel Poilane made famous from his family recipe. We went to Paris and found one of Poilane's bakery in the St Germain district and were completely blown away by his breads. In fact, we were so excited when we smelled the aroma, we had eaten all of the bread and forgotten to take pictures. So, you can imagine the fear and the delight when I saw this recipe in the book and thought about recreating such an iconic delight. What I really loved about this recipe is that Peter goes into the explanation using "clear flour" which is not easy to obtain here in the States, but he says to sift the bran from whole wheat to get a similar product.Follow along on page 242 or you can find the recipe here.
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Since I did not have any clear flour, I took the time to sift whole wheat flour into a bowl. I was actually amazed at how much bran was left behind, and almost felt guilty leaving it out. But, I knew I could save it for another application elsewhere.

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Here is the firm sponge mixed with my starter:"Adam" and left to ferment for a few hours. I then refrigerated it overnight to retard slowly.

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The next day I cut the starter blob into several pieces and waited about an hour to take the chill off. I then mixed the final dough ingredients along with the now room temp starter into a soft, pliable dough.

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The dough should be tacky but not sticky. The dough was then left to rise until it doubled. For me this took about 5 hours or so.

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After the dough had risen I then gently formed the dough into a free form boule to rise againtil it reached 1.5 times it's initial size,

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Here is the risen dough slashed and ready to go into a preheated oven at 500 degrees. I used the spray method to create steam in the oven and reduced the oven temp to 450. After 25 mins, I then rotated the loaf and reduced the temp again to 425 degrees an baked until it was a deep golden brown. (about 30mins longer)

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This bread tasted really wonderful. There was a lovely nutty flavor and yet the wheatiness was less apparent than in other whole wheat breads that I 'd baked. Of course to me, Poilane's bread in Paris was so much better-- but maybe that's because I was in Paris. Yeastspotted