Thursday, April 1, 2010

Onion Rye Retrospective

Baking Onion Rye Bread makes me think of monks in dark brown robes baking in outdoor ovens and stone hearths. It is a lowly bread the smell almost earthy and definitely homey, reminding me of peasants and vows of poverty and [non sequitur] the time my sister won the county fair blue ribbon with this recipe.

When it is rising the bread grows gradually. If the room is too cold the dough will not rise properly and the loaf will be small.

Emotionally, our warmth might come from the love or approval of others, but like the bread we also need physical warmth. Something we take for granted sometimes. I see in my head the scene from The Muppet's Christmas Carol: The rats (clerks) in Scrooge's chilly London offices being refused coal and singing "Tropical Island in the sun..."

The warmth of the sun or the warmth of a smile, when that is missing from our lives we do not feel like rising to our best.

Although in the end all the ingredients will come together to make the bread dough, some are not naturally inclined to mix. The oil sits in patterns atop the molasses and yeast sponge. Stirring the waters only breaks the larger dots into smaller dots of oil sitting on top, it will take the addition of flour to make the two work together. Which is true of people sometimes too.

My loaf of Onion Rye Bread, like all bread began as a yeast sponge. Dry active yeast and warm water. In days gone by this sponge would have needed to sit for half an hour or more, but technology and society have worked their magic even on baking and yeast is instant now.

I am grateful for this, but I am also grateful that the entire baking process still takes time. That although the yeast is instant there is still the mixing by hand, the waiting to rise, the kneading with floury hands, rising again, and the slowly spreading smell of freshly baked bread.

Grateful that some things happen quickly and some things take time, in baking and in life.

Two Loaves Onion Rye Bread

3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups rye flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon salt
4 Tablespoons onion flakes
1/4 cup oil
2 cups lukewarm water
1/3 cup black strap molasses
2 Tablespoons yeast

Mix yeast and water; add rest of ingredients, flour last; knead well.
Let rise for 1 hour; form loaves; raise 1/2 hour more.
Bake 375 degree oven, 30 - 45 minutes.

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