Saturday, January 13, 2007

Accidental Bread


Sunday, January 14, 2007

I really wasn't going to do any more no-knead bread for a while. After all, this was probably going to be my last weekend with a kitchen, so I probably should try something new. But I was intrigued by the idea of doing a caraway-rye NKB, so I thought I'd do just one more.
I know that if you're experimenting, you shouldn't change more than one variable at a time, so the rye flour should have been the single variable. But I decided to kick up the salt a little and also add about 1/4 cup of sourdough starter. And the caraway seeds, of course. As I was mixing the dough, I wondered why my caraway seeds were so big and green. Umm. Yes, the caraway seeds were actually fennel seeds, which I absent-mindedly dumped in instead of caraway seeds as I was having visions of turning out the perfect loaf of no-knead caraway rye. I tried to fish them out, but it was soon clear that that was a losing proposition. Then I had to decide whether to add the caraway seeds that I had really wanted in the first place or just to settle for what might be a very odd fennel rye bread. Well, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I said to myself, pausing a bit to work out the meaning of that expression, and I put in the caraway seeds too, plus some minced shallots. This gave me about five variables.
I went to my computer and googled "fennel bread," and was heartened to see how many people before me had made fennel bread. Why, Amy's Bread has a semolina bread with golden raisins and fennel (it's their signature bread). I also found a Russian Black Rye bread made with ta-da! rye flour, caraway seed, and fennel seed. This is made by a place call Persimmon Hill Farm and is available at the Oklahoma Food Coop I began to think craftily that I would not have to admit my little error, but just claim that I had intended all along to bake a rye loaf with caraway and fennel seeds. I could even claim it as my signature bread. I could do it, I said to myself in the immortal words of Richard Milhous Nixon, but it would be wrong.
Accident or no, this turned out to be the best NKB I've made so far. Not as holey as some of the other versions, but still a lovely crackly crust. It looked a little flatter than some of the others, so maybe if you use rye flour, you should put in a little extra yeast. Still, I can't complain about the texture.

In fact, I can't complain about anything. I think I got the salt just right this time (18 grams, which is almost a full tablespoon), and the addition of the starter added just a little extra flavor, as did the shallots. And, do you know, I like the combination of fennel and caraway seeds. Who knows what other accidental discoveries might be out there just waiting for someone to fail to read the label.

5 comments:

kneadtobake said...

Marie,
Your husband better appreciate you, your talents in the kitchen are incredible, I don't know how you find the time, with a full time job, and a busy social life, you still find time to bake delicious goodies. I am very happy you have been continuing your blog, it reads better than the comic strip.
I also have been experimenting with the NKB, yesterday it was a cracked wheat version, it was great. Your fennel--caraway rye sounds delicious, thanks for sharing.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Marie,

Your bread is wonderful!

Here in Brazil, we add fennel seeds to cornmeal cake - it's delicious!

Mrs. Mel said...

Fennel seeds are what make Italian sausage taste the way it does, so the next thought would be oregano and garlic, leaving out the rye flour of course. My mouth, she drools.

breadbasketcase said...

Knead to Bake,
Jim assures me that he does appreciate me. If I tell him that my car is low on gas, he generally runs right out to fill it up for me. I call that evidence of appreciation--unless he has a guilty conscience. And cracked wheat NKB sounds great!

Patricia,
A Brazilian fennel-cornmeal cake sounds wonderful. I do love the taste of fennel, which is probably why fennel, not caraway, was in the front row of spices.

Mrs. Mel,
Your Italian bread idea also sounds delicious. So many breads, so little time!

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