Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pecan and Currant Salt-Crusted Rye Bread

It seems a rite of passage for women to stress and fret over a thanksgiving meal. And while I cannot begin to explain the mystical voodoo that makes women want to impale themselves with the nearest turkey baster, I do know that if you have some easy recipes for simple homemade holiday treats, the rest falls into a place. But as ever candid, very comical friend Jean says, “Sheesh, it’s just dinner, it’s not like you don’t eat for the other 364 days of the year.” Tried and true recipes, loving family and friends, and grateful heart, seems to be all you need for a great Thanksgiving.

So speaking of tried and true, this recipe was a gift. Literally, my graduation from college present, and my first experience in fine dining was when a wonderful family of friends took me and my childhood buddy to the Inn at Little Washington. Due to a fortunate mishap of events, they lost our reservation and we were seated at the chef table. Little did I know, years later I would be taking culinary courses from the then Souse Chef Bonnie Moore. Nor did I realize the privilege of watching Chef Patrick O’Connel work. Nonetheless, if the spectacular meal, in the grandiose fire place kitchen with monastic hymns was not gift enough, we received an autographed copy of his recipes. In that book was this recipe for a salt-crusted Pecan and Currant Rye Bread. It is very easy and always delicious.
For the bread…
2 cups of warm water not hotter than body temperature
1 Tablespoon of dry yeast or a package is roughly equivalent
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
2 ½ cups of rye flour
3 cups of all purpose or bread flour
1 ½ Tablespoons of Caraway Seeds (plus more for crusting)
1 Tablespoon of table salt
1 cup of currants or raisins
1 cup of chopped pecans
In a mug pour together the warm water, sugar, and yeast allows proofing for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
In a separate bowl measure out all of your dry ingredients, don’t worry you will use it again. I pour it all in and use a whisk to mix up the seeds, salt, and flours.
Now into your mixer with the dough hook attached they all go mug o yeasty water and dry goods. After about two minutes and the dough forms a ball around the hook, add your pecans and currants. After another two minutes and the dough is a well incorporated ball, take a oil or cooking spray and grease the bowl you mixed all the dry ingredients. Place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with a warm damp tea towel, and allow to rest in a warm place. If you live where it is cold and your house is 60 F like mine, use this nifty trick. Take a mug, the same one you used before is fine, heat up a cup of water in the microwave. After a minute, push the mug to the back of the microwave and place in your dough. The mug and hot water will keep the microwave at about 80 F for an hour. Let your dough rise and rest for about an hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
Shape your dough into three small loaves, and wet the top with tap water. Using your hands crust the top with more caraway seeds and your favorite salt. I used grey sal de mer, but kosher is plenty fine too.
Bake for 30 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.
There you have it delicious holiday treat with minimal effort. Serve it with any cheese, butter, or any jam or jelly you wish. I love it with cream cheese and pepper jelly.
Much love, many blessings, and happy baking and Thanksgiving! I hope you are having a blessed day of feeling full and grateful.

1 comment:

Dave said...

The best bread ever!