Bread can be the perfect accompaniment for almost everything, but I particularly like eating it with cheese.
I have been staying in Paris and Alsace I have been making the most of of both.
I like artisan breads – handmade and hand-shaped breads of all shapes and sizes, thin baguettes with a maximum crust, two kilo loaves cut to size by weight –preferably dense, and moist sourdoughs with a crusty outer and a chewy centre.
I like bread made with stone milled flours, whole grain breads with everything grainy from the larger sunflower and pumpkin seeds to millet, flax and poppy seeds, all wholesome breads.
Those breads made with rye flour are almost always my favourites especially pains aux noix laden with walnuts.
I have always particularly liked heavy rye breads – the moist, sturdier breads flavoured with caraway and the heavy textured kind……and I could not have wished for better rye breads than the ones I sampled in Copenhagen and Malmö.
I am sure that I could taste orange rind, fennel seeds, caraway seeds and cardamom in the bread in the photo above.
One of the only times I like the drier, white bread is when I am eating tomatoes drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil or a sweet gorgonzola. The bread in Northern Italy was perfect for this.
The following recipe is very easy to make and achieves a moist grainy textured bread. Although there are no additional flavours in the recipe any of the following flavours can be added to the mixture – grated orange rind, fennel seeds, caraway seeds and powdered cardamom.
Lionel Vatinet is a successful artisan baker. He joined France’s prestigious artisans’ guild, Les Compagnons du Devoir, at age 16. After apprenticing with respected French and European bakers for 7 years he gained the title of Maitre Boulanger (Master Baker). He is preserving the ancient art and science of bread baking in his bakery La Farm Bakery from North Carolina (of all places!).
From A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker
- 1/2 cup rye berries, rinsed and drained
- 5 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup millet, rinsed and drained
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce- 7.5 gm) active dry yeast
- 4 cups whole-grain rye flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
- vegetable oil, for greasing
In a small saucepan, cover the rye berries with 2 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently over moderately low heat until all of the water has been absorbed and the rye berries are al dente, about 40 minutes. Spread the rye berries on parchment paper and let cool completel
Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, cover the millet with 1 cup of the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed and the millet is halfway to tender, about 12 minutes. Spread the millet on parchment paper and let cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the yeast with the remaining 2 1/4 cups of water and let stand until foamy, 10 minutes. Add both of the flours and the salt and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Mix in the cooled rye berries and millet along with 3/4 cup of the rolled oats. Scrape the dough into a greased large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm spot until doubled, about 2 hours.
Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of oats on a work surface and scrape the dough onto them. Roll the dough until coated with the oats, then pat into a large brick shape. Transfer the dough to a greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan (23 x 13 x 7cm), loaf pan and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let stand in a warm spot until slightly risen, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Bake the bread for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until lightly browned on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 200°. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Take out of the mold and let cool completely.