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The comforting and inviting smell of home-baked bread should be reason enough to try baking at home. Home-baked bread also offers more nutrients than commercially manufactured breads and, of course, there are no preservatives in this bread. Although baking bread takes some time, the taste and nutritional benefits of baking your own bread makes the effort worthwhile.

No-Knead Sourdough Rye

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I came up with this recipe for rye bread based on the process for no-knead breads developed by Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery. Plus I often think about how I can use my sourdough starter that I always have available in my refrigerator. So I combined the two and the results were a delicious rye bread that goes really well with soup or a salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant rise yeast
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey

Directions

You will need a Dutch Oven or a Cloche Baker (round or long) for this recipe.

cloche baker

Mix the flours, salt, yeast and caraway in a large bowl. Combine the honey, starter and water in a measuring cup and, gradually, add the liquids until the dough comes together into a wet dough.

You may need a little more water, 2-3 tablespoons more, if the dough seems dry. The dough should be fairly moist.

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Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

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Flour a work surface and gently turn the dough out.  Fold the edges in and pinch them to form a ball.

Let the dough rise on a well floured towel or parchment lined bowl.  

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I like to line a round bread basket with parchment paper, cut to fit the basket, because the bread does not flatten out too much, as no-knead doughs can sometimes do.

After 1-2 hours, the dough should have fully risen.

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During the last 45 minutes of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the cloche baker or dutch Oven on a low rack.

After 45 minutes, remove the baker from the oven and turn the oven down to 450 degrees F. Use well insulted pot holders, as the baker will be very hot.

Using the parchment as a sling, gently lower the dough with the parchment  into the preheated baker.

Be careful to not touch the baker as it is very hot! Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.

Place the lid on the baker and put the baker into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.

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After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes, until the bread is deep brown in color and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205°F.

To keep the crust crackly, turn the oven off, crack the door open, and let the bread cool inside the oven for 30 minutes.

Sourdough English Muffins

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There are many recipes for English Muffins but this one is a favorite in my family. It is easy to make and tastes great for breakfast, especially with homemade jam. I like making my own English Muffins because they have a fresh, clean taste, that store-bought muffins do not seem to have. Adding a little whole wheat flour gives the muffins some added nutrition. You do need to buy English Muffin rings to make this recipe, but the process I use won’t make a mess from cooking the muffins on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) potato flour (not starch)
  • 2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, set out on the kitchen counter, covered, overnight
  • Semolina flour or cornmeal

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients except the semolina in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Mix and then beat at high speed using the flat beater paddle for 5 minutes.

The dough will be soft, sticky and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise for about 90-120 minutes, until doubled in bulk.

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Grease the rings with cooking spray.

Place 16 rings on two parchment covered sheet pans and sprinkle a little semolina or cornmeal in each muffin ring,  

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Fill each ring almost to the top. I used a small muffin scoop to make it easier. Pat the dough a little to get it to the sides of the rings.

Place a sheet of parchment paper that has been coated with cooking spray on top of the rings and lay another sheet pan on top. This step helps the muffins retain their shape. Let rise 30 minutes.  

Remove the top pan and parchment and sprinkle the tops of the risen muffins with semolina. Replace the parchment paper, sprayed side down, and the baking sheets.

Forgive the view but my pans are very old and have seen a lot of baking.

Forgive the view but my pans are very old and have seen a lot of baking.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake the muffins (with the baking sheet on top) for 10 minutes. Flip the pans over and rotate the pans on the oven racks. Bake 5 minutes more.

Remove the top pan and parchment, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the muffins are a light golden brown and the interior of one registers about 200°F on a digital thermometer.

Remove the muffins from the oven. Remove the muffin rings (they will slide right off) and transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

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