Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homemade Pumpernickle Rye Bread

We love bread. I like it for a snack with a little Earth Balance or for lunch in a veggie, tofu salad or fake BLTA sandwich. J mostly likes it with almond butter and jam for breakfast or a snack. When you think about it, we end up eating quite a bit of bread each week. When my mom was out visiting us a few months ago, she realized how much bread we were going through and she decided that we needed a bread maker. She had recently gone through a phase experimenting with different models and recipes and she made a hard sell for the Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker. I have to admit that I was kind of indifferent to the idea at first. She offered to buy it for me as a gift, so I agreed despite thinking that I might not really use it that often. I was wrong.

I LOVE this bread maker! Now as a point of reference, I must mention that as a rule, I do not bake. It's not to say that I can't bake at all; I have been known to make pretty good pies and a fantastic vegan cornbread, but I don't really like to bake. Part of it is that I'm not a huge sweets person on a normal day, and part of it is that baking is so boring. You mix it all and then stick it in the oven and hope for the best. You can't taste it to see how it's doing or if you should adjust something like you can with cooking. I've logged many more baking failures than cooking failures and I'm happy to leave baking so someone else entirely. So I didn't think this bread maker thing would necessarily work out for me. Little did I know how easy and fool proof these things are. You can't possibly mess up if you just follow the recipe. After making a pretty darn good whole wheat bread recipe for about a month, my mom figured out the perfect recipe for J and me: Pumpernickle Rye. I never need to make anything else again.

I've always liked pumpernickle bread, but I never really had any idea what was in it or why it was brown. This recipe includes a number of unexpected ingredients, but for whatever reason, they all work together to make a flavorful, hearty, nutty bread.

1.5 lb Pumpernickle Rye Bread:
1 1/8 cup lukewarm water
1 3/4 cup bread flour
1 cup rye flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 Tbsp. unsweeteed cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 Tbsp. dark molasses
2 tsp. whole caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp.instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
2 tsp. yeast

The beauty of the bread maker is that you just dump all the ingredients in and the bread makes itself. Add the warm water first. The water should be between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Next add all of the ingredients through the salt. Next add the Earth balance in 4 little lumps near each corner of the pan. Lastly, press a little hole into the dry ingredients and put the yeast in this little hole. Set the bread maker to 1.5 lb. loaf and light crust and press start! In about 3 hours, the loaf will be ready! The outside will be crusty and the inside will be warm and fluffy. I usually try to cut each loaf into 12 slices, but the ends taste the best when it's still fresh and warm.

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