The “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rye” Bread Recipe

If you don’t own a copy of one of their books, will you at least promise to go out and get one soon? I’m speaking of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authors of the amazing and FAB cookbook Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. After realizing just how easy it is to make great bread with little effort, I immediately went out to purchase their second book called Healthy Bread In Five Minutes A Day.

In this recipe (which is modified from their “master recipe” or base recipe in the Healthy Bread book) you’ll be surprised at just how few ingredients there are and how little hands-on time it takes to make it. I say modified because the authors’ approach is to refrigerate the dough, but here I’ll be using it right away. The recipe is also half the original because they intend for you to use some of it now and save the rest for another day. With their method, you will have dough that will continue to double for the next two weeks! I promise to have the original method posted asap. Since we’re now in escrow, I’ve been packing things up – along with my dough bin. (Oh, the shame.) So I take this shortcut because we just can’t do without this bread! The real shameful part is that it will never get that “sour” thing about it – that happens the longer you have your dough. (Too bad.) But this will do and it really is great. This is a quick rye “flavored” bread. It gets the familiar flavors of rye from the caraway seeds that I had on hand. You’ll see that the base dough recipe is very versatile and can be turned into just about anything you want.

Now get everything ready: Measure out the following ingredients, dust your cookie sheet or pizza peel with cornmeal or lay out a piece of parchment paper on it, get out your mixing bowl and spoon, and grab a towel or lid to cover the bowl.

Ingredients

2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tablespoon or 1 packet dry active yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour and extra all-purpose flour for dusting

Optional: Vital wheat gluten, flaxseed meal, caraway and sesame seeds.

Tip: You can use all of one kind of flour if you like.

Proof the yeast in 2 cups of lukewarm water. (Between 110 and 115 degrees F.) Add in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Add in all the rest. For this recipe, I decided to use only whole wheat flour (3 3/4 cups total) and 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten. I also threw in a bit of flaxseed meal for good health! (Do you see how just about anything goes? Really!)

Here’s the trick to “flavored” rye… if you have it on hand, throw in a small amount of caraway seed. We’ll also top it with caraway later. For the record, true rye bread has rye flour in it (duh!) which I didn’t really plan for so that’s why I faked it. I also tossed in a teeny amount of poppy seed for color. If you leave these extras out, then you have wheat bread. Still super yummy!

Thoroughly mix it up. The dough should not be mushy. In fact, you may want it on the firm side so your bread turns out like a stiff sourdough (that’s how the hubby likes it). So you be the judge and add more flour if necessary. Now, and this is important, don’t knead it. You heard it right! Ever since I discovered no-knead breads, that was it. No turning back, right? You just mix and cover it. Wait 2 hours for it to rise.

Now that the dough has risen, this is where I go off track. The original recipe calls for refrigerating the dough at this point. Remember, the recipe was supposed to be doubled and is made for another rising on the day you decide to bake. But it doesn’t matter at all because it will still turn out great despite this shortcut.

Grab that extra flour you held over and generously dust the top of the dough.

Tuck the sides of the dough under itself to form a ball. The point is to have a ball that is easy to work with. Shape it how you want and let it rest on a cookie sheet or pizza peel that has been generously dusted with cornmeal. Wait another 30 minutes.

In the mean time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

If adding a topping, brush it with water to get them to stick.

I added more caraway seed, and also sesame seed for crunch. For the bread to bake evenly, add a slit or two along the top of it right before you put it into the oven. From one big slice down the center to a fancier design, it all works as long as you like it.

Bake for 30 minutes and let it cool on a rack.

Just like the picture on the cover! Yum!!

Tip: When preheating the oven, set an oven-safe bowl or pan inside the oven to get it nice and hot. Once the dough goes in, add 1 cup of hot water to the hot pan to create steam. Yeah, steam! Quickly close the oven door and the steam you create will give your bread a hard outer crust: that signature texture you get from a bakery loaf. Super cool, right?

Tip: To get the crust to shine, use an egg wash instead of plain water.

Tip: Get creative with the flavors. In the past I’ve added tarragon, fennel seed, garlic powder, basil or rosemary, or combinations of herbs I thought would be good together. It’s all good!