It happened in Paris. Pressing my nose practically against the glass cut window of a wonderful tiny boulangerie many, many years ago is where I first saw them. Different shapes and sizes, all dusted lovingly with some hard wheat flour, they shone like diamonds in a jewelry store. Oui, Paris is where I first saw bread truly outside its ubiquitous cellophane wrapper.
That very first trip to Paris taught me a lesson in preparing the stuff of life. Always make bread by hand and slice off pieces only when you need them. After years of almost getting the shape right, this week I found a tres magnifique mold for creating European country breads.
The Brotform is a bread rising basket that helps to create the crunchy crust, great textured and irresistible aroma that is my memory of that first Parisian bread. I tried for many years to exactly duplicate those bakeries, and I came close, but now I think I’ve reached a new level of baking success.
Just simply put your dough to rise in the Brotform (flour the Brotform well first) to create a beautifully shaped bread. Then unmold the bread and bake it on a baking sheet. And voila; you’re in Paris and it didn’t even cost you a plane ticket.
ARTISAN RYE BREAD
2 packages ( 1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
2 cups warm water( 105-115 degrees)
1 cup non fat dry milk powder
1/3 cup dark molasses
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
3-3/12 cups bread flour
3 cups rye flour
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Add the milk powder and molasses. Let the mixture stand until it foams.
2. Add in the oil and salt. Begin adding 2 cups of the bread flour either by hand or by electric mixer set at medium speed for 5 minutes. Mix until the dough looks smooth. Add in the rye flour and about 1 cup more of the remaining bread flour. The dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel, let it rest for 15 minutes.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until satiny and smooth. Add more bread flour as necessary. Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough and turn to coat the entire ball of dough with the oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk for about 1 hour.
4. After the dough has risen, punch it down. Form into 2 round loaves. Add the dough and place it in the Brotform that has been generously sprinkled with flour. Cover the dough and let rise again in a warm place until doubled.
5. Carefully unmold the dough from the Brotform and place on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf with water. Using a sharp knife make four diagonal slashes on top of the loaf. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the dough is cooked through. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.