Winter has me baking a lot — bread, especially — so this week when it got unbearably frigid outside I came up with a bread for breakfast and snack-time that pulls inspiration from three very different recipes: my grandmother's English muffin toasting bread, a thin dark 100% rye I used to be able to find in health food stores but alas no longer, and the fruity, nutty, seediness of my "truly everything bagels" recipe.
I wanted a rye bread, but I didn't have the energy to do the whole sourdough starter thing, so I knew I needed to mix up the flours a bit. A rye bread with yeast will rise just a little, so by nature you will have a very dense bread that is best suited for toasting. That satisfied my craving for Grandma Betty's toasting bread. This was also coming pretty close to the packaged rye bread I used to buy, and for extra rye flavor, I added ground caraway seeds. As for the fruit and nuts and seeds, I used what I had around, which was pumpkin seeds, dried sour cherries and a scoop of shredded coconut.
Try making this bread with any mixture of seeds, chopped nuts, or dried fruit. Just promise me you'll toast it. A liberal application of butter is also pretty essential.
Rye Toasting Bread with Dried Cherries & Pumpkin Seeds
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 1/4-ounce package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110°F)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1 3/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) rye flour, divided
1 1/4 cups (5 1/2 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (3 1/4 ounces) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm (110°F) water. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the warm milk and molasses. In another small bowl, combine the cherries, pumpkin seeds and coconut. Pour over enough water to barely cover.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the rye flour (reserving 1/4 cup), bread flour, wheat flour, salt and ground caraway seeds. Pour in the milk-molasses mixture and the yeast mixture, and stir until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic — about 5 minutes. As you knead, add enough of the remaining rye flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. This dough will be more sticky than a non-rye dough, however. Do not let it get too dry.
Drain the fruit mixture and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Knead it into the bread dough until well-distributed.
Form the dough into a ball and place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Punch the dough down; cover and let rest for 10 more minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Score the top with a sharp knife. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rest another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. When the bread has rested, bake for about 45 minutes or until hollow-sounding when tapped on the underside. Cool on a wire rack. Serve sliced very thin and toasted.