This recipe is adapted from Beard on Bread, James Beard, © 1973, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and, until Grandmother Bread, it was my go-to reference for all things doughy. This recipe is different from most, it calls for beer and extra honey. As Mr. Beard says, the dough is pleasant to handle and the finished product looks great, has a nice texture and has great flavor. This recipe makes one large or two small free-form loaves. (I prefer two small loaves.)
Servings: VARIOUSPrep Time: 30-40 minutes, 5 hours rise and rest Cook Time: ~1 hour
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (~100 °F to 115°F)
2 cups ale or beer heated to lukewarm
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (I find 1/2 cup too sweet)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon aniseed, crushed*
2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
2 1/2 cups rye flour
3 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon aniseed, crushed means to measure 3/4 teaspoon whole aniseed, then crush seeds. If you use 3/4 teaspoon of crushed aniseed, you may find the flavor overpowering.
Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl. Let proof for 5 minutes. Combine the lukewarm ale or beer, honey, butter, and salt; stir well. Add to the yeast mixture. Add the cardamom, aniseed, and orange peel. Mix the rye and wheat flours together. Add 3 cups of the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and beat very hard with a wooden spoon. Cover with a cloth or foil and let rise in warm place for 45 to 60 minutes.
Stir down and add enough of the remaining flour to make a fairly stiff, although sticky, dough. Turn out onto a board. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour, if needed, to work the dough until smooth and elastic. Knead well. Dough will not lose its tackiness entirely, but it will become much smoother. Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat with butter on all sides. Cover with a cloth or foil and let rise in warm place for 45 to 60 minutes.
Punch down, shape into one large ball or two smaller balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with butter, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. (3 is better.) Remove from refrigerator. Let sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom: 1 hour for the large loaf, about 40 to 45 minutes for the small loaves. Cool on racks before slicing.
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