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Rye bread that takes time

Here’s a simple recipe that will take you weeks to produce and is worth all the time. There are compromises to be made at every step, but I’ll outline the whole shebang:

You’ll need a grinder. This Komo Fidibus style is my favorite.

You’ll need whole ‘rye berries’. That’s because they’re cheaper, fresher and because you don’t grind them until you need them, much more delicious. It’s okay to buy some Bob’s Red Mill ground 100% rye flour as you’re trying this out, but you’ll see. I buy 25-pound bags at the farmer’s market. 50 loaves and you’ve paid for the grinder.

That’s all you need. You might want some sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries and perhaps walnuts too. And some liquid barley malt.

Then, make a starter. To do this, use filtered water (or boil some and let it cool). Mix 1 cup of rye flour with two cups of room temperature water and make a slurry. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and leave it in a relatively warm place (75 degrees is perfect). Every day, stir it, throw half of it away, add another cup of flour and another cup and a half of water and then put it back to sit quietly. Soon, it will develop a marvelous smell and some bubbles. (Where soon = less than a week).

(there are tons of complete details and pictures and such online if you search).

Once it seems vivacious, instead of throwing half of it away, put half of it into a bowl instead. Now, add some freshly milled flour and some water (water 2:1 to flour) and keep stirring until the slurry is beginning to get stiff. If it’s not, add more flour. Along the way, add two or three tablespoons of barley malt dissolved in water.

Now, while stirring hard, add two tablespoons of sea salt, and a handful or two of the cherries, the seeds, etc.

Scrape the thick batter into a small cast iron pot. It helps to spray the inside with Pam first. Fill no more than halfway up. It’s okay if it’s too soupy. Just shouldn’t be truly liquid.

Put the lid on and let it sit for 18 hours or so. Put the remaining starter in a Tupperware in the fridge for next time.

Preheat the over to 425. Remove the lid, put the pot in, bake for 70 minutes or so, longer than you think.

Cool for at least an hour (take it out of the pot when it comes out of the oven.)

Have fun.

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