Ok, I'm back.
I've had some rye flour, two kinds actually, in my cupboard forever. Only made rye bread once a decade ago and that turned out uglyly.
I've been interested, but a lot of the serious rye recipes seem to need a rye starter (levain), and pumpernickel bread seems beyond my capabilities ever, if only regarding the matter of patience.
This time I tried an easy one, and it turns out the recipe was the first one that the King Arthur people posted when they started giving recipes online.
Cutting a long story short, I changed a little but not much and it's probably the best bread I ever made - besides being easy. Rich tasting, delicious, oh, and easy.
The link - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/russian-rye-bread-rizhsky-khleb-recipe
The following recipe marks King Arthur's very first venture onto the Internet -- we obtained it from a Russian student at Moscow State University, via the 'net, back in late 1995. Since then, we’ve learned its inspiration came from a wonderful book on Russian cooking, “Please to the Table: the Russian Cookbook”, by Anya Von Bremzen.
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 tablespoons barley malt extract or dark honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups medium rye flour or pumpernickel
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Manual/Mixer Method: Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl and add a teaspoon of the malt extract or honey. Stir in the yeast and rye flour. Let this sponge work for at least 20 minutes, until it's expanded and bubbly.
Add the remaining barley malt extract or honey, the salt, caraway seeds, butter, and enough of the unbleached flour to create a dough that begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or lightly oiled work surface, and knead until it's smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding only enough flour (or oil on your hands and the work surface) to keep the dough from sticking unbearably. (Rye doughs will always be a bit sticky, so resist the urge to keep adding flour to eliminate this inherent stickiness; adding too much flour will make a heavy, dense, dry loaf.) Halfway through, give the dough a rest while you clean out and butter your mixing bowl.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the buttered bowl, turning to coat, and cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's just about doubled in bulk.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the bucket of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, program the machine for manual or dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, examine the dough; it should be smooth (though still sticky), not "gnarly." Adjust the dough's consistency with additional unbleached flour or water, as necessary. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, leaving it in the machine till it's just about doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down, and divide it in half. Shape each half into an oval, place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is dark brown, and the interior temperature of the loaves measures 190°F to 200°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack. Yield: 2 loaves.
What I did - - - -
I used the honey, the cheapo grocery store kind, not the barley malt extract.
I used active all purpose packet yeast.
I used the near antique bagged Hodgson Mill 100% stone ground rye flour (not the dark rye also in the cupboard waiting for me from Bob's Red Mill).
I learned to put bay leaves in flour bags back in California, but I don't seem to have a problem with flying futsits in flour here in Abq.
I used fennel seeds instead of caraway because that's what I have in my spice drawer.
Oh, and I chopped up about an 1/8 lb of walnuts and added that little pile at the end, after the a/p flour.
I used ordinary (gold medal) all purpose flour. Flour companies may despair.
Added -learning from a comment to the site - started and ended with 2.5 cups of AP flour, and that was perfect, the kneading and rising and then putting the dough into buttered bread pans was .. easy.
As someone in the comments section said, it wasn't all that sticky, not like some wet doughs I've dealt with.
Maybe it was related to my choice of rye.
The bread looked a little lame-o when I took it out of the oven. I put a cloth on top and ignored it overnight. Sliced it the next morning, toasted it and added some butter.
Adds, Setanta said somewhere that there was something to do to make whole grain grains work best in bread recipes; maybe it was grind them a bit, I'll have to search. Whatever it was it made sense at the time I read it. That might have made the bread rise more - hell, they say look for bubbles, I never saw any, but it did rise . Might have turned out less dense, but I liked the density and chewiness. Or, the density in my bread may be because I didn't have any rapid rise yeast in my yeast packets.