A Quarter

One more week. That is what I have until I'm out of school.

Yet, I've got these recipes that I want to share even though I don't have time to put the story with the food; I'm not fond of providing food without a story, so I will abbreviate, cut the fat, eliminate any and all excess. Done. Here is the story that goes along with this limpa bread: I am a quarter Swedish.

Californian Limpa
Based on James Beard's recipe in Beard on Bread, I use fennelseed from the yard instead of caraway or anise and fresh orange peel instead of candied. To ensure a nice texture, I cut the flour back a little, and I add a smidge of gluten to make up for rye's lack of it. Because I have one, I use a stand mixer. The result is a brightly-flavored bread that's fantastic toasted with a creamy brie or fresh chevre, even a smear of a buttermilk blue, but this morning I had it for breakfast my favorite way, with lots of good butter and generous ribbons of honey, in this case Jacaranda Honey from Chaparral Mountain Honey Company.

You will need:
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups ale (here, I like a rich ale, on the red or brown side)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fennelseed, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange peel
2 cups rye flour, plus more as needed
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten flour

To make the bread:
Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer and set aside to proof while you prepare other ingredients. Pour the beer and honey into a medium saucepan then add the butter and salt. Heat the mixture just until the butter has melted. Add the cardamom, fennelseed, and orange peel. Stir the mixture to dissolve the salt and honey, make sure it truly is lukewarm and not hot (let it cool to lukewarm if it is hot), then pour it into the yeast mixture in the stand mixer. Add 1 1/2 cups of each rye and white flour as well as the gluten flour. Beat well in the mixer for a couple minutes on medium speed. You will end up with a wet, sloppy mess. Good. That's what you want.

Now here I'm revealing one of my kitchen tips: heat a mug of water in the microwave for a minute or two until it is boiling hot. Set that boiling hot mug in the corner of the microwave, cover the bowl of the stand mixer with a barely-damp cloth, and set the bowl inside the microwave. Close the door, and you now have a hot and humid environment, perfect for quick rises. Let the sloppy mixture rise for about an hour.

After an hour, put the bowl back in the stand mixture, add 1 cup white flour and a half cup of rye flour, and turn the mixer to the setting for bread kneading. Knead for five minutes or so. More won't hurt you. You'll end up with a dough that is definitely a dough, though still pretty sticky. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover it again with the damp cloth, place it back in the Washington-DC-summer microwave, and let the dough rise again for an hour.

Remove the mixer bowl from the microwave and scrape it out onto a very well-floured surface (I mix rye and white to keep the theme going). Flatten the dough out, fold it over on itself, repeat. Repeat this process four or five times, then cut the dough in half with your dough scraper. Form each lump of dough into a ball.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or a silicone sheet and place the balls of dough on the sheet, spaced as far apart as you can without risking the dough rising over the edge of the sheet. Cover the sheet with a dry cloth and place the whole cookie sheet in a refrigerator. Refrigerate for three hours.

When the three hours have passed, begin preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the cookie sheet from the refrigerator. Let the bread on the cookie sheet sit at room temperature until the oven reaches temperature, about ten minutes. Once the oven hits temperature, place the cookie sheet with the bread on it in the oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the two loaves are well-browned all over.

Eat it like a Swede, or at least a quarter of one.


Lucy said…

bookmarking this instant. love me some rye.
the good soup said…
Nice bread Christina. I was good friends with our Swedish kitchenhand in Paris and he would go to this little Swedish grocer just for this bread, already sliced. I don't think it had fennel seeds... maybe caraway? Is that very Swedish?
Anyway, your fennel seeds remind me of something I just read in the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller- that 'green seeds' (ie, not dried) are picked as one of the hottest flavour trends of the year. Only available to gardeners!
Christina said…
Lucy: I hope it works well for you. This isn't a pastrami-sandwich rye, but a tangy-spicy-sweet rye.

TGS: I don't think fennel is at all Swedish, but caraway certainly is. However, fennel is what grows in my yard, and I really like the way it tastes with the rye and the fresh orange peel, so fennel it is! Lucky us--we get all the fennel pollen and green fennel seeds (as well as green coriander seeds) we want for free! Wootwoot! Hooray for gardens!

PI: Yuppers, from Chaparral Mountain Honey Company, Bruce Steel's company that sells at the AUFM. It's great stuff. I buy huge jars of his Angel's Kiss honey (absolute deliciousness) and this last sale I also bought a small jar of the caramelly jacaranda honey. I don't know of any other place that provides jacaranda honey. Yum.

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