I daydream about bread. I romanticise about bakeries. I think of all the cities in the world and the bread that is baked and eaten in them. Paris and Hanoi for their baguettes, Moscow for its black bread, San Francisco for its sourdough, Naples for its Focaccia, Istanbul for its pita bread, New Delhi for its Roti... the list goes on. I want it all. But I can't just jump on a plane to get my bread fix, pity as it is. So today, when I particularly wanted to experience eating a proper New York Deli sandwich with proper New York Deli Rye Bread, I didn't board a plane bound for the Big Apple, I dreamed up the iconic New York institution which is Katz's Delicatessen in my own home.
New York Deli Rye Bread
from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 loaf
117 grams bread flour
95 grams rye flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon malt extract or honey
350ml water, at room temperature
350 grams bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2 grams) instant yeast
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (you can grind these if you want to avoid the crunch)
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
Dough and Baking:
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
about 2 teaspoons cornmeal for sprinkling
Make the sponge:
Combine sponge ingredients in a mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.
Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge:
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)
Mix the dough:
Add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.
Let the dough rise:
Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Flip the bowl over and let the dough fall out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the (re-oiled) bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.
Shape it and wait out the final rise:
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. [Skim ahead to preheating your oven, which you should do soon.] When it is gently press with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C as early as you can tolerate.(About 30 minutes should do it. You want your oven blazing hot to get the best crust.) On a shelf at the lowest level, place a baking sheet or bread stone.
Slash and bake the bread:
With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/2cm x 1cm-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot stone or hot baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 200 degrees C and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. It should sound hollow when you tap the underside of the loaf.
Cool the bread on a wire rack. Then make a Reuben Sandwich and dream of being in New York.