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black beauty
beautiful dark rye bread

Sometimes the memory of a taste or smell can drive you crazy, and for me the smell of the dark rye loaf still warm from the baker’s oven in Austria is perfume that regardless of the effort and time I have given to recreating it has been as elusive and as obsessive as Suskin’s Grenouille in his novel Perfume.
Place and company can play a big part on the memory of food. A great chef’s cooking can be soured by a dull dining companion, and will never be as sweet a memory as a meal shared with friends in good moods with an intention of enjoying however much or little is offered by that table. It wasn’t just the still warm bread, the mystical occasional crunch of a caraway seed, or the wonderful taste and texture, but the pride with which it was sold, the delight in our recognition of the baker’s skill, the sweet fresh unsalted butter wrapped in a simple piece of creamy translucent waxed paper. That bread is a memory complicated by a lot of additional pleasures that are impossible to recreate.
In recent months New York baker Jim Lahey’s fantastic book, My Bread has reinvigorated my passion for making bread as I have worked my way through many of his recipes. The discovery of very little yeast and a very long prove has been aided and abetted by the extreme cold of this winter and I am already thinking about how differently they will prove at a room temperature of around 36°C. His pizza dough recipe is so good I haven’t made my own recipe for months. Thin, crispy we love the plain potato and onion or winter fennel pizza and can’t wait for some decent home grown really vine–ripened tomatoes and some basil grown in full sun to make a simple Marguerita (tomato and fresh basil) pizza using his base. In search of my elusive memory it was on to Jim’s rye bread, good in fact very good but not my memory; close, but not dense or black enough. So back to the drawing board and this time close, but not black enough, but good enough to want to make again … and again!

Dark Rye
makes 3 small baguette style loaves, or one large loaf

700g organic rye flour + extra for dusting
100g bakers flour
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed
10g fine sea salt
5g dry yeast
600g water

Mix together the flours, caraway, salt and yeast, then add the water. Cover with plastic and leave in a cool place for about 20 hours in cold weather, probably about 10 hours in summer time. This is one of those tricky loaves where it is very easy to think you have done something wrong because it barely rises at all until the last couple of hours of proving.

Scrape the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough by rolling it under itself until you have a ball and put it in a freezer bag and set a timer for one hour. Shape your dough into three or a single loaf. If you’re planning sandwiches make sure you keep your loaves evenly thick and don’t taper the ends.

In this vile weather preheat your oven to 80°C, turn the heat off spray the oven with cold water, put the bread in and set a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes, remove the bread. By this time you should finally start to see a small movement in the bread. Turn the oven to 220°C and set a timer for 30 minutes. Bake the small loaves for 30 minutes and the single loaf for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool standing on a rack.

This bread is dense and moist and whilst we’ve never managed to keep it longer it is still wonderful on the third day. Fantastic for canapés or get a heap of brownie points and ask your mates over for lunch and serve them smoked salmon and horseradish cream sandwiches click here

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.