A good Loaf

Swedish Caraway Rye Bread

Swedish Caraway Rye Bread

Last Thursday night we had chicken for dinner.  I knew we were leaving really early in the morning to go away for the weekend and so I saved some of the chicken breast for sandwiches for the road trip.  I decided that I had time to whip up a loaf of really good bread and so as I thought about what kind of bread to make Swedish Rye bread came to mind.

It’s ironic that I would want that kind of bread though because as a child I hated caraway seeds and my recipe had caraway seeds in it. Funny how our tastes change as we get older.  I now love caraway, fennel, anise, ginger and olives; all of which I detested when I was younger. Anyway, I got out my recipe and got the bread mixed and rising as I made preparations for our weekend.

Much to my dismay, when it was getting time to get to bed the bread had still not completed its second rise and I needed to get to bed.  In true, ‘I can do everything’ style I decided that I would let it rise overnight and just pop it in the oven at 5:00am when I got up if it was still good.  Needless to say, it didn’t turn out to be quite that simple.  We got up to a snowstorm and needed to get on the road earlier so although the bread had risen nicely overnight I did not have time to bake it.  Now what?

I decided I had nothing to lose by freezing the risen, unbaked loaf.  If I got home and it had fallen in the freezer or would not bake properly I would throw it out but I was just not ready to give up so easily Friday morning.  It was a long road trip and I pined for my hearty rye bread with hints of caraway and juicy chicken breast atop it.  But it was not to be.  I substituted nut, seeds, raisins and a morsel of dark chocolate, somehow just not the same.

I was anxious to check the freezer when I got home last night and as soon as I got in the door I ran to the kitchen to check and see how the loaf had fared in the freezer.  It looked great but it was now a solid ice brick.  Hmm, what to do. I removed it from the freezer and after an hour when I realized this was not going to be a project I could complete that night I decided to put it in a warm place and leave it again overnight.  As it thawed it had lost some of its rise and so I really thought it would be garbage in the morning.

This morning I got up at 6:00 and hurried down the hall to check and see what had happened overnight.  To my surprise there was a beautifully risen loaf again.  I quickly preheated the oven and put the loaf in to bake.  It smelled glorious as wafts of  yeasty rye aroma spread throughout the house. When I removed the loaf from the oven I was hopeful.

After the loaf had cooled in the pan awhile I tipped the pan as usual onto a cooling rack.  Nothing.  Oh well, maybe it just needed a good whack onto the counter.  After a noisy bit of banging and dropping of the pan eventually I realized the loaf was stuck to the bottom of the pan. Shoot.  Upon further inspection and trying to pry it out with a knife I decided to just leave it cool in the pan and wrote it off as a flop.

About a half an hour later I had built up my resolve and I tried the prying method again and the loaf popped out nicely.  I still thought it was probably just a hard rye brick but when I sliced into it I was met with a dense, brown slice.  Still wary I put a little walnut oil on the slice and bit into it.  Divine, just like I remember my Mom’s bread when  I hated it so much, only now it brought me comfort and memories of how creative and adventurous a cook my Mom was, in spite our unwillingness to be open minded in our tastes.

As I anticipate the coming home of my children for Christmas I think about their tastes and the favourite baked treats and meals that say Christmas to them.  I think of the things I love and feel so smug about that they turn their noses up at.  This Christmas I think I will stick to their favourites and indulge my adventurous, creative spirit in the kitchen after I finish making a selection of goodies they love and will be anticipating.

I am including the recipe for Swedish Rye Bread here for those of you who like a good hearty loaf and the taste of Caraway.

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