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.