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A few weeks ago, I ventured into the world of making rye bread.  I had been dying to make it for a least a year and finally had all of the ingredients I needed but somewhere I went wrong.  The flavor of the bread was spot-on – perfect, actually – but something happened to the bread’s rise.  It could have been that I refrigerated the dough overnight after the first proof period but I don’t really know for sure.  So with family visiting over the weekend and a planned St. Patty’s Day meal on Saturday night, I made it my job to make a loaf of rye bread that was worthy of both the killer meal we were in for as well as worthy enough to be shared with you here.  I pulled out my brandy-new copy of Baking Illustrated, cracked open the binding (don’t you love that sound of a new cookbook?!), and found a recipe.  My cousin was visiting again and after emptying boxes and cleaning the floors on Friday night, we quickly threw the recipe’s sponge together and then went the bed.  If you’ve never made yeast recipe with a sponge step before, have no fear!  Simply put, the sponge for this recipe is a quick mix of flour, yeast, and honey and allowing it to ferment for at least 2 1/2 hrs (overnight works best) helps to deepen the flavor of the final bread product and it’s a necessary and easy step.

Deli-Style Rye Bread

This rye bread is perfect!  With a soft crumb and sturdy structure, it’s ideal for sandwiches or buttered-up for dipping in soup, or to be served alongside a hearty meal.  The caraway seeds make this rye bread everything it was intended to be and if you can’t find them in your regular grocery store, consider ordering them from an online source, like Penzey’s.  The recipe yields either one very large loaf or two smaller loaves and considering we have so much leftover, I’ll be slicing up most of the loaf and freezing it for sandwiches down the road…or perhaps for an Irish stew this weekend.  Either way, this rye bread is a keeper and I know we’ll be making it for years to come.