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BBA Challenge #37 and #38: Swedish Rye (Limpa) and Tuscan Bread

The end is in sight. I have two more weeks off and only five breads more to bake. And best of all, the last five breads are ones I am excited about baking: Vienna Bread, White Bread, Whole-Wheat Bread, and the two “extra” breads, Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes, and Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche. All of these sound delicious, and it seems like forever since I have been excited about the BBA recipes I was baking. I think that’s part of the reason I have been taking so long to bake.

So back to the Swedish Rye and Tuscan breads, the last of the breads I was not too excited about making.

One of the things I have discovered in this challenge is that I am not a big fan of breads with molasses, and one of the things I already knew before going in was that I am not a big fan of licorice flavors. The Swedish Rye has both molasses and licorice flavors (anise and fennel), so I knew going in that I would probably not be a fan of this bread. As it turns out, the Swedish Rye is the only BBA bread I baked that I did not even taste. I gave it my mom (who is a fan of licorice flavors) and she brought it with her to my brother’s house for Christmas, where there were not many people besides herself who liked it, apparently. I remade the BBA Bagels for our snow day today, and my brother complained on Twitter that I should have sent some of those to his house instead of the Swedish Rye.

The Swedish Rye starts with boiling water, molasses, dried orange peel, ground anise, ground fennel, and ground cardamom. The good part about this recipe is I finally got to use my spice grinder to grind up the whole anise and fennel seeds. That was fun.

Molasses Mixture

After letting the mixture cool, you add some “barm” and rye flour, let it become foamy, and then refrigerate it overnight.

Mixed Starter

Mine was still kind of bubbly the next morning:

Risen Starter

Then you mix up the dough with the starter, flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar, and melted shortening, and you have to be careful not to knead it too long because of the rye flour.

Ready to Rise

I think I have mentioned before that I have been having problems getting my bread to rise because of my cold house. This time I had somewhere to go in the afternoon, so I was hoping to finish shaping and baking the bread before I left. But the bread just was not rising. I tried moving the bread into different locations in my kitchen, and in my living room, but no luck. I started to wonder if my yeast had expired or if I had accidentally killed the yeast by adding the melted shortening before it had cooled enough. Finally, I used my tried-and-true method of turning on the oven and putting the dough on top of it, right before I left. When I got back, the dough had finally doubled. I think it took six hours to get it to this point:

Risen Dough

I shaped it as one loaf. Another thing I have learned through this challenge is that I prefer one large two-pound loaf to two one-pound loaves. Also, look at my aggressive slashing! I am quite proud.

Slashed for the Second Rise

I put the pan on the oven while it was preheating for the second rise.

Ready to Bake

My mom was here to pick up the bread for the final photo, and she insisted that I put it on my pretty Christmas towel to make the photo nice. Unlike how I usually take photos, with the scenic backdrop of my dishwasher.

Done

As I said, my mom liked this bread but there were not many other fans. The licorice flavor was noticeable. My mom said she used it for toast, and then made ham sandwiches with it.

I was also not looking forward to Tuscan bread, since the defining attribute was that the bread contains no salt. I don’t particularly like salty foods, but I knew enough to know that bread without salt was not going to taste all that good. Peter Reinhart says that the Tuscans pair this bread with flavorful garlic and white bean soup, so I thought I would make that to go with it.

First, you make a flour paste with bread flour and boiling water. It looks kind of like mashed potatoes.

Flour Paste

The next day you make the dough with bread flour, yeast, olive oil, water, and the flour paste. But no salt!

I set it to rise on my oven, which is the only place dough will rise for me. I didn’t heat up the oven this time, but it still seemed to work. Maybe the pilot light is enough to make it warm.

Ready to Rise

It only took two hours to get to this point:

Risen

I shaped it into boules.

Ready for Second Rise

When they rose a second time, I slashed them and sprinkled them with flour:

Risen & Slashed

I had to bake them for the full 30 minutes to get to 200 degrees inside.

Done

Done

Crumb

These loaves looked so pretty, but as I anticipated, the taste was seriously lacking. I made Giada De Laurentiis’ Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup and used this bread instead of ciabatta to make the grilled olive oil toasts. I still really didn’t like them that much, until I sprinkled them with one of my impulse purchases from Penzey’s: Brady Street Sprinkle. With the olive oil and the Brady Street Sprinkle, there was enough flavor to overcome the lack of salt.

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