Whole Rye Sour Dough Bread

I teach creative writing and help people who are working on novels. I explain that there is an enormous amount of editing to be done after the first draft is finished. To illustrate this I counted the number of times I went back to the beginning of the novel I was working on and polished some more. Going back means scrutinising every sentence every word from beginning to end. I keep doing it till I find nothing, or almost nothing that needs changing. Seventeen times. That’s how often I went over the manuscript. And after it got to the publisher there was more editing to be done.

Well, in the process of learning how to make whole rye sour dough bread I tried and failed eleven times.

Ranjit had asked for it. He said that at night it was better not to eat wheat. I can’t exactly remember why.

The recipes on the web were wildly complicated. I couldn’t master them. There was a slightly less alaborate recipe on the pack of rye flour.

In India, where yeast was unavailable, our cook mashed a banana, mixed it with water, put it in a bottle with the top tied down with string, and left it in the sun for a day to ferment.

For the sour dough rye the rye itself is used for the mother.

Mix together a cup of rye flour and a cup of mineral water. Tap water has killer chemicals in it. Leave it, covered, in a warm place overnight. By next morning the mixture should be frothy. That is the mother and from now on, every time you make a loaf of bread always leave a little, like with yoghurt. The bit of remaining mother goes in the fridge and every couple of days must be fed with a little rye flour and mineral water.

When you are ready to make the bread take the mother out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

Mix most of the mother mixture into a kilo of rye flour. Add a bit of salt and a little slosh of olive oil. Add more mineral water till the mixture is soft and a little bit sticky. Line a casserole baking dish with one of those black baking sheets. Put the dough in. Oil the lid of the dish. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight.

Next morning knead the dough, shape a loaf and return it to the dish. Cover again. Leave in the warm place for 2 hours. Heat the oven 17o C gas 375 F and bake the bread for an hour. After one hour reduce heat to 150 C 325 F.

Leave the lid on while the bread cools. This stops the crust getting terribly hard. Cut into slices. If you like put them in a bag and freeze till you need it.

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