What is it?: A light rye bread flavoured with black pepper and fennel seeds
Occasion: A day at home to indulge in some bread-baking
I went through a stage, some time ago, when I baked bread constantly. I would get up super early in the morning to start it off, then return home in the evening to bake it, then have it for breakfast the following morning. And so the cycle would begin again. Since I took a job much further from home, this has become virtually impossible and, on more occasions than I care to admit, I have found myself in the bread aisle at the supermarket picking up something that claims to be organic and wholegrain but seems to last for about seven days before it goes vaguely stale or develops any spores. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Me too. Yesterday, I had a day at home, so decided it was time to dig out the yeast and make myself a loaf of bread. Really, is there anything more therapeutic than seeing flour, yeast, salt and warm water transform into the most ultimate comfort food? OK, so the bread I chose had a few more ingredients than that, but the activity was no less relaxing because of it.
I have had my eye on the black pepper rye for some time, but have always been a little scared of attempting it. The last rye bread I baked (from an entirely different cookbook) came out of the oven much like a house brick and the ridicule I endured from my friend made me approach baking rye bread again with some trepidation. The combination of ingredients in this bread are quite intriguing – first it contains a whole cup of black coffee, which is enough to raise a few eyebrows, as well as some fennel seeds and a hefty two teaspoons of crushed black peppercorns. If you really think about it, it is logical that these flavours would work well together, especially with rye flour and give it a depth that would not be achieved with a more moderate level of seasoning. This bread requires very little kneading which, by the way, I did with my trusty dough hook and although it doesn’t appear to rise that much during resting, it does expand in the oven to produce a decent-sized loaf.
The result is bread that is less dense than most other rye breads, a result of mixing the rye flour with some strong white bread flour and a flavour that packs a massive punch. The black pepper and fennel is very prominent, but the coffee is very subtle – in fact, if you didn’t know it was there it would be difficult to detect. I ate this with no more than a smear of cream cheese and it was absolutely delicious. This will definitely be making its way into my regular bread-baking repertoire, should I ever find the time.
In Other News:
Last weekend we joined the great and the good of street food vendors at Feast at London’s Tobacco Dock. We gorged ourselves on burgers, fish finger sandwiches, pizza, Asian pulled pork salad, burritos, meringues and really good coffee. A more detailed run-down of what we ate on the night can be found on my other blog, The Boozy Rouge.