I felt somewhat of an obligation to do this one well, since my entire family hails from New York. My dad insisted that he be there for the slicing and tasting since he was the (self-proclaimed) authenticity expert.
I pulled my starter Austin out of the fridge on Thursday to refresh him and see if he'd be up for baking this weekend. Our house is cold, but he doubled in four hours after being fed. And then I realized that this recipe calls for seven ounces of starter; I'd only made five, so I only had four to use. I added more flour and water to double him, and went to bed. In less than eight hours, he almost tripled! I was so excited! It's the best he's ever looked. My normal pint mason jars were too small for him, so I put him in one of my husband's quart glass round lunch containers. I liked it so much better; I could really see all of the bubbles and activity. I'll be looking for a new container to keep Austin in that's a lot wider.
On Friday night, I lightly sauteed some onions (two, to be exact, eleven ounces worth). It was a lot of onions. I mixed seven ounces of Austin with rye flour and water. I couldn't find white rye anywhere, so I double sifted my normal rye. I then mixed in the onions, waited until the (very odd) starter was foamy and rising, and stuck it in the fridge.
This morning, I double-sifted some more rye, mixed it with bread flour, brown sugar, salt, instant yeast, some powdered buttermilk, the starter, and some water. I think I oopsed with the water. The dry buttermilk calls for eight ounces of water, and Peter Reinhart calls for an additional two to four, as needed, to make a soft, not sticky dough. I used the eight ounces from the buttermilk, but it seemed like there was still a lot of dry flour, so I added two ounces of additional water. Well, I created the stickiest dough ever. Peter Reinhart warns to be careful with rye bread . . . don't knead it longer than four minutes by machine or six minutes by hand or it will get gummy. But after a couple minutes by hand, several minutes in the mixer, and a couple more minutes of gentle kneading by hand, the dough was still so sticky. It wasn't going anywhere.
After adding a little bit of flour a few times, giving it a few more sessions of autolyse, and some "illicit kneading" (as Janice at Round the Table humorously called the extra kneading that her dough needed), it finally resembled dough. Breathing a sigh of relief, I stuck it into my biggest mixing bowl and headed to the zoo with the fam. Two hours later, I walked in to this:
This dough was a monster! I divided it into two, made one into a batard, and one into a sandwich loaf for my new giant loaf pan (ten inch). Seriously, I could not believe the rise; in less than an hour (it was supposed to take ninety minutes) the dough was well over one and a half times its original size.
A quick wash with egg white, a few slashes for the free-standing loaf (my best yet, I think!), and into the oven. I wasn't sure what to do because the loaf pan is supposed to bake at 350 and the free-standing loaf at 400, and I wasn't intending to bake twice, so I threw them both on a sheet pan and into the oven at 350. After twenty minutes, I rotated the pan and upped the temp to 375. After another nineteen minutes, I checked, and both loaves were done; in fact, I think they could've come out a couple of minutes sooner.
They didn't seem to grow much more in the oven, but these are still monster loaves! The smell is fascinating . . . you can really detect the onions and the rye. Same with the taste: some bites are filled with onion, some with rye, some with caraway. It was good plain, even better with a little butter, and delicious as grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight!
Oh, and the authenticity expert? He said that this was not New York Deli Rye! When he explained what he was expecting (very rye-y, dense, less like a sandwich loaf), it seemed to me that he was expecting the 100% rye which is on tap for next week (I have a beef roast brining in the fridge as we speak . . . corned beef sandwiches next week!). But he also asked me to bring him our leftover loaf, so I guess it wasn't too bad! ;-)