Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anna Sultana's and Mrs. Kekelia's German Rye Bread and Sourdough Starter

About four years ago I posted the recipe for 
Mrs. Kekelia's Stollen, a German Christmas Bread she made every year. 
It’s about time I posted another one of her excellent recipes.

Mr. and Mrs. Kekelia, a childless couple, both worked at Kleinert’s, a fabric manufacturing company in College Point.
As they were my parents’ tenants, they lived in the apartment above the store.
We lived in the apartment behind the store.
Often while my parents were both working at the local branch of Lily Tulip, the cup manufacturer, Mrs. Kekelia babysat me.

Mrs. Kekelia’s talents and skills were wasted at Kleinert’s.
She really should’ve been a cook in a five star restaurant.
At Christmas I couldn’t eat enough of her Stollen.
The rest of the year I happily snacked on her buttered homemade bread.

Ma asked for the recipe and sometimes made it instead of the White Bread.
But I liked it better when I had it with with Mrs. Kekelia.


Hints:

This bread recipe uses a sourdough starter.
If you don’t have some, you have to make the starter two days before you need it.

If you want to make extra starter, add 4 cups flour and 4 cups warm water to the sourdough starter on the second day, and beat until smooth. 
Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before using. 
After stirring once, use half for a recipe, and save the other half for the next time. 
If freezing the starter, use within 2 weeks.

Mrs. Kekelia liked to add a little variety to her bread making.
Sometimes she added a tablespoon or two of coriander, fennel, anise, or caraway seeds to the dough.
Sometimes Mrs. Kekelia crushed the seeds before adding them to the dough. 
Sometimes she didn’t. 
The seeds can also be ground in a blender.

Fennel tea is very soothing and helps settle the stomach.
If you have a box of fennel tea you could take a bag or two, empty out the contents and grind it, and then add that.

Humidity and heat play a big role in making this bread. 
It may not work as well if it is too humid and hot outside. 
In New York it always seemed to have problems during the summer.
But it was still good.

The bread, in a zip lock bag, freezes very well.  Thaw it in the CLOSED bag. 

                        German Rye Bread

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 long loaves

Sourdough Starter

In a medium glass or ceramic bowl put
2 Cups warm water 
2 Tablespoons sugar 
2 Tablespoons yeast 
Let sit 10 minutes.
Gradually stir in
4 cups flour 
2 Cups warm water 
Stir until all the lumps are gone.
Cover with a dish towel, and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.
After 24 hours, stir well and cover.
Let stand another 24 hours. 
It will be a thin, light-colored sourdough which is then ready to use.


The Bread

In a large bowl combine
8 Cups rye flour
4 Cups flour
2 Tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar 
Using a wooden spoon,mix in the sourdough starter.
Stir in
2 Cups warm water 
Turn the dough out onto a large floured surface.
Knead the dough for 20 minutes to get a smooth dough.  
If it is too stiff add a few tablespoons of water. 
Place the dough in a large greased bowl, rotate to cover the surfaces, cover, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and back onto the floured surface. 
Knead for about 5 minutes to activate the gluten. 
Shape into 1 large loaf or 2 long loaves. 
Place a dish towel on a baking sheet, then sprinkle it with flour. 
Place the loaf (or loaves) on it for the second rising, for about 1 hour. 
Your finger should leave an impression when you poke the bread gently.

Lift the dish towel holding the bread off of the pan.
Grease the pan.
Invert the bread onto the pan.
The tops will be a bit floury. That’s okay.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). 
Bake the bread for about 45 minutes for 2 loaves, 1 1/2 hours if you made one big loaf. 
Don't worry if the crust is dark. 
The bread and the crust will be delicious
Cool completely before cutting. 

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