Springtime is finally just around the corner! I believe that one of the many reasons the spring season is so wonderful is because of the anticipation of warmth and sunshine after the long, cold days of winter. In thinking about a recipe to contribute, I always think of my current favorites as well as those that I loved growing up. I believe I got my passion for baking from my mom. More often than not, she was whipping up something delectable in our kitchen, usually from scratch. She was famous for her angel food cakes (12 egg whites used, then homemade noodles with the 12 egg yolks). She would bake something at least two to three times per week. One of my favorites was her Swedish rye bread. It’s a hearty bread, slightly sweet with the gentle taste of anise. My mother’s family emigrated from Sweden, and my great grandfather was the gardener for the king of Sweden. (That is the closest I come to being royalty…) This is a recipe that Mom learned from her mom, and our family is still enjoying it!
My birthday was last week. As a teacher, I needed to think of something to take for birthday treats for my fellow coworkers at school. I wanted to make the Swedish rye bread for the magazine and decided to use the rye bread that I made as part of a spinach dip. Each batch made two large round loaves. I made two batches, hollowed two of the loaves out, and cut the other two into bite-size pieces to dip. I used the recipe on the packaged vegetable soup/dip mix at the grocery store for the spinach dip. It was a hit.
I hope you will try the Swedish rye bread recipe sometime soon, whether you eat it with spinach dip, butter or just plain. Enjoy!
Swedish Rye Bread
2 ½ teaspoon yeast
2 ½ warm water
¾ cup molasses
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups rye flour
5-6 cups white flour
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in the warm water. Allow to proof for 10 minutes (bubbles should form). Stir in molasses, anise seeds, oil, salt and rye flour. Beat the mixture until smooth. Gradually mix the white flour in, one cup at a time, until it makes a sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and add enough flour as you knead to form a smooth ball.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled (1.5 – 2 hours. Punch down the dough. Shape into two or three round loaves and place them on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let them rise for 1 hour.
Beat the egg and brush the loaves with it. (You don’t have to do this, but it gives the crust a nice finish.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when tapped.
Note: My mom always made three parallel cuts in the tops of the loaves after the final rise (before baking).