Cumin Bread

READY IN: 3hrs
YIELD: 1 loaf




  • Scald the milk. Add honey, oil, salt and cumin seed. Add orange juice (it will curdle) and cool to lukewarm.
  • In mixer bowl combine yeast and warm water with sugar and let sit until bubbly.
  • Add milk/juice mixture. Add 3 cups unbleached white flour in 1/2 cup increments and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Mix and rough sift the rye and whole wheat flour to remove coarse bran hulls (which are in homeground but probably not in store bought) and when the 2 minutes are up, add the combined rye and whole wheat flours in half cup increments (this method of adding the flour is important unless you want to make bricks). You are waiting for a shaggy mass that pulls away from sides of bowl.
  • Resting: Now turn off the machine and clean up your mess. Oil the bowl for the first rising. Call your mother. Play with the cat. (It's hard to break stride at this point but it's a crucial step.) You want the flours to absorb maximum moisture. Run the machine a few seconds to evaluate the sticky factor and then change to the dough hook.
  • Kneading: Machine knead for 8 minutes. Push and shove the dough into the hook, always keeping dough involved. Stay alert or you'll lose the paddle and your hand. Frequent finger sprinkles of unbleached white flour keep the stickiness in control. Don't leave the machine unattended since the dough may look smooth and elastic and grasp the hook naturally and in another second it turns viciously sticky and avoids the hook.
  • Turn dough out to a lightly floured counter space. Hand knead until you are satisfied with the dough.
  • First rise: Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it is at least doubled.
  • Prepare for baking: Place a baking stone (or clay tiles that can be used for bread baking) in your oven. Turn on oven to 400.
  • Shape the loaf: Turn out to a floured counter top and knead out any air bubbles. Then form the loaf into a football shape. (Beginning bread bakers should consult a good article or book to learn how to shape free-form loaves, or get an experienced bread-baking friend to show you how.).
  • Second rise: Set up the bread's "home" for the second rise. You can use parchment paper on a peel (huge wooden paddle) but an inverted cookie sheet will do. Sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal. Gently place dough in the center and cover with a terrycloth towel. (Don't worry about weight of towel -- yeast is mighty strong at this point.) Leave loaf until it is nearly double (about 25 minutes or more). UNDER rising is better since, if it rises too high, it will not oven spring and it may even collapse. Over-rising on first rise can be a blessing. On second rise, too high is a disaster.
  • Slashing the loaf: Before putting in oven, with a single edge razor blade, make three long slashes. Don't do a direct north/south (ceiling to floor) slash but rather keep the blade almost parallel to the floor. This way the slashed dough will fold out and be even rather than form gullies.
  • Baking: With a minimum of vibration, carefully slide the dough AND the paper into the oven.
  • After 15 minutes it will be possible to gently pull the paper out (it will start to brown) and change position of the loaf which should have sprung in the oven. Be gentle, the crust is extremely fragile at this stage and if you break it, the steam will escape and it won't cook chewy.
  • Turn the heat down to 350 and let it bake another 40 minutes or so. Occasionally change the loaf's position because of oven hot spots. After 40 minutes lift loaf and tap bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done. If you have any doubt, return to oven another 5 minutes or so.
  • Remove to a wire rack (a spare cold oven rack will do). Let cool.