Caraway Rye Bread

makes 1 large or two small loaves (1 3/4 pounds total) 

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons lukewarm water 

1 cup medium rye flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup light sour cream
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, rye flour, sugar, and yeast together to form a soft batter. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes. This allows the rye flour to absorb some of the liquid, making it easier to knead the dough without adding too much additional flour (which would make the bread dry). 

After 20 minutes, add the sour cream, caraway seeds, salt, flour, and wheat gluten.  Knead the dough on medium speed until smooth, but slightly sticky, about 5-7 minutes.  Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl or container.  Cover and place in a draft free space to rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes. 

Gently deflate the dough, knead it briefly, and shape it into two smooth oval loaves or one long oval loaf.  Place the loaf or loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover the loaves and let them rise until they’re noticeably puffy, about 60-90 minutes. Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 375°F.  Just before they go into the oven, spritz the loaves with water, and slash with one to three slashes about 1/3″ deep. 

Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 205°F to 210°F. The single, larger loaf will bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it lightly with foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

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