Bread for your soup – Molasses Fennel Rye Bread

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When I have these periods of intense work, I live in a sort of limbo, I go back and forth between two realities and I often forget things completely. Unfortunately some of the things I seem to remove forever, others pop up again. I never forget about Bread Baking Babes though, sometimes I make the bread in time, often not and sometimes like this month, I decide to bake the bread during this weekend and then realize that the posting date is the day after. Which in itself wasn’t a problem but the problem was that I realized it when it was late afternoon and because I needed light to photograph the bread I had to move fast. And as you can see in the photos, you can see that it was getting dark in my studio. BUT I did it and to my own great surprise, I can now present the Bread Baking Babes bread for September: a very flavourful Molasses Fennel Rye Bread chosen by Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen

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I made a few changes, some on purpose, some because I had to: I didn’t add raisins because I don’t like raisins in bread; I had to add more flour to the dough than stated in the recipe (about 1 cup of AP flour) but that is quite normal as flours differs so much from country to country, some absorb more liquid, some absorb less; I didn’t mix the dough by hand but used my Kenwood instead because I cannot risk that my elbow problem starts again now when I’m n the middle of a big job and I imitated my fellow Babe Natashya and not only brushed one of my loaves with egg-wash but also made one of the loaves bullet shaped. You can choose yourself which one you prefer but personally I think that the egg-washed one is nicer because it shows the darkness of the inside already on the outside if you know what I mean. I like this bread, it has a strong character and although is not a bread to use when you want to swab up the last of the pasta sauce, it is lovely with cheese and I’m sure it is great with a nice hot bowl of soup now when the autumn is closing in.
Check out Elizabeth’s story about the bread and how to bake it with us and become a Bread Baking Buddy. And we even have our own group on Facebook for those of you who want to bake with us over there: Bread Baking Babes and Friends!

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Molasses Fennel Rye Bread  
based on Jack Francis’ recipe for Molasses-Fennel Bread served at “Clark’s by the Bay” restaurant in Collins Bay, Ontario (near Kingston) – now closed
makes two round loaves 
¼ cup / 63 g lukewarm water
1½ tsp /  5 g active dry yeast
4 tsp / 17 g sugar
4 Tbsp / 85 g blackstrap molasses
1¾ cup / 438 g  water, room temperature
1 Tbsp / 6 g fennel seeds
½ tsp / 1 g ground dried ginger
1 cup / 103 g rye flour
1 cup / 122 g whole wheat flour
½ cup / 59 g wheat germ
2 cup / 254 g unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 18 g salt
¼ cup / 36 g raisins
up to ½ cup / 64 g unbleached all purpose flour for kneading
  mix yeast and water
   Meanwhile, in a bowl large enough for the dough to double, pour the rest of the water. Stir in sugar and molasses. (If the molasses is stiff because of a chilly kitchen, use warm water instead of room temperature.) Add fennel seeds and ground ginger. Dump in flours, wheat germ and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is mostly absorbed.
Add the yeast mixture. Cover the bowl with a plate and let sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
Kneading Scatter a little of the flour for kneading onto a wooden board. Turn the dough out onto the board.
Wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Please do not be tempted to skip this step.)
Hand knead the dough 10 to 15 minutes, adding the smallest amounts of additional flour if dough is sticky. You don’t have to use up all the flour. When the dough is springy and silky to the touch, knead in raisins.
Proofing Form the dough into a ball and put it in the clean bowl; cover it with a plate. Let the dough rise in a no-draught place at room temperature (or in the oven with only the light turned on if you want) for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. Gently deflate dough. Recover with the plate and allow to rise until doubled again.
Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board; cut it in half.
Shape into two round balls and place them (not touching) on a parchment papered pan or a cornmeal dusted peel. Dust the tops with flour. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a large plastic bag overtop let rise until double in size. 
Baking Place a breadstone, if you have one, on the middle to second from the top rack and preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F.
If you want, slash the top of the rounds with a very sharp knife. Liberally spray the tops with water. Put bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 175°C/350°F. Bake the bread on the middle to second from the top rack for 35-40 minutes. 
Remove to cool on racks. Please wait until the bread is cool before cutting it. It’s still baking inside! If you like to eat warm bread, reheat the bread after it has cooled.

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