For this month's #breadbakers challenge, the delightful Ashie of Spice Roots chose rye as the theme. I have not ever used rye flour before, but I was all set to make some rye bread and devour it when I read the rest of the rules: no refined flours or sugars. Health bread! I generally like to use some unbleached bread flour in all my loaves because I like a softer texture, so rather than going with bread, I decided to make some crackers.
As always when starting to nail down a recipe, I read over other folks' recipes. I really liked the look of these caraway rye crackers from Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious, so that's where I started. I actually only slightly adapted his recipe, using a smaller amount of caraway seeds, adding a bit of baking powder, subbing in some locally milled 7-grain flour and hard winter whole wheat flour for his bread flour and using a blood orange infused olive oil because I had some and it wanted to participate.
The crackers turned out hearty and delicious. Because they are hand-rolled, the thinner ones are crispy while the thicker ones are crunchy--both textures work nicely although I do lean a bit more toward the crisp than the crunchy. Since most folks rarely eat crackers without an accompaniment and since I hear there's a thing called the Super Bowl coming up, I decided to make a spread to serve with the crackers. Reuben spread, because what goes better on rye bread than the sublime combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing that is a Reuben? Nothing. That's what.
Incidentally, do you know where the name Thousand Island comes from? Until two days ago, I had always thought that the "Thousand Islands" was a mythical, tropical paradise where ketchup, mayonnaise and relish combine under azure skies to dress tropical salads. Turns out I was very, very wrong. Thousand Islands is actually a place that straddles the US/Canadian border in upstate New York and is comprised of over 1800 islands (to be included as one of the islands, a piece of land must be above sea-level 365 days a year and have at least one tree growing on it). And just look at this castle and boathouse there! Pretty swanky, right?
So, back to the Reuben. I looked up a bunch of recipes for Reuben dip and spread, and many just combined the dressing, 'kraut, meat and cheese and heated it up. That seemed a bit minimalist, and I thought it would be an ugly color tinted shrimp from the Thousand Island. Plus, I thought the cheese would break if it got too hot. Other recipes contained so much cream cheese that I didn't think anyone would be able to taste anything but that. I hit what I think is a happy medium by adding some whole milk and reducing the amount of cream cheese, and it worked out quite nicely. It's very rich, but it would be great for a game day party,and it you're a Reuben fan, you'll be in heaven.
- 128 grams (1 cup) rye flour
- 64 grams (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
- 64 grams (1/2 cup) 7 grain flour blend (or just use 128 grams of whole wheat flour)
- 150 grams (1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons) warm water
- 22 grams (2 Tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing (I used a blood orange infused oil)
- 8 grams (1½ Tablespoons) caraway seeds
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 6 grams (very slightly generous 1 teaspoon) kosher salt
- Coarse salt for sprinkling (I used Fleur de Sel)
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz whole milk
- 5 oz Swiss cheese, shredded (or if you buy slices, just dice them up small)
- 6 oz pastrami or corned beef, sliced thin and then chopped into pieces (I used pastrami because I think it has more flavor than corned beef. You use what you like).
- ¾ cup sauerkraut, drained well but not rinsed
- Thousand Island dressing for garnish
- Whisk the salt and baking powder into the flours thoroughly, then combine all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until the ingredients come together.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes. You will have a firm but slightly sticky dough.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit out for an hour or so.
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Keep the rest covered while working with each third.
- Roll out the first third of dough between 2 sheets of parchment. Get the dough as thin as you can, about 1/16" if you can manage it. You may have to remove the parchment and smooth it out occasionally if it gets wrinkles in it.
- Once the dough is as thin as you can get it, brush lightly with another 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle on just a bit of coarse salt.
- Use a pizza wheel or pastry cutter to cut the crackers into your preferred shapes/sizes.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through the baking time.
- The crackers are done when they start to turn a bit golden brown and are crisp. Usually the ones on the outsides are done first, so I take them off and let the rest finish baking. It could take anywhere between 8-13 minutes for the crackers to bake thoroughly so watch them like a hawk and be prepared to remove them in waves as they finish baking.
- Let the crackers cool on a wire rack.
- Repeat the process with the other two pieces of dough.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream cheese and milk and heat, stirring, until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the shredded cheese and continue stirring until all the cheese has melted.
- Stir in the pastrami or corned beef and the sauerkraut and stir to heat through.
- Transfer mixture to an oven safe serving container and broil until the top is hot and bubbly and has a few brown spots.
- Top with a spiral of Thousand Island dressing.
- Serve hot or warm with caraway rye crackers.
And there you have it, friends. Delicious hearty caraway rye crackers that would be at home on any cheese plate. Serve them with this Reuben spread though, and they'll fit in nicely at your next game day or Super Bowl party.
The Round Up
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. And a big thank you to Anshie for hosting this month!
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to email@example.com.
Now, please check out the rest of the wonderful offerings from the Bread Bakers this month, all of which feature rye as a main ingredient.
Tangzhong Rye Bread by Stacy at Food Lust People Love
Sourdough Rye Bread by Ansh at Spiceroots
Banana Rye Muffins by Adam at Bakers and Best
Potato Onion Rye Meteil by Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories
Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa) by Nicole at The 2nd 35 Years
Rye Fennel Crackers by Renee at Magnolia Days
Caraway Rye Crackers with Reuben Spread by Jenni at Pastry Chef Online
Artisan Dark Rye Bread by Cindy at Cindy's Recipes and Writing
Chocolate rye bread by Rocio at Kidsandchic
Pain d'Epice by Laura at Baking in Pyjamas
Danish Rye Bread by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm
Hapanleipä - Finnish Sour Rye Bread by Robin at A Shaggy Dough Story
Boston Brown Bread by Holly at A Baker's House
Rye and Whole Wheat Bread by Kelly at Passion Kneaded
Slow Cooker Boston Brown Bread by Mireille at Chef Mireille's East West Realm
Pretty cool, huh? Everyone is so talented in this group!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.