marbled rye.

When I was on vacation on an island in North Carolina a few weeks ago with the bestie, we went on adventures. Sometimes, it was to the cheesy tourist shop down the street with T-shirts for sale that read “YOLO” and “Come At Me Bro” and “I’m With Stupid” and other intelligent comments of that nature; other times, it was to the Surf City Pier, where ice cream and sun-dried fishermen abounded.

Once, it was to a sandwich shop called the New York Corner Deli — and while I’m not usually wont to eat at places that have nothing to do with my location (like eating Italian food in India, something I also have done and never will do again. Ever.), I had an inkling about this place. It beckoned me like a beacon of delicious sandwichness. The display case of unsliced deli meats and cheeses, the over-sized jars of pickles and the scent of freshly baked bread showed promise. And so I gave it a chance, ordered the most old-man sandwich on the menu — the Richie Goldsand — and tempted fate.

proofing.

slicing.

The Richie Goldsand, if you will, is honest-to-goodness the most amazing sandwich I have ever eaten in my entire existence. I do not exaggerate. Two slices of perfectly crisp, grilled marbled rye bread are stuffed to the gills with warm, thin-sliced pastrami and corned beef, some sort of white magic cheese (could have been Swiss, could have been provolone, I don’t know because I ate it so quickly), homemade coleslaw and Russian dressing. It made me want to cry and laugh and eat 30 more Richie Goldsands all at the same time. It wasn’t just a sandwich — it was an experience, and one I hope to repeat someday soon.

the art of braiding.

proofed.

For now, I’ll settle for the bread alone. Nothing compares to home-baked rye bread, and if it’s marbled (or in this case, braided), all the better. The combination of light and dark rye flavors can’t be beat. I love it with eggs. I love it as grilled cheese. I love it with tuna or egg salad or avocado smashed between. I love it so much, I’d sing a song to it while twirling like Julie Andrews does atop a mountain in “The Sound of Music” — but I’ll spare you, and just let you try it out for yourself. It’s a worthwhile adventure.

egg wash. fresh-baked bread.

braided rye bread.

Braided Rye Bread
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

Yields: 2 sandwich loaves

Ingredients:

For the light rye –
1 1/2 cups light rye flour
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature

For the dark rye –
1 1/2 cups light rye flour
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons water OR 1 tablespoon liquid caramel coloring

Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water)

Directions:

To make the light rye: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, salt and yeast. Add molasses, shortening and water and stir to combine. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and tacky but not sticky, about 5-6 minutes (or knead with a dough hook in stand mixer until dough is smooth and elastic and tacky but not sticky, about 4-5 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

To make the dark rye: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, salt and yeast. Add molasses, shortening, water and cocoa powder paste and stir to combine. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and tacky but not sticky, about 5-6 minutes (or knead with a dough hook in stand mixer until dough is smooth and elastic and tacky but not sticky, about 4-5 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

When both doughs are risen, punch doughs down, remove from bowls and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide each piece equally into fourths; roll out each piece into a 10-inch log. Connect 4 strands of alternating colors (1 light, 1 dark, 1 light, 1 dark) at one end with the sealed end facing you. Number the strands — 4, 3, 2, 1 — then follow this pattern: 4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3, until you run out of dough. Pinch the other ends together and place the braid in a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough to form 2 loaves.

Lightly mist tops of loaves with cooking spray and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When loaves have doubled, brush lightly with egg wash and bake on center rack of oven until golden brown and baked through, about 45 minutes, rotating loaves 180 degrees halfway through baking. Remove loaves from oven and loaf pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.

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