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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Weird Ukrainian bread

So there's this bread I remember from my childhood youth, kleb, this chewy stuff with a glossy crust, dense enough to make your jaw ache chewing it, but moist, mostly deep black with little flakes of other colors in it, bits of seeds and hull and bran and...stuff, with a rich, complicated, bittersweet flavor that is nothing at all like pumpernickle, which it superficially resembles.

I haven't had any since the bakery that I used to get it from went out of business (They used to sell it by the quarter loaf. These were big loaves of bread!). And today, while I was looking fo a good blini recipe, because I had decided, hell or high water, it was blini for dinner tonight, I found a recipe for kleb...

4 cup Rye flour
3 cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp Granulated sugar
2 tsp Salt
2 cup 100 percent bran cereal
2 tbl Caraway seed, crushed
2 tsp Onion powder
1/2 tsp Fennel seed, crushed
2 pkt Dry active yeast
3 cup Coffee
1/4 cup Vinegar
1/4 cup Dark molasses
1 oz Unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup Butter or margarine (1/2 stick)

1 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 cup Cold water

* Combine rye and all-purpose flour, set aside. In large bowl thoroughly mix 2 1/3 cups flour mixture, sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, onion powder, fennel seed and yeast.

* Combine coffee, vinegar, molasses, chocolate and butter in saucepan.

* Melt over low heat. Gradually add to dry ingredients. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

* Add 1/2 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make soft dough. Turn out on lightly floured board. Cover dough with bowl.

* Let rest 15 minutes. Then knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Dough will be sticky.) Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Divide dough in half, form into 2 loaves and place in 9-by-5- inch loaf pans. Or form into 2 round balls and place on greased baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the top. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Stir constantly for 1 minute. As soon as bread is baked, brush cornstarch mixture over tops of loaves. Return bread to oven. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until glaze is set. Remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

Because I could not find rye flour anywhere (sometimes I feel like the only Slav in Las Vegas), I took a half of a package of knacke (Swedish rye hardtack) and ground it up in the food processor, and lowered the amount of salt in the recipe by 1/2. Also, I used whole wheat flour, because I wanted a denser bread, and I added a teaspoon of garlic powder because I remember a garlicky taste in the bread I used to get, and some extra molasses because the dough did not look dark or taste sweet enough.

Since I don't own an electric mixer, I used the dry-well method and kneaded the wet ingredients into the dry on a pastry marble.

The bread is rising under the pilot light in the oven now, because we have the air conditioning on. I'll let you know how it came out in an hour or three.

I'm so excited I can barely stand it.


*crossing fingers for you and for the bread*

Don't forget to let us know how it came out!
Sounds wonderful. Nothing quite so fulfilling as baking bread.

And as for rye flour, it's hard to find everywhere in the US--even here in New York, unless you live in certain neighborhoods.

I usd to be able to get it in Connecticut, but... New Britain probably has a larger Polish population than Warsaw, these days, so that's unsurprising. g*
What??? Really??? Because I managed to find medium rye flour in a supermarket in California, and I felt myself abused not to have my choice of light, medium, or dark. Scandos eat it, too; I'll bet I can find some and ship it along. Do you want dark, light, medium, or more than one kind?

(The medium is all right for limpe, lovely Swedish light rye you should try if you haven't, but the light will be even better once I've used the damn California-bought medium all up.)

I thought you could get some rye flour anywhere and it's just good rye flour that's hard to find.
I'm willing to bet that if I dragged my ass across town to Wild Oats, I could get it... for ten dollars a bag, but I could get it. I tried Albertson's, Smith's, and Vons, and no luck.

Of course, this is Vegas. I have to go to Costco to get Cheddar cheese that isn't yellow (They carry the Cabot purple wax stuff).

No shit. Really.
Oh dear oh dear. And I thought the cheese situation was horrible in California! (And compared to here, it is.) But cheese probably wouldn't ship so well; if I find good dark rye flour next time I'm at Byerly's or Whole Foods, I will rye you.
If I can ever return the favor, let me know!

Vegas *is* something of a culinary desert....
...I'm actually amused that it was my Scando rye crackers (which I *can* get here, in one grocery store) that saved the day. *g* I come of a dairy-loving people, with a fixation on booze, ground up meat products, potatoes and rye flour... the actual ethnicities are unimportant. *g*

Dark would prbably be best for black bread, don't you think?
Caffeinated bread, what a great idea! Leave it to a Slav to come up with that. Chekov was right, all the best ideas are Slavic. BTW, if you want rye flour, you've got it. I know of a couple of places where I can get it, and I'd be happy to return the favor you did me. :-)
all the best ideas are Slavic...

This is me resisting the Shakespeare-in-the-original-Russian jokes....
Ensign Chekov, direct descendant of Illya Kuryakin....


You know, it's funny you should mention that--because the show-me-where-you-keep-the-nuclear-wessels joke is a direct lift, more or less, from a Man From UNCLE ep ("The Minus X Affair") wherein Illya is infiltrating a US army base and, of course, gets captured...

And he's attempting to explain that he's an UNCLE agent, and there to stop a different infiltrator, with far more nefarious plans....

And the officer in charge gives him this very arch look and says, "Illya Kuryakin? That's a funny sort of a name."

And Illya just kind of slumps and goes "Oh, brother," as if the enture cold war exists only to inconvenience him. It's a classic moment, and so funny.
If Hamlet were a Klingon, the play would have been three minutes long....
Ah, yes, and I am an inveterate catalogue shopper. (Viva la Penzey's Spices and Upton Tea!) but the King Arthur website doesn't assist when one has decided that Nothing Will Do but that one make rye bread right this instant. *g*

Yes, precisely--there are less complicated versions, without the chocolate, coffee, etc, but the ydon't taste right (and I'm not particularly a buckwheat fan--I usually use whole wheat in its place, for medvinyk and so forth).

The Guinness starter sounds delicious. Alas, I am an instant gratification kind of girl... waiting ninety minutes for the blini batter to rise is testing my willpower right now, as we speak!

(Although I do use warm black beer in my pizza crust, to give the yeast a kickstart and also for the flavor, but that only has to rise an hour or two)

I can kill any sourdough starter ever bred. *g* My black thumb even extends to yeast: I've murdered Alaskan sourdough, 'friendship bread', rice sourdough, and probably three or four others over the years. I sometimes suspect that the only reason I remember to feed the cats is because they sit down on my keyboard if I don't. *g*
the only reason I remember to feed the cats is because they sit down on my keyboard if I don't

Ours remind us the same way. Not that Allison forgets that often.

As for the khleb, I shall have to try that sometime soon, though without the coffee.
...and I did not know that 'khleb' means bread. My great-grandparents and grandparents were of the generation of immigrants who attempted to become as Americanized as possible as quickly as possible. Which leaves me (other than a few food items that were too beloved to be abandoned, I think) attempting to reconstruct my cultural heritage from scratch.

Also, there's some family suspicion that Great-grampa Wishnevsky was, ahem, somewhat AWOL from the Russian Army. And he didn't talk about home that much. *g* Understandable, I suppose, as Wishnevsky isn't the original family name, and he never would tell anybody what it had been....
now, *that* is a fascinating story. And a fascinating subject for a biography.
...really. Amazing he didn't end up Charles Abraham, or something...
If I run across any (and I'm likely to, given the sort of places I frequent), I will be happy to buy an appropriate amount (5lbs? Less?) and mail it to you in thanks for the tea, earlier.

(I should add that this household has been enjoying the tea very, very much!)
Five pounds should be about right: assuming I make the bread once a month or so, it should last a while.

Thank you!

And I'm glad, very glad, that the tea found a good home!
I shall enjoy the hunt for your flour.


That sounds good. I may have to try it, though I've gotten lazy about bread since I got a bread machine when I didn't have an oven.

Surprised about the lack of rye flour - I've never had trouble finding it, either in the DC suburbs or in Ohio.
There's a grocery in St. Paul which specializes in foods for immigrants from the European parts of the Former Soviet Union.
They get their bread from Chicago. It's probably not worth your arranging to have bread shipped from Chicago; but it's another possibility.

It would certainly be easier than the upper-body-workout that is kneading rye bread. *g*
Isn't it nice that in this day of the Atkins Diet craze, we can get this many comments going over the idea of a loaf of fresh-baked bread?

Take THAT, diet industry!! ;-D
Heee! I pout in the general direction of Atkins. Take that, low carb diet1

The bread is in the oven, and the whole house smells of rye. *g*