Cooking For Sig

A Sous Chef and Her Stories

An Ode to My French Press

Leave a comment

I spoke too soon and jinxed myself. 2015 just seemed so promising, but then this weekend kitchen tragedy struck. While grinding my coffee beans, bleary eyed and grouchy, I knocked over my French press and watched helplessly as the glass carafe shattered on our granite counter top. Gah! I nearly cried. Partially because I have a soft spot for this particular coffee maker, which my college roommate surprised me with senior year, and partly because I really, really needed a cup of coffee.

bread and teaAnd this was not the first disaster of the weekend. Saturday I spent at least an hour needlessly mixing and kneading the wrong yeast into two separate (but equally failing) doughs. This ended with several pounds of flour being dumped in the trash. Again, I was left in near tears, but at least that morning I had had my coffee. I did not however have the heart or energy to complete the original marbled rye recipe. By the time I kneaded the correct yeast into my dough, I was on batch number three of the light rye and there was absolutely no way that I could bring myself to mix its dark rye companion. So, instead I settled on a plain old rustic boule of rye, heavy on the caraway seeds and light on the molasses, just like Matt likes it. I have to say despite the arduous process, or maybe because of it, this bread turned out pretty darn good. Thick, crunchy, flaky crust on the outside. Soft, fluffy, and nicely chewy on the inside.

The coffee situation was resolved less easily. First, I thought I might drink some tea instead. (Ha ha. Ha.) But not just any old tea, fancy loose leaf tea. This involved dusting off the pretty little ceramic tea pot I gave to my dad for Chanukah many years ago when he was going through his tea phase. Like any of his phases, he took it very seriously. On Sundays, we would go to the tea store in the Chestnut Hill mall and sip and sniff and deeply inhale a ridiculous variety of tea imported from some remote corner of China. Still, invariably, we walked out of the store with the same exact thing, jasmine pearl green tea, which was absurdly expensive because every leaf is rolled by hand into a perfect miniature spheres. My dad swore by the stuff, but it tasted a whole lot like plain old jasmine green tea to me.

My little tea experiment (in which I replace coffee with tea and see what happens to my body and soul) lasted for about 15 minutes before I resorted to the lowest of the low: instant coffee. Please don’t judge me. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Besides, it reminded me of Grandpa Branning, whose jar of instant coffee sat untouched in the pantry for months between his visits. It was always my job to prepare it for him with one heaping teaspoon and a good stir. I decided yesterday was a two heaping teaspoon kind of morning and I have to confess it hit the spot. I also have to confess that there is already a new French press en route to my apartment. A larger, fancier all grown up French press. And while the prospect of making 54oz of coffee all at once is supremely exciting, I will miss the little machine that’s gotten me through my mornings for the past 10 years. May it rest in peace.


Marble Rye from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

To Make the Light Rye:

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) white rye flour
3 cups (13.5 ounces) unbleached bread or clear flour
1 1/2 tsp. (.38 ounces) salt
1 3/4 tsp. (.19 ounces) instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. (.17 ounces) caraway seeds (optional)
1 TBSP (.75 ounces) molasses
2 TBSP (1 ounce) shortening
Approx. 1 1/4 cups + 2 TBSP (11 ounces) water, at room temperature

Stir together the flours, salt, yeast, and caraway seeds in a 4-quart bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer).

Add the molasses, shortening, and 1 1/4 cups water. Mix until the dough gathers all the loose flour and forms a ball (or mix for about 1 minute on low speed with the paddle attachment). *Add the remaining 2 TBSP of water only if needed.

Sprinkle a little flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin to knead (or mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook). Kneed for 4-6 minutes (or 4 minutes by machine) adding sprinkles of flour if needed. (*The dough should feel supple and pliable, a little tacky but not sticky).

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

To Make the Dark Rye:

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) white rye flour
3 cups (13.5 ounces) unbleached bread or clear flour
1 1/2 tsp. (.38 ounces) salt
1 3/4 tsp. (.19 ounces) instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. (.17 ounces) caraway seeds (optional)
1 TBSP (.75 ounces) molasses
2 TBSP (1 ounce) shortening
Approx. 1 1/4 cups + 2 TBSP (11 ounces) water, at room temperature
2 TBSP (1 ounce) cocoa, carob, or coffee powder dissolved in 2 TBSP ( 1 ounce) water

Follow the same directions as used for the light rye with one exception: add the coffee powder at the time you add the molasses and shortening.

Proceed through the rest of the same process used for the light rye until dough has been made and covered.

Ferment both light and dark rye dough at room temperature for approximately 90 minutes or until each dough doubles in size.

Divide each dough into 4 even-sized pieces. Roll out each piece wit ha rolling pin into about a 5 x 8-inch oblong shape.

Once each piece has been rolled out, place one light rye oblong on floured surface. Then layer a dark rye oblong on top of the light. Continue the layering with another light and another dark rye until you have 4 oblong pieces stacked on top of each other. Repeat with the second loaf.

Roll each stack into a torpedo shape (technically a bâtard). Gently pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third of the dough, letter style, up to the center of dough. Press down to seal and create surface tension. Fold the remaining dough over top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed. Also seal the ends of the loaves with hand.

Place the loaves across the width of 2 baking parchment-lined sheet or in 2 oiled 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Mist or brush each loaf with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof (let rise) at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until loaves nearly double in size. *Keep in mind that most ovens do not hold 2 sheet pans at once. If this is the case for your oven, simply put 1 pan in the refrigerator to slow down proofing until the other has baked or up to 2 days later.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/177ºC with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Next, make an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg with 1 tsp water until frothy. Evenly and gently brush the egg wash over the loaves.

Bake the loaf/loaves for approximately 45 minutes (baking time will vary depending on the oven and whether you are baking freestanding loaves or in a large or small loaf pan). Rotate the pans 180 degrees after first 20 minutes of baking.

Once the bread has finished baking, the internal temperature should be 190ºF/88ºC and the loaves should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

Remove the loaves from pans/baking trays immediately after taking them out of the oven. Cool on rack for 1-2 hours before slicing and serving.


Author: sarkrauss

Run, cook, eat, sleep, repeat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s