Last weekend was my first back from my vacation (I came home the previous Sunday night, so no weekend at home), and I spent it in my classic nesting activity: cooking. Three different breads, two soups, and other stuff. Oh, and prep for the stollen I plan to bake this week. First bread up, after the weekly challah, was this last rye bread from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, the aniseed-, fennel seed, orange-, and cardamon-flavored Swedish rye. When a search of my many herb and spice bottles failed to find aniseed, I substituted star anise--it was difficult to get it ground with my old blade coffee grinder, but any larger fibrous bits weren't noticeable in the finished bread.
I made my usual half recipe, and went with a loaf pan instead of a free-standing loaf. The bread starts out with a sponge, and an odd-looking one--the flavorings are brought to a boil with molasses and water, that gets cooled, then added to a barm (rye, in my case) and additional rye flour. The molasses/spice mixture looked evil (dark brown liquid with...stuff floating in it) but smelled great. The sponge sits out for 4 hours or until foamy, then is refrigerated overnight to build flavor. The next day the rye sponge gets additions of bread flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar, and a little melted shortening to complete the dough.
The dough was slow to rise for both first and second rises, even when I gave up on "room temperature" and moved it to the warming drawer on 'proof'. I gave up on the second rise after 2-1/2 hours when it had crested the pan at 1/2 inch (not the called-for 1 inch). As a result, the loaf was a little short.
Tasting report: a lovely light rye, not overwhelmed by the spices but nicely flavored by them. Texture was great, with a nice 'chew' and even holes. Should I want to bake rye bread, this recipe will be a top candidate.