Sauerkraut Rye Bread

 Serves 2 loaves

Ingredients

3 cups whole rye flour

1 envelope dry yeast

2 cups warm water

1-1/2 cups sauerkraut (undrained)

2 Tbs. vegetable shortening

1-1/2 Tbs. caraway seeds

2 tsp. salt

4 - 4-1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 egg white

Instructions

Start sponge 6 - 18 hours before you plan to make the bread. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of the rye flour, yeast, and 1-1/2 cups of water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 6 but no more than 18 hours. (The mixture rises and falls as it ferments but should appear as a soft doughy mass when ready.)

Add sauerkraut, remaining 1/2 cup warm water, shortening, caraway seeds, salt and remaining cup of rye flour; mix well with wooden spoon. Gradually stir in 3 cups of the unbleached flour to make a stiff dough. (The dough will be quite sticky at first, becoming smoother and more elastic as flour is added in next steps.)

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep dough from sticking. Knead until smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. Place dough in large clean bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost tripled in volume (1-1/2 - 2 hours.)

Punch dough down; divide in half. Knead each piece a few times, then shape into smooth round or oval loaves. Place each loaf on a greased cookie sheet. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise until almost double in volume (about 50 minutes)

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush top and sides of loaves with the beaten egg white. Make 3 - 4 slashes, ½-inch deep, on surface of loaves with razor blade or very sharp knife.

Bake on middle rack in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped. Slide onto cooling rack. Can be served slightly warm or completely cooled.