Latvian Sourdough Rye Bread

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  1. Heat 3 cups apple cider and 2 tablespoons caraway seeds to boiling; pour over 3 cups of coarse rye flour and stir.
  2. Let mixture cool.
  3. Add 1 cup active sourdough starter and mix well.
  4. The mixture will resemble heavy porridge as the rye flour absorbs the apple cider.
  5. Sprinkle ½ cup coarse rye flour over the mixture but do not stir at this point.
  6. Cover your bowl with a dish towel, and then wrap the covered bowl with a beach towel or blanket.
  7. Put wrapped bowl in a warm spot (next to a heat register is good) and allow the mixture to ferment for up to 24 hours (less time if you think it will be too sour).
  8. Dissolve 1 tablespoon yeast in ½ cup warm (105-115°F;).
  9. apple cider.
  10. Let the yeast mixture bubble and then add it to the sourdough mixture.
  11. Gradually add 1 teaspoon salt, 2½ cups bread flour, and 2 cups coarse rye flour.
  12. Knead with your heavy-duty electric mixer.
  13. If the dough seems too wet, add more rye flour (wet dough will result in a soggy baked brick).
  14. This type of bread is tricky to make, as the dough is always very sticky from the rye; it takes some trial and error to get a feel for the dough.
  15. If the dough is too wet, it becomes slack after a while; the correct consistency of dough remains rather firm.
  16. Spray a formica countertop or a marble pastry board with vegetable cooking spray.
  17. Use a small plastic pan scraper or something like that to scrape your dough out of the bowl and onto your work surface.
  18. Using a bench knife/dough scraper, divide the dough into two equal chunks.
  19. Wet your hands with water and keep a bowl of water handy for additional dipping.
  20. Form the dough into two loaves on the oiled surface, using just your wet hands; do not add flour at this point.
  21. Place the loaves into oiled bread pans (8½" x 4½").
  22. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place.
  23. Believe it or not, this very heavy dough will rise.
  24. Optional (not a traditional method): brush on glaze made with 1 egg that's been mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider; sprinkle with rye flakes (obtainable from a food co-op).
  25. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°F; then turn heat down to 350°F; and continue to bake for an additional hour. Don't underbake.
  26. Remove loaves from pans and allow to cool on a rack.