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Tegernsee Christmas Loaf/Tegernseer Ketzapiren

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Baking powder
Start to Finish: 1½-2 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2 lb./900 g loaf

Marking religious holidays and life events by enhancing everyday bread with rare delicacies goes back a long way in Europe. The tradition survives most clearly in the stollen of Germany, the panettones of Italy, Lithuania’s Kaledu Pyragas (Christmas Bread), the zelten of South Tyrol and in this richly fruited Ketzapiren, which comes from Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps, not far from the Austrian border. Keep Reading

Christmas Crispbread/Juligt Knäckebröd (Sweden)

Rye %: 57%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 3 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: Eight 4 oz./115 g breads

Just about all of the Christmas breads I’ve seen are sweet and typically feature spices, fruits and/or nuts in great profusion. This Christmas crispbread from Sweden, however, goes against the tide: it’s an austere bread whose characteristics lead me to view it as a relic of life in Sweden’s frigid north, where the living was hard and the only luxuries available were modest at best. Keep Reading

Rhode Island Brown Bread (USA)

ribrown_slice

Rye %: 41%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Baking soda
Start to Finish: 5½ hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: Two 2 lb./900 g loaves

For me, Thanksgiving is always a time for celebrating New England’s food traditions. There’s turkey, of course, which roamed the deciduous forests of the Northeast; pumpkin and corn, mainstays of the Native Americans’ diet; and West Indies molasses, which came to the colonies via Britain’s system of triangular trade.

The first Europeans brought rye, which they mixed with cornmeal to make Rye and Indian Bread; later, the addition of molasses and wheat flour transformed the coarse loaf into Boston Brown Bread, which has become the benchmark New England loaf, to the exclusion of all others.

So I was both surprised and pleased to find another New England heirloom rye-and-corn bread, Rhode Island Brown Bread, in the 1887 edition of The White House Cookbook by F. L. Gillette and Hugo Ziemann. Keep Reading

“Little Breads” of Pustertal/Pusterer Breatl (Italy)

pust_slice

Rye %: 70%
Stages: Sponge, final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, yeast
Start to Finish: 17-20 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One dozen 3½ ox/100 g rolls

Not too long ago, one of my friends, a transplanted Berliner, announced that he and his wife were going on vacation in the mountains of eastern Austria. The news came as music to my ears, because for a long time I’d been trying to get my hands on blue fenugreek leaves, a spice that’s virtually impossible to find in the US. Known as Trigonella caerulea (blue trefoil) to botanists, it’s a key ingredient in the breads of South Tyrol, where it’s variously called Blauklee (“blue clover”), Schabzigerklee (“shoddy clover”), Zigeunerkraut (“gypsy herb”) and Brotklee (“bread clover”). I asked if he’d be kind enough to pick some up for me. Keep Reading

Spiced Pumpkin Bread/Kürbisgewürzbrot (Germany)

kurbis_loaf

Rye %: 30%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 4 – 4½hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb./1.1 kg

Spiced Pumpkin Bread is a great example of how European bakers included a wide range of ingredients, such as oil seeds, nuts, cabbage, carrots, potatoes – even moss and the ground inner bark of pine trees – to augment and extend their flour in times of scarcity. Although the custom first developed during pre-Industrial times, when famine was a real and recurring challenge, it has persisted into these times of plenty, much to our good fortune. Keep Reading

“Closing Time” Dark Caraway Rye/Dunkles Feierabendbrot mit Kümmel (Austria)

feier_slice

Rye %: 53%
Stages: Sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Yeast
Start to Finish: 15-17 hours
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Two 1 lb. (475 g) loaves

Ever since I acquired my copy of Der Duft von Frischem Brot (The Aroma of Fresh-baked Bread), I’ve been hooked on Austrian ryes, which, like so many Alpine ryes I’ve encountered, have wonderfully complex and interesting flavor profiles. This caraway rye is no exception. It’s a creation of third-generation baker Johannes Breuss, of Oberdorf, a town  nestled in the  high Alps of Vorarlberg, Austria’s westernmost region,  where it’s bordered by Bavaria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
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Auerman Borodinsky/Borodinskiy Khleb (Revised)

Auerman Borodinsky

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sponge, Scald, Scald-Sponge, Final Dough
Leaven: Rye sour
Duration: 19-25 hours
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Yield: one 3½ lb. (1.6 kg.) loaf

There are many versions of Borodinsky Rye: this one first appeared in the 1935 edition of Tekhnologiya Khlebopyekarnogo Proyzvodstva (Bakery Production Technology) by the legendary Russian process engineer Lev Auerman. Unlike most Borodinsky variations, which contain wheat flour, this one is made of 100% rye. In addition, where many of the other variations have flavor profiles that feature a combination of both sweet and sour, in this one, sweet dominates, thanks to both the long scald and floral accents of scalded caraway or anise.
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Heirloom Dixie Rye (United States)

DixSlice

Rye %: 82%
Stages: Sponge, Scald, Final dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 10-12 hours
Hands-on Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb./1.0 kg loaf

Not so long ago, the food reporter from a South Carolina newspaper asked if I’d ever worked with Seashore rye. Actually, until that moment, I’d never even heard of it, but immediately went online and did some research. It turns out that this heirloom grain, which had been introduced into South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida during the 1830s, was believed to be extinct. However, a food detective at Clemson University discovered a single stand of the grain on a family farm on Edisto Island, South Carolina, where it had been used for generations as windbreak between the tomato fields.
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Wholegrain Franconia Rye/Vollkorn Frankenlaib

Frankenlaib for lunch

Rye %: 80%
Stages: 3-Stage sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture
Start to Finish: 20-22 hours
Hands-on Time: 40-50 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb./650 g loaves

Frankenlaib sliced

Not too long ago I acquired a trove of freshly milled rye and heirloom/heritage wheat flours from Grist & Toll, a groundbreaking urban mill in Pasadena, just north of Los Angeles. After experimenting with the wheat flours, I started casting about for a rye bread that would let me showcase the subtle complexities of the G&T flours. After going through my recipe database, I settled on Franconia Rye/Frankenlaib, a subtle and complex Bavarian bread.

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Latvian Coarse Rye/Rudzu Rupjā Maize

Latvian Coarse Rye and Liverwurst

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Sour culture
Start to Finish: 24-30 hours
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Yield: One 4 lb./1.80 kg loaf

Over the months and years I’ve spent baking rye breads, I’ve developed a special fondness for Baltic ryes and for coarse-textured rustic breads. This Coarse Rye from Latvia fills the bill on both, making it one of my favorites. Interestingly, it combines bulk ferment, soaking and proofing into a single 12 to 16-hour stretch, after which the dough gets benched and baked in quick succession. Keep Reading