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

Holstein Fine Rye/Holsteinisches Feinbrot (Germany)

Holstein Fine Rye

Rye %: 75%
Stages: Buckwheat gruel, Final dough
Leaven: Yeast
Start to Finish: 3 hours
Hands-on Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: One 2½ lb./1.15 kg loaf

“Fine,” is one of those words that has a multitude of meanings. It can mean “good,” as in “How are you?” “I’m fine.” It can mean sophisticated or refined, as in “fine dining” or “fine jewelry;” or it can describe a smooth, silky texture that’s the opposite of “coarse.” In the case of Holstein Fine Rye, it’s all of the above. Keep Reading

On Scalds and Scalding

Rye flour and red rye malt scald for Moscow Rye
Rye flour and red rye malt scald for Moscow Rye

Not long ago I was surprised and pleased to find myself, my new book (The Rye Baker) and this blog mentioned in a Washington Post food article titled “Why are some rye breads scalded?” By way of defining a scald, the author posted a link to the British blog Virtuous Bread that describes the how-tos of scalding and concludes – rightly so – that the technique produces a “gorgeous bread” with a crumb that’s “soft and chewy as if there was a lot of fat in it.”

From my point of view, the article was a very good start, but only part of a more complex and nuanced story. Keep Reading

Crusty Country Rye/Bauernkrustenbrot (Austria)

Crusty Country Rye_slice

Rye %: 66%
Stages: Sponge, Soaker, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Yeast
Start to Finish: 15-17 hours
Hands-on Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb./675 g loaves

Austrian rye breads are less well-known than their German cousins, which is a shame because they’re incredibly flavorful. I found the recipe for this well-balanced nutty-sweet-sour country loaf in probably the best of the Austrian bread books, Der Duft von frischem Brot (The Aroma of Fresh-Baked Bread) by Barbara van Melle. The recipe itself comes from Vienna baker Horst Felzl, who, had he been 2 cm taller, as the book states, and qualified for the police academy, would never have become one of Austria’s best bakers. Keep Reading

Finnish Rye/Ruislimppu

Ruis_slice

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Yeast
Start to Finish: 12-14 hours
Hands-on Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: Two 2¼ lb./1.0 kg loaves

Ruislimppu, which translates to “rye loaf,” is the traditional bread of eastern Finland, with a nutty-sour flavor profile that reflects the strong Russian influence on the region’s food culture. Unlike the sour ring ryes (hapanleipäa) of western Finland, which were baked only once or twice a year and stored over the winter on poles hung from the ceiling, the eastern Finns baked their rye bread regularly throughout the year. Keep Reading

Lublin Rye/Chleb Lubelski (Poland)

Lub_slice

Rye %: 100%
Stages: 3-stage sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture
Start to Finish: 24-28 hours
Hands-on Time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb/1.0 kg loaf

Lublin Rye, which I found in the Polish bread blog Adam Piekarz (“Adam’s Bakes”) appeals to me on many levels. Firstly, its history: according to Adam, “back in the 1960s, when the content of rye bread was regulated by the [Communist] state, Lubelski was considered a great luxury because it used 100% white rye flour, which was available only at certain times of the year.” Second, it’s the most basic of rye breads, containing only rye flour, water, salt and sour culture. If nothing else, I was expecting a bread that showcased the subtlety of white rye and the balance of a three-stage sponge. Keep Reading

Auvergne Rye/Pain Seigle d’Auvergne

AuvSeig_slice

Rye %: 73%
Stages: Stage 1 sponge, Stage 2 sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture
Start to Finish: 36-48 hours
Hands-on Time: 35-45 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb./700 g loaves

It recently occurred to me that most of the breads I’ve posted have been German and Eastern European, with an Alpine and Swedish bread thrown in for variety. But, in fact, those breads don’t begin to scratch the surface of rye’s diversity, so in the interest of broadening the map, I chose a French rye for my latest bake.

“A French rye?” you say. “Rye from the land of baguettes  and batârds; épis, fougasses and boules?” To which I reply, “Indeed; for the French were eating rye long before wheat, and the rye traditions are still strong along the sandy coastal plains of Normandy and Brittany, the Basse-Alpes region of Provence, and in the Auvergne, which centers on the Massif Centrale – the vast volcanic highland that dominates south central France and accounts for about 15% of its total area.
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Deconstructed Saison Rye

Sais_apple

Rye %: 60%
Stages: Sponge, Scald, Opara, Hops tea, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, yeast
Start to Finish: 13-15 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb./1.0 kg loaf

This past weekend my friend Jim Crute, owner and brewmaster at the Lightning Brewery, decided to have a beer bread contest. Now, I’ve baked lots of beer rye breads, mainly from Finland, Germany and Sweden, and one of the challenges I invariably encounter is that I have virtually no control over the beer’s flavor profile, other than making my choice off the shelf. So I decided instead (since I thought it was time to start developing my own breads anyway) to take it from scratch and build a bread to my own tastes using the same ingredients brewers use: malt, hops and flavoring agents. Keep Reading