Susan of wild yeast just posted a story about how her longtime dislike for rye changed after a class demo at SFBI, where she gave in to its flavor palette of earthy chewiness. Along with Nils from Inversecook, whose rye loaves - whether plain, or with hemp, seeded, soy or nuts always look good to eat - I can't get enough of the stuff! Trouble is nobody bakes it here, or at least as well as the loaves in Germany or France and Switzerland! Sure you can say we got Jewish deli rye here. But what Jewish bakers are still baking it? The few who still have the skills are likely retired, and advised their kids to avoid the sweat of the kitchen for the sweat of Wall Street. Actually, after last week's financial melt-town, maybe some of that younger Jewish talent will see cooler possibilities in the non ethereal, grounded (and sweeter smelling) profession of the kitchen.
Regardless, rye is not at all like working with wheat. It feels different, it's like wet clay or cement. Once mastered and appreciated what emerges from the oven baked , is a golden sweet, earthy tasting loaf that when slaked with butter or layered with leberwurst it can't be beat. My own efforts are definitely hit or miss! That was the case with my last Stonehenge monolith loaf. I don't know if it was the percentages gone "awry," but I failed at an attempt with Seigle de Augverne, a recipe from Dan Leader's Local Bread. My version worked best as a door stop that made a deep hollow thud as it hit my basement's trash compactor. There have been others that could be rated ok; some even good looking enough for a snap of my camera, but for eating? Not! Reaching into my archives, I recalled a loaf I had spied on Graham Prichard's site. The loaf was by Boris, aka. Danubian. Bakery instructor, fly fisherman and more than often one of the strong voices of artisan baking on the forum. Upon request, Boris was so kind as to let me post his formula. I made only one loaf, as light rye, medium rye or even whole grain rye seem harder to get these days except for mail order or health stores. Definitely when people taste these loaves you won't consider just eating wheat loaves. Heck you may even go and try spelt next or quinoa?