I have written about rye in previous posts, noting that, if you are of East European, German or Scandinavian extraction, you know that rye breads come in many shapes, sizes and flavors. Quoting Wikipedia straight up: "It can be light or dark in color, depending on the type of flour used and the addition of coloring agents, and is typically denser than bread made from wheat flour. It is higher in fiber than white bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor. Rye bread has a low glycemic index, which means it does not cause a spike in blood sugar when compared to white bread." Rye bread tends to be denser, darker and more sour that white sourdough.
As a crop, rye has its origins in Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey), first cultivated in the Bronze age and spreading North and West and man migrated out from the fertile crescent. It grows well in poor soil and was known since Roman times as a poor man's food and was a staple in the Middle Ages.
Interestingly, the toxic effects of a fungus that grows on rye are considered by some historians as possible sources of bewitchment and its upsets (e.g. The Salem witch trials.) The Ergot fungus can provide one of the precursor chemicals for LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). LSD is an especially efficient drug to produce and the doses required to go all Timothy Leary are miniscule: with 25 KG (about 55 lbs) of precursor chemicals you could generate 100 MM doses. I think I am in the wrong business.
This Saturday's Bake
I am going to bake an organic rye bread with 30% Fresh ground rye, 30% dark rye flour and 40% white flour (We need white flour to give the loaf structure - on its own, rye flour does not provide much gluten) . This rye is mild, moderately dense and does not have the deep sour flavor that some rye breads possess.
I like this quote from The Atlantic magazine about the flavor of rye bread.
Rye has a deep flavor, a flavor of the earth, a flavor full of character, a flat feel on the back of your tongue that gradually fills your whole mouth. And it should be chewy. Both crust and crumb should work your jaws. On a perfect day the crust should crackle. Other days it's just gonna help keep your jaws in shape.
Let's see if my rye bread can live up to this description.
Your Canadian Baker