These rye breads with a high proportion of rye flour and grains are not to everyone’s taste. They are however, enormously popular in Germany and other northern European countries, but I suspect have a relatively small fanbase in England where tastes run to stoneground wholemeal wheat and malted granary loaves, rather than to rye and sourdough when people want a brown bread. The idea that brown bread and in particular wholemeal wheat is ‘good for you’ has been studiously promoted over the years here, but rye is rare in the English diet, apart from in Ryvita crackers!
If you are used to sweet fluffy white bread then this is the complete opposite, a substantial strong taste with a distinctive texture and mouth feel. You might like it, but the odds are fairly high that you won’t if you’ve never had this sort of bread before.
I was brought up to eat these breads, but B refuses to eat them. He just doesn’t like the way they taste. Fortunately, I have lovely German friends who are happy to take them off my hands and give them a good home. I like making them but I can’t eat my way through all this bread, so the only answer is to share the bread around with those who love it! I don’t know if I will make all the rye breads in Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, but I will certainly make some of them as they turn up at Mellow Bakers and next time I will remember to scale down the recipe! Jeffrey Hamelman’s rye recipes are really well crafted and I always enjoy making them. They work. What more can I say?
I used a lovely flour from Shipton Mill which they call Swiss Dark Flour for the wholegrain part of this dough and some of their chopped rye for pumpernickel. They don’t always have the chopped rye in stock, so check before you make the trip.
The dough was soft and sticky but did show some development, though nothing like a wheat based dough would. I didn’t bother with shaping, but spooned it, blob by thick blob, into the tin, smoothed it down with a dough scraper, and sprinkled a bit of rye flour on the top. The dough took about two hours to double in height at which point I baked it.
I was pleased with how it came out, nice height, visible aeration, the soaked rye chops were soft, apart from where they were a bit hard on the top crust, and the bread held together well. I did reweigh the soaked chops before I mixed them in the dough and drained some of the excess water away. I have made similar breads before and if they are too wet they don’t cook too well. I hope my bread is happy in its new home.