Why Celebrate Rye?

Why Celebrate Rye?

Our goal at Voyageurs Bakehouse isn't to reinvent bread making. Sourdough has been around for centuries. Our goal is to make these classic breads available to you in a way that you can explore, enjoy, and love.

Heritage, ancient and varietal grains and grasses are some of our favorite ingredients to experiment with. They give us a chance to go back to the basics of bread making, and learn about the classic recipes that have been made for centuries and why they used the grains they did.

Today we want to talk ALL ABOUT RYE. Why rye?

It has a distinctive, deep flavor. It's hearty, frugal, and dynamic. It can also be slightly misunderstood.

One of the common ways it's misunderstood is that it's mistaken to be a grain when it is actually a grass. It is thought to have originated from a wild species that grew as a weed among wheat and barley fields. Sourdough breads made with rye are more compact and dense; its gluten is less elastic than wheat, so it holds less gas during the leavening process. Since it is difficult to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm, rye flour usually retains more nutrients, including higher amounts of fiber and phytonutrients than wheat.
[Source: The Sourdough School by Vanessa Kimball]

Our experience talking to customers over the last 2 years has told us that people either LOVE rye, or really dislike it. There seems to be no in-between.

Our guess is that the reason it is disliked is because it's often related to that dense, strong-flavored dark brown bread that you get as a side with your perch plate on a Friday night. This slice of "rye" often only contains 4 - 5% rye flour, has too much caraway, and is given its dark color by the addition of molasses. A true loaf of rye bread isn't actually much darker than what you'd think of as a whole wheat loaf.

Our rye loaf - THE JEWISH DELI RYE - is our take on the classic rye you would be served in a New York deli. This kind of rye bread spread across the United States in the 20th century along with Jewish delicatessens, where it served as the perfect foundation for rich fillings like pastrami and chopped liver - not to mention tuna melts.

The Deli Rye is a blend of stone-ground whole rye (40%) from Meuer Farms with artisan bread flour (60%). In classic American fashion, we add a little toasted caraway seed, which pairs well with the earthiness and sweetness of the rye.

We make our rye using a rye bread soaker. This is an old German technique (still widely used in Germany) we've worked on over the last year to give this loaf a distinct tangy rye flavor and a moist, chewy crumb. The rye soaker is made from a previous loaf of rye, which is cut up into small pieces, soaked with water, then blended and mixed into the dough of new loaves. This is not only frugal, but adds a depth of flavor to the bread.

This loaf is the perfect foundation for the thickest, juiciest deli sandwich you can assemble.

And what's a deli sandwich without a cookie on the side? Here's where the ESPRESSO RYE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE comes in. 

If you've tasted this cookie... then you know. If you haven't had one, it's time for you to get in the know.

There's something truly special about this cookie. I think it's the rye. (The incredible coffee quality from Coffee Wizardz might also have something to do with it.)

This cookie is 50% whole rye flour mixed with 50% all-purpose flour, finely ground espresso, and chocolate chips. The most common feedback has been similar to how this customer put it:

"It's not too sweet. It's the perfect sweetness for a cookie. I'm not a sweets person, but I just LOVE these cookies."

I keep thinking I'll get tired of eating these cookies... but it hasn't happened yet. Not sure it ever will.                                              

The rye used in all of our baked goods is grown in Chilton, Wisconsin by Meuer Farms. It's grown using organic practices and milled with their imported Austrian stone mill. David (pictured above) mills the grain just before it is delivered, which preserves the nutrients of the grass, and also maintains optimal freshness.

We feel extremely fortunate to have farmers like David and his wife Leslie in our community, who have such care and passion for growing interesting grains, grasses, and other wonderful produce.

So, ready to give rye a try? In addition to our Deli Rye and Espresso Rye Cookies, our Country Loaf, Seeded Country, Sprouted Vollkornbrot, Pullman, and Cinnamon Raisin Maple all contain rye flour...

Can you tell it's one of our favorites? ;)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published