Bread. Crusty. Chewy. Slightly Sour. Bringing Rye Back to the MainStream.

Bread. It’s all bad carbs. Don’t eat it! We hear this all the time. I turn 40 this year and was just in seeing my doctor today for a routine check up. Of corse I get the lecture again about cutting out or at least down the amount of carbs I eat. So I asked him, have there been any studies that look at the various types of bread preparations, ingredients, or cooking methods to see if it’s a universal truth or just something we’re all taught. He did tell me that obviously whole grains, wheat, and so on would be better but I could tell the answer was no. At least not mainstream research. So am I supposed to believe all bread is created equally? After making various types of bread from a basic white, to challah, to multiple rye’s and many different dinner rolls I would argue NO, not all bread is created equally. 

Nothing can beat homemade bread. Even when it comes to basic white bread, making it at home not only will make your house smell amazing but the taste is out-of-this-world. When we now live in a world of vast numbers of flours being available to bake with along with more and more cookbooks teaching the novice baker how to make luscious bread there’s no reason not to make this a family activity, especially with children.

What makes this a great kitchen activity with children of all ages is that you can teach a little about the science of leavening as well as you don’t need a huge attention span. Most breads typically have a few ingredients thrown together, mix it up, and let it sit. So the kids can go play or watch a movie before the next step. I would also think kids would love kneading the dough! Mushing and gooshing this blog around. How is that not fun! I still remember making bread in the third grade and having honey put on a slice while it was still warm! Wow! What a memory!

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Once you get bitten by the bread baking bug it’s hard to go back to anything else. When we were doing rueben’s a could weeks ago I needed rye bread. I couldn’t find all the ingredients at the store so I ended up having to buy a loaf of rye for those. It about killed me. I never buy bread. I always make it! You better believe though when I got home I ordered all the ingredients I would need to make rye in the future.

I think what makes baking bread hard for most people is both the total time when you need to be home for the next step and good recipes. Thankfully the world of cookbooks is quickly evolving and growing with more and more new cookbook authors hitting the shelves. Cookbooks are more of a story about that authors journey in the world of food along with recipes rather than just a encyclopedia of recipes. They are as much fun to simply read as they are to cook from. That’s why you can usually find a cookbook on my nightstand for reading material.

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It was when I came across Molly Yeh that I hit gold. Sure I think Molly Yeh could and should be my spirit animal because she makes me laugh and cry as I read her stories. Even at times, cry while laughing. Feeling a personal connection to Molly Yeh’s story and cookbook I decided to follow her on twitter as well as her blog. Of all days, she tweeted a picture on my birthday last year of her with other cookbook author friends at the San Diego Jewish Book Fair. In it were the authors of The Gefilte Manifesto and The Rye Baker. I immediately added their books to my must haves.

It took me some time before I could really start to dig into The Rye Baker but once I did I felt like I couldn’t stop. Old School Deli Rye, Jewish Bakery Pumpernickel, Polish Ukrainian Rye, and Weinheim Carrot Rye were the first that I dove into. The whole book is nothing but various types of rye breads. Some using sours and some using yeasts. They had different colors, textures, flavors, and techniques. The only question was how to choose.

One could quickly become discouraged with this cookbook. Many recipes call for a Rye Sour Culture. A good sour is going to take at least 7 days to make. Takes no more than 5 minutes a day but it’s a matter of sticking with it, keeping it somewhere warm, and not getting thrown by it’s sometimes “unique” smell… but do it! The effort is worth it!

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Have you ever had a really great piece of bread? Maybe you like a lighter crust and a dryer crumb. Maybe you like a thick tough crust that can sop up yummy stews or regrant oils. Maybe you like a really chewy crumb. All this can be achieved through rye breads. They are delicious! Since making my first loaf I have had a piece every day as a snack lightly toasted with nothing on it! It’s that good! The bread is the flavor! Sure you can top it with butter, cheese, cured meats, or whatever you like but the bread is good enough to be eaten alone.

So after making my sour culture, letting my dough ferment, and using different types of grains as well as a bread that had oats, carrots, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds I stand by my statement. No. Not all breads are created equally and you shouldn’t write them all off just yet.

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