Baker’s Journal: Sourdough Rye

Rye Sourdough Bread LoafWe like to buy local, so we’re fortunate to have a flour mill within an hour’s drive of our farm (and, as an added bonus, it’s in a postcard-worthy setting). We recently picked up some flour for our sourdough, as well as a bag of rye flour and a bag of white cornmeal. Today, we used some of the rye flour to replace the wheat flour in our sourdough bread. Was it scientific? No. But keep reading to see how it came out.

When we first starting making sourdough, the loaves came out rather brick-like, very dense, suitable to be used as pavers or wheel chocks. Ok, they weren’t that bad, but they weren’t lofty, either. Since then, with each iteration, the bread has improved, and now it’s superb. Our sourdough starter, Audrey, is also very happy and well-established, a critical part of making a good sourdough.

We also learned that the flour was an important determinant of how the bread would ultimately turn out. We inadvertently used a flour that was wholly unsuitable for sourdough and Audrey was, understandably, displeased…and the loaves made immediately thereafter were problematic: intractably sticky dough, little rise. We corrected the flour issue and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

Back to the flour mill: to keep Audrey happy, we purchased a 25 pound bag of unbleached flour, which will be the mainstay of our loaf-making. The rye flour sounded interesting (especially since we use rye straw on the farm), so we decided to substitute half the regular flour for rye. The resulting dough was stickier due to the rye flour (baking enthusiasts go here for more info about using rye flour in baking), but it rose well and baked into a nice loaf than was browner than usual.

And the taste? The finished bread was more moist than the all wheat flour versions, the crumb was denser, the flavor was a a little tangier, and it seemed like it had more texture overall. The verdict: very tasty, will definitely make it again. This is the kind of bread that would make a mean grilled cheese sandwich or even a reuben (healthy version, of course).