With this assignment we are back to rye. In 2010, researchers in Lund, Sweden published research that shows that even light rye flour (without the bran) is good for your blood sugar levels. The bran also contains important minerals and vitamins.
As I discovered in my earlier post on rye, rye grows in conditions where wheat does not do well. (According to About.com "It grows in poor, sandy soil and under mixed weather conditions, while wheat grows best in a warm dry climate, so despite poorer yields than wheat, it was grain of choice in colder areas.") In such areas 100% rye bread was common, but now most rye is "lightened" with wheat flour, in part because rye has a distinctive taste that can be too strong. Well, since we were baking rye I decided to bake a 100% rye loaf to check it out. I used the 100% Whole Wheat Plain and Simple recipe from HB in 5, but substituted rye flour that I ground myself. That was it. I did not even add caraway, so we could see what the rye tasted like unadulterated. I only made a quarter batch, enough for 1 loaf.
The loaf was a bit dense, and certainly had a distinctive taste, but we enjoyed it. We tried to come up with a description of the taste, (impudent, with a musty, earthy insouciance) but failed. Practically Edible describes it as a "heady, slightly sour taste." World's Healthiest Foods notes "Rye has a very hardy, deep, nourishing taste." (The site also notes that "Rye Can Ease Your Ride Through Menopause While Helping Prevent Breast Cancer.")
In doing some follow-up research I found at About.com that "Rye flour can be tricky to work with because sugars (carbohydrates) called pentoses (xylose, arabinose) reduce the ability of the gluten proteins to form stretchy, hollow areas which help trap the gas in bread, but are themselves responsible for trapping water and building the crumb "scaffold". Starches in the flour help this scaffolding hold together and create a bread that does not crumble. However, since these starches can be cut into many smaller pieces by alpha amylases (a type of enzyme) which would reduce their ability to interact with the pentoses, a low pH is used (sourdough) to inhibit the amylase. All these interactions make the crumb of rye bread denser than that of wheat bread. Often, rye is used together with wheat flour to make what the Germans call 'Mischbrot'." The article summarized "As the amount of rye flour in a bread increases, the longer the bread stays fresh and the stronger it tastes of rye. The more wheat flour, the higher the bread rises and the 'milder' it tastes." Well, there you go.
The Whole Grain Rye used for this assignment includes roughly equal parts of rye flour, whole wheat flour, and AP flour. As a result, it makes a lighter loaf, though with the whole grain rye and the whole wheat flour it is still plenty sturdy.
The first part of this assignment was to bake a regular loaf of rye. My loaf baked up nicely, with a good crumb. We liked this bread a lot. And it also makes great toast.
The recipe called for adding caraway seeds to the dough, as well as sprinkling some on top before baking. On an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives one of the eateries baked their own rye bread and used ground caraway seed. I got some at Penzeys, and used it here. I think it gives a fuller, more uniform caraway flavor, but that could just be me.
The other iteration of this assignment was to use the same dough to make a Stuffed “Sandwich” Loaf. I followed the first of the several variations, using roasted red pepper, sauteed mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and goat cheese. Since the peppers and the artichoke hearts were both kind of wet, I chopped them up and spun them in my salad spinner. Then I rolled the dough to 1/4 inch, topped it with the vegetables and the goat cheese,
rolled it up jelly-roll style, and put it in a loaf pan to rise.
Perhaps as an homage to Super Bowl XXXVIII, during baking my loaf suffered a "wardrobe malfunction" (they do call it a gluten cloak).
Although this made slicing a bit of a challenge, it was otherwise not a problem.
One of the main reasons I made this version was that I had all the stuffing stuff on hand, but since this was a rye bread, the version with ham, cheese and cabbage sounded like it would be awesome. I may give it a try and report next time. But for this time, that is all. Next time we are on to pumpernickel.