The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Let's talk about rye

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Let's talk about rye

I have watched "Francisco Migoya-Insights from Modernist Bread"  a number of times and learned a lot. There is a section where he talks about the fact that the European rye researchers threw their hands up when trying to use American grown rye, saying they couldn't bake with it. They ended up importing European rye. Well, I finally got around to researching that a bit and have discovered a big void of information. There is a LOT of information out there on wheat and the varieties used for bread but I am not finding much information on rye beyond generalizations. There is PLENTY of information on the different rye flours and breads. I did find statistics that say a significant amount of rye grown in the USA is used for feed and alcohol manufacture while in Europe the opposite is true- rye is grown for mostly human consumption and the rest for animal feed and alcohol manufacture.

I would LOVE if Stan Ginsberg would weigh in here. ( I also would LOVE to go on his Finland/Latvian tour this fall through rye country. LINK HERE if you are interested.) 

So what varieties of rye are best for flour production? Are different varietal flours available in the USA? What are the different characteristics these varietals bring to the outcome of the loaf? I can find all kinds of information about the different rye flours and grinds (again-thanks to Stan's website-The Rye Baker!) but I am looking for more information on the rye varieties themselves, the different characteristics the different varieties have and the flours made from the different varietals and where to buy them.

I am hoping that the worldwide reach of this forum will provide a wealth of information to fill this information void on rye.

gwschenk's picture
gwschenk

Looking forward to reading this thread.  My source of whole rye is from a local urban mill, Grist and Toll. What I've baked with it so far has been delicious, much tastier than whole wheat, IMO.

By coincidence, last weekend we visited friends who had just chucked in the city life for a small citrus ranch in the Ojai Valley. To break up the clay soil, he'd planted what he called sod busters. One of which was rye. It was almost 5 feet tall with large grains, a beautiful plant. He promised to harvest some for me.

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Has a piece on rye with some really informative work (including U.S./European differences), in The Art of Eating, Oct. 22, 2017 issue online.  I have run into versions asking for payment, and have had free versions come up in my searches.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Originally rye was the "weed" that grew alongside wheat and took on some of the wheat's characteristics. It was known as a secondary crop which was harvested as well as the wheat. What started off as a secondary crop rye became a crop in it's own right.

Something of that nature.

suave's picture
suave

Rye is a completely different plant, it's not going to take on wheat characteristics.  Rye-wheat hybrids do exist, but creating one is a process that's significantly more involved than just planting them side by side.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Rye co-evolved with wheat. It was a '''weed" which accompanied wheat and barley and is closely related. Basically wherever you found wheat or barley, rye was sure to follow. Rye wasnt cultivated in its own right till quite sometime later. I didn't mean it became identicle or was as similar as different wheat varieties are to each other. 

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/rye.html

suave's picture
suave

I saw that in one of the early snippets and went "Whaaaa?".   Getting good rye flour can be a chore, and I think that back when it was widely available Hodgson Mills was doing a great disservice to the American bakers by basically grinding their flour half-way, but anyone who says he can't bake with US rye, simply can't bake.

As to the varietal differences I am sure they exist, but every rye flour I've ever used behaved more or less the same.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I just finished one of the articles by James McGuire, The Art Of Eating: Real Rye Bread and he mentions a small rye grower in Vermont whose grain he milled and baked with wonderful results. Wouldn't it be great to find local rye growers?

suave's picture
suave

I found it intersting that he claims that "German technicians consider 120 to 150 seconds to be the ideal range for rye breads", yet Baking: The Art and Science to which he refers to several times says rather unequivocally "Ground rye products have a good baking ability at: fall number over 150".

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

That is essentially what Hodgson's rye is and it makes a great dense loaf that is very "toothsome" as PMcool used to say. I enjoy that but I would like to have some options.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Is the Westphalian Rye. No leavening and baked for 24 hours on a low heat. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

of the very best as well!  Pure rye in its own right!

agmeneghin's picture
agmeneghin

I recently baked two rye loaves using the formula in PR's BBA, one loaf and one free standing. For the light rye flour I used Hodgson whole rye sifted thru a 40 mesh sieve to give me about 85% extraction flour. The loaves turned out fine with a soft medium density crumb, a little heavier than a store bought loaf. The flavor was definitely rye with a light sharp tang.

Just an option for those who would like a lighter rye.

Al

suave's picture
suave

In my experience, it can actually make this particular flour darker, although I got different results with different batches.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Francisco Migoya mentions Bay State light rye as being equal to the rye from Austria and Bob's Red Mill light rye as an available second. I've used Central Millings organic light rye in 10-15% rye but haven't launched into 100% yet due to the question about the rye's suitability for the loaves let alone salt rye cookies...,

Wild-Yeast

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that so many Fresh Lofians baked were just killer and highly recommended

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try a recipe and then analyze and tweak. Careful not to overbake rye cookies.   Several week's old up to a month old dough is common around here with gingerbread type cookies.  Beginning of November one starts with dough mixing.  By the first week in Dec. cookies are ready to eat.  The flavours should age tightly wrapped in a cool place, raw.  Rye flour, honey and yellow beet sugar the main ingredients.  Hydration low.

From what we know about sourdough natural leavening, it shouldn't surprise anyone if some fermentation is going on inside a dough that ages.  

clazar123's picture
clazar123

 I have tried sourcing the brands of light rye flour mentioned (Central Milling, Bob's Red Mill) but prices are more than $5/lb for flour, and some up to $8/lb, with shipping. I was unable to source BayState/Wingold light rye flour except in a 50# bag but again the price per pound with shipping was very high. Some of the online sources don't tell you where they source the flour/grain from or any information about the flour at all. I really don't want their flour-no matter how cheap it may seem.

I live in the land of Publix Grocery stores which are known for their good breads, so very few people here bake. I mention that because I have no one interested in sharing a delivery of 50# (or even 5#) of any flour-much less rye. People just don't bake here and view me as magical when I produce a credible loaf or delicious cake. I feel like the little red hen, sometimes. Any time I make homemade rye bread and gift some to neighbors and friends, they tell me they REALLY like it and often inquire after more if it has been a few weeks between sharing.  

I will be traveling to Minnesota and possibly Chicago/Wisconsin in the next few months so I'm going to look there. Any FreshLoafers from these areas want to chime in as to a source for quality rye flour? I will be in :                     Eden Prairie/Minneapolis in Minnesota, North side (Lincoln Square area) in Chicago, New Berlin/Milwaukee area in Wisconsin. I will be driving ,so it is much easier to purchase and transport than when I fly.

As for sifting the Hodgson Mill flour-I have done it but it is a challenge given the state of my hand joints. Not an option anymore, to do on a regular basis.

I would like to make some of Stan's (Stan Ginsberg) great recipes from The Rye Baker and feel the difference in the ingredient performance. Rye is becoming my new favorite bread and I want to experience the full capability of the ingredients available-not just the inferior or mediocre grade. 

My first preference is to buy the flour locally and have it be from a known grain/mill source. I need to have all the test information on the flour (ash content, etc), as I am embarking on a learning curve in regards to the different flours so I want to understand that information. The cost of this flour includes the bulk shipping costs.

The second option is to buy the flour online and pay the personal shipping costs. If I can't buy what I need locally, I might have to do this. I understand they have to charge shipping because it costs them and they would not be in business long if they didn't cover their costs! Selling flour is NOT a high margin business. However, I feel irresponsible incurring that cost if I have a choice-seems wasteful and I am not wasteful.

 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Is half way between whole spelt and white spelt. So I figure that light rye would be the same. How about mixing 50:50 wholegrain rye and white rye? 

suave's picture
suave

I can give you a few pointers if you hit Chicago area.  PM me if you decide to go there.

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

I use Central Milling Organic Whole Dark Rye, which despite including the "dark" designation, is whole grain.  I've used this regularly for the past year in my bakery with good results in everything from 20% whole grain deli rye, to 100% whole grain Rugbrod and rye cookies.

They used the same rye flour in D. Wink/K. Bornarth's recent Science Behind Sourdough class, which included a few rye breads.  Wink is the one who pointed out the MacGuire piece.

I'll have to contact CM to get the specs on it, which I have yet to do.  After reading MacGuire, I'm at least curious about the falling number, and wonder what they are doing to hit their targets...

I also buy CM's org. whole rye berries and make my own cracked rye for the Rugbrod, and have ground it into flour...which has also worked well, so perhaps I've been lucky, or CM is doing things well.

All that said, I guess I'm not so well versed in spotting issues in rye flour.

Finally, I believe the org. rye is the cheapest ingredient I buy (but I just drive to the mill in Collinston Utah every month and load up).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Grafton mill north of Milwaukee?  Grafton, WI. Looks interesting from their web site.

http://www.graftonstonemill.com/

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Thanks, Mini! I used to live a few miles from where Grafton Stonemill just opened. I moved 3 yrs ago. I will have to stop by when I visit the Milwaukee area.

clazar123's picture
clazar123