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Savory Seasons: The 2012 Bread Project #5

My attempts at rye bread fed the local bird and squirrel population.

Some weeks are better than others. I decided that rye bread might be a good thing to try since I had never made it before, so I bought some stone ground rye flour and turned to a rye bread recipe in Beard on Bread. 

Let me tell you something about rye flour: it's a pain to work with. It's grainy and sticky and difficult to knead. It takes forever to rise and produces a dense bread. The Beard recipe was a total failure. Well, maybe not a total failure. The birds and squirrels seemed to like it.

Thinking that it might have been the recipe, I turned to Cooks Illustrated. They test things to the point of exhaustion, so I thought that it would be a good source for a recipe that would work. It started with a sponge that you let rise overnight. The sponge bubbled up, smelled yeasty, and I was off to a good start. To be fair to Cooks Illustrated, I couldn't find the rye flakes that they recommended adding, but they said they were optional, so I forged ahead. I was more patient than I had been with the Beard recipe and let the dough rise for a full two hours. 

The finished product looked great. This is a true example of looks being deceiving. The bread tasted flat. It didn't have much rye flavor at all. It was definitely not worth the time and effort that went into it. The birds and squirrels had another feast. If this keeps up, they'll be lining up on the deck waiting for handouts. 

I've given up on the rye flour for the moment, but not forever. Creating a good loaf has become a challenge. I'm open to any and all suggestions from bread bakers out there!

The professional looking loaf in the picture is the Cooks Illustrated version; the rectangular door stop is the Beard loaf. 

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