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January’s Third Thursday: No Whiskey, Just Rye January 20, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in baking, Third Thursday.

Bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.
And good ole’ boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this’ll be the day that I die.

So call me crazy, but every time I work with rye flour, that’s just what I think of.  Can’t help it.


So anyway, happy January!  Can you believe another month has gone by so quickly, and it’s already the Third Thursday of January?  The holidays are done for now, and we should be about ready to get back to normal, eh?


I’ve mentioned before, I think, that I follow Michael Ruhlman’s blog – he’s very good at what he does (um, that would be cooking and writing about it), and his wife, Donna, is an absolutely amazing photographer.

I’ll bet Donna could even make sourdough starter look sexy (something I, sadly, find a bit of a challenge)!

Aside from the good recipes and even better photos, I enjoy this blog because I just like the way Ruhlman thinks.

PhotobucketI’ve started reading his book Ratio, and, while it’s by no means a slog, um, between the iPod books on the morning walks and my immediately falling asleep the minute I hit the bed, well, it’s going to take a while.

Basically, though, the concept is that cooking is often a simple matter of  ratios – anyone can cook pretty much anything  with a basic understanding of, and foundation in, how ingredients work together and in what ratios.

And a scale will always be more reliable than a measuring cup.

And a scale with good batteries is even better.


So on his blog, Ruhlman has designated January as “official bread baking month” which, really, is much better than, say, July.

And one of the breads he offered was rye bread.

I love rye, even without whiskey.

Plus, I’d picked up a package of rolled rye – which is like rolled oats, only it’s rye.  And since I picked up the rolled rye, well, I had to get rye flour, right?  Of course!


And when Ruhlman gave a simple ratio for using sourdough, well, I knew I was in!

Equal parts starter, bread flour, rye flour, and water.

How much easier can it be?  Especially with a scale!  In my case, that would be 285 grams of each.

I like using grams.  They’re smaller – and thus more precise – than ounces.  (Because, you know, precision is really really important in bread baking.)  (Not really that important; mostly it makes me feel more nerdy, that’s all.)


Plus, our scale measures both ounces and grams.  Until the battery goes dead right in the middle of adding the water – then it measures neither.

Not that I would have any reason to know about that.

Note to self:  Find a new scale that takes normal batteries, not the weird kind you have to go all over town looking for.

So we mixed together 285 grams each of starter, rye flour, and bread flour, plus, oh, about 200 grams and a couple of good glugs of water.  (The only problem with measuring mainly by scale – metrically – is that you quickly lose any idea of how much 285 grams is in the real world.


So in addition to the flours, water and sour dough, I also added some salt (of course!) and some caraway seed.

Now here’s the thing.  Peeps prefers seedless rye, and to me, rye bread isn’t rye bread without the seeds.  So we took the seeds and we ground them in the spice grinder.

Caraway, but no seeds.  Everyone’s happy.


Once we let the dough rise, we punched it down and shaped it, then rolled it in some toasted rye flakes – kind of added a little extra specialness to it, don’t you think?

Makes it look more, I don’t know, whole-grainy, I guess.

We let the two small loaves rise a second time on the pizza peel, then baked them right on the stone in the oven.


We froze one loaf right away, and the other, we enjoyed with dinner the next evening.

It’s good – I don’t know that I’d bake it right on the stone again – the bottom seemed a little well-done.  But other than that, it was quite a simple loaf to put together – straightforward and full of lovely rye flavor.  And I loved the ground caraway seeds – all the flavor, without the seediness!

And, of course, if you’d like to play along with our Third Thursday challenge, leave a comment with a link to (or description of) your Third Thursday project – tell us what you’re up to!  For loose guidelines, or if you want to check out some past Thursdays, they’re right here! 



1. sjbraun - January 20, 2011

Yum, yum! When I think of rye bread, I always remember when I would do a simulation of a day at the medieval monastery when I was teaching – we would eat rye bread with honey 🙂 They look yummy, and yes, the toasted flakes on top are just right 🙂 I admire all the detail and measuring – oh my!
Here’s my “entry:”

Thanks for joining me! You know, we have a fairly local bread called “Monk’s Bread” – it’s baked by actual monks in an actual monastery, and it’s quite good. 😀 (Though it is kind of odd, in a way, to think of cloistered monks running a web store. 😕 )

2. anne - January 20, 2011

Okey dokey, this weekend we make rye bread. I don’t have sourdough, or a scale, but I’ll fake it according to his recipe. I have a killer vegetarian reuben recipe, for which I always make fresh rye bread. This one looks wonderful!

I love fresh rye – and now I’m going to dig out my old-school Swedish rye recipe. The one I haven’t used in a million years, with no scale anywhere near it.

And vegetarian reuben? 😯 Do tell. . .

anne - January 20, 2011

Which model scale is in your picture? I didn’t realize they can be so inexpensive.

Anne, I don’t remember what model ours is – I think the brand is Salter. And yeah, it was something like $20.

Or I could get up and look and see that the bottom says “Model No. 2006.” 🙄

anne - January 21, 2011


It doesn’t pretend to fake the corned beef, but it’s still pretty good. Especially with fresh bread. 🙂

Excellent – thanks! And really, I’d rather see vegetarian stuff not trying to pretend to be meat anyway, you know? 😛

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