Yesterday I tried to make rye sourdough bread. I didn’t find a recipe that I loved, so I sort of winged it. As a guide, I used my mother-in-law’s sourdough recipe, which yielded great results last time I used it. When I followed it to a T. I seem to remember reading that making rye bread includes a combination of wheat and rye flours, so I substituted white flour with half rye and half wheat. Knowing that this would probably be a disaster, I at least had the sense to cut the recipe WAY down. In fact, I quartered it. Clearly I had no faith in my choice to abandon the script and improv. I was right not to have faith. Rye flour is very coarse, and even as I added it to my sponge, I knew I was weighing the dough down too much. It rose. And rose again. But not much. I put it in a loaf pan anyway. And let it rise a little more. I still had a tiny bit of hope that somehow it would miraculously rise enough to be edible. It didn’t, and it wasn’t. It was a brick. I didn’t even cut into it. Into the compost, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Done.
So guess what’s rising as I write this? Yes, another loaf of rye. Again, I am adapting a recipe. A no-knead bread recipe. Instead white flour, I used a cup of rye and two of wheat. Instead of rosemary and lemon zest, I added caraway seeds. And I threw in a little more yeast than the recipe calls for. I don’t have a lot of faith in this attempt either (I have already added rye bread to the grocery list), but I just have to try.
You see, I hate baking. I do it all the time now, but I hate how precise I have to be in measuring things. I can’t taste bread as I make it and adapt. But I want to figure it out. I have to find the middle ground between how I cook and how I think I have to bake. A friend once told me that once you bake enough, you figure out how to adapt. So I know it’s possible, and I know I’m impatient. I also know that somewhere in a loaf of rye, I will find my answer. And someday, I will enjoy baking. Until then, I won’t give up. Brick by brick, I will conquer this.