Glutton for Punishment

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.