The terroir of rye

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Stanley Portrait for Rye Bread Cookbook 2015
Baker Stanley Ginsberg (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Most Americans think of rye bread as a vehicle for mustard-slathered corned beef or pastrami from neighborhood Jewish delis. But with heirloom grains and artisanal loaves on the rise, rye bread is having a renaissance of sorts in the United States. Rooted for centuries now in European carb culture, “each bread represents a terroir, in the sense that it encapsulates the economies, the agriculture, the lifestyle, the sensibilities and the social mores of each of its origins,” explains baker Stanley Ginsberg.

Beginners might try Ginsberg’s recipe for Swedish limpa from “The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America.” There are many variations of the classic limpa. Some are made from a mixture of wheat and rye flour, others exclusively from rye. It’s not uncommon to find dark loaves of Swedish rye spiced with anise, fennel and even accents of orange peel and citrus zest. Ginsberg’s recipe is a basic one, built on a yeast-leavened straight dough, which he says makes it both quick and easy to bake: “Milk tenderizes the crumb, and a bouquet of fragrant spices, light molasses and pure rye produce a loaf that’s sweet and richly aromatic.”