Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I've had a turbulent relationship with rye bread over the years.
I grew up in a blended Tennessee/Maryland family, where one parental unit preferred wholesome whole grains baked into a dark crumb and the other liked bread as bleached and feathery as a Playboy bunny's hair. They met in the middle with fluffy wheat sandwich bread, which was the foundation of my breakfasts through school (I took store-brand yogurt for lunch, redolent of artificial fruit flavor and aspartame).
I didn't have a run-in with rye until I started waiting tables at a swanky beach hotel in college. Patrons would eye the turkey club listed on our menu and turn to me as I stood at attention, order pad in hand and hideous Hawaiian shirt draping down to my ankles (I was very skinny then, and all of the available uniforms at the hotel made me look like I'd had a rummage through Dom DeLuise's closet).
"Do you have rye bread?" they'd ask.
We did not.
At this news, the diners would act as if I'd announced that they'd have to move because the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would require their table for a quick snack before the plague of locusts descended.
"How can you not have rye! Every restaurant at home has rye!" they would yodel. I always wanted to tell them that travel was a broadening experience, and that in this spirit they should try our delicious fresh honey wheatberry rolls, but I usually chickened out and drowned them in bready apologies instead.
I grew to hate rye by association. Also the whole tunic trend was lost one me, since I's already spent four years wearing a shirt big enough to be a dress.
Then I married a man who has fond memories of the deli down the street from his high school, where he would enjoy the World's Finest Reuben Sandwich on a weekly basis. Enabler that I am, I started to buy the occasional loaf of rye so that I could recreate The Sandwich to the best of my ability (I always fall short, but I get points for trying). Then I got to experience the joys of gestational diabetes twice in three years; it turns out that rye bread has a salutary affect on blood sugar. Who wouldda known?
So now I'm okay with rye. I even bake it from time to time.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice is a masterpiece of science, art, and delicious loaves a-plenty.
I am not a gifted bread baker. It's taken me the better part of three years to make something even approaching edible. And look what Peter has helped me do:
Marbled rye in two easy steps, and a variety of ways in which to make said marbling appear. And the recipe is naturally vegan - as are several in his book (and most of the others are easily veganized - ask the masterful Vegan Dad, he did a whole series on this book). How magnificent is that?
As magnificent as a Hawaiian shirt that actually fits?
As magnificent as a smear of soy-free Earth Balance to grace said bread?
As magnificent as a whole month of vegan food?
Yes to all of the above.