Wheat doesn’t grow very easily in Cumbria. We’re too cold and too damp in the main. Wheat likes the sunshine. I have, actually, made bread with Cumbrian Wheat Flour but I only had a small sample to play with. It tasted fine but needed to be used in combination with other flour to make a satisfactory loaf. Maybe over the coming years conditions will change and Cumbria will become the bread basket of the UK. Just don’t count on it happening soon.
Rye used to be grown widely in the North of England and was often used to make bread with. It’s less common now in the UK but its making a comeback. Germany has always loved its pumpernickels and much of Eastern Europe has a hankering for black bread made of rye. The Scandinavian countries love their rye bread too, often using it for their wonderful open sandwiches, topped with herring, salmon and beef.
Rye has less gluten than wheat. It also has a very distinct tangy flavour that’s not often to the British tastes. We make our rye bread with a sourdough starter. I won’t lie. It stinks. But it does make great bread. We also use pumpkin seeds as well. It works really well as a basis for a smoked salmon open sandwich with cream cheese and a little lemon juice.
In America, the typical New York Delicatessen Rye bread is often a wheat/rye combination. Because there is less gluten, rye bread doesn’t have the stability to be formed into a cob shape. So adding wheat to the mix increases the gluten and, hence, the structural stability. Thinly sliced pastrami on rye is not only an iconic sandwich from all those old American movies, it’s also a really tasty snack.
More and more people are coming to Cumbria from Eastern Europe so I guess that the demand for an authentic rye bread is on the increase. If that’s the case, why am I here writing this rather than being in the kitchen making rye bread? I’d better get going. Until next week….