Rye is one of those grains that bakers in Australia don't really understand. Apparently farmers don't either, because we have a very different soil topology here to where rye comes from in Central Europe. Thus, our rye flour is quite harsh by comparison with the european's offering, according to german bakers who have worked extensively with rye. We also have less grades of rye flour too - ours tends to be quite coarse, and so it's difficult to make a lighter rye bread with what's available domestically.
Having said that, there is a strong demand for all kinds of rye breads, and for good reason - rye has a wonderful, tangy flavour, and makes quite amazing sourdough starter. Really, rye and sourdough go together!
Usually, rye is mixed with wheat in a ratio of perhaps one part rye to nine or ten parts wheat, producing a fairly light rye bread for daily consumption. The other extreme is where 100% rye is used, producing a heavy rye bread such as pumpernickel, or volkornbrot, which contains whole rye grains.
Rye has very little protein, so on its own it doesn't rise much at all. I used to measure my rises in millimeters when making 100% rye breads. This makes it suitable for special diets where wheat is a problem, though as a general rule coeliacs can't use rye either. Rye gets it's extensibility from an abundance of what is known as 'vegetable gum'.
Rye flour is quite sweet when handled correctly, and also quite brittle too. If it is allowed to ferment in a dough for a long while, it is quite easy to handle, but needs to have a very low temperature for storage. It is quite difficult to work with when it gets even slightly warm - it becomes very sticky and breaks down quickly too.
Generally, rye provides a distinctive flavour and texture to bread - most people either love it or don't touch it at all. It is very good for you, and there is evidence that it is strongly helpful in preventing things like prostate cancer. It also goes well with certain types of foods - particularly things like fish, strong flavoured cheeses, chocolate and sweet orange or mandarine marmalade.
I'll be providing the full gamut of rye recipes in this site - everything from my famous 72 hour 100% rye sour, to light ryes and medium rye breads. I've also got recipes for semileaven rye breads, which are flavoursome, fast and friendly for beginners. I've also been experimenting with things like rye and spelt blends, which are yielding lovely breads in my kitchen at the moment. There will be a recipe for 'goldrush starter', which contains only rye flour and is great when you are going camping and just need to make some bread in the hot ashes of the fire.
So hang with me while I get it all written - and bear in mind that I need to actually make recipes a number of times before they are ready for this site. This takes a bit of time, but as regular visitors will know, it's worth the wait, because I make most of the mistakes for you!
Happy Sourdough Baking!