Rye Bread

This bread took me two attempts, and my initial failure was entirely my fault. Did you know that the characteristic  flavor of rye bread actually comes from the caraway seeds, and not the rye flour? Well, I didn’t. I bought rye flour, but forgot the caraway seeds. I sort of figured they were optional somehow, so I just forged ahead. I ended up with a delicious loaf of bread that tasted absolutely nothing like rye. How disappointing.

Armed with the all important caraway seeds, I made another attempt. I could tell from the delicious aroma filling the house as it baked, that I had succeeded with my second attempt. Rye has always been a rare bread in my life. We would typically have a whole wheat or multi-grain loaf for sandwiches, but rye really only found it’s way into the house after St. Patrick’s day for the obligatory corned beef sandwich. Sometimes I would get rye toast for breakfast out at a restaurant, but then again, it always felt a little bit special. Eating this bread toasted and spread with butter in the morning felt like a special treat.

Rye bread is not made with all rye flour.  Rye is a low gluten grain that contains pentosan and a high percentage of amylase enzymes, both of which contribute to a gummy texture in the finished bread. Pumpernickel flour is just coarsely milled whole rye flour. By using a long and cold ferment (letting the bread rise in the fridge overnight) the dough becomes more acidic and this counteracts the amylase enzymes. Because of these qualities, you should not use more than 20% (of total flour weight) rye flour. This recipe uses 16.9% rye and 83.1% bread flour so it has good flavor and also a light crumb.

Try substituting up to 20% of the weight of flour in a recipe for rye flour to modify some of your savory bread recipes. Don’t forget to add caraway seeds if you want that true rye bread flavor! I’ve already thought of a previous post that I’m going to experiment with making a rye variation.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.



  1. ddd,
    i still remember the loaf of marble rye you made long ago. yummy!

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