How To Make Rye Bread

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I learned my next lesson in bread making: Get the right ingredients. Bread flour is not the same as white flour. It’s higher in gluten, the protein that makes bread chewy. Gluten also holds in the bubbles given off by the yeast, allowing the bread to rise.

This rye would have been really heavy without the bread flour. It’s still pretty dense, compared to commercial white bread anyway. But that’s a good thing. I’ll explain why below.

Ingredients


1 cup each rye flour, white flour and bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one package)
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white
corn meal for dusting
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

First we need to proof the yeast. Put the yeast in a bowl and add 3/4 cup of water between 105° and 115° — warm enough to bring it to life, not so hot you kill it. Stir quickly to make sure all the yeast is wet, but don’t over mix. The yeast gets very sticky and can stick to the spoon. That’s why I stir with the handle.


Add the honey or sugar, for the yeast to eat, and the white flour so you can see when the yeast starts working.


If you got the temperature right, and the yeast was still active, after about 10 minutes you should see bubbles starting to come to the top of the mixture. You may not see bubbles, but instead see the top of the mixture bubbling up, like it’s being inflated from below.

Once the yeast is going strong, add the rye and bread flour, and the salt, and stir again.


Here is where my previous experiences with bread paid off. The dough was a little too dry, so I added another quarter-cup of water and mixed a bit more. You’ll have to make bread a few times to get a feel for how dry is too dry. It should be moist enough to absorb all the flour, without being sticky or slippery.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until it is smooth and satiny.

Put enough olive oil in a bowl to coat the bottom. Turn the dough over in the oil until it is coated all over. This keeps the bread from sticking to the bowl as it rises.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. This will keep the surface of the dough from drying out and preventing it from rising.

Place the bowl someplace warm for about 1-1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down to knock most of the air out.

Tuck the edges under so you have a ball that is smooth on top. You can set it aside like this for the second rise and make a round loaf. I rolled it out into an oblong shape.

Round or oblong, you’re going to need to leave it another 45 minutes for the second rise. If you’ll be using a pizza stone, dust the end of a cutting board or pizza peel liberally with corn meal. Really load it up, you don’t want the dough to stick even a little bit. If you’ll be using a baking sheet, just do this directly on the baking sheet.

Place the dough on the edge of the cutting board. Brush a little olive oil on the dough so the plastic doesn’t stick and cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap. Again, this is to keep the surface from drying out and preventing rising.

Once it has doubled in size again, about 45 minutes, slash the top with a serrated knife. This will allow the top to expand and rise more as it bakes.


Place a shallow bowl or casserole dish half-full of water on the bottom rack of the oven, the pizza stone one rack above, and pre-heat to 400°. The steam will give the bread a crustier finish.

Separate the egg and beat the white together with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. If you use the yolk you’ll get a shiny finish. Using just the egg white will give a crispy surface without adding a shine. Brush the egg wash onto the top of the bread before transferring it to the pizza stone.

Yes, I said “before”. Yes, it’s already on the pizza stone in that picture. As I was sliding the dough onto it I saw the egg sitting in front of me. Oh well.

Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes. To check that it’s done lift the loaf using a spatula, flip it upside-down into your other hand (use a pot holder or towel — it’s hot!) and tap on the bottom. It should sound hollow.

Because it is firmer than store-bought white bread, you can slice this with a non-serrated knife and not get a lot of crumbs.

Yes, most of this is going to be used to make corned beef sandwiches. But try a slice with butter while it’s still hot from the oven. Any bread is good with butter hot from the oven.

And that’s it.

Comments

  1. 1) The bread looks perfect

    2) I love how clean your pizza stone looks compared to mine LMAO

    3) No caraway seeds?? :(

  2. I love this bread, but I’ve never made it before. Thanks for this guide :)

  3. Amanda, have you seen The Incredibles? Remember when Bob tells Edna Mode that he wants a cape? Think about her voice. Got it? No caraway! (I don’t like sesame seeds, either.)

    Ben, I’m not promising it will be “just like at a New York deli”, like one of the recipes I referenced. I haven’t been to many New York delis, so I wouldn’t know the difference. But I like it.

  4. Yay! A rye bread recipe without caraway seeds! I can cook like my husband’s mom now!!!

    Why is it food from a husband’s childhood is so much better than what his wife makes, such as rye bread from his childhood?

    I was surprised to see you using Bob’s Red Mill products all the way in Ohio – that’s a local product for us!

  5. I am so thrilled to see your post! I just bought rye flour to do a sourdough started. I was hoping to find a good rye bread recipe so I will definitely be giving this one a “go”. Thanks for the great tips and pics too.

  6. DUDE! THAT….is a gorgeous hunk of bread. I’m totally making it!
    Now if I can just convince my husband to stop buying that crappy white bread ‘for the kids’.

  7. Did you raise it 3 times?

  8. Charlene, it’s not that hers was better. It’s that he was seven when he ate it. I’d like to be that carefree again, too.

    Bridgett, I’ve never heard of doing a rye sourdough. Might have to give that a try.

    Amy, next up I need to make some square bread so we can do sandwiches.

    Ted, nope, just the twice I showed in the pics.

  9. onlinepastrychef says:

    And that looks wonderful! Will make w/caraway. Unlike Charlene’s husband, we are both fans :)

  10. oneparticularkitchen says:

    You are the first person I’ve ever seen/heard explain WHY you slash the bread before baking. Thanks! I’ve just found your blog and I’m loving it.

  11. One (can I call you One?), I’m all about the “why”? If I don’t know why, I’m just following a recipe. If I know why, then I can make my own recipes.

  12. oneparticularkitchen says:

    Lol! Yes, One or Erin. Either way. 😉 I love that theory!

  13. I baked this yesterday and it’s AWESOME. Every recipe I’ve found has caraway seeds and I will have none of that.
    DELICIOUS BREAD. I’m trying hard not to eat it all in 1 go.

  14. Drew, I don’t think Bridgett was making a sourdough with the rye. I have read that the best flour to create your starter with is the rye flour. I don’t remember why, I read that a while ago but it’s one of those things that sticks in ur head for some reason.
    But the recepie looks great, I will definitely give this loaf a try.

  15. I am low-carbing it and one of the breads you can have later on in the program is rye. I just wondered if you know if this recipe has high fiber or not? The more fiber, the better. LOL Do most rye recipes call for more rye and not also white flour and bread flour? Just curious.

  16. Erin, you can go for all rye flour, as long as you add vital wheat gluten to make up for what you’re not getting from the bread flour. Otherwise you’ll end up with pretty dense bread, though some people like that texture.

    As for fiber, that I don’t know. I suspect different brands of rye flour would have different contents, but haven’t researched the issue.

  17. Vanessa says:

    My husband is a rye bread fanatic and I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe. My only setback is the fact that I don’t own a pizza stone. I was wondering, could I possibly modify this recipie to fit in a large bread pan or even split into two pans? I’m sure the end result will be different, but it’s worth a shot I figure?!?

  18. Vanessa, if you want the “traditional” shape you can do it on a baking sheet instead of the pizza stone. You won’t get the same crust, but it will be close.

    If you do it in pans, I’d recommend using a thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 200-210 degrees when it’s done.

  19. Duane Moore says:

    Well I follow the recipe and have to admit it is the best rye bread I’ve made (although I added carraway seeds). I love the crispy crust but would like to know how to make the core a bit lighter; you were right…very dense. Also, why the white flour instead of 2 cups of bread flour? Is there a way to get more of a “rye” flavor? Thanks,
    Duane

  20. For a lighter texture, replace the all-purpose with bread flour. But like I said, I like dense rye, so I was happy with it. More rye flavor obviously needs more rye flour, although I’ve noticed for most people “rye flavor” actually means the caraway seeds.

  21. Wow. Just made this bread. Turned out perfect!!!!! I used wildflower honey to get the yeast going and brushed the top with eggwhite like you said… For flour I used organic local rye flour mostly – so hardly any wheat, mostly rye and buckwheat… The rye flour was so hearty and coarse-milled but made my bread EXQUISITE…..Oh my god. I love it!!!!! YUM YUM YUM YUMMMMmmmm. Eating it right this very second, with butter…

  22. Margot Perry says:

    Hey! I tried your Corned Beef Pizza last year and it has been a family favorite ever since. In fact, we make pizza now every friday night because of you!!!

    Quick question: in order to make the rye pizza crust, can I just use your rye bread recipe above? I was hoping you may have posted it somewhere else, but could not find it. Thanks!!!

  23. If you look back at last year’s corned beef pizza recipe, I said that I used my regular pizza crust recipe, except with half bread flour and half rye flour.

  24. Drew,

    I have never really baked much before, and was suddenly taken by the urge to make rye bread. I looked at a few recipes, and this one looks amazing!

    I was, however, interested in making a couple of loves, one of which I would like to add caraway seeds to.

    As I said, I’m not very familiar with baking: at which point would I add the caraway seeds in this recipe?

    Thanks!

  25. Add the seeds just before kneading.

  26. alex chavez says:

    Hello Drew, have you tried making french and whole wheat bread? I am a beginner baker and I will be making your Rye bread very soon. Your directions are the best I have seen.

  27. Alex, I made whole wheat dinner rolls, but no french bread so I don’t have a good pointer for you.

  28. Love this bread! This recipe is a keeper. I have tried many rye bread recipes and this is by far the best. Usually they are too dense and heavy. I used bread flour instead of the white flour and then mixed in as much rye flour as the dough would take, which was not a lot. Turned out perfect with the addition of caraway. Great instructions.

  29. Jan Felshaw says:

    Just stumbled onto your site. This recipe looks interesting. Can I substitute whole wheat and wheat gluten for the white and bread flours?

    • Wheat flour will generally produce a heavier bread. Gluten will generally help it rise more. Now I happen to like very dense bread, but replacing the white flour and bread flour might be a bit much, even with the extra gluten. (Wheat flour is harder than white flour, and tends to tear the strands of gluten, preventing the formation of bubbles that are what actually makes the bread rise.)

      But if it were me, I’d go for it. What have you got to lose, a dollar in ingredients?

  30. I just came upon your site and really want to try this recipe. I admit I’m a low life because I’ll add caraway seeds. However, I have never made bread so this is a virgin voyage. Can I double the recipe or is that a boo boo?

    • Ginni, just make sure you give it enough time and room to rise and you should be fine.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply. I chickened out and only made one loaf but it was spectacular! I loved the clearity of your instuction and I’ll be using this recipie over and over. Thanks again.

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  1. […] the different flours different, and it sounded pretty important. I finally tried it when I made rye bread for St. Paddy’s Day. I was really impressed, but I hadn’t made rye before so I didn’t know just how […]

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