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20 July 2010

Making rye bread

I think one of the most important, and certainly one of my most frequently used home skills, is bread making.  It is important in that it allows us to have a good wholesome lunch most days that, with the addition of our backyard salads, or some local cheese or even a scrape of Vegemite, is food fit for the most queenly of queens.  I have had the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes book for a few months now but I've been under-whelmed by it.  It gives what look to be good recipes but it doesn't inspire me to rush out and make them.  I will get back to sour doughs soon, I do believe they have an important place in my kitchen, but until this batch of yeast runs out and I perfect a good starter, I'm sticking to my yeasted recipe.

This recipe is really just an adjustment of my white bread one - it's four cups of flour, bubbling yeast, warm water, sugar and salt.  You could even leave out the sugar and salt if you wished, but they do add flavour.  Rye flour contains a small amount of gluten, therefore the bread doesn't rise as much as a white loaf does.  To help with the rising, I add half a cup of unbleached white baker's flour.  It gives the loaf a bit of a spring.

  • 2 teaspoons yeast - dissolve in a cup of warm water to which the brown sugar is added.  Let it froth up.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  • about 2 cups of warm water.  This amount is approximate.  The amount of water to flour will change according to the humidity in the aim and the flour you use.  Add 1¾ cups first, mix, then add the last ¼ slowly.  You may even need more than this amount.  Just add it slowly.  When rye dough is too wet it becomes very sticky.
  • 3½ cups rye flour and ½ cup unbleached white baker's flour (strong flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  Don't add the salt to the yeast water because the salt could kill the yeast.  Add it in with the flour.

Into your breadmaker, place 3½ cups rye flour, ½ cup unbleached white baker's flour and the salt.  When the yeast cup is frothy, add that and the rest of the water, slowly.  Turn on the machine and let it mix.  Feel the dough.  You always have to do this and you should learn what a good dough feels like.  If the dough feels too dry, or if there is still some dry flour in the bucket that hasn't mixed in, add a very small amount of water to help it mix in.  If the dough is too sticky you may need a small amount of additional flour. Feel it again and watch it mix.  The flour and water should come together well and not be sticking to the sides of the bucket.  You will notice as it kneads, the smoother the dough becomes.  What you want at the end is a smooth and elastic dough that springs back when you poke your finger in it.  BTW, this recipe is fine when made by hand as well.

When the timer tells you the dough cycle is finished, take the dough out and put it on a lightly floured clean bench. Knead it for a minute to put yourself into it and form it into the shape you like.  Rye dough is very easy to shape and it should hold itself free-form, so you don't have to use a bread tin, but you can if you want to.

 For every grain there is a seed that complements and enhances its flavour.  For rye, that seed is the caraway.  If you intend making rye bread, do yourself a favour and find some caraway seeds.  Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle on your seeds.  Place in a warm position to rise.  When the dough is the size you want, place it into your preheated very hot oven (as hot as your oven will go), then turn it down to about 190 - 200C / 375 - 390F.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until you smell the bread and it looks cooked.

I experimented with this flour for a week or so, starting of with half white and half rye.  The recipe above is the one we thought was the best.  However, like every recipe, I hope you experiment with it and suit it exactly to your taste.  I think recipes are just a starting point, they're there to show you how, and if you know what to look for, particularly when you're making bread, it should be quite easy for  you to adjust the recipe to suit yourself.

Happy baking everyone.


  1. I HIGHLY recommend the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day method - I waited for months before trying it, and I wish I hadn't! So far I have tried the basic loaf (boule) with a mixture of white & wheat flour, and also their wheat sandwich bread. Not only are they the quickest bread recipes I've ever used, but they make some of the tastiest loaves I've ever tried.

  2. I too, love rye bread. I just wish I had more time to bake it.

  3. hi Rhonda, I notice you have Radical Homemakers in your book list - would you like to borrow my copy? I could drop it off to you at Monday's sewing class? Sonya

  4. Those loaves look wonderful!

    Like you, I was underwhelmed by Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. I checked it out from the library, but found I just wasn't that interested in it. However, I truly enjoy making bread the slow way, so I suspect that had much to do with my indifference towards that book.

    My new favorite recipe is one I got off of the Bob's Red Mill website. I wanted to make some multigrain bread, as a loaf at the grocery store is nearly $5. I had some BRM 10-grain cereal in the pantry, so I looked for a recipe that uses that, and WOW. It's the easiest bread I've ever made, and it's very healthy. Not so good for sandwiches other than peanut butter, but it makes for fantastic toast and French toast!

  5. Lovely looking bread there Rhonda.

    Our favourite bread at the moment is a combination of plain, wholemeal, rye and spelt flours, with some seeds thrown in for texture.

    I've had a couple of attempts at Artisan Bread in 5, all turned out to be disasters.

    From what I've seen on their web page, the recipes look good and it's a simple method, not sure what went wrong with my attempts.

    I think I'll have to get the book from the library and try some more before making judgement.

  6. Ah, I can almost smell that loaf! I haven't tried rye bread so your recipe will be going on my list (my 'yummy stuff to try' list!)

  7. Hello everyone!

    Sonya, yes, I'd like to read it. Have you read Artisan Bread in 5 yet? I can lend that to you and maybe another. I'll look when I go home and bring something I think you'll enjoy.

  8. Hi Rhonda, I haven't cooked a lot of rye bread so this is motivating. "For every grain there is a seed that complements and enhances its flavour" -- I hadn't thought of this in terms of grain.

  9. Yummy...thanks for sharing this recipe, Rhonda. I LOVE fresh homemade bread. When I lived in Germany, I would go to the bakery for fresh bread at least twice a week. OH...there's nothing better. Now I do like it right out of the oven while it's still warm, too...with a nice pat of butter!!! Yummy goodness!!! Have a great week!!! Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  10. You had me at "Rye bread". Especially marble rye which is my favorite. I used to make fresh garlic rye bread to go along with my homemade lentil soup. My family would break off huge chunks of hot rye bread and dunk it in the thick lentil soup. OMG, so good. Sea Witch

  11. Oh, this looks simply lovely. There is nothing quite so nice as the smell of fresh bread.
    I'm always on the hunt for bread recipes, and I must confess that though I do love rye bread, I've never tried baking it. A little intimidated I guess!
    I love your pictures, the loaf turned out beautifully!
    Since we've had cool weather this week, I'm planning on making a nice pot of soup, and rye bread would be the perfect compliment.
    Thank you so much for your posts Miss Rhonda. It's something I look forward to every day.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  12. Thank you for sharing Rhonda! I have tried several different bread recipes, but at times don't feel they are rising right? I enjoy trying it by hand, even though I do have a breadmaker also. The vegetables in the background look yummy too! :-) Have a great day!
    Blessings, Jill

  13. I am going to have to try your recipe, Rhonda, as everytime I have made rye it's like a hard inedible brick.

    I also found the Artisan Bread book to be uninspiring, maybe its the layout and black and white scheme, even though I do use the basic recipe each week.

  14. The Artisanal Bread in Five Minutes book was written by a pastry chef and a doctor, and it concentrates on efficiency and results. Perhaps an artisanal practice informed by science which is not to everyone's taste. On the other hand, it is a godsend if you don't have a load of time to make some really fine bread for which you would pay a fortune in a bakery.

    You do have to use a decent, high-gluten flour for their method to have the best results however.

    AM of the Bread

  15. I have made Artisan bread, the jury is still out on it though, I can't decide if it is worth having a big container in my fridge taking up space - the recipe I have from the author is way to salty for our tastes.
    I have been hopeless at making Rye bread.. however yours looks wonderful with a beautiful colour. I have never done rye in my bread maker maybe that will make the difference.

  16. Thank you for the recipe. It looks delicious!

  17. DH loves rye bread and I have stayed away from it because I am a novice and I have a hard time with plain old wheat bread... but now I am inspired when the heat goes away (so lets say in November) to give rye bread a try...

  18. interesting what you say about artisan bread in 5 :) i at first dismissed it and bought a couple of wonderful artisan bread books. i learnt some basic skills with wet doughs which have proved invaluable. however, due to the fact that i have m.e. i cannot spend all day focusing on making bread, neither can i knead the dough as you need to :( my mum then bought me the 5 and i have got so much out of it. i use it all the time, though i adapt many of the flour mixes to suit my needs and what's in the cupboard. the book suits me in my situation perfectly. it does have a unique approach to putting the bread together, which will appeal to some and not others. but i recommend you have a go. our favourite is the italian semolina bread - mouth watering! my next purchase will be wild bread, by lisa rayner, i really want to perfect my sourdough breads. happy bread making :)

  19. Hi Joolz. I'm really pleased the book is working for you. My main problem is I don't like the taste of those I have made. I go back to it every so often and have another try and I'm sure I'll "get" it soon enough.

  20. A beautiful blog, lovely to come across interesting words of inspiration. We moved from the city to enjoy a life as you explain so beautifully. It's wonderful,, everyday we are working towards a happier, healthier lifestyle.

  21. I'm new to your blog and I was wondering, is there a more printer friendly version of this recipe? Please and thank you.


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