The Rye Experiment, Part 1

Fran and I are self quarantining so we can join Daniel and Frances’s “pod” for Christmas and New Years. To pass the days I decided to experiment with variations of rye bread recipes. KAB has a good, basic caraway seed rye bread recipe, which I used as a starting place. (Recipe below.)

Following the recipe as written resulted in a well risen, soft rye bread with a good crumb. Today’s roast beef sandwich with lettuce, jalapeños and lettuce was excellent.

The first variation is to replace the white rye flour with first clear flour. In case you were wondering first clear flour is what remains after milling patent flour. It compensates for the low gluten content of rye flour. It is the traditional flour used in Jewish bakeries and adds loftier rise and better chew. This variation will be in the next post, The Rye Experiment, Part 2.

No, I didn’t have to buy anything for this experiment. Here is a picture of my specialty flour cupboard. Standard flours (AP, bread, whole wheat, pumpernickel,) are kept in a separate storage unit.

Caraway Rye Bread KAB
• 1 cup (227g) lukewarm water
• 1 cup (106g) white rye, medium rye, or pumpernickel flour
• 4 teaspoons (14g) sugar
• 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
• 1/2 cup (113g) sour cream (low-fat is fine; please don’t use nonfat)
• 1 to 2 tablespoons (7g to 14g) caraway seeds, to taste
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 2 1/3 cups (280g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or First Clear Flour
• 3 tablespoons (25g) vital wheat gluten or rye bread improver, optional, for best rise


  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, rye flour and yeast, mixing to form a soft batter. Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes; this allows the rye flour to absorb some of the liquid, making the dough easier to knead.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix and knead the dough together — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until it’s fairly smooth. The nature of rye dough is to be sticky, so don’t be tempted to add too much flour.
  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or large (8-cup) measure, cover, and let it rise until noticeably puffy, 60 to 90 minutes.
  4. Gently deflate the dough, knead it briefly, and shape it into two smooth oval or round loaves; or one long oval loaf. Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Cover the loaves, and let them rise until they’re noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Just before they go into the oven, spritz the loaves with water, and slash them about 1/2″ deep. The oval loaves look good with one long, vertical slash; the rounds, with two or three shorter slashes across the top.
  7. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 205°F to 210°F. The single, larger loaf will bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it lightly with foil after 25 minutes of baking.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven, and transfer them to a rack. While still warm, brush them with melted butter, if desired; this will keep their crust soft.

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