Rye bread must be an acquired taste.  For market we made sourdough rye, light rye, pumpkernickel, rye with and without caraway seeds, even marble rye. I liked them all, but nobody else was too interested in buying any of them, so this was an experiment to see if we could sneak a little rye into whole wheat like moms trying to hide some broccoli in the casserole. Wander over to and have a peek at the nutritional charts for rye.  It has a lot to offer.

This recipe calls for a levain, one of my favorite things to do to pump up the flavor of any loaf.  Mix that together the night before you want to bake and let it sit out overnight. Rye flakes are my preferred add-in but aren’t always easily found. You can use cracked wheat or other grains if you soak them for several hours or overnight (in the fridge).  Soak most grains by using equal amounts of grain and liquid. The liquid can be about anything you want — water, whey, milk or buttermilk, even beer or apple juice. If using soaked grains just put them in the mixer with the levain and stir together before adding the final ingredients. Flakes can be mixed into the levain.



  • Servings: Makes two 1¾ lb. loaves
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For the levain:

  • 1¼cups (264 grams) water
  • 1¼ cups (264 grams) warm milk or buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons (69 grams) honey
  • 1¾ cups (256 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (140 grams) rye flour (light, medium or dark)
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup (124 grams) rye flakes

Blend all together in a container and cover.  Let sit out at room temperature overnight.

Final dough:mixed

  • All of the levain
  • Soaked grain if you’re using that in place of rye flakes
  • 3-4 tablespoons (80 grams) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (26 grams) melted butter
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 1¼ cups (160 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1½ cups (224 grams) bread flour

Put the levain, soaked grain, honey and melted butter into the mixer bowl and stir together. Add the salt and flours and use the dough hook to blend on low speed.  Do not add more flour at this point.  Whole grain flours absorb a lot of liquid, so leave yourself some room to add it later if necessary. When all the flour is incorporated turn the speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes.  The dough should be coming together.  If not, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it does.  If it’s too stiff add a little water.   Look closely at the photo and you’ll see that the finished dough is not stiff and little pieces of dough are still stuck to the sides of the bowl.  Once you’ve determined if you need more water or flour, continue mixing another 2-3 minutes till it looks like the photo above.

Turn dough into an oiled container and cover.  Turn out and fold in quarters after 20 minutes, and again after another 20 minutes, then cover and let it rise till doubled in bulk. Take it out and divide in half, shape into loaves and place in oiled pans to rise. Preheat oven to 350°F.
When a finger poked gently into the side of a loaf leaves an impression they’re ready to bake.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, till golden brown and hollow-sounding when turned out of the pan and tapped on the bottom.  Interior temperature should be about 200-205°F.  Place the loaves on their sides to cool, turning over to the opposite side after 20 minutes.  Cool completely before packaging or cutting.



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