I have failed at rye bread way too many times. One of my failed loaves was once thrown around the kitchen like a football, later to be smashed to millions of pieces in the garbage for a “touchdown” – that’s how bad it was. But with baking, I really never give up on a challenge, I truly believe I can bake anything if I work at it hard enough. So with a few rye failures down I was really aching to make a good loaf or two, and by golly I think I got them!
I’ve always loved rye products. Even as a kid I vividly remember eating Wasa rye crackers and brie cheese while most of my classmates ate PB&J. I also love pumpernickel, a dark rye bread made without any wheat flour and baked for long periods of time at low temperatures. There used to be a wonderful jewish deli near my home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota that had the absolute best pumpernickel; Trader Joe’s makes a decent sourdough pumpernickel, but nothing like that Jewish Deli.
The most important thing about making a good light rye bread is the ratio of wheat (AP) to rye flour. Rye flours create very dense breads, we add wheat flour to lighten them up and keep them from crumbling to pieces like my football-like loaf.
Fun fact: in Alaska and parts of the UP and Canada saying that something is, “eggs on rye” means that is tastes delicious. Not sure how that got started, but I might have that for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Light Rye Bread
2 3/4 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 tbsp honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3 1/2 cups rye flour
2 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
First make your sponge. Put the water, yeast, honey and flour in a bowl and stir it up until you get a nice smooth consistency.
Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a cool place for at least 2.5 hours. If you want to do this over two days you can leave the bowl over night, the flavors would be even more awesome. Time isn’t super important, just make sure that it gets nice and bubbly.
Now mix together all of your dry dough ingredients in a bowl and move the bubbly sponge to a mixing bowl. Using your dough hook, slowly add in the dry ingredients and the vegetable oil. I typically add about 1/4 cup of dry mix at a time.
My dough got too big for my mixer so I ended up finishing the kneading by hand, which I enjoy doing anyway. Making bread by hand is always an option (and a good arm workout!) just knead and add flour along the way until the dough loses most of it’s stickiness. Then grease a large bowl, place the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap or a towel to rise.
Let it rise until doubled – about 1.5-2 hours.
Now it’s up to you. One big loaf? Two smaller loaves? Round? Oval? Dinner rolls? Do whatever you like. I made two loaves because Pete and I don’t go through bread all that quickly, so we put one in the freezer for later. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Let these rise for a little over an hour until they’re puffy and a little spread out. Then paint on the egg wash and cut a few slashes into the top with a sharp knife.
Put the loaves in the oven and lower the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown or a thermometer stuck into the middle of the loaf reads 200 degrees. A larger loaf will take 5-10 minutes longer.
Let cool completely before slicing.
Even sleepy kittens love rye bread crumbs…
And a final P.S.! If you are in the Ann Arbor area and hoping to buy local this Valentine’s Day, keep Oh Dear Bakery in mind! I have two special Valentine’s treats that can be delivered to your home on February 12th or 13th – just in time for you to bring one to a friend, co-worker or loved one. Check out the flyer!
Thanks to all of you for your love and support!