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- 🌾 What is Rye Flour?
- Baking with Rye Flour
- 👨🏫 Baker's Percentage Table
- 🛠 Tools Needed:
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed:
- ⏰ Sample Baking Schedule
- 👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
- How to Store
- ❓ FAQs:
- Other Enriched Bread Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
Rye flour is one of the most nutrient-dense, flavorful flours you can add to bread and this soft Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread doesn’t disappoint!
With a hint of sweetness from molasses and anise-like flavor of caraway seeds, this sourdough rye sandwich bread makes excellent deli sandwiches and breakfast toast without being overly sour.
Rye breads have a reputation for being heavy and dense. To achieve the softness for this bread, I only use 30% rye flour and scald the rye flour using the Yudane method. This Japanese technique gelatinizes the flour, creating an extra soft loaf with higher hydration and staying fresh for longer. It makes all the difference!
🌾 What is Rye Flour?
While many think rye is a type of wheat, rye is actually a type of grass that’s closely related to wheat and barley.
You can grow rye as a cover crop, but it’s more commonly grown as a grain to mill into flour, for beers and whiskey, and other cereals.
Rye breads are particularly popular in central, eastern, and northern Europe. Some popular versions of rye breads include pumpernickel, Jewish deli rye bread, rugbrød, black bread, flatbreads and crisps, etc.
Baking with Rye Flour
There are many types of rye flours sold on the market ranging from light or white to dark rye flour. The color difference is due to how much bran or germ is left intact in the flour.
All versions will work in this rye sandwich bread recipe, but I prefer baking with medium rye flour. That way, you still get the rye’s robust, earthy flavor but lighter texture, which works well for sandwich breads.
Due to its lower gluten content, rye flour can be challenging to work with in large quantities. It’s not gluten-free like buckwheat flour, but can feel that way when mixing or working with it. Rye breads will not pass the windowpane test and can get quite sticky in large amounts.
Sourdough bacteria yeasts love the soluble sugars and nutrients in rye flour. I always recommend adding some when making a new sourdough starter from scratch and I recommend adding some rye flour to your starter if you need to strengthen it.
Finally, if you’re looking for slightly more sour flavor in your sourdough breads, rye flour is an excellent addition! I use a touch in my everyday sourdough bread recipe, pretzels, and bagels, for lots of extra flavor.
👨🏫 Baker’s Percentage Table
I include a baker’s percentage chart to scale a recipe up or down easily. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%.
I also include the prefermented flour and water from the levain in the flour weight (30g each).
If you want to learn more about baker’s percentages, the King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how they’re calculated.
|350 grams (includes 30g for levain*)
|30 grams (all for levain)
|395 grams (includes 30g for levain, divided)
*Note: If you opt to not make a levain, use 90 grams of active sourdough starter.
🛠 Tools Needed:
Click the links below for my favorite tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- Flour and sourdough starter can weigh differently from person to person, so weighing your ingredients will help you be more consistent and get a better result!
- Bread Loaf Pan
- My favorite loaf pan is the small USA Pullman Pan that’s 9″x4″. The tall, straight sides help your loaf bread rise tall and give you a professional-looking loaf. I don’t typically use the lid. The heavy-duty bread pan bakes evenly and has a natural non-stick coating so you don’t have prepare the pan!
- Alternatively, use a greased 9×5″ bread loaf pan.
- Stand Mixer (recommended)
- This rye bread is a little sticky. A stand mixer with a fitted dough hook attachment is helpful for building strength.
- However, you can mix by hand if needed. You may need to flour your hands a bit though, which will result in a slightly denser loaf.
- Brød and Taylor Folding Proofer (optional, but helpful)
- My home tends to stay cool, so I proof all of my breads in this convenient proofing box that can also act as a slow cooker.
🛒 Ingredients Needed:
Click on the links below for my ingredient recommendations.
- Bread Flour
- High-protein bread flour has a higher gluten content, which is needed to get this rye loaf to rise tall and hold it’s structure (because rye flour has less gluten). I push fermentation pretty far for the best results in this loaf, so a bread flour like King Arthur Bread Flour at 12.7% protein content is helpful.
- Rye Flour
- I use medium rye flour, but you can use another rye flour as well, including freshly milled flour from rye berries.
- Use unsulphered molasses. I do not recommend substituting it with blackstrap molasses as it has a lower sugar and moisture content, and is slightly bitter.
- Sourdough Starter
- Caraway seeds
- Caraway seeds are a traditional addition to rye breads, but you’re welcome to leave out or substitute with fennel seeds. Slightly crushed coriander seeds can work, too.
⏰ Sample Baking Schedule
The chart below is a sample baking schedule for this sourdough rye bread that works decently for y schedule. Many steps are flexible, depending on your own day-to-day schedule.
For example, you can make the levain the night before by using a smaller amount of starter and higher ratio of flour and water. You can also proof the dough overnight in the refrigerator for up to two days to bake on your own time.
|1. Make Levain
|2. Make Yudane
|3. Mix Dough
|4. Bulk Fermentation
|2:15pm-7:15pm (5-6 hours)
|5. Overnight Cold Proof
|7:15pm-(or up to two days)
|Next day, 8:00am
|7. Final Proof
|8:15am-1:15pm (5 hours)
👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you make the best soft sourdough rye sandwich bread with caraway seeds.
1. Make the Levain
Mix 30g of sourdough starter, 30g of bread flour, and 30g of water in an empty jar.
If you’d prefer to skip making a levain, use 90g of active sourdough starter instead.
Cover with a damp tea towel, plastic wrap, or beeswax and set it in a warm location (75-80ºF) for about five hours until it is doubled and bubbly.
Note: What’s convenient about making a levain is that the schedule is very flexible. I typically make a levain with a 1:1:1 ratio, but you can easily alter the ratios to fit your schedule better.
For example, you can use less starter and feed it more flour and water the night before so it’s active in the morning. That way, you can mix it into your dough in the morning.
If you have a rye sourdough starter, you can use that instead.
2. Make the Rye Yudane
An hour or so before the levain is ready, make the yudane. That ensures it has time to cool some before mixing it into your dough.
In a small mixing bowl, add 100 grams of rye flour. Pour 150 grams of boiling water on top to scald the flour and then use a spatula or spoon to mix until fully hydrated. The yudane is very thick and stiff.
Allow to cool to room temperature for at least an hour before mixing into your dough.
Why Make a Yudane?
Like tangzhong, yudane is another method of making breads extra soft. The yudane gelatinizes the dough, allowing it to soak up more hydration and helps keep the bread soft for days. Other similar methods are making a roux or scalding the flour.
3. Mix the Dry Ingredients
If you haven’t toasted your caraway seeds, add them to a small skillet over medium heat. Keep an eye on them while swirling the pan until they’re fragrant, just a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat.
Mix 320 grams of bread flour, 50 grams of rye flour, 9 grams of toasted caraway seeds, and 9 grams of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
4. Mix the Dough
When the levain is ready, add all of it along with all of the yudane, 35 grams of molasses, and 215 grams of warm water to the bowl of the stand mixer.
Use the dough hook attachment to mix the sandwich bread dough on low-medium speed for about five minutes. Due to the rye flour, this dough will not pass the windowpane test, but it should clear and slap the sides of the bowl.
Mixing by hand: If you mix this dough by hand, it will be very sticky and you’ll need to flour your hands, the work surface, and the dough throughout mixing.
Knead on a lightly floured surface with floured hands for about 10 minutes and only add flour as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough will be denser because of the added flour.
5. Bulk Fermentation
Lightly drizzle a bit of olive oil or neutral oil in your proofing bowl and rub the oil all along the bottom and sides of the large bowl with your fingertips.
Transfer the dough to the lightly oiled mixing bowl.
Cover and place in a warm location (around 80ºF ideally) for bulk fermentation. A warm ambient temperature will help the dough proof faster.
Ferment the dough for 5-6 hours total, or until it at least doubles in size. This dough can be a little sluggish, so don’t be afraid to extend it further if needed.
Do I need to do stretch and folds?
No, unless your dough seems particularly slack as it’s proofing. To test, you can pull a small part of the dough after an hour and see if it breaks apart immediately or has resistance and elasticity.
If it breaks apart, give the dough a set of stretch and folds to strengthen the gluten structure some more.
6. Overnight Proof
Place the dough into the refrigerator to continue proofing overnight and up to two days.
The dough likely won’t grow too much during the cold-proof, but it will develop more flavor and continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator.
The cold-proof will also help with shaping.
The next day, or baking day, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator, and punch down the dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to stretch it into a rectangular slab about a foot long. It doesn’t have to be exact as the dough will fill in as it proofs.
Then, use floured hands to roll up the dough into a log.
8. Final Proof
Transfer the dough to an oiled or greased bread loaf pan, seam-side down.
Cover and proof in a warm location for 5 hours, or until the dough rises to the top of the pan or at least doubles in size. It rose to the top of my pullman pan as seen in the images below!
Since rye breads can be dense, I find that it’s better to err on the side of overproofing this dough than underproofing or else you’ll have a squat and dense loaf. Don’t be afraid to push proofing longer if needed because the dough won’t rise much or at all when baking.
To test when the dough is finished proofing, you can use the finger-poke test. Take a floured finger and poke the dough. If the dough springs back quickly and it feels dense, then it’s underproofed. If the dough feels very light and leaves an indentation, then it’s ready!
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC).
Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the loaf with an egg wash and top with more caraway seeds.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 375ºF (191ºC) and bake for another 30-35 minutes. This initial blast of heat helps with oven spring and a little more height to the bread (like my Sourdough Brioche Bread).
Bake until the crust is dark brown and the interior temperature reads 200ºF (93ºC) when an instant-read thermometer is stuck into the middle.
If it’s underbaked or sliced too early, it’ll be gummy inside.
Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Then, turn out the hot bread loaf from the pan and cool for at least an hour.
This way, the sides of the bread don’t get soggy as it cools.
Finally, slice and enjoy!
How to Store
The molasses, sourdough, and yudane help preserve the loaf for longer than most sandwich breads, while remaining soft and easy to slice.
You can store rye bread covered at room temperature for 3-4 days. Once sliced, and the longer it sits, the bread will begin to dry out some. This can be remedied by reheating in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes.
To store in the refrigerator, you can keep the bread covered for about a week.
How to Freeze
After baking and cooling, slice the bread and place the slices into a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for three months.
To reheat, simply place the slices in a toaster oven or oven at 350ºF (177ºC) for a few minutes until warmed through.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes. Double all of the ingredients and divide the dough in two when you shape it and bake in two bread loaf pans.
What to eat with rye sandwich bread?
Rye bread is hearty. It goes particularly well with winter stews or soups, toasted with butter, or made into any deli lunch sandwich.
Is this sourdough rye sandwich bread vegan?
Yes, just skip the egg wash and brush with coconut oil or plant-based butter.
Can I use whole wheat flour instead of rye flour?
This recipe was made specifically using rye flour. I suggest making my Seeded Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread if you only have whole wheat flour.
Do I need a rye sourdough starter?
No, I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter fed with bread flour for this recipe. If you happen to have a rye starter, you can use it here.
What goes well with rye sourdough?
Rye bread is hearty, denser than typical loaves, and has a more robust and sometimes more sour flavor than typical sourdough breads. It goes pairs particularly well with cheeses, smoked salmon and cream cheese, pastrami or other deli lunch sandwiches, or open-faced sandwiches with roasted and raw vegetables.
What does rye do to sourdough?
Rye is full of nutrients and soluble sugars, which sourdough yeasts love. Use rye flour to strengthen your sourdough starter or increase the rate of fermentation in breads.
Other Enriched Bread Recipes You May Enjoy:
Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
- 100 grams Medium Rye Flour
- 150 grams Boiling Water
- Mix the levain ingredients in a jar. Cover and set in a warm location (75-80ºF) for about five hours until doubled and bubbly.30 grams Water, 30 grams Sourdough Starter, 30 grams Bread Flour
- About an hour before the levain is ready, make the yudane. Place the rye flour in a small mixing bowl. Then, pour in the boiling water to scald, stir, and cool to room temperature.100 grams Medium Rye Flour, 150 grams Boiling Water
- If the caraway seeds are not toasted, toast them in a small skillet for a couple of minutes over medium heat until aromatic.In the bowl of a stand mixer*, mix the bread and rye flours, salt, and toasted caraway seeds.320 grams Bread Flour, 50 grams Medium Rye Flour, 9 grams Sea Salt, 9 grams Caraway Seeds
- Add the molasses, all of the levain, all of the yudane, and warm water into the stand mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment.Begin mixing on low speed until the sticky dough comes together, a couple of minutes. Then, slowly increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smoother and doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. It will not pass the windowpane test.35 grams Unsulphered Molasses, Levain, 215 grams Warm Water, Rye Yudane
- Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the mass of dough to the bowl for bulk fermentation.Cover and bulk ferment in a warm location for 5-6 hours total, or until it at least doubles in size.
- Place in the refrigerator to proof overnight and up to two days.
- The next day, or baking day, punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to shape the dough into a rectangular slab, about ¼-inch thick. Then, roll it up into a log and place it into a greased small pullman pan or bread loaf pan.
- Cover and proof in a warm location for 5 hours, or until the dough rises to the top of the pan. Push the final proof if needed for longer.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC).Beat an egg into a small bowl and brush the egg wash on top of the dough and sprinkle the top with more caraway seeds before baking.Bake for 10 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 375ºF (191ºC) and bake for another 30-35 minutes or until the crust is dark brown and the interior temperature reads 200ºF (93ºC).Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then turn the bread out to cool at least an hour on the wire rack. Slice and enjoy!1 Egg
- *The rye bread can be sticky to mix by hand, but possible. Flour your work surface, hands, and the dough throughout mixing and knead for about 10 minutes. Only add more flour as necessary so the bread doesn’t come out too dense.
- If you don’t have or don’t enjoy caraway seeds, you can leave them out completely or substitute with fennel seeds.
- Follow the guide for more detailed instructions, photos, and tips for making this sourdough rye sandwich bread.