Delicious 100 % rye bread – more questions answered

Recently a reader tried (and loved) the 100% rye recipe on the website and sent me a few questions.  They are great questions, so I thought I would answer them here.

Should I buy a 1lb tin, or just double up the quantities next time to adapt to my 2lb tin?

You can just double up the quantities!  In fact, why not get a bunch of tins and bake a bunch of loaves at one time.  They freeze beautifully and that way you can do lots of loaves for one turn of oven!

Checkerboard rye.  Why not bake multiple loaves - you can decorate them individually!!
Checkerboard rye. Why not bake multiple loaves – you can decorate them individually!!

I used only the 3g yeast you say in the ingredients list. Should I put more next time, to help it rise better? Or (because it’s dark rye) should I sift it to get a “lighter” flour and that would do the trick?

Yes…but….You don’t want more yeast than you need.  yeast is simply something we only need a small amount of.  Like salt (and lots of other things) we just need what we need.  Further, you want the bread to take a long time to proof.  That way the flour is well broken down and easier to digest (the main feature of sourdough bread is the digestibility).  I don’t find a huge difference between dark and light rye – they can both rise into surprisingly light loaves.  If in doubt, add a bit more water so your dough is really REALLY soft and wet.  When you pick it up and move it from one hand to another, the dough should be so oft and wet that you leave a hand print in it from just holding the shaped dough.

Should I allow more time for rising? Make it 5 hours?

In theory the more the better (until it has over proofed and collapsed).  If it’s cool it will take 5 hours.  In the fridge it will take about 8 hours.  On a hot day it could take as little as 2 hours.  Rye does not do too well with hot days, though.  Anything over about 28 degrees and it begins to underperform (rise quickly and collapse in the oven).

Because the bread sounded hollow when tapped, I think I baked it for the right amount of time. Would you recommend that I simply leave it wrapped in a towel for 2 days before cutting it the next time – or should I bake it for 10 extra minutes as well?

It’s hard to tell with rye sometimes.  The very best thing to do is get a probe thermometer.  Bread is around 98 degrees C on the inside when it is done.  Rye bread is sticky by nature.  It is a little less sticky when it is made with a sourdough starter, rather than wheat.  Try to leave it for at least 24 hours if you can!  I think it’s at its best 2 days after baking it.

Hot out of the oven and VERY sticky if you don't let it cool and set a bit.
Hot out of the oven and VERY sticky if you don’t let it cool and set a bit.

My hubby loved the crust, and said overall it was okay; but he was a bit disenchanted with the flavour. White rolls are his definite fav, so I think he disliked the earthier and denser tones of the rye (not enough sweetness and fluffiness, I think). Is there anything I could add to this recipe – that doesn’t involve sugars, though – that would make it more palatable or interesting to people used to white bread?

That’s a tough one and I would say keep starving him of the white and giving him the rye.  I love 100% rye – it’s my favourite bread and I find white bread dull.  So, horses for courses.  You can add spices (a pinch of cinnamon or ginger powder or cardamom or cumin or coriander – just a half a teaspoon at first to see how you like it) you can add raisins (fennel seed with raisins is good) you can add treacle or honey.  Rye does take flavours well because it has a strong flavour of its own.

Have more questions?

Click here to read a bit more about rye bread recipes.

8 thoughts on “Delicious 100 % rye bread – more questions answered”

  1. I’m wondering about the instructions for replenishing the rye starter on page 41 of your book “Homemade Sourdough”
    I added 125g of rye flour to 130g starter and 540 ml of water. The starter is super liquidity and the water is sitting on top of it this morning. I’m considering adding another 1/2 cup rye flour. In any case I want to know if the percentages in your instructions are correct? As there is a lot more water proportionally than the original recipe for the starter? Thank you. Diana

    1. Dear Diana

      I am afraid, I did not write the recipes (I wrote the science) for Homemade Sourdough. The publisher had so many complaints about the recipes that they asked me to rewrite the book completely which I did. The new book is called Perfecting Sourdough. Having said that, the rye starter I use is a very liquid starter. To make the starter, I use twice as much water (by weight) as rye flour over four days. To refresh the starter I use a 1:3:6 ratio. So, I will take (for example) 20 grams of starter (I store mine in the fridge) and I add 60 g flour and 120 g water. Stir, cover and leave for 8-12 hours depending on how warm it is. If it has over proofed at that stage (because I leave it too long) it will have separated but as long as it has bubbled up (you will see the “tide marks” on the side of the bowl) and is within 18 hours of having been started it will still work just fine. I hope this helps. Please come back to me with any further questions.

  2. Is it possible to make 100% dark rye bread using the no-knead dutch oven 12 hour rising method?

    1. Hello, well, you never knead 100% rye. You just stir it together and then pop it straight in the tin. If you put it in the fridge you could leave it for 12 hours if you wanted it but that’s a long time (even for rye). You may find 8 hours is enough. If you would like to pop the tin into a cast iron dish, you can do it. WYou could also proofe in a basket and then turn it out onto paper and put this in the cast iron dish to bake. Prepare for it to collapse somewhat. Rye does not keep it’s shape through the baking process. It flattens a bit.

  3. hi Jane,
    love your website, and have just started baking 100% rye flour bread! I have two questions. 1. My flour seems very dry and I think needs an incredible amount of water to “be very soft”. Is it possible to use too much water? Or perhaps my definition of “very soft” is askew? If it’s like dough for North American muffins – is that too soft?
    2. How can you tell when your rye dough is proofed vs. over proofed and ready to go in the oven? I think I’ve been waiting too long and I get a collapsed top with a separated crust.
    thanks so much!

    1. Dear Lexie, it is possible to use too much water – you would get a batter and not a dough but you really need quite a bit so that when you gather it into a ball in the bowl and push it with your finger it is soft and not gritty. Rye absorbs more water and some rye more than others (grains are all different and it also depends how dry the flour is). when it is ready, there are holes in the top. overproofed the dough will have collapsed into itself and possibly even gone down in the tin. Separated crust is a clear sign of overproofing!

  4. hi again,

    I wish there was a way to post a photo here! My second go round with the 100% rye was more successful, but there were still some issues.

    I’m sure it wasn’t over proofed, but the bread had a crack in it about 1/5th of the way down, roughly parallel to the upper crust. I used half kefir and half water, and the liquid proportion still seemed enormous to the proportion of flour.

    I started the oven at 230 celsius, and lowered it to 200 after 10 minutes. It was still delish, though! Any suggestions? thanks so much!!

    1. OK that means it’s UNDER proofed! Try again and you will get the perfect loaf! The proportion of water to rye can be 1 to 1. I would not worry about it. If it’s working out, you are getting it right.

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