Easy recipe for rye bread part 2

Further to the earlier post about simple rye bread made with yeast, remember I would write all about my fascinating learning.  Well, here it is:  use fresh or dry yeast if you can.  Don’t use instant yeast.  Because I almost never use instant yeast, I was not entirely empathetic nor data driven in my mental frustration with the WONDERFUL people who wrote in.  Mea Culpa – how I have learned.

Now, a better scientist than me can probably tell you why this is so.  In theory there is no difference in performance between fresh, dry, and instant yeast.  However, when I did the time trial on the 100% rye bread I did find a difference.  So, I tried the time trial with wheat bread, with spelt bread and with enriched bread and found no difference.  However, let me repeat – there was a difference when I made 100% rye.

The bread made with the instant yeast simply did not really rise very well at all.  Whether or not I “proofed” the instant yeast (and in theory you don’t have to) the bread simply did not move very much.  When I put it in the fridge it refused to budge and I had to leave it out of the fridge to get it to move at all.  Then, when it finally came to baking it was quite dry and so the resulting bread was not what it should be.  Now, it is winter and it is COLD and the kitchen is probably about 18 degrees maximum but that should only mean that the bread takes longer to rise – not that it barely rises at all.  I got a slightly better result when I used warm water and added some honey to the dough (neither of which should be necessary).

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Rye made with dry yeast at the top of the tin and with lots of nice holes almost ready for the oven

So, lesson learned although not understood:  when you make the 100% rye, use fresh or dry yeast if you can get it.  If you are using instant, use warm water and add a bit of honey (or sugar or molasses, bread syrup…something sweet that the yeast will like) and that should help it along.

Finally, remember to just stir the ingredients together –  no kneading – and when you get the loaf from the bowl to the tin, gather it together GENTLY with very wet hands.  Smooth it into an oblong, don’t squash it into and oblong.  And when you pop it gently into the tin, don’t push it down, flatten it, smooth it, or try to squish it into the corners.  The more air in the dough the better rise you will get.  Still concerned?  Come and take a class with us – we do 100% rye bread in all the basic bread classes.

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Loaf with dry yeast on left, loaf with instant yeast (with molasses) on right

Next up:  simple sourdough rye bread.  Not impacted by the cold at all.  Weird….

29 thoughts on “Easy recipe for rye bread part 2”

  1. Thank you for the rye bread recipe. First attempt was two 2lb loaves, (so 1.2kg flour) . I queried whether Allinson’s Easy Bake yeast was instant or not, then found the note on the packet. Fortunately I had not read your notes on instant yeast’s problems. The loaves rose well and were crawling out of the tin after about 3 hours. This note is really to let you know about the yeast performance. Thanks again for the recipe, I can now eat a presentable rye loaf without adding wheat flour as in so many recipes.

    1. Thanks for letting us know. The packages of instant yeast normally instruct you to use far more than you need. So, I always use less – and with excellent results (and a longer time to rise because of less yeast) except when I make rye. As in the post, when I make rye, I do use less instant yeast and I do proof it and it does work however when people don’t proof it first, they have reported almost no rise. So congratulations! Send photos! and I am thrilled you are making a good rye loaf!

  2. Hi, I am trying to avoid yeast in baking. Would using natural yoghurt instead of yeast work on Rye Bread?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Dear Grace

      in general one does not have to proof instant yeast however if you would like to, just pop it in a little glass of water and wait or measure your flour into a bowl and make a well in it. Measure the yeast into the well and pour in with water and wait for wait. It’s very simple!

  3. One last question,
    What happens if i put my oven on the lowest temperature for about 10-15 min then prior to putiing in the loaf to rise i air out the oven to let out the heat for about 3 minutes, once it is warm i leave it in covered by a towel to rise for 1-2 hours…
    is that ok or would it disturb the proper rising of the loaf prior to baking?

  4. Dear Virtous bread,
    What happens if i put my oven on the lowest temperature for about 10-15 min then prior to putiing in the loaf to rise i air out the oven to let out the heat for about 3 minutes, once it is warm i leave it in covered by a towel to rise for 1-2 hours…
    is that ok or would it disturb the proper rising of the loaf prior to baking?

    1. Hi Janeen

      some ovens actually have a proofing setting which is pretty cool. You can do as you suggest but just remember that yeast will die at about 50 degrees so use a thermometer to make sure it’s not too hot in there! The other thing to remember though is that the longer your bread takes to rise the more flavour it has and the easier it is to digest. So whilst it is quick to do it in the heat, it may be “better” to let it rise more slowly in the cool!

  5. I was so glad to find your recipies for 100% rye bread. But here in Canada we are accustomed to following measurments by volume rather than weight. Would it be possible for you to put an alternate ‘volume’ measurment as well as the weights of the ingredients required? That would be great! Thankyou.

  6. hello i have been baking for some time but then had a few goes at latvian black bread ,making the starter over 5 days but when i bake i it is very hard like wood if i put a tray of water in the oven or put some butter in the dough would that make it soft .? p.s. the tast is nice but its too hard to enjoy.yours Brian.

    1. Dear Brian

      If you send me the recipe for the Latvian bread you are baking I can certainly comment. Normally it’s simply a lack of water that is the problem but I will be able to tell from the recipe. I look forward to hearing!

  7. this black bread from latvia i have ritten the recpey down and your page lost it it is made with a starter over 5 days on the 5th day it ferments for 3 hours then it is mixed with the other ingredants and left in warm for 12 to 24 hours then you nead it with wet hands and bake for 1.5 to 2 hour at 220 then 40 before end turn down to 180 elec.oven. it has caraway seed dark sugar salt and malt.1ltr warm water and mix well.

  8. Brian c jeffs

    yes i tried to find the recipe my wife got it she is from latvea but could not remember where from not sure if she got it from a friend from over there. mabe i didn’t use enough water but i did think 1 ltr was a lot and i think i should put it in the oven on the first rise instead of waiting for it to rise twice over 12 to 18 hours i will try again as i have some starter in the fridge. and i will bake it as soon as it rises first time .on that note i will keep you posted..yours Brian.

  9. hi Jane,i am really fedup with the rye bread i must have made a dozen different loaves all rye bread,but have been sick to the back teeth as it just never rises enough to get aerated so i have tied everything ,but nothing seems to work i have lost my mind with this every one keeps saying rye flour rises easy well mine will not i think people are making it up.can you tell me why ??? yours truly Brian c Jeffs.

  10. In may latter years I’ve discovered I have a wheat allergy. So imagine my delight at finding your recipe for Rye bread. I’ve always made my own whole wheat bread in a machine. Living at a high altitude in the US I’ve had to make several measurement adjustments. Of course I have Hodgson’s Rye flour. Guess I will have to do the same with this recipe, trial & error, so wish me luck. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Be careful because at altitude things rise faster (but you probably know that!) I lived in Mexico City for years (very high) and had no problem with bread at all. Just remember to make the dough very very wet. Good Luck!

  11. Hi, I’m excited to try this recipe but have one question, I’ve made breads before and just shape it into a loaf and bake it on a baking sheet instead of a bread pan. Can I do that with this rye bread? Or will it just flatten out and not hold the shape?

    1. Hi Adrienne

      Not really…rye does not keep it’s shape the way wheat does because the gluten is different. You need some kind of mold to let it rise before baking. You can do that in a tin or you can do it in a basket or a shallow bowl that you line with a HEAVILLY floured tea towel. If you opt for a basket or a bowl, turn the dough out onto a baking tray before putting it in the preheated oven. It will flatten out in the oven. Give it a try!

  12. Hi there again, my bread rose to the top of the bread pan before I baked it, but when I baked it, it completely flattened out. Like a soufflé that deflates. Any thoughts as to what could be the problem?

    1. Hi there, it could be one of three things. You bread could have over risen, it could have risen too quickly (if it’s hot where you live) or your oven temp could be too low. Rye needs to set quickly in a hot oven when it’s baked. Make sure your oven is well up to temp. What do you think?

  13. Hmm, not sure. The oven was at 400 and is a pretty new oven. It took two hours to rise, but I didn’t check it’s progress during that time. One section did stick to the cling wrap and pulled away. Maybe that let too much air vent out? I will try again. Third times the charm right!

    1. There is no doubt that the sticking is the culprit. That takes the top surface of the dough away (the bit that traps in the air) and so there was nothing to suport it. Suggest you buy some shower hats (seriously) and put these over the dough, puffing them up so there is a lot of room between the dough and the plastic. Finally, two hours is really short as well – it must have been warm. Ideally you want the rye to rise 3 + hours. It will be better when it’s a little cooler in the house (assuming you live somewhere where it gets cool).

  14. Thanks for reply. Whole wheat loaves always came out beautifully. Have made two rye loaves since, flavour just fine, but am not yet satisfied with the “rise”. Do you think the addition Xantham Gum help?

    1. It might but the reality is that rye gluten is simply not stretchy. It cannot perform the way wheat does. It never gets domey and is always rather flat on top. I fear xanthene gum will just make it tough – I have never tried it. However, I do know rye simply does not perform the way wheat does. Well hydrated, though, and it will rise, have a nice open crumb and not be a heavy brick.

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