The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye Flour

CountryBoy's picture

Rye Flour

Rye flour came up in a recent thread, and I thought it convenient for everyone if I started a separate thread devoted to just rye.  This way you can cut and paste it to a document if you wish to save it for future reference.

From my books so far, I have gleaned that:

RL Barenbaum in her Bread Bible discusses it in 2 paragraphs towards the end of the book but leaves quite a bit left unsaid. She does not specify what type should be used in her recipes although Leader and Hamelman do.

Peter Reinhart in his last 2 bks has said rather little on the topic.

Daniel Leader in his recent bk Local Breads points out the following:

  • Most rye flour sold in the US is whole, with none of the germ and bran sifted out.  To confuse matters, it is labeled not 'whole' but medium, to distinguish it from pumpernickel flour, which is a more coarsely ground whole rye flour.  Unless otherwise noted, whole rye labeled 'medium' or fine is called for in the recipes in his book.
  • Medium flour has some grit from the bits of bran
  • Fine rye flour will be more powdery.  You can use pumpernickel flour in the recipes that call for rye flour, but your breads will be a little darker than breads made with medium or fine rye flour.
  • White rye flour, from which the bran and germ have been sifted, used in lighter Polish and Czech rye breads, is paler than whole rye, grayish white rather than gray.  It is rarely available in stores but easily ordered by mail.

Hamelman in Bread discusses it at very considerable length and to summarize some of that says:

  • That it is higher in bran, minerals and fiber than wheat
  • Has more soluble sugars than wheat
  • It is high in a substance called pentosans and amylase enzymes
  • In Germany it is categorized by its ash content.
  • In the US, one has far fewer choices of rye flour-usually sold only as white, medium,medium dark, and whole.
  • White rye flour has little in the way of flavor or color, and is generally a poor choice in bread making.
  • Medium rye is better, producing more nutrition and flavor.
  • Whole rye flour is better yet in terms of flavor and food value.  It is the rye flour of choice for most of the recipes in his book.
  • Dark rye is the flour milled from the periphery of the grain.  It tends to be coarse and sandy, to absorbe quite a lot of water and in general is difficult to work with.
  • Pump0ernickel rye, often called rye meal, is just that: a coarse meal rather than a flour; it is made by milling the entire rye berry.  It can substitute for whole-rye flour, the main diffence being the mealy consistency of pumpernickel.
  • Rye chops, similar to the German Schrot in that the rye berry is chopped rather than ground, cracked rye, and whole rye berries.

Mike Avery has said in another thread that:

  • In the USA, there are 4 commonly available rye flours.  White rye, medium rye, dark rye and whole rye.  As you move from white to whole, the taste of the rye becomes more intense, and the rye flour will reduce the rise of your bread.  Medium rye is a good all-around rye.  Good taste and you still get a good rise.  However, in recent trips to the store, all I am finding is whole rye.  Which will make a BIG difference in your recipes.
  • Dark rye is the least well defined rye.  In some cases it is whole rye.  In others it is a lightly sifted whole rye.  In others, it is the stuff that is left over after the medium rye has been sifted out of the whole rye.
  • Also, rye has very little gluten in it, and what there is, is of very low qualty.  Most bakers tend to develop the dough, form loaves and bake it as soon as it rises.  Some bakers will tell you that a good loaf of white bread can sit for up to an hour after it has risen to it's optimum height and still bake up OK.  This is called tolerance.  The same bakers will tell you that a rye bread has about 6 minutes of tolerance.

Mike I did not ask you for this attribution but if you wish I will edit it out.  Just let me know.  Actually your discussion was the kernel that got me to start this thread.

Since so many people on the Forum are very experienced they are probably aware of all of the above.  However there may be more aspects to rye flour than have been mentioned here.  Since we have such an international make up of the forum others may have their own particular guidance to suggest.

I would start things off with two questions

  • How is it that Hamelman bakes with 80% rye and more in his bread but some members here have said that one can not have more than 15%.  It is possible that they are both right but referring have numbers refering to different things.  Can some one clear this up for a Novice?
  • Since nomenclature is rather loose when it comes to labeling and selling of rye, could someone tell me if they have ever used or know from experience about the flour that sells as:
    •          Hodgson Mill All Natural, Stone Ground, Whole Grain Rye Flour

Ramona's picture

I think you did a good job in putting all that information together in such an organized way.  Rye breads were always my main goal, when I decided to start making my own breads.  My husband grew up eating them regularly and enjoys them.  But so far, I have total failure with them.  I have alot of trouble shaping them and do not get any ovenspring from them.  I suspect that besides being an amateur, that I bought the whole rye or dark rye.  It was all they had to offer and at the time, I didn't know any better.  I am trying to persevere though.  I have read alot of posts on using rye with starters and they seem to have alot of success.  Does the starter make a big difference than dry yeast?  This post definitely needs my attention. 

CountryBoy's picture

Ramona, thanks very much for your words and the comment that you too know of "total failure".  So far on this board I feel I am the only one who is struggling to get this together when it comes to baking bread.  I have read a whole lot and been baking a whole lot.  My wife can not understand why I need to own more than one book on bread...........up until a year ago, neither could I. And like Thomas Edison I know a whole long list of why things do not work.

It is an honor to be around so many very experienced, knowledgeable, and articulate people, but  I just wish more of the bread making expertise would rub off on me a whole lot faster.  I think the main thing for us beginners is that no one ever told me it would be this challenging.... I mean I bake bread but the pics I see here are really awesome and I wonder how long it will take me?


sphealey's picture

=== How is it that Hamelman bakes with 80% rye and more in his bread but some members here have said that one can not have more than 15%. It is possible that they are both right but referring have numbers refering to different things. ===

He could be referring to one of two things:

  • Free-standing loaf vs. pan baked. Most of Hamelman's ryes are baked in loaf pans (of various types) rather than freestanding on a stone. His 15% could be the maximum amount of rye he advises for a freestanding loaf (although I have successfully made freestanding loaves as high as 30%).
  • The maximum rye percentage in a straight dough (bakers yeast only). Hamelman writes quite a bit about "starch attack" and how the various enzymes in rye interact, and he definately advises using a sourdough technique for the higher fraction ryes.
Or both.
harrygermany's picture

Hearth loaves and pan loaves - no difference with rye.
You easily can bake freestanding loaves of 100% rye.

The maximum rye percentage in dough with bakers yeast only is about 15%.
If you have a higher percentage you must acidify the dough to hold enzymes from interacting.
The tastiest way is using sourdough, which besides acid also has natural yeast.
You can also use buttermilk, even vinegar.


Everyone is a stranger somewhere -
so don´t give narrowmindedness or
intolerance no chance nowhere.

pmccool's picture


I think that the last rye flour that I purchased was the Hodgdon Mill variety to which you refer.  Since I store it in a plastic bag in the freezer, I no longer have the original packaging to validate my admittedly hazy memory.

The flour is a greyish tan in color, speckled with darker bits of bran.  Particle sizes range from a fine powder (probably the endosperm, since most of the finer fraction is light in color) to pieces the size of sand grains.  When rubbed between thumb and forefinger, it has a somewhat gritty feel. 

Most recently, I used it in Reinhart's New York Deli Rye bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice, as mentioned in my blog entry  Reinhart's formula specifically calls for white rye flour and the photograph on page 236 shows a bread with a very light colored crumb.  In my case, using the whole rye, the crum is significantly darker in color.  There's no way to do a side-by-side comparison, but I would imagine that the flavor of the batch made with whole rye is more robust.  Since I was using whole rye and AP flour, I added some gluten to the dough (about 1 tablespoon per loaf) on the assumption that it was going to need some help to avoid becoming a crumbly brick.

Overall, I like the stuff.  By making a few adjustments in the formulas, just as you would if substituting whole wheat flour for white flour, it can be used quite successfully in place of the white rye flour.  The finished product will be different than if it were made with white rye, but still enjoyable for its own qualities.


CountryBoy's picture

 PMcCool...that is it to which I refer.  Now I have a better frame of reference for how to deal with it.

Question, you said,

Since I was using whole rye and AP flour, I added some gluten to the dough (about 1 tablespoon per loaf) on the assumption that it was going to need some help to avoid becoming a crumbly brick. 

 Was there a reason for not using Bread flower instead of AP + gluten.  Or is it 6=1/2 dozen when it comes to it?


pmccool's picture

Yup, there was a reason: I was out of bread flour and not willing to run to the store at that point in the process.

If I had had bread flour on hand, I would not have added the gluten as I did with the AP.


edh's picture

Ramona and CountryBoy,

Hang in there! I too, wanted to make rye breads because my husband prefers them, but was totally stymied by the stuff. It just doesn't act like I expect normal flour to act (Please, no one shoot at me for implying rye isn't normal).

I've had the most success with Hamelman's recipes (notwithstanding my pumpernickel fiasco, laid out in excrutiating detail in another post), particularly his recipe for 40% rye. I made it as a free form loaf, using whole rye and KA AP, and it was one of the best things I've made.

I think the use of a wild yeast is important with higher rye percentages because the acidity keeps the enzymes under control, avoiding the dread starch attack. At least that's my understanding. His recipes still use commercial yeast as well, to get the lift needed to avoid a brick, I guess.

Don't give up. Just remember, bread baking is like beekeeping: the more I learn, the less I know...


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

To start with, Dan Leader has misled me a time or five.  If I had a choice between trusting Dan Leader or Jeff Hammelman on rye, I'd trust Jeff.

Jeff was a contestant at the Coupe du monde de boulangerie and is respected around the world as a baker.  Further, he works for King Arthur.  If he has questions about flour, he can talk to the person who ground it.  As an aside, I took a 1 1/2 day rye class Jeff was teaching during the Bread Baker's Guild 2007 "Camp Bread."  It was a GREAT class.

I find it apalling that Rose didn't say what rye flour to use.  It's a real chink in her obsessive armor, and a real problem for her readers.

Having used a lot of medium rye, I have to say it is not the same as whole rye.  At least, not from the mills I get it from.  I used Congagra's Ramsey Medium rye for many years.  Ramsey/Conagra Mills' web page is broken, so I took a quick look at King Arthur's web site which says this about Medium rye, "This rye flour has the germ and some of the bran removed; use it for hearty rye breads and rolls."  It is not whole grain rye.  It may be ALL rye, in that everything in the bag is rye, but a lot of the rye is missing.  Which is a good thing from a baking perspective.

Pumpernickel rye flour is a misnomer.  King Arthur's Pumpernickel flour is a whole rye flour, though I don't know how it was ground - is a fine flour, a coarse flour or a meal?  Congagra's seems to be more of a "all of the bran, none of the goodness" sort of thing - it was quite soft and fluffy.  However, German bakers don't use a separate flour to make pumpernickel bread (and, this is another case where everything you know is probably wrong.)  German bakers coarsely grind whole rye kernels, and use them along with the dust created when they grind the rye to make pumpernickel.

Back to breads - when the rye concentration in a bread goes up, you need to know how to handle it.  And it isn't easy or straightforward.  If you are an experienced wheat baker, the best place to start is, "everything you know is wrong!"

If you are using a lot of wheat and a little rye, especially a medium or light rye, you are making a wheat bread and the old rules apply.  Throw in some caraway or cumin and call it Deli rye or Jewish rye.  It'll be good.  Look at for one of my rye recipes that works out very nicely.

At some point, you get into new territory.

Some success pointers - acidify the rye flour by letting sourdough eat it.  All if it is best, but at least 1/3.

Despite many people saying you shouldn't use yeast with sourdough, most German bakers do.  Acidifying the rye helps give it body.  Yeast helps it rise.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to forming high rye bread.  One is to form the loaves with absolutely dry hands.  Jeff Hammelman suggests this.  Other people like to have wet hands.  I like Jeff's approach better.

Don't give the bread multiple rises, the rye flour doesn't have enough strength.  Knead the dough, develop the dough, loaf the dough, and when it rises, bake it.  Don't give it time to deflate.

forget about stretch and folds.  Forget about kneading by hand.  Just throw in the towel and use a mixer.  You need to add lots of strength to a rye flour and low energy approaches aren't going to get you there any time soon. 

An excellent web site that focuses on sourdough and rye is Samartha Deva's site.  Surf over to and then click on "sourdough for starters."  It's a tossup between Jeff and Samartha as to who makes the best rye breads.  Both are, quite simply, the best I've had in this country.  And, yes, I have had both of their rye breads.  Of special interest at Samartha's web site are the Detmolder Three Stage Process which is an amazing way to raise rye bread with no yeast - even a 100% rye flour bread, and his pumpernickel pages.  Samartha is a pumpernickel purist, and his pumpernickel is awesome!



goetter's picture

Amen to all that.

I have come to prefer wet hands for initial dough handling.  Otherwise I get the "Rye Breads Frrom the La Brea Tar Pit Bakery" experience.

Hamelman offers the best rye handling coverage of any bread-book that I've read.  The one topic that he doesn't cover (if my memory serves me correctly) is the 100% natural leavening method.  Perhaps he wants Teutonic reliability in leavening, or perhaps he simply wants a less tart taste.

Wyatt's picture

Agreed about Leader, I've gotten some good info but he's not the greatest at communication.  Rheinhardt is pretty good at communication but sometimes he isn't the most authentic source for things though his writing is pretty acessable to the novice. 

Bye the way the Samartha sourdough site address is  No WWW.  He seems to be a natural fermentation fanatic like myself but I I do have some differences with him, for one thing he doesn't do a mash in his pumpernickel which I find be essential for getting that flavor and that shiny crust, and I also notice he also leaves out things that make following his instruction somewhat confusing at times.

One thing I would like to say is there are more than a few ways to do things.  I don't know how many times people have come up to me and said my bread was great but not exaclty like they had in some particular place in say Germany.  Geez the bread varies from source to source in those places and nobody appologizes for it, in fact its part of their charm.  You can use guidlines from people and as you gain experience, experiment a little.  Maybe something will work for you and your environment better than with another persons, Baking is an art not just a science and you should use science to enhance your art, not be a slave to rigid procedures, that's how great bread is developed.  Sometimes happy accidents make for some great developments.

While I'm at it I have to say I'm not a big fan of Hodgsons mills, I've gotten bags of wheat and rye beries that were just full of straw and rocks, neddless to say i was not happy with them.  They were somewhat accomodating but when I heard I would have to pay shipping for what was their lack of quality contro I told them to forget it.  After that I just have to wonder what is in their flour, you can't see the contaminants in it and after my experiences with whole grains in which I could see that I wouldn't buy another bag of their flour ever. Wheat Montana has some reat stuff for the price and there are some other very good brands thogh I get my rye from a local organic farmer

As for the different grades of rye flour, I can never seem to get what I want so I started milling it myself.  I have a retsel mill-rite which works for some things but I also have a hand crank roller mill I use for crushing malted barley for beer that I use for pumpernickel rye.  Rheinhart calls for Rye flour, Altus and cooked rye berries but I find this doesn't really give the right texture  Samartha just calls for a coase grind which seems to be the shortcut of choice for a lot of people.

Been meaning to get Hammelmans book, heard a lot of good things about it but haven't scraped up the cash I guess.

suave's picture

It's an extremely interesting question - I've read most of these books and was left with a question - do these people live in a different country or something?  I make it a point to check baking section of every grocery store I visit.  As far as I can tell Hodgson Whole Rye occurs commonly - in 5 lb bags or 2 lb boxes.  I've never bought a box, but I assume it is the same stuff.  This is the flour I use most often but in starters and soakers only - I think it is just too tough to be used directly.  May be sifting would help.  Then there's "light rye" and "dark rye" from Bob's Red Mill, it comes in 20 oz (or so) bags.  This "light rye" is absolutely white and it the stuff Hamelman says best not be used for bread.  "Dark rye" is about the same color as Hodgson's  product but is much finer - it has uniform texture of the regular flour.  I have never, ever seen anything called "medium rye" in a store, although there're 50 lb bags on Amazon, and KA sells 3 lb packages from its site.  I assume this latter one is what Hamelman uses.  I guess it might be worth biting a bullet and order it ($10-11 shipped for 3 lb) just to find out what it supposed to be like.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

My farmer friends have been sewing the winter wheat and bringing in the sugar beets. I took the oportunity to ask if rye can also be planted late fall, like wheat. Yes, they all agreed, there is a winter rye as well. Food for thought...

also "light"  do we mean weight or color or both? 

Mini O

goetter's picture

By "light" we mean Type 815 flour, I believe.

JERSK's picture


 I bought some KA Pumpernickel Flour and it works fine and is quite dark. I also grind my own rye berries and sift out the chunks, my grinder isn't real great but this flour seems to be similar to the KA  Pumpernickel. I've used up to 50% rye and it works well using a standard rise , shape and rise the loaf. Oven spring isn't real great but it works pretty well. I've also baked all my recent rye breads in an earth oven using only sourdough starter and I get better oven spring. The bread keeps really well, a couple of weeks  just sitting on the counter. I have used Hi gluten, AP flour and added gluten to my loaves with out any real discernable differences. I've tried the fold method and that didn't turn out to well and one time I deflated the dough and gave it a second rise(my oven wasn't ready) and that wasn't great , but edible. My understanding is that the differences between light, medium and dark rye fours is the fineness of the flour and this is achieved through sifting Light being the finest and dark( or pumpernickel) the coarsest.

CountryBoy's picture

My thanks to everyone for their contributions re Rye.  There seems to be lots to learn in the area of nomenclature.

Now a question which is a big question for me as a Novice.  Each person has their own style and level of achievement, yes?  My style and comfort level is for baking bread with patefermente or preferments or a sponge and not with sourdough starter.  I have done sourdough starter under the tutelage of the ineffable SourdoLady, however, at this point in timer I prefer to stick to preferments or sponge starters.

With that exhordium, I ask what should I do when I am making rye bread?  Mike has already said

Some success pointers - acidify the rye flour by letting sourdough eat it.  All if it is best, but at least 1/3.

Is there a way to do rye and to at the same time deal with the success pointer that Mike addresses.

Thanks again to all.





DavidAplin's picture

Hi Everyone, Here's what I have to say:

Working with rye flour is difficult but well worth the effort. As a baker of many a well flavored brick I have had better success with breads using a lower percentage of rye flour. If I can offer my 2 cents worth I would have to say that Hamelman's book has two very good pieces of advice, one is to acidify the rye flour in any given formula, usually in the preferment or sourdough build stage. Secondly, to really watch your secondary proof and final proof stages, they are really quite a bit shorter than wheat flour based breads. If you over proof a rye bread you might as well forget about it. Pancakes!  Also, the handling needs to be with the greatest of care, breads that contain over 30% rye flour do not have the same tolerance for abuse(like knocking it around on the table when doing final moulding) as wheat flour breads, be gentle, especially during the final proof stage. I have put rye breads into an extremely hot oven to achieve maximum spring and then backed the heat way down to finish the bake. I also don't expect to get a way bold loaf with rye flour breads as I would with wheat breads, a modest spring will suffice but the rewards are worth it: superior keeping quality and outstanding flavour. One more thing, I have opted to use only organic stone ground whole rye flour for my rye bread endeavors, less fuss, more flavour, better nutrition,  and completely reliable fermentation.

Adios, happy baking!

-David Aplin

JERSK's picture

   I realize this is an older thread, but was browsing the artisan and found this info on rye flours. Light rye: 75% extraction, can be used in quantities up to 40% without significant loss in volume.Ash content .55-.65% Medium rye: 87% extraction can be used up to 30% without significant volume loss. Ash content .65-1.00% Dark rye:100% extraction. Can be used up to 20% without volume loss. No ash content given. Rye meals: Fine/medium/coarse/pumpernickel and flaked. Consists of a variety of broken or cracked rye grains after being classified in a series of sieves. I'm assuming this last category goes from finest to coarsest. Of course finding this range of rye products is next to impossible unless you grind your own.

jkandell's picture

"How is it that Hamelman bakes with 80% rye and more in his bread but some members here have said that one can not have more than 15%. It is possible that they are both right but referring have numbers refering to different things. Can some one clear this up for a Novice?"

For breads you knead "normally" the maximum rye is about 33% (about the amount in a jewish rye). Beyond that the dough gets too sticky, and it only gets worse as you keep mixing.

Many breads use 50% rye and they require some specialized considerations, like less mixing and only one rise/proof.

Contrary to rumor, you can use 100% rye as long as you use sourdough as your leaven--not a yeasted biga or poolish but a real natural yeast sourdough. Sourdough and rye were made for each other; the acidity of the leaven works wonders with the peculiarities of rye grain. (Thinking about it, I don't know of a single rye recipe of 80% or more without using sourdough.) You've got to abandon your usual wheat methods. The dough's going to be wet and sticky, and all your utensils will get really messy. If your hands are wet they won't stick to rye, so you need a bowl of water near you which you keep dipping in any time you will touch the dough. I like mixing with wooden spoon in five minute increments, using my hands after awhile. You can minimally mix it five minutes, or you can go up to half hour in total for slightly more structure. It's really a sloppy mess, so you have to really like rye. (Hint: wash everything in cold water before it dries or good luck getting it off!)

The payoff is you can a rye bread which is surprisingly light. I often make Borodinsky and people don't believe me that it contains 85% whole rye flour since it's so light.

CountryBoy's picture

Many thanks for your thorough explanation.  Most appreciated.

Petrissage's picture

Thank you for your very helpful and very correct points about making light breads with a high proportion of rye flour.

I have found it very hard to learn from English language cookbooks how to get the kind of rye you are describing. I would love to know more about your techniques. 

I have fond memories of Borodinsky bread and would love to know how you make it. Have you posted your recipe for it here? Do you use pullman pans for it?

Do you grind your own rye?

I use Giusto's rye [it does not say light or dark] and Heartland Mills whole rye for my bread.


ehanner's picture

This rye thread started by Countryboy a while back seems to stay interesting. There are some good points above. For me, I don't think I ever baked a rye bread that didn't contain caraway seeds until just a few Months ago. I got interested in the 3 stage starter process and work done by Samartha (Google him) on 100% or at least very high % formulas.

Jkandal mentions above that "sourdough and rye seem to go together". That is a good statement of fact and the more sour the better. Samartha's 3 step Detmold process produces a very active rye starter that gets you a fairly light loaf considering how dense it is. The first time I molded a 100% rye free form loaf I wasn't expecting much. It wasn't pretty but the flavor just was remarkable. Like nothing I have had. My wife and teenage daughter really enjoyed the full flavor. Wet hands and don't dally with the fermenting and proofing. You might get a little rise but I don't proof more than 15 minutes and I have been baking in a 370 degree oven to a 190 internal temp.. Usually takes about an hour or more.

Petrissage, I agree on not being happy with the English language books for learning this style of baking. A friend gifted me with some bread spices from Austria and they are heavenly. I grind my own and have never come close to the heady aroma the authentic blend has. Hopefully someone with good English skills as a second language will jump in with some suggestions on German baking in the way of a tutorial. I think there is a growing interest in the artisan community for rye breads.


fleur-de-liz's picture


I would be interested in knowing what spices are recommended for rye breads. In his German Farmhouse Rye, Roggen-bauernbrot, Leader recommends adding ground toasted coriander, cumin, fennel and anise seeds, although I have never tried this recipe. I have added freshly ground caraway seeds to a rye starter and really enjoy the subtle taste. Can you share with us what spices are part of the blend you received from your Austrian friend?

Thank you,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hello, here is as good a place as any to mention caraway and cumin "mix-ups" that can happen with German to English translations.

Very often a recipe will say cumin when it should read caraway because the German word for caraway is Kümmel. The German word for cumin is Kreutz, Mutter, or Roman Kümmel and so when a translation is made from Kümmel, unfortunately cumin pops up. Just pronouncing the two, one can see why there is a mix up and often thought to be the same spice. In English, caraway and cumin are two very different spices, just as Kreutzkümmel & Kümmel are different. I've run into this before.

So, Reader beware! Most references to cumin from German translations is really caraway.

Mini O

Eric, did you read that?    "Toasted"  ...hmmm interesting.

ehanner's picture


Yes I saw that about toasted. I'll have to play with that some. In my own case I have a hard time knowing when enough is enough when toasting. I try to heat just far enough for the aroma to start to come off the pan but it's not very reliable.

Mini, I can't read the ingredients list on the bottle reliable, perhaps you could translate. Thanks.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've burnt too many nuts, etc, in a frying pan. I normally set the oven and let it preheat (or after a bake in a good time) and then keep a watch. Oven toasting is much more even and slowed down.

I'll get back to you on the label, Eric, I thought I mentioned the most important stuff in my blog on spices.  Anything in particular? 

Mini O

ehanner's picture

You place the seeds on a tray in a 350 F oven?

 On the label, the content is way more complicated than the three normally listed spices.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"KOTANYI"  Brotgewürz  (Breadspice) geschrotet (crushed).   Füllgewicht (g): (content weight in grams)  340g   Mindestens haltbar bis Ende:  (Good until at least:) 04.09.2010 ( L0709261022 (Lot no. blablabla)   Zutaten:  (Ingredients:)  Fenchel, Koriander, Kümmel.  (Fennel, Coriander, Caraway)   Gut verschlossen aufbewahren!  (Keep closed for storage!)  KOTANYI GmbH (name of company) A 2120 Wolkersdorf PF 66  (Austria zipcode Village-in-the-Clouds  Post-office-box 66)

The little ying/yang arrow symbol means to please recycle the empty package when finished.

Brotgewürz ist eine Mischung feinster Gewürze.  (Breadspice is a fine <=> mixture Spices.)  Bauernbrot bereiten Sie ganz einfach so zu:  (Farmers's bread is made You totally easy so to: or You can easily make Farmer's bread:)

  • 57 dag Roggenmehl (57 decigrams or 570g Rye flour)
  • 6 dag Weizenmehl (60g Wheat flour)
  • 1/2 l Wasser  (half a litre water)
  • 16 g Sauerteig (16 g Sourdough)
  • 13 g salz  (salt)
  • 15 g Hefe (Yeast, fresh yeast) und (and)
  • 4 EL (EL is a Tablespoon) Brotgewürz (spice)    
zu einem Teig verarbeiten.   (Mix to form a dough.)  Den gut durchgekneteten  Teig warmstellen... (Put the well mixed dough in a warm place...) und eine 1/2 Stunde lang gehen lassen. (and rest one half hour.)  Anschließend den Teig... (Eventually the dough...) in die gewünschte Form bringen... (should be laid into the desired baking form...) und im vorgeheizten Backrohr bei ca. 200 Grad 65 Minuten lang backen.  (and bake in a preheated oven, at about 200°c, 65 minutes long.)

That's all it says, Eric. 

Hey, I have never toasted my seeds for spice before, I just ground them when I didn't have this mix. I think the main seeds are coriander and caraway with some of the fennel thrown in. One just might be toasted, like the coriander, try giving a tablespoon 5 min on parchment paper at 350°F and see what happens.

Mini O

ehanner's picture

Do you think the Sourdough called for in this recipe is the dry variety (16 g)? It looks like a flavoring since there is a fresh yeast component.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You could be right. 16g is not a lot of starter or dough for 570g Rye (on the Perlinger dry extract package 30g is for 700g Rye.) Math wise it should work at 25g to be on the safe side. The liquid packaged sourdough is much heavier 75g to 250g Rye flour.

I can also see where 25g of self-dried ripe starter could be used in the recipe. I do believe I've done this, and in a pinch, a tablespoon of cider vinegar instead. (it would be interesting to test the pH on all three. There is probably a pH level for Rye sour at it's best.)

All tips (recipes with added yeast) suggest increasing/reducing sourdough extract in correlation to Rye, meaning: If you increase the amount of rye in your recipe, you should increase the amount of sourdough extract used to "sour" it. With 100% sourdough recipes, this is not a concern, but when tinkering with rye/wheat recipes where rye is increased, I suggest making sure the added rye gets "soured" too.

Mini O

ehanner's picture

The use of sourdough extract in German style breads has been a point of confusion for me. Many of the modern recipes I see call for the addition of starter, plus yeast, or call for a sour made for that batch. It's like they are not suggesting keeping a sourdough starter and feeding it for use next week. I don't think I have ever seen any mention of maintaining the starter except as it applies to the current loaf being worked on. Is your experience similar or am I just missing something in the translation?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

them too. I was reading a sourdough site and the advice was given that if the amount of sourdough is listed as Tablespoons or under a few hundred grams & yeast is added, it is most probably extract and if the recipe asks for a sourdough weight equal to one third - to equal the flour weight, it is probably a three step sourdough feeding process. There are lots of different recipes. I did notice a preference for firm starters and confusion about liquid ones. At least on! They recommend brushing coffee on surface of rye before baking. (I can visualize how that came about...)

In my cookbook for "land households" or farmer's cookbook a whole page is devoted to bread! Actually two, the first one at the front describes more or less nutrition and suggests if you want to bake bread, get some dough from the baker (good advice here). The second page at the back is for Schwartzbrot, Mischbrot, Schwarzbrot with Potatoes, and Kletzenbrot (that's the fruit bread that's filled with dried drunken fruit and wrapped in dough) The first 3 require sourdough in the recipe. All recipes are very lacking in detail, and would be discouraging even to me.

The schwartzbrot recipe says, "Make a hole in the pre-warmed flour. Using a large holed sieve, strain (pour) the sourdough that was softened the day before. Mix in flour and let rise. If less sour is desired, use less sourdough and more yeast to the recipe. Sprinkle with spice, salt and the needed warm water with yeast and work into a silky dough. (There exist wooden troughs for this kind of work, hewn from a single piece of wood.) The recipe is for 30 kg of flour using 3/4 kg sourdough. I cannot figure out if the 3/4 is the firm starter the day before "softening" but looks so. No details on what "softening" entails. Because rye berries, cracked berries and hulls are the preferred food for activating starters, the recipe suggests a sieved starter. This step could be skipped but it is interesting.

I think I've figured some of this puzzel out. The amount of sourdough in the recipe will be handled by either a 3 step process or a one step process, a 3rd process is being offered by "Pot" which is also a 3 step process but easier. This is an option left up to the bread baker. He has specific ways of making the starter depending on how sour you like your bread. You then proceed to sour between 20% -- 50% of the rye written in the recipe until the proper amount of rye flour is soured. (Then continue with the dough) The three methods are rather spicific with time and temperature. A one step is not recomended without help of yeast, which most people prefer because the 3 step process involves watching the clock.

Mini O

weavershouse's picture

This whole thread is so interesting and your last comment about cumin probably meaning caraway is very important, I think. I've often wondered about "cumin" in rye breads. Is this another Leader error? I'm going to mark my book right now so I don't forget. Thanks mini and thanks to all the other above posters. So much great  information.                                                                                                                             weavershouse

fleur-de-liz's picture

Thanks, Mini, for clarifying the translation issues with caraway and cumin. I, too, was perplexed by the addition of cumin in rye breads.... you have now explained the problem, and I will be sure to substitute caraway for any future references to cumin.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

While reading through a few German language sites,  I stumbled upon one contributor who said she activates a firm rye starter with bubbling mineral water, been doing it for 20 years.  For her starter she takes a few tablespoons of activated starter that has been thickened with rye flour and allowed to ripen (dough from beginning of a sourdough recipe before all the ingredients are in), puts this in a jar and piles rye flour on top of it, filling the jar 3/4 full, stirs briefly till it resembles coarse crumbs and parks covered in the fridge.  She says she bakes every 2 weeks. Removes the starter from the fridge the day before baking and adds mineral water to make about 250g crushing the clumps with a fork.  The next day plugs it into her recipe and removes a few tablespoons of "pre-dough" to start another batch.  Claims the CO2 bubbles does the stirring for her and rising power is delayed and stronger when she needs it in the finished dough.  

Mini O

ehanner's picture

I made my trip to mecca (Penzies spice house) yesterday to refresh my aromatic and seeds for the kitchen. I enjoy the freshness of their products. I bought fennel and coriander and a big bag of caraway seeds. I also picked up some black sesame seeds that looked interesting and I thought I would try anise as a substitute for fennel.

I toasted some coriander last night and ground it up. It produced a very nice aroma. The fennel was also fresh smelling but the full licorice aroma that comes off the KOTANYI spice it is not. I am still wondering what they are using to produce that wonderful smell.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I hope you are crushing those little seeds to let out the aroma.  Did you sniff around in "Mecca?"   --Mini O

ehanner's picture

Penzies has a glass container with a seal on the top of every single spice in the store so you can sample the aroma. They know people will want to sniff the distinctive differences between for example French Thyme and regular Thyme or smoked paprika and the sweet  variety. I like to get the aroma into my nose for the new things I buy.

The clerk told me the corporate offices and shipping and processing is moving soon. They are out growing their present facilities and are moving to a larger building in the outskirts of Milwaukee. They have become a national brand with about 39 stores spread out around the country and a large mail order business. Always high quality fresh spices at a surprisingly low price.


sphealey's picture

=== The clerk told me the corporate offices and shipping and processing is moving soon. They are out growing their present facilities and are moving to a larger building in the outskirts of Milwaukee. ===

Strange how the small world phenomenon comes into play sometimes - we don't live anywhere near Milwaukee, but one of my neighbors went to school with a member of the Penzy family and used to sit in their kitchen weighing and labeling packages for spice orders.  Guess they have grown a bit since those days!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Daniel Leader writes: (p273) 

"German and Austrian bakers like their sourdoughs very sour, and the more acidic a sourdough gets, the less leavening power it has.  They often use commercial yeast as a hedge against the possibly diminished leavening capability of the sourdough.  The sourdough lends the bread flavor and structure while the com. yeast gives it a lift." 

Mini O

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The BBGA had a taped seminar all about sourdough.  Dr. Gaenzle spoke and talked about German sourdough techniques.

Many bakeries get a new laboratory culture deliveded to them every Friday.  They mix it with a LARGE quantity of flour and water at high hydration in a special vessel and let it work over the weekend.  The vessel agitates (stirs) the sourdough slurry and maintains the right temperature.  Dr. Gaenzle didn't mention the temperature or the hydration, but several times mentioned that the culture had to be "pumpable".  That is, the bakers use hoses and pumps to distribute the starter.

On Sunday or Monday, the very sour starter is used as a souring agent.  It is added to dough to acidify it.  At that point, it has virtually no yeast activity, or even bacterial activity.  So, yeast is used to raise the dough.

The vat is allowed to keep working until the end of the week, when the cycle starts again.

Some newer artisanal bakeries are moving back to a more traditional yeast free approach, using natural rather than laboratory cultures, and are maintaining their cultures.

As a side note, the last time my mother was in Germany she brought back a packlet of sourdough.  It is a liquid in a punch and the recipes on the pouch all call for yeast.  I believe the sourdough is an extract.  I haven't used it yet, maybe next weekend.



Dragonbones's picture

I've read that if you mix dough containing rye flour for too long (over six minutes), it will start developing excessive gumminess. So, let's say you're using a 2/3 high gluten flour, 1/3 medium rye recipe, and you've already prefermented half the rye in a sourdough starter. When mixing the main dough, would it help (or hurt) if when mixing the main dough two days later, you mixed the high gluten wheat flour, commercial yeast booster, salt and remaining liquid first, letting the machine knead it a while to develop gluten without developing rye gumminess, and THEN added the starter (containing some rye) and the remaining rye? Do you think delaying the addition of the rye would help cut the gumminess? I haven't actually tried rye bread yet, I'm just asking before I produce my first rye doorstop.

hansjoakim's picture

I'm not sure if I get what you mean by "rye gumminess". Rye is such a great and versatile flour, and there's no reason to be afraid of it or think that it's a nightmare to work with. It isn't. I suggest that you treat breads with a rye content of less than approx. 40-45% the same way you would wheat doughs, but try to keep them on the wetter, stickier side. As you increase the rye content, at least when you're well above 50% rye, you should mix more carefully, at lower speeds and for shorter period of time. You should still be able to mix a dough of 66% rye to good strength when you tug at it. Pentosans in rye don't like too much mixing, so for rye heavy doughs, don't mix too much.

I've never tried holding back rye like you suggest. You could give it a go, but keep in mind that rye is a flour that needs a lot of water to fully hydrate. The pentosans are really thirsty, so if you hold a substantial amount of rye back, the remaining dough could be very wet and difficult to develop. I'm not sure if you would fully hydrate the rye flour if you do it this way either. If anything, I would rather suggest that you do it the other way around: Hydrate all the flour (including the rye) first, leave it 15 - 20 mins like you would an ordinary autolyse, and then proceed mixing as usual.

dmsnyder's picture

Daniel Leader's Polish Cottage Rye from "Local Breads" gets mixed at Speed 5 in a KitchenAid for 12-13 minutes. It does not get "gummy." Note that this is a pretty high-hydration dough that requires this intensive mixing to develop the gluten adequately. It's a lovely bread.


nicodvb's picture

I disagree with the qualifcation of white rye flour as a poor choice: I'm using it frequently in this period, and with much satisfaction.
Although it's surely less flavored than dark or medium rye it definitely has a good and intense taste, it rises generally more than the other rye flours and it can even be kneaded quite easily if you work it entirely with boiling water.

As for flavor, bread made white rye flour wins 5:1 compared to any other bread made with other non-rye flours.
Fluffiness and open-crumbedness are not everything ;).
Taste DOES matter! ;) It's the reason why I never eat white wheat bread.

banguette's picture

Out of curiousity and noting that a lot of sourdough recipies have rye flour in them, I took some of my natural yeast sourdough starter (add water and flour over three days, and you've got magic yeast pals) and added equal weight rye flour and water to create a natural yeast sourdough wheat/rye starter.

I made a few boule loaves with decreasing levels of success (the first being the best risen, with the most oven spring) over the course of the last few weeks, and am heartened to have found this thread.

I am amazed at the rye starter's ability to cut down the rising time of the breads by at least 50%. It had been taking upwards of 8 hours for my all wheat starter to get the dough to double where the rye starter was doing it in closer to 2. I'm guessing that has something to do with rye having more soluble sugars than wheat has, but am pretty new to baking breads so I'll hazard that guess and be OK with it.

I'm heartened to know that rye doesn't do much for oven spring, and to read more about people having a difficult time dealing with doughs that contain rye. Trying to shape the loaves was an effort in frustration, but the success and flavor I had with that first loaf has me excited to go back and try again, this time minimizing the overall content of rye in the recipe.

Thanks to all for sharing knowledge, this site has been a boon to my newfound bread baking.

littlejay's picture

After obsessviely making loaf after loaf of rye bread I've finally got a system that makes the entire thing pretty easy, turns out a great bread, and is not messy.

I've sized it for my 18 year old Kitchenaid KSM 90 mixer and it makes 1 loaf that weighs very close to 3 pounds.

This weekend I've sized up the batch to make 8 loaves and plan to bake in the wood fired oven outside. (I'm in Seattle).

I've collected the starter in my kitchen and use rye flour from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in Bellingham, Washington. (Check them out!)

My starter is 50-50 flour to bottled spring water and to prepare it for this bread I add 2 cups water and 2 cups flour. One day and it's ready, if you leave it for 2 days, not a problem. This amount leaves me with 1.5 pounds of mix to use for bread and enough starter left over to start the next bunch.

So I start with 1.5 pounds of that in the mixer bowl, add 1/2 cup water, 1 Tbs instant yeast (yes 1 tablespoon) and 1 Tbs non-iodized salt and 2 Tbs dark malt syrup and mix til smooth.

Then add 1 pound hi-gluten white flour and a little more (about 1/2 cup) to get the dough to just clear the bowl.

I knead for 8 minutes and let proof for 2 hours or more. I've baked it after it's doubled or even tripled with no problem.

Form the dough into 1 ball and put it in a basket liiberally floured and covered with plastic.

Now don't let it rise too long in the basket! Check it after 1 hour and definately before 2 hours.

I have an aluminum 1/2 sheet pan in the oven and turn out the loaf directly on this hot pan.

Bake at 450 degrees for 35 minutes.

Here's what I like about this recipe. It's pretty easy and not messy. Rye can get real messy. And of course it turns out a fantastic bread for sandwiches or toast.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What to expect...  Read up and down 

0.......10%.......20%.......30%......40%.......50%.......60%........70%.......80%........90%......100%   Rye 

knead knead

100%.......................................................50%......................................................................0%   Wheat 

not sticky.............................sticky..............................very sticky.................................glue... 

The more rye in the dough, the less one has to knead.  The more wheat in the dough the more one has to knead or fold.  

JonnyP's picture

In the above posts, I see folks having lots of experience appearing to give opposite advice on how aggressively to knead rye breads.

Take for example, Dan Leader's Polish Cottage Rye (as found here:  This is about 26% rye (all in the levain), which is then mixed into the final dough using a dough hook on speed 4 in Kitch Aid mixer for 12 minuntes!  That seems like an aweful lot of kneading to me (please note I have very little experience with mixers).  Is such aggressive kneading reasonable because his original recipe calls for "light rye" flour,  and if substituting "whole rye" (Hodgson Mills) a completely different level of kneading should be recommended?



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Is predominantly a wheat bread and using bread flour.  It needs the time mixing to develop the gluten in the wheat.  The rye is in the starter and not really used for it's gluten content so the rye can be torn up with the hook.  The rye's job in this bread is for flavour and yeast.  :)