The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye topics and content for the Handbook

  • Pin It
dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Rye topics and content for the Handbook

There has been discussion of having a Handbook "chapter" on rye baking. Given the current outline, it seems more appropriate to have sections on rye in several places - ingredients, methods, recipes, etc.


So, I created this topic as a place to discuss material pertaining to rye that should be in the Handbook.


David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The current content of the "Rye Flour" topic is:



Rye flour: Rye flour contains gluten, but it's not a high-quality gluten. So rye traps air through gums that form, which leavens the bread a bit, but still produces a dense loaf when it makes more than 50% of the flour in the bread. It comes in all sorts of grades, from pumpernickel, which is a coarse grind of the whole rye berry, to dark, medium and light rye, each of which removes a percentage of the bran and germ. Light rye flour is almost entirely made of the endosperm.


Rye flour spoils very quickly, so try to buy the freshest possible and store it in the freezer



I suggest the following additions or modifications:



  • Start off with a bit more detail on rye chemistry.

  • Differentiate the effects of rye at differing percentages.

  • Reference a (to be written) section on mixing/kneading rye dough and how it differs from wheat dough.

  • Expand (and correct) the content on different rye flours. Address availability of different rye flours.

  • Correct the content on spoilage. (Spoilage has to do with fats becoming rancid, as far as I know. This is not different from whole wheat, as far as I know. It does not apply to white rye, as far as I know.)


Have at it!


David

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

David, great bulleted list above on mods to this section, it is info I would be looking for as someone wanting to get into rye baking. One more suggestion is to add a bullet/section (or subsection under chemistry?) on using rye flour to create a sourdough starter from scratch (and why it is often used for this), and implications of keeping a separate rye starter in general in terms of flavor.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

There should be something about using rye to create a SD starter. I assume there is or will be something on "Your first SD starter." That's where it belongs.


Hmmmm ... This brings up the question of active links in the Handbook. Takes me back to the early days of the World Wide Web, before it was graphical. When you had to log on to a CERN computer in Switzerland. Geez! I'm old!


David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Good point, mountaindog. It's probably "much accepted sourdough-lore" that a pure rye starter is the easiest starter to get going in the first place, and the hardest starter to kill. Andrew Whitley, the author of "Bread Matters", suggests that if one is to only keep a single starter in the fridge, it should be a rye starter. He defends this by arguing how easy it is to make whatever starter you like from it.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi David,


Looking good! Just a follow-up on the spoilage bit: From what I've read, it's true that rye spoils more quickly than e.g. wheat. In terms of total fat content, rye and wheat are pretty similar. What separates them is their composition of fatty acids.


As far as I know, compared to wheat, barley and oat, rye contains almost twice as much of a certain unsaturated fatty acid called linolenic acid. The greater presence of linolenic acid, makes rye flour especially prone to acceleration in rancidity compared to the other flours. I think it's often said that the specific amino acid composition of rye makes it nutritionally superior to most other flours. This is probably what's reflected in the elevated levels of unsaturated acids (which are more healthy than saturated or mono-saturated ones, right?).

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, hansjoakim.


You have a wealth of information about rye! How about writing up a summary for the handbook?


I know just a little about the amino acid composition of proteins in rye (or in any grain, for that matter.) The "quality" of proteins, from the nutritional perspective, is judged according to whether the protein has all the "essential amino acids" required by our metabolism, and if they are in close to the ratio we require. A protein that contains all the essential amino acids is called "a complete protein."


I know of no grain protein that is complete. However, grains combined with legumes generally provide all the amino acids we require.


I'll look in the nutrition books I have for comparitive information for various grains. My guess is I'd find it more quickly on the internet, though.


There are also certain fatty acids our bodies cannot directly manufacture but which are needed for making fat. Note that "fat" includes things like myelin, the substance that encloses our nerves, not just adipose tissue. These are called "essential fatty acids," and linolenic acid is one of them. I don't know anything about differences among fatty acids in terms of ease of spoiling. I don't know much about the fatty acid composition of grains. However, to my knowledge, all the fats from grains are unsaturated.


Besides fats and proteins, grains are also an important source of certain vitamins, but these are in the bran and germ predominantly. There are differences in the vitamin composition of grains. For example, there are specific, serious nutritional deficiency diseases associated with diets largely dependent on corn (maize) and on white rice. Again, I don't know about the vitamin composition of rye compared to wheat.


Anyway, I think it would be good to have some nutritional information in the Handbook, but not TMI.


David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi David,


Thanks for your kind words! :)


I'm afraid I don't have the experience or energy required to take on much responsibility in this regard, but I'll be happy to contribute in discussions where I feel I can add something.


You possess wealthy knowledge about the nutritional aspects of grains, David! I got curious myself too, and did some googling. I found a book called "The Chemistry and Technology of Cereals as Food and Feed" that looks very interesting. There's not a whole lot on the specifics of rye, but the authors do mention the amino acid make-up of rye on p. 177. There's also a remark about rapid rancidity in rye at the bottom of p. 176, but they don't go into much detail. The book could possibly be a useful source for other grains in the handbook as well?


Again, thanks for your reply, David, and I admire your enthusiasm and effort in the work on the handbook.


Just make sure you find time to bake as well ;-)

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

A signifcant number of dedicated TFL members are also home millers.


Home millers seldom have the time, knowledge, equipment and/or patience to (re)produce commercial grades of rye flour such as...

Quote:
pumpernickel, which is a coarse grind of the whole rye berry, to dark, medium and light rye, each of which removes a percentage of the bran and germ. Light rye flour is almost entirely made of the endosperm.

Most home millers produce flour from the entire rye berry. However, we *may* have equipment that allows us to vary the coarseness of the resulting flour. Even when working with whole grain rye flour, there are differences in the bread when using finely milled rye flour vs (for example) the incorporation of rye grits.


Also, consider the factor of flour freshness. Posts re rye flour on TFL by home millers have consistently emphasized the taste difference of freshly milled rye flour vs purchase of commerical grades (and I've been following this for 3 yrs!).


Baking bread using home milled rye flour is a different topic from using different grades of commercially milled rye flour. However, there will be an audience who simply purchase whole grain and mill at home. Their experiences (or their questions) will, I hope, be addressed.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I don't know very much about rye chemistry, so I'll have to leave that to someone else. The other suggestions are great!


But just because the book is organized one way right now, doesn't mean it can't be changed. Rye baking is significantly different from baking with wheat. I could certainly see justification for a seperate chapter on rye. All the same, I think it's probably best to include some sort of entry on rye in the ingredients section.


One thing I'll do, if it's not been done already, is correct the spoilage issue. I got a bit sloppy there.


As for home milling, I'm wondering if there ought to be a seperate section on that topic specifically. Very few bakers actually do mill their own flour (I'm one of them), so I think it's probably a special case.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Rye flour: Rye flour contains gluten, but it’s not a high-quality gluten. So rye traps air through gums that form, which leavens the bread a bit, but still produces a dense loaf when it makes more than 50% of the flour in the bread. In the United States, it comes in several basic grades: pumpernickel, which is usually a coarse grind of the whole rye berry, plus dark, medium and white rye, each of which removes a percentage of the bran and germ. White rye flour is almost entirely made of the endosperm, and contains very little, if any, of the germ and the bran.

In Europe, especially Northern Europe, a much wider range of rye flours is available, encompassing different grinds as well as a variety of percentages of bran and germ.

Rye flour that contains the oily germ (pumpernickel, dark and medium) spoils very quickly, so try to buy the freshest possible and store it in the freezer.
dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Here is my understanding:


Rye flour is classified in 2 ways - by how finely it's ground and by whether it is whole grain or not. Terminology is only marginally precise, and, in some instances, I'm not even sure it's consistant from one company to another.


The definitions below represent my current understanding. I'm not aware of ever seeing this in an authoritative source, so it should be verified with a miller or a professional baker.


Pumpernickel - Coarsely ground, whole grain rye


Rye - If not otherwise modified, is usually finely ground, whole grain *


Dark rye - Whole grain, but unspecified grind. AFAIK, the same as "Rye flour"


Light rye - Same as White rye, AFAIK.


Medium rye - Whole grain, medium grind (This is apparently different from Jeff's understanding.)


White rye - Endosperm only, generally finely ground.


Uh oh! I haven't mentioned rye flakes, rye chops, cracked rye. OMG!


If anyone else has better information, I'd sure like to have it.


David


* There is a very useful term used in the categorization of psychiatric disorders: "Not otherwise specified," commonly spoken as "N-O-S." For example, "Anxiety Disorder, NOS." There is a lot of "Flour, NOS" found in stores.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

David,


FWIW, here's what Hamelman says on p. 48 of my copy of Bread.

In the United States, the baker has access to quite a diminished array of rye flours, usually sold only as white, medium, dark and whole. Extraction rates, ash content and protein quantity are the lowest in white rye and highest in whole rye. White rye flour has little in the way of flavor or color, and is generally a poor choice for bread making. Medium rye is substantially better, producing breads with better nutritional value and more flavor. And whole-rye flour is better yet in terms of flavor and food value (it is the rye flour of choice for most of the formulas in this book). Dark rye is the flour milled from the periphery of the grain, similar to the clear flour produced during the miller of the wheat. It tends to be coarse and sandy, to absorb quite a lot of water, and in general is difficult to work with.

Pumpernickel rye, often called rye meal, is just that: a coarse meal rather than a flour; it is made by milling the entire berry.
dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

There you go!


I'd only read that page 4 or 5 times, probably. I'll try to read it again when fully rested and cafeinated. It might sink in under optimal conditions.


Well then, I'd include that material, but in bulleted list rather than narrative. Hmmm ... Should this kind of material be in the glossary?


David

suave's picture
suave

David,


The way I see it, there are so few kinds of rye flour that can be found on store shelves that it is easier to mention them specifically.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

translation...


Betty

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Betty - I think it means: As Far As I Know


I'm like you, I am out of the loop on most text messaging shorthand (we still don't have cell service where I live), but sometimes I can decipher it  :-)

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

usually I can figure it out..Thanks


Betty

Floydm's picture
Floydm


But just because the book is organized one way right now, doesn't mean it can't be changed.



Quite correct. We can shuffle things around as we feel the need to.


David's ideas to expand out the rye flour page and add special content on mixing and kneading rye doughs sound great.


In the recipe section, it may make sense to add subsections.  I've thought of dividing recipes along the lines of Yeasted and Naturally Leavened, and then within those splitting out Sweetened Doughs, All Purpose, Rustic Breads, Whole Wheat, Rye, Multi-Grain, Pizzas and Flat Breads, those sorts of things.  But, as Jeff says, we can arrange things one way and, if they don't make sense, shuffle them around another way.


I also agree with Jeff that home milling is important but rare, and that a special section or chapter that addresses milling is probably the way to go.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Which anyone who has hand kneaded rye knows is not difficult ... If there are any unique considerations in home milling rye, or other grains for that matter, they should be documented.


David

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I home-mill my rye flour, and I've not noticed any special considerations in handling, compared to store-bought rye. I have, however, noticed that fresh rye tastes considerably better than store-bought ... to me, anyway. But I suspect that's too subjective to state as fact in the ingredient section, and could be better incorporated into the home milling section.


Also, I can't get coarse rye flour from my mill, but that's not specific to rye. It's a micronizer, so the grades are essentially fine, very fine, and super-duper unbelievably powder-like fine.


I've never made pumpernickel bread (the German kind that uses no wheat flour and has big chunks of cracked rye as well) as a consequence. Which is kind of sad.


Anyone else notice any differences in handling home-milled rye?

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I use a Nutrimill to grind my rye. I think I might have sifted it once for a lighter rye but otherwise I used it as is. I think the taste makes it worth the cost of the mill. I remember years ago the health food stores kept whole grain flours in a refridgerator, I don't see that anymore. Rye goes rancid faster than wheat and I always wondered how old the flour was off the shelf. Most bags are dated these days but I still prefer the taste of the home milled.


 


I've tried most of the ryes posted here and used the rye I milled close to the "fine" setting. I'm happy with the results. When I want to do the least work with a rye, I make a no-knead rye and bake it in a covered Le Creuset. Always great.


 


This is going to be a great "Book". Thanks to all of you who are working on this.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Very interesting topic. Thanks to David for opening this thread and everybody else who contributed.


A couple of weeks ago I went looking on the internets for video of mixing, kneading, shaping, scoring, baking rye bread. (I did this after trying, unsuccessfully, to find such visual material on TFL first, of course.) There's precious little, and what is there seems to me to be of minimal value to artisinal bakers, which brings me to a suggestion:


I think we would do a great service for lots of baking folks if we had videos (of the quality of Mark's backhomebakery material) of the various stages of making (various kinds of) rye bread. I especially would direct this to those TFL bakers who are already expert on the subject. I know this isn't easy, but a moving picture is worth a million words.


David

Oldcampcook's picture
Oldcampcook

Don't forget these from France:


http://lepetitboulanger.com/


Bob

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

It looks like it's going to be a good "book"!


Rosalie

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

For your consideration ...


 



DRAFT


Baking with Rye Flour


 


Introduction


While wheat flour predominates in the breads of southern Europe and the UK, rye flour plays a more important role in the breads of northern and eastern Europe. This is due to rye's superior ability to grow in the poorer soils and cooler, wetter climates of those regions.


Chemical differences in the proteins and enzymes found in rye present differences in how rye flour behaves when mixed with water to make dough, and these differences impact the use of pre-ferments, mixing, fermentation and baking when there is more rye than wheat flour in the dough.


There are a number of different types of rye products available. They vary in how much of the rye berry is included, just as whole wheat differs from white wheat flour. They also differ in how finely ground the rye is.


There are breads made with 100% rye flour, but many other breads are made with lesser percentages. The influence of rye flour on dough handling and on the resulting taste and texture of the bread varies according to the proportion of rye used.


Chemical differences in rye


Gluten is the primary protein found in wheat, and the methods of mixing dough made with wheat flour center on their impact on gluten development and structure. Gluten forms the framework of cells that trap the carbon dioxide generated by fermentation of sugar by yeast. This trapping generates the expansion of the dough (rising) and ultimately the texture of the bread's crumb.


Rye contains much less gluten than wheat. Consequently, breads made with mostly rye flour do not expand as much as those made with mostly wheat flour. The crumb of breads in which rye predominates tends to be dense with smaller holes. On the other hand, rye has more free sugars than wheat, so rye dough ferments faster.


Rye contains a group of important complex sugars called “pentosans.” These are present in other grains, but rye has more of this substance. Pentosans are important to the baker for several reasons. They compete with the proteins that make gluten for water, and water is the substance that leads the proteins to combine to form gluten. This means that rye doughs often require a higher proportion of water than doughs in which wheat predominates. Pentosans break apart easily during mixing, and their fragments result in a stickier dough. Because of this, rye doughs require gentler and, usually, briefer mixing than wheat doughs.


Rye is higher in the enzymes (amylases) that break down starch into sugars. Starch is needed to form the structure of the crumb, and if too much starch is split up, the texture of the bread suffers and becomes gummy. Traditionally, this is prevented by acidifying the rye dough, which slows down the action of amylases. This is why breads with a high percentage of rye flour are made with rye sour (rye-based sourdough starter), even if commercial yeast is added.


Acidification of rye dough has other nutritional advantages specific to rye bread which may also be of interest to the home baker, as well as the advantages that also apply to wheat-based sourdoughs.


Rye products used in baking bread


Whole rye berries may be used in bread, after soaking, to contribute flavor and texture. Rye berries are also used after breaking them into smaller pieces in the form of rye chops, cracked rye, rye flakes, and so forth.


The rye flours you may find include the following:


 



  • Pumpernickel flour – Whole grain, coarsely ground rye meal.

  • Dark rye flour - "flour milled from the periphery of the grain, similar to the clear flour produced during the miller (sic.) of the wheat. It tends to be coarse and sandy, to absorb quite a lot of water, and in general is difficult to work with." Hamelman, J.. Bread. pp. 48 ff.

  • Rye flour – Generally whole grain rye more finely ground than pumpernickel

  • Medium rye flour – Some but not all of the germ and bran have been removed from the whole grain.

  • Light or White rye flour – Equivalent to all purpose or patent wheat flour. The bran and germ have been mostly, if not entirely, milled out of the rye berry.


 


In Europe, especially Northern Europe, a much wider range of rye flours is available, encompassing different grinds as well as a variety of percentages of bran and germ.

Rye flour that contains the oily germ (pumpernickel, dark and medium) spoils very quickly, so try to buy the freshest possible and store it in the freezer.


Rye flour used together with wheat flour


A small amount of rye – 5-10% of the total flour by weight – has a definite effect on the flavor of the bread. The distinctive flavor of the rye itself may not be noticed, yet the bread's overall flavor seems better. This may be due to the action of the amylases in rye releasing more sugars. This small addition of rye is what defines a French pain de campagne. These breads are often sourdoughs, but the rye may be added with the rest of the flour rather than as a rye sour. There is so little rye in the dough, that it's behavior during mixing and fermentation and its texture when baked may be indistinguishable from a purely wheat bread.


Breads containing up to 40% rye flour are usually called “rye bread.” Jewish Sour Rye (New York Rye, Deli Rye) is a familiar example. The rye flour is in a large enough proportion so that it is advisable to add all or most of it as a rye sour. There is enough rye so that a distinct rye flavor is tasted. However, there is enough wheat flour to provide gluten to form the kind of crumb we associate with wheat breads.


The dough in these breads will feel different during mixing, tending to be stickier. The temptation is to add more flour, but this should be resisted. When hand kneading sticky rye doughs, using rapid, light strokes - minimizing the time your hands are in contact with the dough - decreases the amount of dough that will stick to your hands. You may also find that wetting your hands with water or lightly oiling them helps.


Breads with over 50% rye flour are another story. All the special considerations due to the chemical differences in rye become more important as the proportion of rye increases.


 



I am now going to heed the wise words of hansjoakim. I am not going to work on this any more this weekend. I am going to bake some bread. And make sourdough waffles!


Comments? Questions? Witty remarks?


David


Addendum: I went ahead and edited the Rye Flour Handbook entry with the above material. I hope that's okay. <ducking in anticipation of thrown objects>


dms

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

This looks brilliant, David. Very nice job putting all these pieces together in a single document. I like how you communicate the many subtle properties of rye in a very clear and fluent manner!


I did a Google image search and found the following scan from what appears to be a Danish textbook on baking: http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/acid.png. I'm not sure if you think it's worth including, but at least it illustrates the resulting bread crumb in rye breads that are not sufficiently acidified. This shows how severely enzymes will affect the crumb during baking if they're not slowed down by lowering the pH. It's quite remarkable that gelatinization of the crumb in rye (53 - 64 degC) and wheat breads (63 - 79 degC) only differ by some degrees centigrade, yet this difference is so important when the bread is baked. Doughs containing more than 20% rye should be acidified! By the way, it could make for an interesting experiment to bake two rye breads side by side, one with sourdough included and the other without it (just rye, water, salt and commercial yeast). The loaf without sourdough would probably have a sticky crumb with large cracks near the top... Anyone up for it?? ;-)


Norway, where I come from, doesn't have the strong rye traditions that say Sweden, Finland, Denmark or Germany have. Many of the older, Norwegian baking books I've looked into on rye baking, have used various dairy products (e.g. yoghurt or buttermilk (translation?)) in combination with commercial yeast to produce rye loaves. This produces a satisfactory crumb, but many of the other benefits that stems from using a proper sour are not present in the final loaf (e.g. the nutritional benefits you mention, David).


Again, a great write-up, David!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'll look at the link you provided. At least for my own education.


It is hard to know where to stop when writing for an audience with such a range of experience and interest in a topic. I didn't want to give so much that it would scare off those thinking about baking rye bread for the first time.


Where additional, more detailed, information is available online, perhaps links can be appended to the section. Hmmm ... Sounds like a good idea to me.


David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I've read somewhere on the pages that outline the purpose of the handbook, that the document aims at being an "open source version of BBA". First of all, is this correct, or have I misunderstood the scope and purpose of the handbook?


I'm asking because I think that the handbook could be of greater value if the ambitions were slightly loftier! I have the impression that most of the loafers around these parts already have a bread baking book or two in their arsenal, and the last thing they need is "just another BBA". At least to me, lots of the topics under current discussion at TFL are at very advanced levels (which is tremendous and the reason that I keep returning to the site - to learn something new and read other bakers' experiences and experiments). Many of the threads are extensions of topics only touched upon in books like BBA. So, wouldn't it be more interesting/worthwhile to try to absorb content from such topics into a handbook? The recent discussion about sourdough and lactobacilli is just one of those threads that would make for extraordinary content, perhaps making for a handbook that could "bridge the gap" between the standardized home bread baking books and the cutting edge, scientific work that's going on? Another highly useful part of the handbook could be "Suggested further reading" (or similar) after each section, where links to textbooks, research papers etc. can be given.


I apologize for being a bit incoherent, but coming back to my first question: Is it really such a good idea to limit the scope of the book to BBA level of bread baking theory and techniques? If the audience of the handbook is mainly first-time bakers, then I certainly agree that this would be the correct level of detail. My impression is just that "another BBA" is not what the world needs now (at least not a handbook that runs the risk of being a "plagiarization" of BBA or Bread). There are some extraordinarily refined bakers at this site, that posess astonishing baking skills and baking knowledge. Why not try to exploit this in a handbook? Aren't there enough resources for the beginning baker already out there?

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Nice work, David!


You've covered the subject admirably, plus it's fun to read.


You've earned those waffles!


David 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Fried eggs with rye toast and cinnamon buns for breakfast this morning. But, now that I've earned them, SD waffles tomorrow for sure.


David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

So this is where the action is?   Great write up David!  I just now noticed the HANDBOOK in the tool bar after it was mentioned.  My computer was in the shop if anyone was wondering...


I'm not throwing any dough balls yet....  let me re-read it.  So far it make sense.  I like  the explainations of things.  I doesn't get  boggled down in detail that might turn a new baker away from baking, just includes the major cosiderations of rye and why it behaves the way it does.   I didn't know this information years ago.   I just worked with rye the hard way, trial and error, until it worked.  This can be very discouraging without knowing the basics.  Good information is good economics, less wasted flour!  Good for the personal learning curve too!


Mini


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You're one of my rye gurus, so your positive comments mean a lot to me.


The Handbook is meant to be a collective effort, so please contribute. You have so much knowledge and experience that would help others on their "personal learning curves."


David

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

You covered a huge amount of information in a light, concise style. Easy to read, understand and covered all the basics.


Nice job..as always


Betty


You're going to love those waffles. Try the batter for pancakes too!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I appreciate the feedback.


I'm really looking forward to the waffles. I have my starter refreshed and a quart of buttermilk in the fridge. I just have to decide which recipe to try first!


I've made SD pancakes a few times using AnnieT's recipe. I loved them, but I like waffles better than pancakes.


David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

More could be added to mixing and dough development.  Especially about the relationship of mixing to crumb size, how the mixing influences it.  


Wet mixing adding only half the flour to a recipe.  Making it smooth and then slowly adding the rest of the flour is essential to fine crumb.   It's an old method but still desired.


Mixing eveything together at once and just enough to develop the gluten, creates the large open crumb.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

As opposed to the Texas 2-step.


Hi, Mini.


Any thoughts about the 2-step flour addition that SteveB is playing with, in light of your suggestion?


David