The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

white rye

varda's picture

Today I went back to Andy's Pain au Levain with Light Rye which I made last spring.  At the time I didn't know there was a difference between light rye and white rye.   I know it now, but I still have access only to White, so that's what I used again.    This bread acted like a balloon all through the preparation - I was very careful not to puncture it, and quite worried that it would deflate instead of rise in the oven, but it didn't.   Just spring and more spring. 

When it was time to shape, I didn't really - it's hard to shape a balloon -  just kind of pressed it a little and then folded it up and flipped into a lined basket.   I didn't think it would score, so I just ran my razor over some lines that had opened up during proof.   So not a tidy bread.  

After it came out of the oven, the sun was out and it was sort of pretend warm, so I took it outside to photograph.   When it hit the colder air, the loaf started singing like crazy.   I set it on the table and a hawk flew overhead.   I wasn't fast enough to catch it on the wing, but then it settled down in an oak to rest.

Then walked back through the garden, which is looking more like a garden in waiting this time of year.

My oven is waiting too it seems.   When will it be spring?

Didn't have to wait long to cut into the bread though, as it cooled quickly what with its trip outside.


varda's picture

Since I got back from vacation my starter has been on rest and recuperation.   We were lucky to miss the hurricane by being in another state, but it still came through here (downgraded to tropical storm) and killed the power for at least some period of time, which made my already neglected starter even unhappier.   I've been baking a lot since I got back and it's been just edible but improving with each bake.  Today, I had a well fed starter ready to go and looking happy, but I really wanted to bake outside to see if I could get a nice burst on the hot WFO floor to make up for my troubles.   It was close to raining and most of my wood was wet from a downpour last night, so things didn't look very promising, but I decided to do it anyhow.   I mixed up a mostly white dough with a touch of white rye and prayed for no rain, scrounging around for wood that wasn't soaked all the way through.    I just managed to get the oven up to temperature with the dry wood that I had, and got my bread baked before it started raining for real.   I've got to stop living on the edge like this :)

 The crumb opened up and I managed to get at least some opening of the scores by using a steam pan in the WFO for the first time.    

The new look comes from my Indian or whatever basket. 

And following Sylvia's example (if not cooking talent) I threw a pan of potatoes and onions into the oven after the bread baked, so as not to waste the heat.  


White Rye50 508%
Rye 771%
Salt12 121.9%
Starter250  23%



Mix all but salt.   Autolyze for 50 minutes.   Add salt and mix for several minutes.    Bulk Ferment for 2 hours with 1 counter full stretch out until very thin.    Shape into boule and place upside down in basket.   Proof for 2 hours.   Bake in WFO (around 650F floor temperature) for 25 minutes.  Remove and cool. 

varda's picture

Recently Andy posted on his Pain Au Levain with Light Rye.  His formula was quite similar to something I had tried awhile ago with a major difference: the percentage of fermented flour, which was more than double what I had used (33.3% rather than 16%).   I decided to try Andy's approach.  I followed his directions with the following differences: I used my own idiosyncratic methods for refreshing starter mostly in the refrigerator,   scaled to half of his formula and made a single 1Kg batard,  reduced salt to 1% of flour so that my husband could eat it,  and retarded for 12 hours in addition to a 2.5 hour bulk ferment and combined (evening and morning) counter proof of 2.5 hours.   Finally, not having access to either of Andy's flours, I used KAAP and KA White Rye.  The profile of the resulting loaf was quite similar (and Mt. Vesuvius-like) to my earlier efforts and quite different from Andy's more miche-like structure.  

What took me totally by surprise though was the crumb.   While my earlier sour doughs with white rye had a certain density which allowed me to cut very thin slices without smashing the loaf, this one was lighter than air, and I had to cut even thick slices very carefully to keep from tearing apart the loaf:

Also, using the leave in the oven for 10 minutes with the door slightly propped open trick which Andy suggested for this loaf (and I've used with absolutely no success on many occasions) I got a nice singing crackly crust.

This is the first time I've tried to follow one of Andy's formulas, but certainly not the last.   Delicious!

varda's picture

After struggling with several formulae which never seem to come out right, I decided to change things up a bit.   First, I completely changed my starter routine.   Second I found myself at the counter with an empty mixing bowl and no idea of what I was going to make, so I made something up.   I'm not that good at computing percentages in my head, so I kept it simple, basically going with a fairly simple sourdough, but swapping in some white rye.   The results were less than stellar - the loaf exploded in the oven - basically jumping to around three times its unbaked height.  The second time all seemed well in the oven but halfway through, suddenly it slipped a gasket and a huge cancerous growth leaped out the side, almost as big as the mother loaf.    The third time, I could probably have waited another half hour on the final proof but it was way past my bedtime.   It may have opened too much but it didn't explode, so I call that a victory. 

The addition of white rye (which incidentally Hamelman says is not fit for bread baking) makes some pretty interesting but subtle changes in taste an texture.   My husband, who generally will only eat a slice or so of my more obviously rye breads eats this as if it were an all white bread which I guess it is.  The crumb is denser than a lower percentage rye sourdough, you can cut extremely thin slices without tearing the loaf, but still quite open.  

In general, the taste is such that I wouldn't mind having this as my everyday loaf.  

One of the things I've been working really hard at is trying to control the temperature of my dough.   I came upon a very simple method.   I take a pot and fill it with very hot water directly from the sink, and put the lid on upside down.   Then set the bowl or proofing basket on top of it.   I replace the water after the second stretch and fold as by then it has cooled down a bit.   I have found that I can maintain dough temperature in the mid 70s F by using this method.    Even so I still underproofed because it just seems to take so long to ferment this dough all the way through.   Here is my set up:

Finally the formula - simple but good if you throw in a little patience:



Final Dough











White Rye/Dark Rye






























Total grams/ estimated pounds







Autolyse flour and water for 20 minutes.   Mix in salt and starter.   Bulk Ferment for 3 hours with three stretch and folds.  Proof for AS LONG AS IT TAKES.   Bake at 450F with steam for first 15 minutes, without for 17 minutes.

varda's picture


Over the last year I have been trying to make a Rye bread called Tzitzel, which I remember from a bakery in my home town - University City, Missouri.  The bakery is still there and still makes Tzitzel, but as I don't have much (any) reason to go back to U. City, I figured I'd better learn how to make it myself.  After many attempts, I finally felt that I managed to make a respectable Jewish Rye with a nice crust and flavor but it still didn't taste anything like the Tzitzel I remembered.   Recently I took advantage of the brief free shipping period at King Arthur, and ordered White Rye and Sir Lancelot flour, neither of which I'd baked with before.   I tried making Jewish Rye with these two flours instead of Hodgson's Mill Stone Ground Rye and King Arthur Bread Flour.   I started to feel I was onto something despite the fact that the white rye flavor was much too mild, and the loaves puffed up like a white flour wheat loaf, which is very un-Tzitzel-like.   Today I tried again with a rye sour made with 2/3 white rye and 1/3 Arrowhead Mills organic rye, which is a whole rye flour, but much less gritty than Hodgson's Mills.   This time, the shape (broad and squat) flavor and texture were much more on target.   So now I have one more thing to add to my long list of baking lessons that I've learned this year - the flour matters.   If I want to get any closer to the original Pratzel's tzitzel, I am going to have to find out what kind of flour they use, and that's that.


Kroha's picture

Light (white) vs. dark (whole) rye flour -- what are the differences aside from nutrition?

April 23, 2010 - 5:17pm -- Kroha

I baked Dan Lepard's Whole Grain Rye today.  It includes whole-rye sourdough starter (80%), whole rye berries (160%), and light rye flour (100%).   Also, some salt and optional yeast, which I used because my starter was over-ripe.   I am not sure how it came out because it has to sit for 48 hours before I cut into it, but my question is -- how would the loaf change if I substituted whole rye flour for light rye flour? 

Thank you!


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