The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading rye?

nicodvb's picture

Kneading rye?

I need advice on how to best treat rye flour for the preparation of rye bread.
First of all let me explain what I do. I regularly prepare a 100% rye bread: 30% of the flour is in the sourdough, 30% is in the hot soaker (where rye is coarsely chopped) and 40% in the last dough.
Dough idratation is 80%.
I don't use anything else than water, rye, sourdough and salt, thus no yeast, no added gluten, no coloring, no sugars, no malt etc. Overall no shortcuts and no tricks.
Cooking was a problem in the past but now it's solved. Taste is excellent, but there's still a problem with consistence: the inside comes out a bit irregular and crumby like this:

not as regular as this one (the best rye bread I ever tried)

I know there's almost no gluten to develop, so -at least on theory- kneading extensively would likely do more harm than good, but I read everything and its contrary in recipes: some say to knead extensively (20-30 minutes), others say to knead just enough to give some consistence to the dough.
I always knead with hands wet in warm water for little time.
Would a kneading machine work the dough better, maybe for longer time?

I'd like to read your advices and your experiences in this regard: knead for long or for short time, by hand or in a robot? what would be the advantage of an extensive kneading?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The first loaf link looks too pale to me and cut too early or cut using a serrated knife it was also covered the entire time in the oven.  Not pretty.  The inside crumb gives me the impression it was worked too long something is keeping the moisture from moving back to the crust.   The second link has better color and more whole grains.  It is also dryer as a dough.  It browned more and deeper.  My 100% rye has a little bit more moisture.

I like to mix my dough with a spatula now days and not touch it.  I let it sit mixed up for half an hour, some say autolyse step can be skipped.  I think not.  Then I work the edges in with the spatula into the middle in a folding kind of exercise adding more water if it needs it.   I may play with it for as long as 5 minutes.  Line a pan with parchment and squish it all in.  Cover the top with oiled plastic and let it slowly rise.  The plastic wrap has the advantage that you can check on the loaf by resting your entire hand on the dough to feel the density of the dough.  When it feels like it's ready, 3 or more hours later, uncover, wet a bamboo saté stick, toothpick or knitting needle and poke holes into the loaf deeply at close but decorative intervals.  This will pop any big bubbles trying to form caverns in the dough.

Extensive kneading of rye dough will break what little structure your sourdough has created so be gentle and not forceful with it.  If you use a scalded flour recipe, then some kneading is used to blend the dough together but only in the first 10 minutes of mixing.  Too little hydration in the recipe leads to forceful kneading, something to be avoided.


nicodvb's picture

Thanks Mini,
your remarks and advices are always precious to me!