The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Rye

inlovewbread's picture

First Rye

I've been baking my way through Hamelman's "Bread". Sometimes I don't always go in order- and right now, I'm stuck on the Sourdough Rye section. I decided to go with the "80% Rye with a Rye-Flour Soaker" (page 213) instead of starting with the first (40%) rye of the chapter. I deviated from the formula a bit as I baked a single pullman loaf instead of the 2 free-form loaves specified. I'm not afraid to shape rye- actually, I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like...but I do like the look of a pullman loaf. Same way I'm attracted to Volvo's, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and cubism. Seems strong to me, nice lines, and perfect with a strong flavor like rye. If I bake all my future loaves in the pullman pan though, my posts would get very (or even more)boring.... However, my pullman pan was my Christmas gift and I intend to put it to good use :-)

I think this formula was a good starting point. I was going for experience with this loaf, but also to gain a sort of base-line. I want to eventually get to a high-percentage rye that is sweet (with the sweetness coming from the rye itself), very moist, dense and chewy. I'd also like it to include rye chops, cracked rye or whole rye berries as in Vollkornbrot- but I haven't found a good source for any of these yet. I do have Triticale- which genetically is 1/2 Rye. I was thinking of using this in place of rye berries or chopped rye. Not sure- anyone else tried it?

To confess, I have not had rye before. But the pictures in Hamelman's "Bread" of rye loaves were enough to draw me in.

I was pleased with the flavor and crumb of the bread, but not the crust. It was too hard and had to be cut off. Luckily that was easy because of the square shape! Maybe because I baked in in the pullman- the baking times could have been off, and like I said, this was my first try at rye. Crust aside though- this bread was nice.

Moving forward in the chapter, I'd like to try the 3-Stage Detmolder method- to satisfy my sourdough science nerd side I suppose. Sourdough cultures fascinate me, and I'd like to try this method and see what each stage is like. If you are not familiar with this method- basically it's building up your rye sour 3 times to bring about different aspects of the rye sourdough flavor by favoring each cultures preferred growth conditions. Really fun stuff. 

So here's my first rye loaf, waiting- waiting and waiting- wrapped in linen for the full 24 hours before being cut into:

And here's the loaf:

Not the best picture, I know. The holes are from "docking" the loaf as per a recommendation on another TFL thread about rye. I can't remember which one, I've read most, if not all of them recently. I wanted to avoid a hole in the crumb so I docked it. I don't know if it was necessary or not.

I'm looking for any and all comments on rye here. Any suggestions, favorite ryes, good rye for a pullman pan? Anything anyone has to say on the subject appreciated. 

Happy Baking


nicodvb's picture

to soften the crust keep the bread in a plastic bag and close it; after 1 day it will be already much softer.

I really love this kind of bread and I don't mind about the boring shape ;)

ehanner's picture


Your first rye looks great to me. I have baked a lot of rye breads in the last few years and still consider myself a complete novice in this area. The results are so different from wheat breads that all of the visual cues need to be kept in context when you work the formula. I am just starting to think about using a pullman pan and am anxiously waiting  arrival of one I ordered from KA. So far, most of my rye breads have been free form or banneton proofed with the occasional pan bread.

One suggestion I can give is that you take the time to carefully read the side bars in all of the rye section in Bread. Especially the Horst Bandle bread. The use of old bread is an important method to understand and use. Take some of that first rye and set it aside for your next batch as "Altus" or "Old Bread". For me, building flavor is job one and understanding how to use old bread is a key ingredient. Drying and toasting seeds brings out a much improved flavor. The same is true of old bread.

I might also say that rye could be an acquired taste. It might be better to start by baking loaves with 40% rye and spices like caraway. Most people seem to enjoy these breads. Once you learn to enjoy the full flavor and learn to handle the lower percent and harder to handle rye combination's, the path to higher percent rye breads will be more clear.

If you look at hansjoakim's blogs, you get an idea of what is possible with rye and whole grain breads. I look forward to seeing how you progress through Bread. You certainly started strong.


ADDED BY EDIT: Did you happen to see this post? yozzause made a nice full flavor free form rye loaf that I'll bet would be easy to get the family enjoying that and is a little more mainstream than the high % breads in JH book. Just a thought.

inlovewbread's picture

Thanks Eric for the response. Your information is much appreciated. 

I did see the yozzause post- looks good. Did he add 2 eggs? Interesting. 

I was looking at Reinhart's formula on WGB for Pumpernickel and Vollkornbrot today. I may move on to those or I might go for the Swedish Rye here.

And yes, I have seen hansjoakim's blogs- his breads are incredible. I printed out his most recent entry to try. 

I still have a lot to learn with rye. It may take a while but I think that will be the fun of it- to have many variations to experiment with. I mostly want to get a handle on it because of the intense history associated with the bread and rye itself. I find it meaningful to taste and feel the breads that other people groups through history have been making for centuries.

Also, I took a look through your blog- (nice work!) and will probably take you up on your suggestion to lower the % of rye on my next attempt and work up from there. I may try your 40% rye- looks so good. Do you think anise seed would be good in place of caraway? There's no way my family will eat caraway...

Anyway, thanks again for the help.