The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

rye flour

jgonyo's picture

rye flour

I have been making my first attempts at rye bread. The recipe calls for medium rye, but the only rye flour I can find is stone ground rye. Would the stone ground rye cause a difference in the final outcome of my rye bread? My loaves have not been rising properly, and have had a cakey consistency.


Thanks for any advice.

sphealey's picture

In the United States there is no consistency of naming among the various types of rye flour among manufacturers. You can order a rye flour with the same name from three different suppliers and get three wildly different products.

And every baking cookbook will have an authoratative statement about what the different names mean complete with pictures - which generally traces back to the author's preferred supplier's types.

What I have found:

  • Note that stone grinding is a technique; all of the flours described can be created with grinding stones, grinding rollers, hammermills, etc.
  • Dark rye flour is the whole rye grain, including the hull (= bran in wheat language), ground to a flour grind.
  • Medium rye flour is rye ground to a flour grind, with some percentage of the hull removed
  • Light rye flour is rye ground to a flour grind with much or all of the hull removed
  • Pumpernickel can vary all over the map. In Germany I believe it refers to a very coarse grind with whole rye particles about 1/16" in diameter. In the US it can range from whole rye berries whacked with a stick, to the German type, to a coarser-than-dark but still flour grind.

I have not found much difference between dark and medium flour when used in recipes. Note that recipes have to be rye-specific, or modified for rye, because rye flour does not behave as wheat flour does. (I found Levy's Rye in The Bread Bible a good starting point).

If you are using a rye-specific recipe, I would consider that you might have a bad batch.

If you can afford the shipping charges, an interesting thing to do is order one package each of Bob's Red Mill medium, organic dark, pumpernickel, and cracked rye and see how they compare. You can also compare to King Arthur's dark and pumpernickel.

Good luck and good rye bread.


ejm's picture

I always wondered what the differences were between dark, medium, light ryes. Many thanks for the outline.

I have been using dark rye flour in the rye breads I've been making only because dark rye is the only rye flour I could find. I've always added some wheat flour to any of the rye breads I've made.

I haven't had the nerve to try making a 100% rye bread. I find low gluten and gluten-free flours to be a bit difficult (and I love kneading so they're not nearly as fun to make... :-))   


lsume's picture

What I've found is that King Arthur Medium rye flour works best with equal parts of bread flour and about two tablespoons of wheat gluten and two tablespoons of dough enhancer.  My issue is the price of King Arthur Medium Rye flour and it's shipping cost.  I would really appreciate someon who has used the King Arthur brand and has found a suitable substitute for significantly less cost.  I made the mistake of ordering a large amount of a brand claiming to be medium rye and ended up throwing it away.  It was far to coarse.  I must also add that I put 2 tablespoons of caraway seed powder in each loaf of my rye.  I buy the caraway seed by the pound and then use my PTO KitchenAid flour mill to break the seed down to a powder.  That saves a lot of money.  I've made rye with sour cream and also with dill pickle juice and both tasted great.  However, I prefer my plain rye bread with the powdered  caraway seed.


please get back to me about an equitable substitute for the King Arthur medium rye.

ode's picture



If you would post your recipe (or a url if that's available), maybe we can help more specifically.  

You mention that your loaves have not been rising properly.  Remember that rye flour does not develop gluten and getting loaves of rye bread to rise entails some baking magic.  Generally, it involves using a percentage of wheat flour and/or using soakers and/or preferments such as sourdough, poolish or biga.  

The recipes I use tend to call for roughly 2:1 ratios of wheat flour (unbleached white and/or whole wheat) to rye flour, and the use of either a wheat or rye sourdough starter.  

Good luck, and keep baking.  


petpaint's picture

My family has been passing a Swedish rye bread recipe to one girl in each generation for- well-ever. I was the recipient of this honor when I was 10. Now, 30 years later its my responsibility to make it for Thanksgicing and Christmas. This tradition is in jeopardy. Swedish rye bread CANNOT be made with stone ground rye flour. It looks like bugs and tastes terrible. Can anyone tell me where to find light or medium rye flour? I will travel or purchase in bulk because its my job to pass the tradition on. I don't want to be the one to watch it die. Roxie

sphealey's picture

Bob's Red Mill have a bran-free light rye flour that you can order in amounts from 10 oz to 25 lb.

Both BRM and King Arthur's customer service departments have been exceptionally helpful when I have contacted them with product search questions of this type as well (they have each referred me to the other for specific products in fact).


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I don't know where you are, so all I can offer is generalaties.


If you know someone who owns a restaurant, they can order 50 lb sacks of medium rye flour for you through their food suppliers.  I used to get Conagra's Ramsey (or Ramsay) medium rye in 50 pound sacks for about $15.00, if memory serves.

If you have any bakeries in town, ask them if you can buy some flour.  Most bakeries are very supportive of home bakers.  Even if they don't use medium rye flour, chances are they can be persuaded to order some for you.  The clinchers - offer to put down a deposit so they won't worry that you'll order and not pick up, and offer them some of your Swedish rye bread.  Most bakers are very interested in trying different breads.

If you are in a larger town, many food service companies have store fronts that welcome walk-in trade,  And they might have, and can certainly get, medium rye flour.


Good luck,  and please tell us if, and how, you find your medium rye,



dmpcmom's picture

I,too, have inherited the responsibility of making my grandma's Swedish rye recipe for my family.  Only I've been doing it successfully for over 25 years.  Up until about 5 years ago I used Pillsbury's Medium Rye.  But they have since stopped making it (lack of sales).  I have tried in vain to find a replacement.  I've ordered from internet graneries, bought from bulk food stores, health food stores.  I even called Pillsbury and begged them to make it again--if only at Christmas time.  Of course, they would not just on my request. I'm very discouraged, also, but keep trying.  I think I remember buying from King Arthur flour before.  It was several years ago, but I am going to order a package again.  I know it won't be EXACTLY like grandma used to make, but if it is close (and if I remember correctly, it was the closest one I've tried), I will reply again to this and let you know.  Good luck to you. dmpcmom

suave's picture

It seems that Pillsbury sold it flour business to General Mills and they produce medium rye flour under their brand name:

of course it seems that it only comes in 50# bags and only distributed through bakery supply outlets.

ehanner's picture

I buy White Rye from King Arthur in 3 pound bags. This is exceptional flour and I use it as a flavor enhancer in all my white AP breads as well as my rye mixes. Just a Tablespoon of white rye in an AP french mix makes a big difference in flavor. Not knowing about your Swedish recipe or how it is supposed to turn out I can't say if it would be a suitable substitute but it seems likely to be close.

Would you post the recipe for us to try?


dmpcmom's picture

For Roxie, I finally got my King Arthur flour and made the Swedish rye recipe with it.  It is not as good as the Pillsbury brand was, but it is the closest I've found.  If you haven't tried it yet, give it a try.  If you've found something you like, please pass it on.  Have a very Merry Christmas.    dmpcmom

harrygermany's picture


ode wrote:
"You mention that your loaves have not been rising properly.  Remember that rye flour does not develop gluten and getting loaves of rye bread to rise entails some baking magic.  Generally, it involves using a percentage of wheat flour and/or using soakers and/or preferments such as sourdough, poolish or biga."

To bake a rye bread you can use 100% rye flour. No wheat needed. The resulting loaf will not be as fluffy as a wheat bread.
Just remember that rye always needs some acid to work while baking.
Normaly one uses sourdough for that purpose. Poolish or biga will not do. They are not acidic.
Soakers besides sourdough are fine.

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