The Fresh Loaf

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My rye bread tastes very bland.

Mira's picture

My rye bread tastes very bland.


I'm very new to bread baking.  I've started two sourdough starters, in the meantime, I'm practising with commercial yeast.  Yesterday I made a rye bread recipe from James Peterson's "Baking" book.  The wet dough was very difficult to work.  The final product looked nice, but it tasted very bland. I'm wondering if there was enough salt in the recipe, or if there is something else I should be adding?  The recipe called for:


2 1/2 cups organic rye flour

2 1/2 cups AP flour

2 cups plus 1 TB barely warm water

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

Half of the flour plus water and yeast is made into a sponge and the salt is incorporated into the sponge (very different from some other recipes online that call for salt to be added after).  I realize because the recipe doesn't give weight measurements (my one criticism of this otherwise helpful book), I may have added too much flour.  But is there another reason why my bread tasted bland?  I'm disappointed but didn't expect my first attempt at rye to be perfect:)  It was good practice for me to try the stretch and fold method that I learned from Reinhart's book...I just wish it had more flavour!

Thank you,



nicodvb's picture


the fermentation time is crucial to the development of flavor. In a mixed bread I prepare a preferment with all the rye flour, equal weight of water and some starter, then I let it rest for at least 12 hours, but in many cases even 1 day. It's a long process, but it's well worth the wait.

Flavor develops during fermentation, so up to a certain point the more the better.

jyslouey's picture

with black and white sesame seeds.  My recipe uses 200 bread flour, 180 AP flour and 120 rye. I made this once before and I too found it rather bland even with the sasame seeds.  I'm making this again tomorrow and like you, I've recently started using PR's stretch and fold method. My only concern is that its very warm here in HK and the dough may start to rise during the 10 mins rest between folds.  

jyslouey's picture

with black and white sesame seeds.  My recipe uses 200 bread flour, 180 AP flour and 120 rye. I made this once before and I too found it rather bland even with the sasame seeds.  I'm making this again tomorrow and like you, I've recently started using PR's stretch and fold method. My only concern is that its very warm here in HK and the dough may start to rise during the 10 mins rest between folds.  

amolitor's picture

I think 1tsp salt seems very light for 5 cups of flour. Are you sure it doesn't call for a tablespoon?


mrfrost's picture

Many breads have a pretty good amount of sugar(or some type of sweetener), even if the bread is not thought of being particularly sweet.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for more stretch and flavor.  (Meaning add some acid like a teaspoon of 5% vinegar per 100g rye or 1/4 cup unsweetened yogurt into the dough liquids until the sourdough is going strong.)  

Walnuts go good with rye.  Fold them in after you've mixed up your dough.  Especially helpful when using a new rye starter.   There are also spices you can add.

1/2 teaspoon of salt for 1 cup of flour would be 2% roughly of the flour weight.  I tend to use a little less.  So with 5 cups of flour you should be using between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2  teaspoons of regular table salt depending on your tastes.

All breads improve in flavor when the crusts are allowed to brown well.  A famous Loafer once said  "If you think it's done, give it 5 more minutes!"


jyslouey's picture

After spending many hrs toiling over the dough, the outcome was disappointing to say the least.  I put in in the fridge for 12 hrs, 2 hrs out of the fridge to cool down and another 1 hr 30 mins proofing after shaping.. There was not much rise and the crumb was dense and slightly cakey *sigh*  Next time I'll try leaving it out to rise in room temp and see if there's any improvement.




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Looks good as far as the crumb goes!  The shape is also going well.  I think it should have stayed in the oven another 15 minutes to brown and crispen up the crust.  It looks steamed or baked in a slow oven!  What temperature is the bake?  Get it up to 220°C for the first 10 minutes (yes it will start turning brown) rotate the loaf and then turn it down to 210° or even 200°C for the rest of the bake.

I see you also have a mini oven  :)  :)  :)

My son just finished off a wheat/rye/hemp/sourdough (with "bread spice") and wants more...  Loves the crunch!  If the seeds have the crunchy outside hull, it will crunch for a week!  He compares the taste somewhat to sunflower seeds (only he doesn't eat sunflower seeds > they don't crunch!)


jyslouey's picture

for your kind words and encouragement.  I agree that it could have stayed in the oven a little longer.  I baked it at 200C but you're right, I could have started at s slightly higher temp to start with and reduce to 200C after 15 mins or so.  I even sprayed water and another pan of water at the bottom of the oven.  I noticed tht there wasn't much steam when I poured water into the pan, probably oven not hot enough.  I still have half of the flour mixture left frin the 500 grms of flour that I meausred out and ended up using only half.  I'm going to get it right next time.  It can also do with a little more sasame oil.  I bought some walnut oili today. I may try adding this instead of sesame oil.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I do have another smaller toaster oven for heating up breads that comes out of the fridge.  I am amazed that you spotted that :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think next time I will let water boil in the bottom before I add the dough to the oven.  I was testing out a new mini oven.  (A dry run?) I scored the top but it split around the loaf like a yo-yo and the scoring didn't open one wee bit which means the top was too dry and set up too fast. (More steam!)  I could have sprayed the dough surface with water too.  I thought with such a small oven the steam from the bread would stay inside the oven with no extra water needed.  Na ya,  interesting bread shape.  (and crunchy)  My score looks like a hot cross bun with a dark cross.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

Mini, I enjoy following your posts, learning as I go from your gentle, accurate advice. My rye baking - something I have stayed away from for more than twenty years, largely due to what I perceived as an unreasonable obsessiveness on some sites discussing rye - is much improved as a result. Now you've provided the best word for a home baker such as myself. I do believe I will refer to myself as a "Loafer" from now on. Thanks!

amauer's picture

caraway adds a lot of flavor to rye. But of that is not the type of rye you are going for, I add molassess/and or brown sugar to my sweet ryes. I am interested in learning more about fermentation of rye for breads. Andrea

hanseata's picture

German, Austrian and Swiss rye/wheat breads are usually seasoned with a mix of caraway, fennel, anise and coriander. These are even sold as "bread spices". If you put them together (in equal parts) in a spice mill, a few turns are enough to give your bread enough depth without being noticeable.

And using those is definitely healthier than adding just more salt or sweetener.


YeastyBob's picture

The following link is to an excellent loaf of rye, a New York Sour Rye. I had tried 10-15 different recipes befor finding this one. I did get better results when I doubled the salt. You will need a mixer with dough hook to handle the dough but WOW is is good.


Good luck

YeastyBob's picture

In addition to increased salt I added a touch of olive oil and baked in loaf pans as my wife likes soft crust & oil also helps it keep longer.

paulav's picture

Mira,  Here is a very tasty rye bread recipe that I've recently had success with- but, as is my MO, I had to add a few touches of my own.  Other notes on rye: most breads develop a richer, more complex flavor with a preferment, as someone else had suggested earlier;  rye dough will always feel stickier than white; it needs a little less mix time and the loaves can be enhanced further with 1 or 2 Tbsp of molasses, or you can add raisins- also a good compliment.  Hope this helps,  paulav

Deli-Style Rye Bread

"Bread Baking An Artisan's Perspective" by Daniel DiMuzio/PV Rev

 Mix together; cover and let ferment overnight:

180g      Rye flour

144g      Water

    9g      Levain or * favorite starter

Separately, cover and leave to soak overnight:

* 20g    Caraway seeds

* ¼ cup  Boiling water


520g    White bread flour

200g    Rye flour

* 2 Tbsp Cocoa powder (unsweetened)

* 1-2 Tbsp Vital wheat gluten

468g    Water

18g       Salt

5g        Yeast

324g    Rye sour preferment

* Caraway seeds (including liquid)

Mix 3 minutes on first speed, then 3-4 minutes on second speed.  (Rye mixes for much less time than all-white dough)

Bulk ferment for 45-60 minutes.

Scaling:  3 small loaves or 2 large boules.  Allow 10 minutes pre-shape relaxing.

Proofing:  Proof seam-side down in baskets or pans for 45-60 minutes at 80° with humidity.  (Rye can proof more quickly than other dough, so check early)

Baking:   Bake at 400-425° convection; score lightly and place in the pre-heated oven with ample steam.

After 10 minutes of baking, reduce heat by 25°.  Adjust oven temperature to achieve the correct bake in 35-45 minutes.  Shorter bake times tend to leave too much moisture in the loaves and will soften the crust.

Cool on a wire rack.

* Revisions/additions to original recipe

grind's picture

I'm no rye expert but I think rye flour is bland without souring it with a starter.  I've tried something similar to your recipe and was really disappointed.  It tasted a bit like grass to me.  Then I read that rye flour reaches its full potential only with souring.  Good luck, Tony.


Sorry, I think what I posted is redundant.  I just reread the thread and noticed the rye sour in another post.  Oopps.

venkitac's picture

5 cups of flour => not enough salt? 5 cups of flour weigh anywhere from 550 to 650 grams. At 1.8%-2% salt, you want about 10-13 grams of salt for that much flour. You seem to have used only 5 grams?

Mira's picture

Wow, thank you so much for all of your helpful suggestions! I followed Peterson's recipe exactly because I'm not at that confident, experienced stage of knowing how to modify a recipe.  But definitely I will do a long fermentation next time and will add more salt.  I have thought about adding malt but I couldn't find it in the grocery store...don't even know what it looks like, and wondering if I should go to a beer making store..

Thanks YeastyBob for your NY Sour Rye recipe, and PaulaV for your rye bread recipe with weights instead of volume measurements. I will try one of these next time...I didn't know of the complexities of baking with rye, I just wanted to try because my father loves rye bread and I'd love to bake some for him:)

I'm grateful to have found this wonderful forum:)


Porkbutter's picture


Yes, definitely get malt at a beer making store (home brew shop). They will have exactly what you need. The dry malt powder is easiest to measure and to store than the syrup.