The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Trouble in Rye Flour City

Bakequery's picture

Trouble in Rye Flour City

I am having a VERY BAD MORNING!  I make Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Bread all the time.  For the soaker I like to use bulgar.  Last night instead of going downstairs to my extra fridge to get my whole wheat flour I made my poolish with rye flour.  Did EVERYTHING else the same.  Used whole wheat bread flour for the rest of the dough this morning when I put it all together. 

Here is my problem:  I could not get a windowpane when I tested the gluten development.  I kneaded the freaking dough for over 30 minutes.  Forget the Kitchenaid, the dough hook just twirled around with the dough in the center.  The dough would NOT ball up. First I thought, okay, it's too wet, so I sprinkled in some flour: no ball.  Then I thought, not dry enough, so I sprinkled in some water: no ball.  Then I resorted to hand kneading, which was fun for the first 15 minutes, but I could not get a windowpane!!!  The dough started getting too dry since my kneading was drawing up so much flourat so I put it back in the Kitchenaide and sprinkled it with more water.  I kept scraping the sides down over and over until it I got the texture I am used to, then put it back out onto the board to knead some more.  NO WINDOWPANE.  Kneaded some more, dough got dry, put it back in Kitchenaid for more water, I went through this procedure twice.  No window pane.  (window PAIN!!! is more like it)

So here is the question:  Do you think the rye flour poolish significantly lowered the gluten content to make this dough behave like this?  Is there gluten in rye flour?  I thought there was.  Should I have added gluten to the formula when I added the rye flour?  If so, how much?  OR did I use too much bulgar, preventing the gluten strands from holding together?  I was using presoaked bulgar that I kept in the freezer in zip lock bags to pull out (my bulgar got wet by accident so I quick froze it) but I used that all up).  By the way, don't use amaranth - too crumbly and it pops out of the bread in the toaster.  It is possible that I put a bit more bulgar than usual.

I LOVE this bread and usually have no trouble baking it.  I make two loaves a week. We eat one and freeze one to use in a few days.  It slices well and freezes well, too.  I always enrich it with egg and oil  which helps to lighten it and keep it moist.

I have the 'freak' dough rising right now but am feeling very insecure.  The dough feels wonderful in terms of the moisture content, just not elastic like I am used to.

Your thoughts would be appreciated, especially if you bake with rye flour. 



JMonkey's picture

I make a whole wheat bread that's 40% Rye and the rye flour keeps it from windowpaning very well. I don't even try -- it's a big grey mess. Plus, the rye doesn't take well to lots of kneading -- if it's overkneaded it gets tremendously sticky.

Rye does contain gluten, but it's a small amount and is not the type of gluten that contributes to dough development, anyway. You may have overdeveloped the dough. If you want to make this bread again with rye, I'd recommend trying the no-knead approach.

Mix everything together until it's wet, and then let it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then fold it once every 30 minutes about three times. (Here's a link to a lesson on stretching and folding and here's a link to a great video lesson on the entire no-knead approach.) After that, just shape and let it rise.

pjkobulnicky's picture

 Lori ... rye is from another planet. It doesn't act human ... especially in those quantities. What you know as rye bread from jewish or german bakeries usually tops out at about 20% rye.  When you make a wheat bread with some rye in it, like any pan rustique, it has a whole heaping tablespoon per loaf.


If you do a high percentage of rye you need to incorporate some acid ... that is why most high percentage ryes are made with a natural starter that has been refreshed long and slow ... to bring out the acid.


You can too a lot of stuff into your favorite bread recipe and have it work out ... just not rye. We all have made batches of dough where we just tried stuff that eventually we wound up hiding in the compost bin.


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

JMonkey's picture

Heh ... that's a good way of putting it. I love light rye breads and, one of these days, I'm going to make a genuine pumpernickel. But you're right -- it sure isn't wheat.

Just to elaborate a bit, the reason you need acid in a bread that's got a high percentage of rye is that, without the acid to neutralize certain enzymes in the rye, these enzymes go crazy breaking starches down into sugars, which results in a pasty, gummy loaf that will never bake through. It's yucky. Sourdough acidifies the rye very nicely, but you can also add some vinegar or pickel juice to a yeasted dough, or so I've read.

Bakequery's picture

Hmmmm!  Who would have thunk!  I just weighed those loaves and I have two three pound loaves of dough.  That's how much flour it took me to figure out that the rye flour made me have an impossible task.  These loaves should only have weighed 18 ounces each .  Two cups of rye would mean....hmmm   a1:4 rye flour to whole wheat ratio.  I did leave the poolish out all night and then more yeast, flour, salt, etc., this morning. 

It was so freaky shaping these loaves!  I'm so used to bread with gluten additude!  In any case I had to retard the rise so will be popping them in the oven in about 90 minutes.   If they are horrible well at least they'll be healthy and make good toast, right?  I'm sure our dog, the BREAD THIEF, will eat them if no one else does.  He won't even know he's doing us a favor!  Heh heh!  Goldendoodle to the rescue!

Funny but now that I think about it I don't remember ever making rye bread in culinary school.  We made plenty of baquettes, dinner rolls, etc., but I can't recall any rye.  Hell, that was 30 years ago, who am I kidding?  Like I would remember? 


ehanner's picture

Welcome to the Club!

This is one of the lessons many of us have learned the hard way. I started with lean white breads, then tried a few 50/50 blends with malt and various wheat germ type flavor enhancers. Then one day just when I thought I was getting the hang of this baking thing I tried a 100% WW loaf. I must have thrown out 10 pounds of flour before I finally followed the stretch and fold instructions and abandoned the mixer.

So, welcome to the club, it's a big club and we are mostly a humble crew.


weavershouse's picture

My suggestion for RyeRYE IN LA CLOCHE AND NYT NO KNEADRYE IN LA CLOCHERYE IN LA CLOCHE RYE IN LA CLOCHE AND NYT NO KNEAD My suggestion for Rye is to bake it the NYT way under cover. I use 2 3/4 cup RYE BLEND FLOUR, 1 cup AP flour, 2 T wheat gluten, 1/4 tsp. yeast, 1 TBL. sea salt, 2 TBL. caraway seeds , 2 cups water and about 1/3 cup rye sourdough starter (sometimes refreshed, sometimes not). Mix it all together at night, let sit overnight. About 12 hrs. later turn out on floured board, stretch and fold once or twice. Rest another 20 min. shape and let rise in corn starched towel in long basket. Let rise 1 1/2 hr. Preheat to 450º with some kind of covered pot as suggested in instructions Jmonkey suggests above. Carefully turn into hot pot , slash, or not, cover. This scary/tense part does make me want to go lay down in a darkened room for a while!! Anyway, take off the lid after 25 min. bake for another 10-15 min. 

 This bread is always moist, tasty and almost 4 in. high. I add the rye starter for more flavor rather than just use the 1/4 tsp. yeast. It's heavy enough to have good body but not at all dry or crumbly. I think it's the covered cooker. I use a long cloche (part of which can be seen in the above photo) or a 4 1/2 qt. Le creuset oval pot. I always forget to measure the length of my rising dough and end up with too long of a loaf to put into the long clay pot. In my photos you can see the wrinkled ends of the loaf. The round loaf shown in one of the photos is a half AP, half whole wheat no-knead. Maybe this recipe doesn't have enough rye flour in it to suit those of you looking for closer to 100% rye but it works for us. We love it. Hope this helps a little. weavershouse

Elagins's picture

I made a couple of loaves of rye yesterday, using medium rye flour and 13% bread flour ... about 60% rye, of which half was in the form of a well-matured rye sour. Like yours, my dough hook just made a big cavity in the dough ... didn't ball, didn't gather and barely windowpaned. So I took the chance, turned it out on the board and let it ferment, which it did very nicely, doubling in about 1.25 hours. So I formed the loaves, baked them at 450 for about 40 minutes and came up with a really lovely sour rye that reminds me of what the Jewish bakers of my youth called 'corn bread' ... moist, chewy, very tasty.

So no worries about the windowpaning ... the gluten in the wheat flour does its work.