The Fresh Loaf

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Dark Mild sweet rye bread - old old recipe!

bakingfears's picture

Dark Mild sweet rye bread - old old recipe!

Hello! All!  My name is Jennifer!  I posted this a few yeas ago and I'm still looking for answers! 

My grandmother's recipe brought me here today. I have made this several times and it always turns out "ok."  No one else has taken over the baking of this beloved bread so my so-so version has been going on for many years now.  It has wonderful flavor, but always turns out a little dry.  So we slice it, toast it, and with butter it's delicious!!! It's wonderfully chewy and moist and sweet.  The aroma is incredible.  But I remember when grandma made it we could eat plain slices and make sandwiches and not be forced into toasting it. 

The thing is, the recipe doesn't say how much white flour!  Just "add flour until you have a stiff dough" and then "add flour if it's too sticky.  It's not even listed as an ingredient.  It's sooooo sticky and then I add maybe too much flour?  I know there's some sort of math I can do to calculate the amount I need so that it's not a big guessing game but I'm a little lost as to how to figure that out with the overwhelming amount of info out there.   Someone posted a calculation a few years ago but they seemed unsure about it. 

I'd love to hear any and all tips on working with this kind of recipe.  And it's amazing satisfying slightly dense bread that is so versatile.  Delicious toasted with coffee, and also the slight sweetness is amazing with savory sandwiches.  It's as follows:

Rye Bread AKA Grandma Bread (3 loaves)

2 cups rye flour

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup molasses

3 tsp salt

1 heaping teaspoon Anise seed

2 envelopes dry yeast

4 cups boiling water


1) Measure rye flour, shortening into a large bowl.  Mix well with a large spoon.

2) Add 4 cups boiling water, stirring while adding water.

3) Add salt, sugar, molasses, anise seed, and stir.  Let cool to warm (room temp).

4) Add yeast, which has been dissolved in warm water.  Mix well.

5) Stir in white flour - mix well to make a stiff dough.

6) Turn out on floured surface. Knead 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding enough flour to keep dough from sticking.

7) Place in greased large bowl.  Let rise in warm place until double in size.  Form into three loaves and let rise until double in size.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

idaveindy's picture

"It has wonderful flavor, but always turns out a little dry. So we slice it, toast it, and with butter it's delicious!!! It's wonderfully chewy and moist and sweet."

You seem to be saying two different things... first, it's too dry, so you then _toast_ it (which doesn't make sense to me).

Then, _affer_ toasting, it's on the chewy and moist side. Which also doesn't make sense.


How much white flour have you been using in this? With 4 cups water, and only 2 cups rye flour, you could be adding up to 6 or more cups of white flour.

What _kind_ of white flour are you adding? White rye or white wheat?


I'm also guessing that something got written down wrong along the way, because 1 cup brown sugar _and_ 1 cup molasses seems wrong for 3 or 4 loaves.  That sounds more like a dessert than a bread.

Also, is the molasses light, regular, or blackstrap?


The next possible misunderstanding is the _type_ of rye flour: light/white rye flour, medium rye flour, whole rye flour, or medium grind rye meal, or coarse grind rye meal.

Sean of the Bread's picture
Sean of the Bread (not verified)

Seems not so different from a Borodinsky bread albeit yeasted with a pinch of your grandmother's own method thrown in. I'm assuming while you have your grandmother's recipe it's more of a basic pointer and it lacks your grandmother's touch and what turned it into a great bread cannot be written down as she went by how the dough felt and looked. I agree with Dave and one cup molasses sounds like an awful lot. 

How about taking a Borodinsky recipe and instead of using sourdough starter just start at the scald. When the scald has been left for the right amount of time add in some yeast then wait for it to rise. After which add in the remaining flour plus rest of the ingredients, allow to rise again, then place in a loaf pan etc. 

Now I feel the recipe is a bit off but perhaps not as there's quite a lot to go by feel. So to try and re-arrange the recipe you have...


  • 2 cups of whole rye flour (204g ish ?)
  • 1 tsp anise seed (you can try grinding them)
  • 2.5 cups boiling water

Allow to cool for however long. Then add half a sachet if dried yeast - about 3.5g - and allow to ferment till about 1.5x its original volume and bubbles begin to show in the surface. 

Main Dough:

  • Bread flour
  • Molasses
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Remaining water (room temperature)
  • Optional shortening

When ready add the water, molasses and sugar (although I think the molasses and sugar can be reduced) and combine. Then add the salt and enough bread flour to make a wet mouldable clay like dough. You want it well hydrated but not too much you can't wet your hands and mold it like clay. Then cover and leave until visibly expanded. After which shape into a loaf pan and use a wet spatula or spoon to smooth over the top. Leave to final proof till a few small holes just begin to appear on top. Bake as usual. 

Still not exactly a classic Borodinsky but I've worked your recipe into a Borodinsky style method.

idaveindy's picture

Sean, this user never responded to the folks who tried to help 2 years ago.


Sean of the Bread's picture
Sean of the Bread (not verified)

And having had a look at Clazar's answer with good observations it does seem weird. I was just too focused on a very vague recipe trying to make sense of it with little information. If the recipe was in weight I'd have come to the same conclusion. 

idaveindy's picture

Sean, Borodinsky is 85% minimum rye flour. This is 25% max rye flour. You can infer this from steps 5 and 6 in the instructions -- the white flour was omitted from the ingredients list.  This fact alone means the user was given a confusing and sloppily written recipe to start with.

The ingredient list shows 4 cups water, but only 2 cups rye flour. Given that you need at least 2 cups flour (usually more) for every cup of water, that means that _at least_ 6 cups of white flour have to be added in steps 5 and 6.  

So there are only 2 cups rye flour, out of a minimum of 8 cups flour total.  So this is more a "deli rye" than a Borodinsky.  

and with all the sugar and molasses, it's almost like a quick bread, except it's yeasted.


Sean of the Bread's picture
Sean of the Bread (not verified)

Omitted bread flour and recipe in volume. I glanced over the vague recipe and saw similarities with Borodinsky. But when dissected, like you have done and Clazar in the previous post two years ago, I see it's totally different. Say you say it's just a sweet quick white bread with a little rye. 

I'm just sorry I spent time answering it now that I see the original poster has little or no interest in any help. 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

It is interesting that such a recipe includes rye flour scald, I see why you jumped onto the Borodinsky idea (and flour in cups is really not helping). I bet this is very nice bread, actually, if the recipe is properly sorted out (although it says "sweet " in the title, this sounds more like a cake and I would reduce sweet components a few fold, ~1 tbsp instead of 1 cup, perhaps, and maybe omit the fat).

clazar123's picture

I did report this post.

It was posted today but an identical post was written 2yrs and 10 months ago and no responses from the original poster. Also this user has only these 2 posts. Is this user for real?

idaveindy's picture

clazar:  A lot of people  are just "unclear on the concept" of how forums work.

And sometimes life and emergencies get in the way and hinder proper online inferaction or follow-up.

To their cedit, they did acknowledge up front that this is a re-post.  

But yeah, I'm starting to tire of people not answering diagnostic type questions when I try to help them figure out their challenge/problem.  An "after action" report, letting the readers know which proposed solution worked, if any, would also be nice.

I suppose it's possible that some responses get too complicated, or make the new person feel like they are in over their head, so they just give up.

Newbies almost always suspect the wrong thing... so their post title or question is almost always the wrong question.  And you have to dig a little to get to the real issue.  Perhaps that offends some, and scares some others off.

I'm a tech-nerd by nature, which correlates to being anal-retentive -- and I've learned that that does not sit well with "English major" types ... they sometimes take offense.

I'm trying to be Zen-like about it. But it frustrates me too.  I have to remind myself that I've pulled some real bone-headed manuevers and been offensive too.