Rye doughs can be a bit difficult to work with because rye flour doesn’t behave the same way as wheat flour. While rye flour has some protein, it doesn’t have as much as wheat flour. Less protein means less gluten formation, which means a dough that’s not quite as stretchy or elastic.
Rye doughs also tend to be much stickier than doughs made entirely from white flour. Because of that stickiness, some people try to add more and more flour to make it less sticky, until they end up with a dough that’s very, very dense. And then you end up baking a brick.
There are two secrets to getting a rye-based dough that’s relatively easy to work with and has enough elasticity to get a good hole structure.
First, a long overnight rise, which helps hydrate properly and form more gluten. This mitigates some of the stickiness but it’ll still feel quite different than a normal wheat dough. The second tip is to add some high protein bread flour to the mix. This’ll help give it enough elasticity so you can knead it and form it without it breaking and cracking.
I used a medium rye flour but you can use any rye you find. Because we probably won’t be using the same rye flour, you may need to add more or less bread flour to get the dough to compensate.
The finished dough should be firm enough to hold its shape without sagging, but not so dense that it’s difficult to knead.
The long overnight rest adds a lot of flavor to the bread, and molasses and caraway add even more. if you don’t have caraway, leave it out.
- 9 ounces (about 2 cups) rye flour
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, divided
- 6 3/4 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Put the rye flour, water, and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.
The next day, add the rest of the yeast, the bread flour, salt, and molasses. Knead with the bread hook until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should be tacky, but not goopy or sticky. If the dough is still very sticky, add more bread flour, as needed. Add the olive oil and caraway seeds, and knead until both are incorporated and well distributed.
Form the dough into a ball, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.
Flour your work surface and place your oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a sheet a parchment on a baking sheet, or sprinkle with cornmeal.
Turn out the dough, and knead it briefly. Form it into a long oval shape, seal the seam on the bottom, and place it on your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the dough with rice flour (preferably) or wheat flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
When the dough has risen, uncover it, slash it several times diagonally, and bake at 350°F, until nicely browned, about 35 minutes. Let the bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.
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