Recipe: Rye Bread

Anne Levay-Krause

Anne Levay-Krause › Anne Levay-Krause is a food writer, advocate and photographer, Captain for NOFA-NY's 2011 and 2012 Buffalo Locavore Challenges, ...


It’s once again Fall, which means my family’s favorite stack of recipes comes out and are made with a complimentary loaf of bread. One of our household’s favorite breads is Rye. Rye is one of the most awesome grains I have ever played with and I am incredibly fortunate to live in western New York where some of the prettiest organic grains are grown and ground. My favorite resource for these grains is Five Points Bakery, located in the west side of Buffalo.

Owner Kevin Gardner shares:

“Because we use so much, we keep a stock of bread flour and pastry flour, but we (also) grind a variety of other grains to order, including spelt, rye, corn, triticale, emmer, gruenkern, and if you have a wheat you would like ground that we don’t carry, just bring it in, we would be happy to mill it for you. All our grains are organically grown and range in price from $5 for 5lb of bread flour to $4 per pound of our Wapsie Valley, Heirloom, Bi-Color organic cornmeal. We also do wholesale flour for orders of 50lb or more.”

Known to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart failure, rye breads are an excellent source of soluble fiber, effective in lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure and optimizing the overall health of the heart. Furthermore, rye is also helpful in inhibiting the onset of coronary artery complications and osteoporosis.

Rye contains the naturally occurring plant compounds called lignans, which increase the formation of the plasma enterolactone by your intestinal microflora. Combined with the lignan enterodiol, enterolactone is beneficial in lowering the risk of certain cancers, particularly colon and breast. Lignans are also phytoestrogens, which help to reduce the frequency of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

The fiber obtained from antioxidant-rich rye is effective in the overall improvement of digestion. Another advantage of rye is that it is ideal for treating obesity. With a high water binding capacity, the fiber in rye provides a feeling of fullness and satiety for longer durations, thereby contributing to weight loss. Rye bread is exceptionally valuable in triggering a quick insulin response and thus making it a healthy alternative for people suffering with diabetes.

Talk about a “wonder” bread.

Making this loaf is particularly enjoyable. Few types of bread need to be kneaded, but in order for the gluten to develop in whole grains, you should knead your bread for 12 to 15 minutes by hand… and that’s where the fun comes in!

Using the wrong whole wheat flour can also cause bread rising difficulties. Make sure you are using whole wheat bread flour. This may also be called “hard winter wheat”, or “hard red wheat” or “Hard white wheat”. The other type of whole wheat flour is “soft white wheat”, also known as “pastry flour”. This does not have the protein needed to develop the gluten and therefore your bread won’t do as well with this type of flour. Save your pastry flour for quick breads, it does beautifully with those.

Using one type of flour can lead to a heavy, leaden flat flavored loaf, so I blend my bread flours together. This recipe will create two loaves of the loveliest rye bread.

(makes two loaves)
Rye Bread

2 tsp yeast

2 cups warm water (110*)

1 tsp raw sugar

2 cups Rye flour

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat bread flour

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat White bread flour

4 tbls olive oil


Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water, sprinkling the sugar on top. Set aside for twenty minutes to allow for yeast to fully proof.

Blend the flours together. Add the olive oil and 1 3/4 cups of warm water and begin to blend by hand. Add in the proofed yeast and continue to blend until a shaggy ball forms.

Turn out onto a wood cutting board, cover with a warm damp towel, and allow to rest for twenty minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 400*. If you are using a crockpot with a glass lid or a pizza stone, place it in the oven now.

Knead the dough, standing over it, for ten to twelve minutes. Divide and cover and allow to rise for one hour.

With the crockpot, carefully remove the lid and lay the dough in the bottom of the pot and cover. Bake for 30 minutes, removing the lid during the last five minutes before removing it from the oven. If using a pizza stone, sprinkle a bit of cornmeal or ground whole wheat and lay the dough on top. Bake for 35 minutes. If you choose to use a cookie sheet, lightly grease where you will be placing the dough with a bit of oil, layer on the bread dough and bake for 30 minutes. Cool the bread on a wire rack.

Store in a wax paper or plastic bag on the counter or in a breadbox. Slather with butter, jam, marmalade, or dunk it in your soups.

What is your favorite grain bread?

Photo Credit: Anne Levay-Krause

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