George’s Light Rye Bread

Light, soft inside, crusty crust, homemade rye bread, with or without carraway seeds.

  • Yield: Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups of warm water (just barely warm to the touch)
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

Method

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1 Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the molasses. Put yeast mixture into a large metal bowl.

2 Add caraway seeds, salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups of rye flour and then 2 cups of baking flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon.

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3 Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not so sticky and it is too hard to mix it with the wooden spoon. At that point, spread a half cupful of flour onto a large, clean, flat surface and put the dough onto the surface.

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4 Knead the dough by pressing down with the heel of your hand, stretching it, turning the dough a quarter-turn, pulling the dough back toward you and then pressing and stretching again. Knead additional bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency. Knead for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

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5 Spread some vegetable oil around a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it so it gets coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

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6 Gently press down on the dough so some of its air is released.

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7 Knead the dough a few turns and then divide it by cutting it in half with a sharp knife.

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8 Shape each half into loaf. Place dough loafs into either oiled bread loaf pans, or onto a flat baking sheet or peel that has been sprinkled with corn meal, depending if you want to cook the loaves in pans or directly on a baking stone. Cover with plastic or a damp cloth.

9 Let rise again, this time not doubling in volume, but rising by about half of its volume, about 45 minutes, half as long as the first rising. The dough should be peeking over the top of the loaf pan if using a loaf pan.

10 If you are using a baking stone, place the stone in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F for at least half an hour before baking.

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11 If baking on a stone, score the dough a few times on the top of the dough right before putting it in the oven. Put dough in the oven. If you have a mister, mist the dough with a little water the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until done. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.

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Comments

  1. lydia

    Thanks for the tutorial (and the wonderful photos)! Rye bread is one of the trickier breads to learn how to bake — the dough can be dense and sticky. However, it’s worth the effort to be able to taste a rye that’s still slightly warm from the oven. (By the way, I’m with your dad. No carraway.)

  2. jonathan

    Hmmmmm…….I wonder what kind of sandwich would taste great on this rye? *thinking*…….*thinking*….got it. How ’bout the Reuben recipe you posted a few months back?

    In my world, rye bread make everything taste better. Even peanut butter.

  3. Rosalind

    I would love to know how to make George’s Light Rye Bread in a Bread Machine.
    How can I find out how?
    Does George have a web site?

  4. Tea

    Great photos! What a fantastic (and exceedingly useful) post. Thanks

  5. Pebbles

    This is a marvelous post. The pictures are spot on! I am impressed George stirred with a wooden spoon only. I am lazy and love my dough hook!

  6. Josh

    This is great. I haven’t had great luck with rye, I find it usually needs some vital gluten flour and it usually disappoints. I’ll be going to buy rye flour in a few minutes. I’m all for caraway and, on the rare occasion, dill.

    And Jonathan, I find that rye (and this rye especially) would be great with a grilled veggie sandwich with a strong dose of mayo and excellent mustard.

  7. Chigiy

    I didn’t know that rye bread had cocoa powder in it. Very nice.

  8. mac

    Very nice photos. Now all you need to do is cure some salmon (gravlaks), slice it thinly and put it on top with a bit of mustard.

    Cheers.

  9. Elise

    Hi Kevin – thanks for the heads up on AYearInBread.com, let me know when you are live, okay?

    Hi Rosalind – Alas, George does not have a website. But he does occasionally appear on this site; the quince jelly recipe is his. Regarding making this in a bread machine. Some instructions I found on the rye flour package were simply to follow the instructions of the specific bread making machine, and to use the “wheat bread” setting. Hope that helps.

    Hi Chigiy – Cocoa, I know, who would have thunk? Apparently it is used for the color, to help make the bread dark. You can’t really taste it.

    Hi Josh – George usually adds extra gluten, but we didn’t have any. So instead, we used bread flour in place of all-purpose flour, and upped the proportion of bread flour to rye flour. Bread flour has more gluten in it than all-purpose flour. The result was delicious, so it all worked out.

  10. Elaine

    Elise-
    Great post, as always. After reading, I decided to break out the bread machine and make Black Forest Pumpernickel, from the Bread Machine Magic cookbook. My Mom swears by that book and she bakes at least 2-3 loaves per week, so I guess she should know! I am trying vital gluten flour for the first time and am hoping it helps the bread rise better, as I have found when I use any type of flour other than bread flour, it is the loaves are a bit on the short side. ;~) We shall see. And thanks again for your wonderful blog, love the pix as well as the recipes.

  11. Elaine

    I am now eating a piece of the Pumpernickle bread that just finished baking and it is wonderful.To Rosalind who was wanting a bread machine recipe, I would definitely see if your local library has a copy of Bread Machine Magic. That is one of the ways I can determine if I want to purchase the cookbook. Also, be sure to use the vital wheat flour. I have made this recipe previously, but it is much improved. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand, which gives instructions as how much to add. The package indicates 1 Tbsp. per cup of flour. Good luck!

  12. Erica

    Thanks so much for posting this – I’ve tried so many rye recipes that really let me down, but I gave this a shot this afternoon (though I made rolls rather than loaves) and it came out perfect! I’m so happy that I’ve finally managed to make GOOD homemade rye!!

  13. El Cocinero Loco

    Thanks George, you’ve just given me the most splendid idea.

    I generally don’t use water in bread, but rather I maintain a liquid yeast starter of King Authur malted barley flour and unbleached unbromated flour. The original yeast was a bread yeast but I’m moving a decidely different direction; culturing Belgian and Irish ale kraussen.

    Crystal Malted Barley Flour instead of Molasses. It’s relatively simple to convert starches to crystalline forms if you get your hands on a good fully modified malted barley. It’s just an issue of milling the kernels and sifting the flour from the husks. Husks are beautiful though. I am in love with their enzyme content. Those enzymes can do all kinds of crazy stuff. The idea here is the molasses flavour can be simulated by burnt-roasted undertones. With skill you can achieve all kinds of cool tastes ranging from raisin bread without raisins or prune bread without prune or even chocolate without cocoa.

    Rye Flour is good stuff. If you have the source for it purchase whole rye kernels either modified or malted or neither. Grind the rye up and it the husks are good for you. It’ll give the finished product a real rustic appearance and texture.

    When making textured breads or those with flavours I tend to steer away from strong olive oils, but here I have a distinct hunch that it’ll bring out the fruitiness of the yeast and balance the bitter rye. I save pure olive oil for pizza dough. I will make a mention though that if y’all intend on oil and water. Add the salt to a small pan of water along with the oil and give it a boil. Under normal conditions oil and water do not mix but when agitated with a short boil they undergo an emulsification. Let it stand and cool, but don’t disturb it too much otherwise the oil could come out of solution.

    Othertimes it is good to boil your water to release any volatiles. Chlorines and alkalines for instance will be drawn out by a rigorous boil. This will help the overall palatability of a bread by making it less astringent. It will also help your yeast.

    Caraways. They are the bomb. I love’em. Boy are they strongly flavoured though. Lately I’ve been milling my caraway seeds and making a flour out of them.

    Something I want to try is milling lentils for legume flour and implementing an increase of protein and essential oil content of my loaves.

  14. Josh

    I made this bread last night and it was GREAT. I baked it on a pizza stone and it got a little crowded since the loaves rose so much. They ended up rather large (so much for rye not wanting to rise). I used organic rye and vital gluten flour and the crumb was excellent.

    My only “complaint” (if it can be called that) is that the rye flavor was a little muted, but keep in mind I’m used to sourdough ryes (Bay Area). I will say that next time I make this I’m doubling the 2 Tbs. of caraway seeds. My “bread sense” also is that 2 packages of yeast is a little much. If you knocked off a teaspoon, it would still be fine. My loaves rose VERY fast, and I wasn’t using the fast acting stuff.

    I’m going to try out another recipe this week with dark rye flour. This recipe has inspired me to make more bread and specifically more rye. I’m very intrigued about the malted barley extract. One recipe I was looking at for Russian rye is that you burn (or over-caramelize) sugar to give it a smoky flavor.

    Great bread! Love it! Will make it again! The peanut butter was a winner, too…

  15. The TriniGourmet

    Lovely tutorial. Have bookmarked to try :)

  16. Alley

    Hmmmm I have wanted to try(again)to make some
    rye and/or pumpernickle bread! Thank you for inspiring me.I was raised on rye, pumpernickle, zweibach etc. One favorite, braunschweiger on rye bread. No butter, just the meat spread. Add some thin sliced dill pickle and it’s heaven!
    This site is wonderful. Thanks again.

  17. Susan

    Just like my grandma used to bake. That cocoa really does add a nice backtaste that mixes well with the rye. My mom and I discovered (by accident!) that the best spur-of-the-moment spread for rye bread is sour cream with salt and pepper.

  18. RK

    There’s a sandwich place in my town that makes about 20-30 different kinds of fresh bread every day and they put them through a slicer for you, so i get so lazy and just depend on them for my freshly baked bread fix, but this has tempted me to bake it. Do you still cut the slits in it if you’re doing it in loaf pans, or only if it’s on a baking stone?

    and nothing suits rye better than deli turkey, crispy bacon, and avocado slices (and mayo and tomato for those who enjoy them as sandwich additions)

  19. Jennifer

    Originally from Montreal, I now live in Shenzhen, China, and was getting desperate for some nice, heavy bread like we have back home. Most of what we get here is soft, white and basically tasteless, except for the abundance of sugar.

    I decided to try out this recipe and imported everything I needed from Hong Kong. I think it came out great, keeping in mind that I’m a novice bread baker. The only negative was my oven – a cheap and temperamental domestic model that runs a lot hotter than the temperature on the dial. I reduced the temp from 350 to 300, but the bottoms of my loaves still burnt. The center of the loaves were also slightly too moist but OK.

    I’m toying with the idea of getting a bread machine…. or would a pizza stone prevent the bottom of everything I baked from getting burned?

    BTW, this bread tasted wonderful with Maille dijon mustard slathered on it.

  20. Jerry Starr

    Excellent bread. The photos were wonderful and made the entire bread making experience very enjoyable. Wonderful bread.

  21. Gretchen

    This bread looks soooooo tasty. My mouth is watering…
    The pictures and instructions were nice and clear.

    I tried making it this afternoon and mine rose VERY quickly and looked a lot bigger than Georges’ bread in the photos.
    I used Instant yeast; is that the problem?
    I’d appreciate any suggestions. Ta,G

  22. Gretchen

    Hi, Just a quick question. The packets of yeast I use are 11g each. Is that the same weight as the yeast packets in the US?
    I would very much appreciate any help. I want to make sure I am making it right because mine does look bigger than the pictures may indicate.
    The caraway adds a sensational flavour too.
    Oishii!

  23. deebee

    Great post. The photos were a great deal of help for a first-timer like me! It was much easier to make than I expected, and my bread came out just perfect, thanks to the well-written direction and tips. Even just with plain butter on the still warm bread is already yummy! This recipe is for keeps!

  24. Rocky

    Many thanks for a fabulous recipe. It made two huge loaves – picture perfect. Only thing I did differently was to make a corn starch glaze so it would look more like a bakery loaf and give it the chewy shiny crust. And I topped it with more seeds. We like caraway in this house.
    This one is a keeper, so is George!

  25. IRENE

    I have to tell you I never made rye bread before and this recipe is so easy I couldn’t believe it. The house smells wonderful. Very good rye and crust to boot. So good I’m making my 2nd batch now and will put in bread pans. First ones I made round and no problems at all, perfect. Just one question, how can I make this bread to come out lighter in color if possible?

    Molasses is one of the things that makes the bread so dark. You might try substituting honey and see how it turns out. ~Elise

  26. Katie

    This was a great recipe. I am learning how to make bread. I have tried one other recipe. But I will stick with this one forever. I love the Grandpa demonstration photos.
    Beautiful bread. Thank You.
    Katers

  27. Carol Stahl

    Hi Wonderful tutorial! I can’t wait to try it, I’ve never made Rye bread before! I did have a question though…what is the dry ingredient measurement for ‘2 packages of active dry yeast’? In Tblsp. maybe? We bake in big quantities and keep our yeast in one big canister. Thankyou! ~Carol

  28. Meagan

    Carol- 1 package of yeast is 2 1/4 teaspooons.

    I cut this recipe in half and it made an amazing loaf. I normally do not like rye bread but this was amazing with honey on top! I baked mine dutch-oven style and got a nice crust and it rose beautifully. It was very soft and flavorful. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  29. Sarah

    George and I have the same apron, I take that to be a good-luck omen for when I try to make this bread today!

  30. Dan

    I made this last night …. WOW.

    Came out enough for 3 loaves in my little Calphalon pan so I did one in the pan, one on pizza stone and put one in the fridge to wait until the others are gone.

    Also – if you don’t have bread flour, I made it with whole wheat instead but let it sit in the refrigerator overnight with plastic over top to let the stuff meld together better. Really worked well. Like I said, 3 loaves, and SO solid. Makes a great grilled cheese. :) Cheddar or Provolone, you’re set.

  31. Doreen Boles

    I used the basic rye bread recipe but cut it in half. Because of a disability I cannot knead by hand any more, so I put all the dry ingredients in my bread machine, along with dehyudrated onion and dill weed. Then I added the wet ingredients and let the machine go on the Manual Cycle for 50 minutes. After that I took it out, punched it down and put it in a oiled bowl for about 45 minutes. Took it out, punched it down and put it in a loaf pan. Let rise for 45 minutes or so. I baked it at 375 degrees for about 20-22 minutes. It is delicious. It’s crusty on the outside and light and moist on the inside. It would make a good sandwich, that’s for sure. It’s the first rye bread recipe I’ve ever tried that came out beautifully. I will definitely make it again.

  32. Cindy

    YES! The PUUURRRRRRRRFECT recipe for rye bread. I’ll be having mine with pastrami, pepper jack cheese and spicy brown mustard. Sound good? Yes it is! Can’t wait to throw this into the oven and smell it baking. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

  33. Bill

    You could easily convert this recipe to an almost no-knead recipe just by adding more water and following the method of almost no-knead.

    Why do that? It will rise much, much more and result in a better tasting bread.

    Just a thought…

  34. ben

    I baked it at 500 degrees for 30 min, using preheated, covered cast iron dutch oven (lodge logic) and it turned out great! (the covered dutch oven technique ensures a lower temp inside the dutch oven (than the 500 outside) but keeps the humidity high- like the professional ovens )

  35. seta

    I’ve just made this bread and it was fantastic!! I was only gonna taste a slice but had to help myself to some more. It’s perfect alone or simply spread with butter. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe George, and for the beautiful photos Elise.

  36. Jim

    What a great recipe! I halved it and made one loaf. I was hoping to find a recipe for a light rye but I didn’t expect it to taste so much like the Swedish Limpa I used to get from a local Swedish bakery. It really is wonderful and so easy to make. I did find that the rise time were even quicker that indicated here but the results were excelent. I am anxious to make some more and give it to friends. Thanks

  37. Ty Thomas

    Wow! Have tried several rye recipes and been unhappy with the results. Was a little skeptical about the cocoa powder but went with it any. Did use 1TBSP Gluten for 1 loaf.

    Absolutely delicious. Great texture. Great for sandwiches, toast, etc. Definitely a keeper.

  38. Jamie

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I love rye bread and mine came out perfectly! I think I will try adding some gluten next time like you suggested. This is definitely a recipe I will keep!

  39. george Luchak

    Does anyone on this site have a recipe for Deli Hard rye or dark rye. When I was kid growing up in NYC, my Grandmother used to send me to the deli for it. She always stated to get the HARD rye. From what I recall, there were two choices that the German Deli offered, the hard dark or the soft. Raleys, here in California, carried, a few years ago, what they called a european rye, which approximated what
    I recall from my youth, similar. It was a hard, crusty rye on the exterior, and light on the interior. You could make a meal out it, with butter and some coffee. Incidently, my grandmother lived to 98, so it must have had some medicinal qualities? I havent tried Greenstein’s Jewish rye yet, but I’m thinking this may have been the lighter variety as mentioned above. All replies welcomed.

  40. Julie

    I didn’t find this tricky to make at all, (but I make bread a lot). It was VERY tasty!!! Highly suggest, excellent with ham and cheese!

  41. Betsy

    This was so moist and flavorful. Made Ruebens with it and husband said it was the best he’d ever had.

  42. Brisbanite

    Fantastic recipe – thanks so much for sharing. The beautiful dark colour but very light texture reminds me of MALT BREAD I had on occassion as a child. I will adapt this recipe further to use liquid Malt instead of Molasses next time.

    I used an electric mixer with dough hook, and also used fresh yeast (30 grams). I also weighed the flours and used 550g plain white flour and 200g organic rye flour.

    10 mins on knead setting, paused for 5 then another 6 mins when the dough just started coming away from the sides of the bowl. Let it rise for 1.5 hours, divided it, shaped (without additional flour – but oiled hands) and let loaves rise for another 2 hours before slashing and baking.

    I didn’t bother with the misting.

    Perfect result with 2 very big light loaves.

  43. Andrea

    I just made this bread and it is wonderful! I did use a bread machine – only for the mixing, kneading and 1st rise – and wanted to report the results: I added all the wet ingredients first, then dry, then yeast on top. I did add some gluten as per other comments. After the 1st rise, I took it out of the machine, shaped it and let rise again, then baked on a baking stone. It is a lovely bread, perfect texture and taste, and so easy!
    Thanks – I’ll make this again and again!

  44. Sarah

    Maybe a stupid question, but I’d like to be sure…since the recipe makes two loaves, I’d like to make one with caraway and one without, so when would be a good time to add the seeds? Obviously after the dough has been divided, but when exactly would you recommend? Thanks!

    Great question Sarah, don’t know what to tell you. Your guess is as good as mine. ~Elise

  45. Psydad

    I made this bread last night and I had a ton of fun! :) I did a few things differently though.
    I used the spent grain from a friend’s home brew – he made a wonderfully dark porter, so the grains were deep black and chocolaty. So, I didn’t use the cocoa powder. Used two cups of the beer grains. Ran them in the food processor for about 2 – 3 minutes to grind them fine. Then I only used 1/2 cup of molasses. The total rye flour was 2 1/4 cups and the bread flour came out to about 6 cups. I baked the two loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 30 – 35 minutes at 350 degrees. I brushed extra virgin olive oil on the loaves about 10 minutes before I took them out. What a delicious bread! I made them like French bread – long loaves with the three diagonal slashes – the crumb of this bread is awesome! Not too heavy, not too light, nice and dark color and the hint of chocolate from the roasted malted barley.
    Eighteen stars! ;) Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  46. Ronna

    Fantastic Rye Bread, I will divide into four loaves as this recipe made 2 huge ones. Thanks for the wonderful recipe George!!!!

  47. MARY

    I am curious, if i use a baking stone and preheat it, how do I transfer the risen loaf on to the stone, without losing the rise in the dough? I have made this recipe a few times and love it. I do add a little lemon juice to the recipe.

    You transfer the loaf to the stone with a pizza peel or a flat baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. The cornmeal behaves like little ball bearings to help the dough slide off the peel onto the stone. ~Elise

  48. Paul

    Excellent loaf, thanks. I bunged everything in a bread machine and ran it through the kneading cycle, then let it rise a third time in the baking tins. The result was moist with an excellent texture and flavour.

  49. Kristen Yaun

    I love baking a variety of breads, and this rye bread with molasses and cocoa really intrigued me so I had to give it a try. This is now one of my favorite recipes! Mr. George really knows what he’s doing and send him the compliments! I ended up making a grilled Swiss cheese with the rye bread and it is phenomenal!

  50. Edwin Eversole

    I initally read the recipe, then modified it. Being the good rye bread connisuer I was intially excited. Here’s what I did. I put in 2 cups of Rye, a cup of wheat and 4 cups of bread flower. Nothing else changed. I baked it here in Colorado and it came out perfect.
    Try it with red chili and beans, let it crumble ito the chili man is it good!
    Thank you sir! Nice recipe.

  51. Zach

    thankyou for this recipe it is a very good one.

  52. Sally Smith

    I have been looking for YEARS for a simple rye bread recipe that actually works, and I have found it. I am very, very happy and excited to have found this recipe. Thank you, George, for your years of bread making & this delicious recipe. It is PERFECT. By the way, I made it in my Kitchen Aid mixer – all mixing and kneading – and it turned out so beautifully! Also baked it using the convection feature on my oven – 350 for 30 minutes – and I recommened baking bread that way. The texture is divine.

    Sally

  53. Ellen

    I tried using a bread maker (dough function only) to kneed the dough (busy mom). i cut the recipe in half but found i needed 1.5 cup pumpernickel flour instead of 1 cup. I was out of rye. by accident I Discovered a flawless wonderful bread. We now use this as our standard sandwich bread. I make it by hand 2 loafs at a time, but in a pinch for time it works wonderful in the bread machine (kneeding only) with the modifications. Thank you George for a perfect loaf of bread.

  54. Angela

    Okay, so I seem to be getting closer. Any thoughts on a german rye bread? My grandma always made one when I was a kid and I don’t have the recipe! The crust was a deep brown and chewy. The inside was lighter and dense. It was always the best bread. When I dated a guy from Cleveland in college, there was a bakery there called Michael’s that sold “grandma’s bread”. I would love to be able to recreate at home.

  55. Angela

    Should also mention that Grandma’s bread was seedless.

  56. red elvis

    made this last night in Thailand, used coconut oil instead of veg oil. came out nice. used sunflower seeds as a substitute. best rye (and most straight forward) out there. thank.

  57. SteveInVa

    Made this tonight, and I just have to say “WOW”! Easy recipe, and delicious bread! We doubled the caraway seeds to give it more of a true rye bread taste. You don’t really taste the molasses….until that little aftertaste.

    Definitely will make this again – Thanks for the recipe!!