Homemade Light Rye Bread


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

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

For as long as I knew my friend George he was an enthusiastic bread maker. Often when I visited his home in Carlisle, Mass, he had a freshly baked loaf of rye bread for us to enjoy.

One time when George came to visit my family in Carmichael, I put him to work, showing me the way he makes his rye bread.

The following is a recipe that will yield two loaves.

Actually, I don’t think one can easily learn to make bread by reading about it.

It really helps to get your hands in it and learn directly from someone who can say, “See? This is the right consistency for the dough.” If you are interested in learning more about bread making there are a few links at the end of this post that you may find useful.

As for the bread? It was wonderful. Light, soft inside, and a crusty crust. My father doesn’t like caraway seeds so they were kept out. I love them so the next time I make this bread they’re going in.

Homemade Light Rye Bread Recipe

  • Yield: 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 (regular unsulphured, not blackstrap)
  • 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)


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 bread flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

12 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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The Other Side of Atkins - bread making notes from Smitten Kitchen

For beaming, bewitching breads - more useful tips from Smitten Kitchen

Ten Tips for Better Bread - tips from Farmgirl Fare

The Fresh Loaf - a forum for "Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

George's Quince Jelly - here on Simply Recipes

George holding his rye bread

George holding his loaf of rye bread

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

109 Comments / Reviews

No ImageHomemade Light Rye Bread

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tommy Gibbons

    You like homemade bread? This one is hard to beat. I baked mine two weeks ago. It remained on the counter for three days, I then placed it in the fridge in the same white cloth and a shoprite grocery bag. You could say it “matured” meanwhile. Since then I have whittled it down to about 4″. This morning (Sunday) I tried toasting it. I’m down to 2″ now. Did it toast well?, forget about it! Well maybe it’s just me. There are two recipes I’ve been trying to put together. One is Tomato Marmalade, the other is a light WW similar to this one. Charlie Brown’s restaurant made one, it was over the top delicious. had raisins fine ground and carroway seed and by the way I also added these to the light rye. This was a marvelous journey into great bread for me. Thanks so much, Tommy, husband of Lorraine.

  2. ChantalE

    Easy, hands on and a dee-lice recipe for my fav bread! I add my Epicure (I sell these products) seasonings for a variety of blended seasonings.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Chef ChantalE


  3. Judy

    I’ve made this recipe 7 times in the past year. It’s delicious! I don’t use the cocoa, so a little more flour. Sometimes, when forming the loaves, I roll the dough out & spread it with minced onion then roll it up like cinnamon rolls & cut it in half to form the two loaves.


  4. Gwynneth

    Nice enough bread but I would say it is more of a medium to dark rye rather than a light rye like I was looking for. Judging by the picture I was expecting something much lighter. I used regular cooking molasses (no sulphur and not blackstrap) and my dough was much darker than the dough shown in the photos. I wanted a light rye for Reuben sandwiches but think this might not be what I am looking for. I think it will be great with baked beans though.


    Show Replies (1)
  5. Julie

    I have made this several times since I saw it a few years back. It’s a go-to winner!Also makes excellent dinner rolls.


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