A loaf of rye bread

Rye Sandwich Bread/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What has surprised me most about all my breads using non-wheat grains is how richly flavored they are.  Far more than anything you can find at the grocery store.  And they all feel so satisfying to eat, the intriguing flavors and the solid bite they give.

Here is a classic, deli-style rye that would be perfect for some homemade corned beef or pastrami.  But you don’t need much to enjoy this bread.  One of my favorite ways to eat is to toast a slice, then rub it with a halved clove of garlic, then butter it.  So good.

The following recipe can be shaped into a loaf, into a boule or even a baguette (if you wanted small slices for canapes or small sandwiches for instance).  The caraway seeds can be omitted if you wish, but I love the added flavor they bring. The ratio here is 3 parts bread flour and 2 parts rye. If you want to use a sourdough starter, an excellent idea if you have starter on hand, use equal parts bread flour, rye, regular starter, and water.

Classic Rye Bread

  • 12 ounces/340 grams bread flour
  • 8 ounces/230 grams rye flour
  • 12 ounces/340 grams water
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams active dry yeast (if you need a fast rise, you can double this)
  • 1 tablespoon/7 grams caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons/10 grams kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer (or any bowl if you’re mixing by hand). Mix and knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. You should be able to stretch the dough to translucency without tearing it.
  2. Let the dough rise in the bowl, covered, till it’s doubled in size, at least two hours and as many as four.
  3. Knead the dough to force out gas and redistribute the yeast and shape it into a rectangle about an inch thick. Let it rest for ten minutes covered with a towel.
  4. Prepare a loaf pan with vegetable oil spray, oil or butter.
  5. Shape the dough: Starting at the top of the rectangle, fold the dough over on itself and pound it down to seal it. Keep folding and pounding until you have a squat, tubular shape. Roll it back and for the tighten the interior.
  6. Put the dough top side up into the prepared loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  8. When the second rise is done, slash it lengthwise down it the center, and bake for a half hour. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. and continue baking till done, another 15 to 30 minutes. (If you’re unsure about doneness, use a thermometer and remove the dough when its internal temperature is 200 degrees.

Yield: one 2-pound loaf

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49 Wonderful responses to “Classic Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds”

  • David Barber

    This would be perfect for my home-cured corned beef. Michael, in one of your books about the CIA you mentioned a method prescribed there for constructing a Reuben without getting soggy bread. Could you please share that?

      • David Barber

        Thanks–so simple, but shocking now in hindsight how many restaurant Reubens I’ve had with the sauce and cheese on the same side (and a soggy piece on the bottom). Made a great Reuben with my homemade corned beef, rye bread, kraut and Russian dressing. I guess making my own cheese would complete it, but…

  • rich sims

    MR, i have all of the ingredient’s on hand, and am starting the dough. How long would you bake the dough for baguettes?

  • Brad Weiss

    Hmm. Rye bread in a loaf pan?? I’m sure it’s good, but I’d leave it in a boule. Is a no-knead version plausible if you saturate the mixture, and leave it to ferment for 18-24 hrs?

  • Susan

    Mmmm, rye bread for ruebens, broiled is how I like to toast it. Good used for grilled cheese sandwiches (or peanut butter and grape jelly..not kidding) You can grind the caraway seed if the texture is an issue, but don’t leave it out.

  • Paul Gahan

    The perfect accompaniment to really good smoked salmon.
    My experience of making rye bread is that it produces a considerably stickier dough than wheat flour, which can be quite tricky to handle. Probably not a good option for first time bread makers.

      • Pam D

        As a newbie in the bread making department, I thank you for this tip. I like kneading the dough, but thought I had to use a mixer when the dough is too sticky.

  • Nelson

    Great inspiration! I had just started a sponge with sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour. I am going to work it with all-purpose, rye, and the caraway seeds into a not so classic rye bread.

  • Kristen England

    When I’m in Eastern Europe I find it rare to find a rye bread with caraway. However when I’m in the use I find it very rare to find rye without it. Whats with this?

  • Kevin

    Snow day here in North Georgia, just got one of these going. I love rye but have only ever used the recipe on the back of the bag of rye flour. I’m excited to see how this one turns out.

  • Cathy

    Loaf just out of the oven. The challenge is waiting for it to cool before tasting. The house smells fantastic. I’m loving bread baking month. All the loaves have been spectacular.

  • Char

    Michael: My sourdough starter is 100% whole wheat…do I need to make any adjustments…such as adding vital gluten…if I want to try the sourdough alternative? The recipe looks better than any I’ve tried so far.

  • Matt

    I’ve noticed in many of your bread recipes you don’t use any salt. I thought that a teaspoon of salt was always important in bread recipes. Why do you leave it out?

  • drago

    How long does nice home-baked sandwich bread like this last? Most of my bread experience is with things like focaccia and pizza dough.

    Any experience with freezing half of the loaf? I don’t think my wife and I could polish off the whole thing in just a few days. Thanks!

  • Mary

    My favorite thing on toasted rye bread is butter and raspberry jam — really addictive. I will try the garlic and butter! Thanks for the tip. My mom always liked cream cheese spread on it with a sprinkling of fresh chives. Which is also pretty good. Long live rye bread! Thanks for the great recipe.

  • E-beth

    Store all your seeds in the freezer–caraway, sesame, nigella, poppy…they will last years and stay perfectly fresh. if you cant handle the whole caraway seeds, grind them in a mortar and pestle to a powder…you will have the flavor without the whole seeds, a secret from the bakeries. Since this dough has no fat, it will stale fast just like French bread, so just eat like mad the day it is baked and freeze the rest in a plastic freezer bag. Makes great croutons like for sprinkling on borscht or clam chowder, or even as a flavorful base for poultry stuffing with dried fruit and onions added (definitely more assertive character than white bread).

    • Scott johnston

      Thanks for the tip on why bread goes stale! Makes perfect sense and I already keep seeds, nuts and whole grain flour in the deep freeze

  • iliana

    This rye bread looks yum! I have a question regarding posting pictures over on your facebook page.. do you encourage us to post pictures of whatever we happen to be baking at the time, or would you prefer to encourage pictures reflecting the breads that you post about during this month of bread? Today I’m making knækbrød (crispy cracker breads). Cheers :-)

  • DebbieQ

    Oh I want to make this. And curse Cleveland weather where it is snowing like crazy and I can’t get out for any rye flour. Tomorrow maybe?

  • Steve

    I just made a regular boule using the dutch oven method. The bread turned out great except that the bottom was burnt crisp! (Easily trimmed off.) How can I avoid this?

  • Beth

    I have a question about kneading until you can pull a piece until transparent. I can’t get my doughs to do this. Am I kneading too long? Too short? It just tears. In Ratio you mention kneading for 10 minutes on your mixer- what speed? I have tried 10 minutes on medium-low speed (on a Kitchen-Aid mixer) and 10 minutes by hand, and each method ends in same results. No transparent window. I use half whole wheat and half bread flour….could that affect it? Should I stop worrying about it since the bread turns out tasty anyway?

    • Caroline

      I have that problem too and I stopped worrying about it since the bread always turns out great!

  • Jeni

    I made the bread yesterday also. I can’t seem to do that window pane test on this bread at all, maybe because it is so grainy~ it is delicious nonetheless.

    does any of you have any tips on keeping bread fresh? mine always dries out on the 3rd day and we end up with tons of crutons..

  • picklejuice

    i made this loaf the other day. oh, it’s delicious! i can’t stop making tuna melts with lots of extra sharp cheddar. it does go stale quick but as long as its toasted and slathered with butter or cheese, i don’t mind.

  • Kimberly Taylor

    As I am on a bit of a bread-kick these days, I am thrilled to see your posts on such a wide variety of loaves.
    Can’t wait to try this one~

  • bardeeb

    Nice bread, but you could it by using more water and changing the kneading method. Additional water helps the starch gelatinization, and a lighter kneading will reduce oxidation and flavor degradation.

    (1) Use 15 oz of water, and, because of that, a tad more salt
    (2) Mix all ingredients except salt and yeast and let rest for half hour. Mix in yeast in salt and knead for about 1 minute, not 10 minutes. The dough will have decent, but not silky smooth, gluten structure. Let proof.
    (3) Do four or so stretch and folds in the bowl at 1 hr into the fermentation process.
    (4) Finish the proofing and the rest of the recipe as directed.

  • Sandra McKenzie

    I’m late to the conversation, but have gotten obsessed with baking the perfect rye bread. I came close this week, using a Peter Reinhardt recipe that calls for a mother starter (same as a sourdough?) and slightly more than 50% rye flour. The taste was superb, but the loaf slumped badly. I’m prepared to try again, this time using some vital wheat gluten to see if that helps with the rise. Any thoughts? Should I also be adding diastolic malt? (not easy to come by, I’ve discovered)

  • Miquela

    I am completely late in the game here, but are there any suggestions or tips for a high-altitude, arid climate? Or should I just stick with my crap-shoot method and hope for the best? My white breads come out fine with most recipes, but for some reason anytime another grain is added…lead bread. I suppose it could just be the maker, right?

  • michele

    I modified this into a no-knead (sorry, ruhlman, I know you disapprove…) and it came out great. I had never made rye bread before because so many bread bakers claim one needs a stand mixer to handle a rye dough, and I must rely on a Cuisinart food processer or my hands…. The rye in Lahey’s book doesn’t look “rye enough”, i.e., it’s more artisan than the Jewish rye my family longs for in the CA desert. I will double the amount of caraway next time, plus sprinkle some more on top. But no-kneaders rejoice, you can get a good rye, too!

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