Light Rye – Bread Machine

Table of Contents



Bread was made with rye flour in parts of Eurasia. Rye grew and wheat did not, including the parts of Northern Europe, including the lands around the Baltic Sea. Rye does not produce enough gluten to rise like a leavened wheat bread.

Pumpernickel, bread made from 100% rye floour is outside the capabilities of bread machines. There are retail/craft/home formulas for a rustic style with rye flour, e.g.  King Arthur Classic Pumpernickel baked in an oven.  Pumpernickel loaves are a specialty product. Many grocery stores sell commercially baked pumpernickel.

There are industrial formulas and home recipes for light rye bread, baked in an oven. Most commercial and home made rye bread is light rye, made with wheat flour with rye flour or rye meal. Light rye breads are soft  breads, with fairly close crumb and a distinct dark crust – chewy but not crunchy. There are rustic rye and rye sourdough styles. There are deli styles and reconstructions of local bakery styles. Some light tye recipes will produce torpedo shaped loave rather than pan loaves. There is a Winnipeg style, a bread flour loaf with a small amount of rye flour and/or rye meal or chopped rye berries. The Winnipeg Free Press had recipes based on the rye bread baked by Winnipeg’s City Bread. There is a bread machine version that I have not tried.

Rye Flour

Rye flour has:

  • less of the proteins that build gluten than wheat flour, and
  • has pentosans. 

Peter Reinhart notes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice at p. 185 that it uses glutelin to form gluten (wheat flour has glutenin). It has pentosans, which absorb water differently and make the dough gummy. According to Daniel DiMuzio’s Bread Baking, An Arisan’s Perspective:

  • (p. 51) pentosans absorb water with very little mixing and are fragile, breaking down and releasing water after as little as 3-4 minutes of intensive mixing;
  • (p. 51) bakers using mixing machines use a short period of slow mixing for dough with significant amounts of rye flour, and little intensive mixing;
  • (p. 216) dough for deli-style light rye (70% white/30% rye) would be hydrated at 68% and mixed slowly: in a stand mixer, 3 minutes slow to blend ingredients and 3 minutes on second speed.

Measurement and Ingredients

Some oven baked light rye bread recipes call for light or medium rye flour which is produced from rye endorsperm (i.e. not whole grain rye) with more screenings. Dark Rye flour uses more whole grain. Some bread machine recipes specifically call for it or treat it as an alternative.

There are is a range, for different kinds of rye flour; there are variations of methodology of measuring a cup to weigh:

  • Online Conversion’s converter and Aqua-Calc converter – 1 cup of dark rye flour = 4.5 oz. = 128 g.
  • Bakery Network conversion chart – 1 cup “rye flour” = 4 oz. = 113 g.
  • Aqua-Calc converter light rye flour (or medium rye flour) – 1 cup = 102 g = 3.6 oz.
  • The Traditional Oven’s  converter – 1 cup = 102 g. = 3.6 oz.  light rye?
  • King Arthur Flour’s Ingredient Conversion chart – 1 cup = 3.625 oz.  light rye?

Anita’s Organic Mill Organic Rye Flour is available in 1 kg. bags in some local stores and online. This may be a better quantity to buy for flour used in 1 to 1.5 cup quantities. For both of those rye flours, the Canadian “Food Facts” label indicates 1 cup = 120 grams = 4.2 oz. These labels use values based on food data bases based on the measurement standards of their methology. Anita’s is about 120 grams a cup if settled and scooped to pack the cup. Rogers Foods Dark Rye Flour is available locally in 2.5 kg. bags, and priced as a staple.  Rogers does not directly publish a volume to mass conversion. Online Conversion’s converter and Aqua-Calc converter dark rye flour said 1 cup of dark rye flour = 4.5 oz. = 128 g.  This is the mean or average for dark rye flour surveyed in USDA data base. Rogers Dark Rye may be about 124 grams a cup, settled and scooped.

Rye bread often contains caraway seeds; consumers associate the flavour with rye bread. Caraway is related to cumin, fennel, anise, carrots, celery and parsley. Some varieties are known as Persian cumin. It has been used as a cooking herb or spice since the time of the Roman Empire. It is a major spice in Central European cooking and in the nations beside the Baltic. It was adopted in Germany, the Nordic countries, the “Low” countries and England. Caraway seeds were/are used to make flavoured breads with white flour in Central European recipes. Cumin and caraway are the spice in spiced DutchKamijnekaas – Leiden Kaas and spiced Gouda. Other flavouring agents in light rye: fennel and anise seeds, chopped onion, dried orange peel, orange zest and orange oil. There are dark or sour light rye styles with bread flour, rye flour and:

  • an agent (molasses, cocoa or ground coffee for home bakers) for dark colour,
  • vinegar or sour cream for acidity, and
  • corn meal, oatmeal or sunflower seeds for texture.

Bread Machine Recipes


Many formulas and recipes for oven baked light rye are based on north European (German and Scandinavian) light rye bread recipes, with white flour and some rye flour or meal. Russians, Ukranians and East Europeans also made light rye bread with a blend of white flour, whole wheat flour and rye flour

No bread machine manufacturers have programmed a light rye program. Several discourage baking with rye flour. Panasonic’s manual says rye flour leads to dense bread when used to replace other (wheat) flour in their recipes and warns that using rye flour might overload the motor. This might be a problem if someone tried to make pumpernickel. Overloading the motor is not really why manufacturers don’t like to address rye. Baking with rye flour is simply different.

There is a bread machine recipe for Bread with Caraway and Onions in the Panasonic SD-YD250 manual for a medium loaf (1.5 lb.) – 1/8 cup of rye flour, 3 cups of bread flour, and caraway seeds, with nearly identical to Panasonic’s Basic White Bread. This Panasonic receipe has almost no rye flour; it emulates light rye by using caraway. Zorjirushi has a recipe with 2/3 cup of rye flour and 4 cups of bread flour to make a large loaf.

The bread machine recipes for light rye bread in Beth Hensperger’s ambitious baking books, Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (at pp. 133-143, 313), and the Bread Bible use the bake or whole wheat program. However those recipes have problems. When I baked light rye with BLBMC recipes in the Panasonic and Zojirushi, the machine mixed a dough that looked reasonable in the first 10 minutes of kneading, but was wet by the end of knead time. It rises; when it falls at the knockdowns, it leaves a wet dough residue clinging to the pan which bakes as cracker or flat bread against the edge of pan. This result is produced by a combination of kneading, and over-generous hydration.


Adapting commercial formulas and techniques may shape the dough to back into torpedoes rather than pan loaves, if the machine could use them. No bread machines have light rye cycles or programs. The programs for bread machine baking are not necessarily adjustable. There are compromises.

Some bread machines can be programmed with custom cycles. I used the Zojirushi BB-PAC20, in a custom program with a short “knead” phase. The Zojirushi (“home-made”) programs can be set to knead as little as 5 minutes. This will mix a light rye that is 30% rye flour by weight. That is what the machine allows. The homemade programs allow adding to the rise time, which allows more fermentation and rise. It is difficult to bake a loaf smaller than a bread machine “medium” loaf in a Zojirishi horizontal pan machine using wheat flours, without enriching the dough and without generous hydration

The solutions, using a custom program to minimize mixing and let the dough rise, appear to be:

  1. adjust hydration – to reduce water and water based fluid ingredients – to get hydration under 66%. . A reduction of 15 to 30 grams (1-2 Tablespoons) changes the dough;
  2. reduce the bread flour and use whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour can absorb the water that the rye flour releases better than bread flour.

I am experimenting with those methods.

Recipes in progress

Country French, from BLBMC. Beth Hensperger’s recipe “Chuck Williams Country French Bread” is a lean French loaf made of bread flour with some whole wheat flour. Beth Hensperger adapted a recipe by Chuck Williams (of Williams-Sonoma) for the La Cloche device. It is similar to a hearth bread she calls Pain de Campagne in her Bread Bible (2000), which is made with a starter and sponge made with whole wheat flour. It is in the style of the French Pain de campagne, as made in French bakeries in the 19th century.  I tried it with rye flour instead of whole wheat flour, with adjustments for quantity.

BLBMC p. 200;
"Chuck Williams Country French Bread"
Loaf SizeMediumMediumMedium
ProgramBasic BakeCustom 2Custom 3
IngredientVolume [W]Weight [V]Weight [V]
choose one
Instant Yeast High
1 3/4 tsp. [4.9 g.]2.5 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC20[3.0 g.]1.5 g..8 g.
I. Y. Low7/8 tsp. [2.45 g.]1.2 g.
Bread Flour2.25 cups313 g.313 g.
*Whole Wheat Flour
.75 cups104 g.104 g.
**Rye Flour
.75 cups100 g.100 g.
* Gluten (with WW)2 tsp.2.5 g. [1 tsp.]2.5 g. [1 tsp.]
Salt1.5 tsp [8.6 g.]4.3 g.2.2 g.
*Total Flour (if WW)420 g. 420 g.
**Total Flour (if Rye)415 g.415 g.
*Water|Hydration if WW1.25 cups295 g. | 70295 g. | 70
**Water|Hydration Rye282 g. | 68282 g. | 68

Swedish Rye Bread, a limpa style, from BLBMC:

BLBMC p. 136
Loaf SizeMediumMediumMediumMedium
Salt levelFull50%50%25%
ProgramBake BasicCustom 1Custom 1
IngredientsVolumeWeight [V.]
B %Weight [V.]
Dried orange peel1.5 tsp.[1.5 tsp.][1.5 tsp.]
Fennel Seed2 tsp.[2 tsp.][2 tsp.]
Instant Yeast High2 tsp.2.8 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC201.2 tsp [3.2 g.]1.6 g..8 g.
I. Y. Low1.4 g.
White Flour2 cups278 g.70139 g. [1cup]
Medium Rye Flour1.25 cups120 g. [1 cup]30120 g. [1 cup]
Whole Wheat Flour139 g. [1cup]
Gluten4 tsp.4 g. [1 tsp.}
Salt1 1/4 tsp [7.1 g.]3.6 g.1.7 g.
Oil1.5 Tbsp.[1.5 T.][1.5 T.]
Honey3 tbsp.60 g. [3 tbsp.]
{12 g.}
60 g. [3 tbsp.]
{12 g.}
Water1.25 cups [296 g.]296 g.60 g. [3 tbsp.]
{12 g.}
Hydration308 g.69306 g.

Scandinavian Light Rye, from BLBMC:

BLBMC p. 134
Loaf SizeMediumMediumMediumMedium
Salt levelFull50%50%25%
ProgramBasicCustom 1
IngredientsVolumeWeight [V]Weight [V]
I.Y. High2.5 tsp. [6.1 g.]3.1 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC-20[4.2 g.]2.1 g.1.1 g.
I.Y. Low[3.2 g.]1.6 g.
White Flour1.875 cups261 g.66139 g, [1 cup]
Dark Rye Flour1.125 cups135 g.34120 g.
Whole Wheat Fl.137 g.
Gluten1 tsp.4 g. [1 tsp.]
Caraway Seed and/or
Anise seed
1.5 Tbsp.[1.3 T.][1.3 T.]
Brown sugar2 Tbsp.[2 T.][2.5 T.]
Salt1.5 tsp. [8.6 g.]4.3 g.2.1 g.
TFW396 g.100
Oil1.5 Tbsp.[1.5 T.][1.5 T.]
Water1.125 cups266 g.275 g.

Narsai’s Rye Bread is a bread machine recipes in Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible. It gets a brown colour from molasses

Bread Bible p. 441
Loaf SizeMediumMediumMediumMedium
Salt LevelFull50%50%25%
ProgramBake Basic
IngredientsVolumeWeight [V]B %Weight [V]
Instant Yeast, High2 tsp [5.6 g.]2.8 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC201.6 g..8 g.
I. Y. Low1.4 g.
White Flour2 cups [278 g.]288 g.75144 g.
Medium Rye Flour3/4 cups90 g.2490 g.
Gluten4 tsp.0 g.
Salt1 tsp. {5.7 g.]2.9 g.1.4 g.
Caraway Seed2 tsp.[2 tsp.][2 tsp.]
Dried Orange Peel1 tsp.[1 tsp.][1 tsp.]
Oil2 Tbsp.[2 T.][2 T.]
Molasses3 tbsp.63 g. [3 tbsp.]
{15 g.}
63 g. [3 tbsp.]
{15 g.}
Water1 cup237 g.237 g.

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