Light Rye – Bread Machine

Bread made with rye flour was made when rye grew in northern climates and wheat did not. Rye has less protein and does not produce enough gluten to rise like a leavened wheat bread. Rye loaves are a specialty product for commercial bakers. There are retail/craft/home formulas for a rustic style with rye flour, e.g.  King Arthur Classic Pumpernickel baked in an oven.  Pumpernickel is outside the capabilities of bread machines.

Most commercial and home made rye bread is made with wheat flour with rye flour or rye meal – light rye. 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 versions of a deli style; there are consumer reconstructions of local bakery styles. 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 has less of the proteins that build gluten than wheat flour, and does not rise.  Light rye bread rises becaause it is typically over 75% bread flour, and may have been enhanced with vital wheat gluten. Rye flour has pentosans which absorb water early in mixing but release it after periods of intensive mixing. According to Daniel DiMuzio’s Bread Baking, An Arisan’s Perspective (p. 51), bakers with control of speed and time use a short period of slow mixing for dough with significant amounts of rye flour, and little intensive mixing DiMuzio notes (p. 216) that dough for deli-style light rye (80% white/20% 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.

Rye bread often contains caraway seeds; consumers associate the flavour of caraway with the flavour of rye. 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 Kamijnekaas – the spiced Dutch cheeses Leiden Kaas and spiced Gouda. Other flavouring agents: fennel and anise seeds, chopped onion, dried orange peel, orange zest and orange oil.

There are dark or sour light rye styles with wheat 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.

There are no standard recipes – recipes are dependent on the machine, the pan and the ingredients.

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. There is a 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 and caraway seeds, with 3 cups of bread flour. It is nearly identical to Panasonic’s Basic White Bread, but sort of evokes light rye bread. Overloading the motor is probably not the issue with rye flour, unless a user tries to use a bread machine to mix pumpernickel!. When I baked light rye in a Panasonic, the machine mixed a dough that looked reasonable in the first 10 minutes of kneading, but was wet by the time the rise phase starts. 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. The loaf had the crumb and texture of white sandwich bread; a little drier. Panasonic, and probably any bread machine used in a bake program, kneads for a longer time than a rye bread needs. Panasonic kneads longer or more intensively than other brands. I tried out the Zojirushi BB-PAC20, in a custom program with a short “knead” phase, with a good result.

In theory, a user could hack the the bake program: e.g. turn off the machine after slow mix and a few minutes of knead/mix and let it rise and finish it on the counter and in the oven. In the machine:

  • let it sit, knock it down once with a spatula, let it “bench” rise and
  • plug it in; clear the unfinished cycle if the machine did not clear it; and set to bake in a program that purely bakes such as “cake”.

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. 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?

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. Anita’s Organic Mill Organic Rye Flour is available in 1 kg. bags; not in local stores, but 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. Rogers Dark Rye may be about 124 grams a cup, settled and scooped. Anita’s about 120 grams a cup if settled and scooped to pack the cup.

The recipes for light rye bread in Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (at pp. 133-143, 313, and the light rye recipes in the Bread Bible use the bake or whole wheat program. There are no standard recipes – recipes are dependent on the machine, the pan and the ingredients.

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

Bake BasicSource50% Sodium 
Medium Loaf
Medium Loaf@ 75% of medium
Instant Yeast2 tsp2.8 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC201.6 g.1.2 g.
I. Y. Low1.4 g.
White Flour2 cups288 g.209 g.
Medium Rye Flour3/4 cups90 g.68 g.
Gluten4 tsp.0 g.
Salt1 tsp2.9 g.2.1 g.
Caraway Seed2 tsp.[2 tsp.]1.5 tsp
Dried Orange Peel1 tsp.[1 tsp.].75 tsp
Oil2 tbsp.[2 tbsp.][1.5 tbsp.]
Molasses3 tbsp.63 g. [3 tbsp.]
{15 g.}
2.25 tbsp
45 g.
{9 g. }
Water1 cup237 g.

Scandinavian Light Rye, from BLBMC:

 MediumMediumMediumMedium@ 75% of medium
BLBMC50% sodium
50% sodium50% sodium50% sodium
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2.5 tsp1.25 tsp. | .625 tspn | 1.8 g.n | 1.3 g.
White Flour1.875 cups261 g.66201 g.
Dark Rye Flour1.125 cups135 g.3495 g.
TFW396 g.100
Brown Sugar2 tbsp1.5 tbsp
Caraway Seed1.5 tbsp1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp
1.5 tsp.75 tsp
4.3 g.3.2 g.
Gluten1 tsp.0
Oil1.5 tbsp1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp
Water1.125 cups266 g.67200 g.

Swedish Rye Bread, from BLBMC:

 Source50% Sodium50% Sodium 
Medium Loaf
Medium Loaf@ 80% of medium
ProgramBake BasicCustomCustom
IngredientsVolumeWeight [V.]B %Weight [V.]
Dried orange peel1.5 tsp.[1.5 tsp.][1 + 1/4 tsp.]
Fennel Seed2 tsp.[2 tsp.][1 5/8 tsp.]
Caraway Seed
Instant Yeast2 tsp.2.8 g.
I.Y. BB-PAC201.6 g.1.3 g.
I. Y. Low1.4 g.
White Flour2 cups278 g.65209 g.
Medium Rye Flour1.25 cups150 g.35120 g.
Gluten4 tsp.10 g. [4 tsp.]8 g. [1 tbsp.]
Salt1 1/4 tsp3.6 g.2.9 g.
Oil1.5 tbsp.[1.5 tbsp.][1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp.]
Honey3 tbsp.60 g. [3 tbsp.]
{12 g.}
48 g. [2 1/2 tbsp.]
{9 g. water}
Water1.25 cups296 g.69237 g.

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