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Peasant Rye Bread

Rye Bread Basics

What do you think of when we say, "rye bread"? For most "middle of the road" Americans, it is a dark brown almost black bread with a light texture. True real Volkornbrot (the German stuff) is heavy and must be cut very thin. It takes almost 6 days from formation of the starter to the climactic consumption of the first slice. Our recipe today is the American version. We're not waiting 6 days.

Rye Flour

Rye bread is typically made with a portion of whole grain rye flour. The Rye grain is naturally a grey-blue color and loaves made with it tend to look a lot like granite boulders. To make it look more appealing, bakers over the centuries have added molasses or cocoa to the dough to give it a darker brown color. The rye specialty flours are sometimes hard to locate and many grocery stores don't carry them. Also, because of their protein content, they really do tend to lead to a rather dense loaf of bread. Traditionally, rye bread is also made with some sourdough starter to add to the tangy sourdough flavor. The dough tends to be finicky and hard to work with.

Our Recipe

We wanted a good Peasant Rye Bread recipe that would taste and act like a traditional rye bread, without all the down-sides of using the rye flour and sourdough starter. This recipe uses all the traditional flavor agents for rye bread including the iconic flavor of caraway seed coupled with mustard. One secret ingredient, pickle juice, gives it a sourdough tanginess and also compliments the flavors of the caraway and mustard. For extra flavor, use the juice from a good garlic kosher pickle.

Light Peasant Rye Bread

yield: 2 loaves

1 Tbsp. Red Star Active Dry Yeast

2 cup Lukewarm Water

¼ cup Vegetable Oil

½ cup Kosher Dill Pickle Juice

3 Tbsp. Whole Grain Deli Mustard

2 Tbsp. Minced Onion

¼ cup Molasses

1 Tbsp. Caraway Seeds

1/4 cup baker's cocoa


  • Combine all the dough ingredients and knead by mixer 6-7 minutes until a smooth elastic dough is formed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and raise 1 ½ hours until doubled. Divide dough into two equal balls. Form each ball into a loaf and place into a greased 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan OR raise in an 8 inch Brotform mold.

  • Tent the pan with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow to raise 1 hour or until just below the edge of the pan. If you used a Brotform mold, unmold gently onto parchment and transfer to a baking stone in a preheated oven. See the full tutorial/demonstration here.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown or until the internal temperature registered 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven and cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before slicing.

We love it served with corned beef and spicy mustard! Enjoy.

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