Rye toast with Orange-Raspberry Jam

While we haven’t met a bread we didn’t like, we’ve always been partial to dense rye breads. This was our first sourdough experiment – doubly challenging because it is 100% wholegrain.

Meteil is the term for a rye bread that has less than 50% rye flour, unlike a siegle, which has over 50% rye. This one is a combination of whole rye (40%) and whole wheat, delicately flavoured with onion and caraway.

It was a resounding success. 75% of the breads we’ve made since have been sourdough with varying amounts of whole rye flour.

Wheat vs. Rye

Wheat breads are airier, with greater volume because of the high gluten content. Rye yields a denser loaf with a richer flavour and aroma and a longer shelf life.

Rye contains about only about half the gluten content of wheat. Rye proteins form a network of starches, as opposed to gluten. Enzyme activity converts these starches to sugars. This process compromises the gluten, affecting the structure of the loaf. Moreover, rye proteins gelatinize at a lower temperature than wheat starch and once the dough goes into the oven, enzymatic degradation takes place rather quickly. This leads to a gummy loaf.

Rye breads are usually made with part all-purpose flour which has a high gluten content. When it is substituted with whole wheat flour, vital gluten is added to aid the process. This is optional, but recommended.

Gluten strands

Getting a good quality rye loaf requires some form of acidification. The best rye breads use a sourdough (wild yeast) starter that controls the enzymes during baking to prevent them from attacking the starches and breaking down the loaf. In lieu of sourdough, some recipes replace some of the water with yogurt or buttermilk. Others use vinegar. See what rye bread looks like with and without acidification.

This recipe uses both stiff sourdough starter and buttermilk. Vegans may use soy yogurt or soymilk.

Baking with rye calls for a different approach. This is outlined at Wild Yeast. In a nutshell:

  • Always use sourdough or some form of acid.
  • Mix gently and not for too long.
  • We prefer to knead it by hand for 7 to 8 minutes, or in the bread machine bowl for not more than five minutes.

    Rye gained favour in parts of Scandinavia and western Europe when harsh climatic conditions hindered the growth of wheat. In addition to being easier to cultivate, rye is also nutritionally superior to wheat. Breads made with rye are hearty and filling since even the endopserm of rye contains fibre.

    The lignins in the bran also make it a higher-quality fibre. They create a favourable environment for benefecial bifidobacteria in the gut, and generate butyric and propionic acid that lower the pH of the colon and function as a natual antibiotic.

    Types of Rye flours

    1. Light/white rye flour – devoid of the bran and germ
    2. Dark rye flour – mostly pericarp with a little endosperm
    3. Whole rye flour or Whole grain rye flour – flour made from the whole grain
    4. Pumpernickel rye flour – a more coarsely milled version of Whole rye flour.

    Other whole rye products used in breads are rye meal and rye chops (cracked rye).

    We use whole or pumpernickel rye flour depending on availability. The next best option is dark rye flour.

    Both, our whole grain sourdough starter recipe, and this bread are from Peter Reinhart‘s Whole Grain Breads. In the book, this is called ‘Rye Sandwich Meteil‘ (p.112)

    For the soaker:
    227 grams (8 oz) – 1.75 cups – whole wheat flour, preferably fine grind (like chapati flour)

    4 grams (0.14 oz) – 0.5 tsp – salt

    170 grams (6 oz) – 0.75 cup – buttermilk, milk, yogurt, soy yogurt or soymilk

    7 grams (0.25 oz) – 1 tbsp – vital wheat gluten (optional)

    Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time.

    Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave it at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (Or refrigerate beyond that for upto 3 days, bring to room temperature and use.)

    For the starter:
    71 grams (2.5 oz) – 6 tbsp – stiff whole wheat or rye sourdough starter

    213 grams (7.5 oz) – about 1 and 2/3 cups – whole rye flour

    170 grams (6 oz) – 0.75 cup – filtered or spring water at room temperature

    Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. Knead for about 2 minutes. The dough will be tacky. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time. Rest for 5 minutes, knead with wet hands for a minute until the dough is smooth. A bit tacky is okay. It will absorb moisture as it sits.

    Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and leave at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. The dough should nearly double in size and have a pleasantly acidic aroma like apple cider vinegar. If you test it with pH paper, it should register between 3.5 and 4.0.

    Degas by kneading very gently.

    This dough can be refrigerated for upto 3 days and used after bringing back to room temperature.

    Final dough:
    Soaker – chopped or pinched into 12 pieces

    Starter – chopped or pinched into 12 pieces

    5 grams (0.18 oz) (about 5/8 tsp) salt

    56.5 grams (2 oz) whole wheat flour (about 7 tablespoons)

    7 gms (0.25 oz) – 2.25 tsps – instant yeast

    28.5 grams (1 oz) – 1.5 tbsps – unsulphured molasses/sorghum syrup/maple syrup

    14 grams (0.5 oz) – honey/agave nectar/sugar/brown sugar (2.25 tsps honey/agave nectar or 1 tbsp. sugar/brown sugar)

    28.5 grams (1 oz) – 2 tbsp – melted butter or vegetable oil

    113 grams (4 oz) – diced onion (one very small onion) or 2 tbsps minced dried onion

    7 grams (0.2 oz) – 2 tsps – caraway seeds/nigella seeds/aniseeds

    Knead everything well for 5-7 by hand minutes until you have a not-too-sticky, supple dough. Form into a ball, let it rest covered with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes and knead for another minute. Add tbsp of flour or a tsp of water at a time to adjust the consistency if you need to.

    If using a mixer, knead until it just comes together, and then knead by hand. Dust your palms liberally with flour. Knead until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky.

    Roll the dough into a ball and swirl it around an oiled bowl to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and and let it rise for 45-60 minutes until 1.5 times its original size.

    Shape the loaf into a boule (ball) or grease a loaf pan and put the dough it after gently kneading and deflating it in the form of a sandwich loaf.

    If it is freestanding, place it on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal (or lined with parchment or silicone), dust with a bit of flour and let it rise covered for another 50 to 60 minutes until 1.5 times its original size.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F (218C) with an empty pan in the top rack and another rack in the middle.

    When you are ready to bake, place it in the middle rack with the baking sheet, and pour a cup of hot water into the pan on the top rack. If using a loaf pan, we like to slash the loaf to release steam.

    Reduce the heat to 350F (177C) and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf registers at least 195F in the center. You can rotate it once at the 20 minute mark, but we didn’t find it necessary.

    Cool on a wire rack for an hour.

    This bread goes to:

    Susan @ Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting


    Aparna @ My Diverse Kitchen. She’s hosting Weekend Breakfast Blogging this month, where the theme is Grains in my Breakfast


    CLICK: Crusts
    Event Details HERE

    Photographer: Jai
    Camera: Canon EOS 300D
    Lens: 100 mm macro
    Shutter speed: 1/15 sec
    ISO Speed: 200
    F-stop: f/8.0

    DEADLINE: September 30, 2008

    Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,



    1. OhioMom says:

      Okay, I have all the ingredients in my pantry for this bread :) … and the weather will be very cool here next week, can’t wait to try it.

    2. Divya says:

      Made the mistake of making home-made bread a couple of times now. (Thanks to all the crusty temptations baked by you.) Store-bought ones are history now.
      I am so not making this Bee! Just can’t seem to meet the demands!

    3. What an awesome loaf. Beauty and brains in one delicious package.

    4. Manggy says:

      I’m not super-familiar with the name of the patterned bowl… Is it couche? Anyway, the resulting bread is vewwwy pwetty :) The humidity here is close to 90-100% most days, so I find it hard to achieve a smooth dough without adding a lot of flour (which would make it… tough?). I think even after all this time, I’m still lacking practice. Maybe I ought to get better ingredients (hee, find blame, why not).

      it has some fancy german name. we just call it ‘coiled wicker basket’.

    5. Bharti says:

      Gorgeous bread and totally outta my league.. I’m just gonna admire and drool over this one. Not even gonna pretend that I’ll ever make it ;-) !

    6. Cham says:

      Your breads are always out of reach for me :( Admire your bread baking skills and the info about wheat Vs Rye :)

    7. Happy Cook says:

      I love making bread at home.
      As we have bread for breakfast and for dinner, i always think home made is delicious and ofcourse cheaper.
      Rye bread looks so good. I have never made a bread with a starter.

    8. Shreya says:

      As always, a ton of information for me in the post. Totally new, and interesting. I have never baked, but would definitely love to try it if I come across it somewhere:-) Beautiful click(s), great backgrounds…

    9. Arundathi says:

      Love the wicker basket pattern – does it come from covering it and letting it rise inside? I’m sure we’ll be able to find something similar here… thanks for a great idea.

    10. Deb says:

      Really inspiring post. I bet the Pomodori al Forno I am making today would be amazing on your bread. Or the onion marmalade from a couple of weeks ago.

      Too bad we live so far away from each other. With your bread and my bread toppings we could make beautiful tartines together.

    11. RedChillies says:

      I am not sure about the bread, but i am wagging my ‘tail’ here for the orange raspberry jam :-)

    12. sunita says:

      Drooling over the bread…I have just started to experiment with rye, so loved this post :-)

    13. Nora says:

      wow, this bread looks gorgeous!! Thanks for the informative post.

    14. Uma says:

      Wow, what an elegant bread! Very well written post.

    15. Alka says:

      Now wht can i say but…..this whole post just bounced over my head….i am not a DARING BAKER…but BAKING-LY-CHALLENGED!
      Haven’t yet took even a baby step towards baking a simple loaf..so i can’t even see making me these in coming few decades ;-)
      Till now i had just adapted myself into eating brown bread…but honestly i still like the taste of Soft buns than any healthy bread(blushing with shame)
      Heard of RYE just in your posts…never found this in any of food malls!
      But a nice CLICK for CRUST THEME….and i am sure u guys had enjoyed that!!

    16. Jude says:

      Great crust and crumb.. One of the recipes I have yet to try from Reinhart’s work on whole grain breads..

    17. Nirmala says:

      What a crust ? Looks superb! And I once (only once) tasted rye bread in Canada. It has an earthy flavor and very dense. I found it hard to swallow even with jams. Does u’rs moist enough?

    18. Can smell that bread from here….

    19. Divya says:

      Far more than perfect!!

    20. Aparna says:

      All I can say is that your bread looks good, Bee and Jai (because I’m still waiting for that check box thingummyjig).:)
      We don’t get rye here and I’m slowly experimenting to see how well the low gluten flours I get will work.
      Btw, I just saw this post in my reader and realised it was coming into WBB. Haven’t got the mail, if you have sent it in. May I request that you please resend it?

    21. aulaire says:

      Please, someone, PLEASE tell me where that knife is from?

      1st pic – TJ Maxx. 3rd pic – henckel

    22. sunshinemom says:

      I want to know the answer to the Aulaire’s question too!! You just made me realize its ages since I baked!!

    23. [...] 100% Whole Grain Sourdough Rye Meteil ~ jugalbandi [...]

    24. [...] 100% Whole Grain Sourdough Rye Meteil ~ Jugalbandi (Jai) [...]

    25. purplesque says:

      Made this today..absolutely phenomenal. Not only is the flavor amazing, I got great marbling due to my imperfect kneading technique. Thanks a ton, guys.

    26. [...] 100% Whole Grain Sourdough Rye Meteil ~ Jugalbandi (Jai) [...]

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