The Best Rye Bread You've Ever Made

Rye bread dates back to the Middle Ages, with variations coming from Northern and Eastern Europe. In Germany and the U.S., rye bread's malty, earthy flavor is often augmented with caraway seeds, which gives rye bread a distinctive taste that's different from other seeded breads. This recipe for easy no-knead rye bread is more traditional (meaning, no seeds) and was developed by Mark Beahm, whose blog The Sunday Baker, revels in the joys rustic European baking. Beahm was raised in Maine, where he told us "there was only one bakery in my hometown at the time that specialized in European bread and pastries." 

He now lives in London and shares his passion for the food, culture, and history of the European countries he's visited. Beahm's no-knead bread couldn't be simpler and will reward your minimal effort with a bread that has a rick, dark crust and soft and chewy interior. "I always wanted to learn to bake a loaf like that," Beahm said, "This bread is almost foolproof, and yet it will get you most of the way to that perfect loaf." Prep time for this recipe literally takes five minutes, and after that, you just let the flour and yeast do its thing. Once it's risen, you bake it in a Dutch oven, and 50 minutes later, you'll turn out a rye bread you'd swear a professional baker baked.

Gather together the ingredients for rye bread

The recipe calls for bread flour  not all-purpose flour  because it has a higher protein content and allows the dough to rise higher. Bread flour's protein creates more gluten, which results in the desired chewy texture when the bread is baked. Just as there are different types of white flours, rye flour also has several varieties, depending on how much of the rye kernel is ground. Beahm uses dark rye, which has a bold and molasses-like taste. If you're a newbie to rye, then a medium rye flour is a Goldilocks "just right" rye: It has a lighter texture and an assertive, but not overpowering, taste. 

You can still make this no-knead recipe if you can't find rye flour or prefer to use something else. "This recipe is pretty flexible," Beahm said. "You can substitute it with whole wheat flour or just use all white bread flour. You'll still have a delicious loaf of bread." The remaining ingredients are just instant dried yeast, salt, and water. Measure out the ingredients, and you're ready to go.

Mix the ingredients together for the rye bread, and let the dough rise

Before you begin, you should know that you'll need to make the dough the day before you bake to give it a chance to rise. To start, sift through a strainer or stir together the bread flour, rye flour, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, and using a large wooden spoon, stir it into the dry ingredients. Because this is a sticky dough, you might have a little difficulty mixing everything together. 

Julia Child often encouraged mixing things with ("impeccably clean") hands, and if you're having trouble with a spoon or spatula, Beahm recommends the same. However you get the job done, make sure that you mix the dough well enough that you don't see any flour bits or clumps.  When you're done mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise overnight 12 to 18 hours  until it's doubled in size.

Shape the rye dough, and let it rise one more time

The next day, generously dust your work surface with flour. Tip the bowl with the dough slightly, and use a rubber spatula or your fingertips to gently ease the dough onto the work surface. The dough is fragile at this point, so take care that you don't tear it. You'll be now shaping the dough into a round-loaf shape. If you've never worked with a sticky dough before, this step can be a little tricky. But Beahm suggests two strategies that tend to help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. "You can coat your hands with flour and reapply flour as needed. Or, you can dip your hand in some water so the dough won't stick to you." 

Once you've got the dough on the work surface, gently fold the dough into itself, shaping it into a ball. No kneading is needed! Dust a tea towel with flour, and gently lift the dough onto the towel, seam side down. Fold the towel loosely over the dough, and then transfer it to a mixing bowl. If you don't want to use a tea towel, parchment paper will work as well. Let the dough rise for one to two hours, until it has again doubled in size.

Transfer the rye dough to the preheated Dutch oven

Thirty minutes before the dough has finished its second rise, move an oven rack into the lower third of the oven, and put the Dutch oven on the rack. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. When the Dutch oven is preheated after half-an-hour, use well-insulated oven mitts to carefully remove it from the oven. When handling a hot Dutch oven, Beahm recommends leaving a towel or another set of oven mitts on the pot's handle as a reminder it's very hot, so you don't accidentally grab it with bare hands. Remove the lid from the hot Dutch oven, and use the tea towel to gently invert the dough into the Dutch oven seam side facing up. Cover the pot, and bake for 30 minutes.

Bake, cool, and slice the rye bread

To achieve a beautiful, dark golden-brown crust, take off the Dutch oven's lid (this would be a good time to follow Beahm's advice and leave a towel on top of the lid). Bake the bread 15 to 20 minutes more. Using oven mitts, transfer the Dutch oven to the counter, and very carefully, lift the bread out and place it on a baking rack. Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. This no-knead rye bread will be delicious on its own, served with a meal, or as the bread for just about any kind of sandwich

For Beahm, baking can be a coping mechanism in stressful times or a way to celebrate with friends and family. "People really appreciate it when you've taken the time to make something for them," he told us. With this recipe for no-knead rye bread, only you have to know how little effort it took to bake this show-stopper of a bread.

The Best Rye Bread You've Ever Made
5 from 52 ratings
No need to head to your local bakery for a loaf of rye bread. This no-knead rye recipe delivers a delicious and stunning loaf that you'll swear a pro baked.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
50
minutes
Servings
12
servings
 rye bread home baked
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon instant dried yeast
  • 1-½ cups water
Directions
  1. Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, and mix until no bits of dry flour remain. The dough will be very sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature overnight until the dough has doubled in size, about 12-18 hours.
  3. Generously dust a work surface with flour. Tip the bowl slightly, and use a rubber spatula or your fingertips to gently remove the dough from the bowl onto your work surface without tearing it. Lightly flour your hands, and gently fold the dough into itself, shaping it into a ball.
  4. Generously dust a tea towel with flour, and gently place the dough onto the towel, seam side down. Loosely fold the towel over the dough, and place it into a small mixing bowl. Let the dough rise until it's almost doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.
  5. A half-hour before the dough has finished proofing, put a rack in the lower third of the oven. Set the Dutch oven on the rack, and preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the preheated Dutch oven, and remove the lid. Use the tea towel to gently invert the dough into the Dutch oven, seam side up. Be careful: The pot will be very hot. Cover the pot, and bake 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven, and continue baking the bread 15 to 20 minutes, until it's a dark golden brown. Carefully lift the bread out of the Dutch oven, and let it cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 159
Total Fat 0.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32.2 g
Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
Total Sugars 0.4 g
Sodium 173.7 mg
Protein 5.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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