I love rye bread in all its forms, from lighter sandwich loaves to the dark, dense pumpernickel types. Not everyone is a fan though. Often times what people don’t like about rye bread is the caraway seed, or the artificial sour flavoring that is often added by commercial bakeries. Home bakers have the advantage of making bread to suit their own and their family’s tastes. Don’t like the flavor of caraway? Leave it out! Or use a smaller amount instead.
Rye flour has a reputation of being difficult to work with, especially in breads with a high proportion of it. Rye has less gluten than wheat, and the gluten is more delicate. The chemical makeup of rye also makes the dough sticky and hard to work with, plus the finished bread can be gummy. Still, the flavor of a well-made loaf of rye bread is worth a little extra effort if you’re a rye fan like me.
This recipe uses the bread machine for kneading and the first rise, which avoids the stickiness problem by letting the machine do the work. This bread has 31% rye flour, along with 17% whole wheat flour to add a little extra character. The molasses adds color and a little sweetness, while the powdered milk and butter soften the crumb and help the bread stay fresh longer.
Be sure and let the dough rise high enough before baking to avoid the bread splitting when it expands in the oven. And let the finished bread cool thoroughly before slicing. It slices even better the next day.
NOTE: The recipe calls for using an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan, which produces a loaf that is about as tall as it is wide. Use a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan to get a loaf that is wider than it is tall, and when proofing allow the dough to rise to the top of the pan before baking.