Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rye and Whole Wheat Bread - #BreadBakers

"...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” ― M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition 

On December 23, I got some bad news. I accidentally called my mother (touch screens, gotta love them) as I was sitting down to dinner. She picked up and after a moment of "Did you call?" "Or did I call?" she said, "Well, I wasn't going to tell you this, but since you called..." My world stopped at that point. Looking back, it really wasn't the worst news - I've imagined worse - but if left as is, things could have gotten really, really, really bad. I was helplessly hundreds of miles away (in a different country) while she was there alone not having any idea how to fix things - and I didn't either. I broke down. I prayed. I cried some more. My dinner forgotten. I spent the next 22 hours alternating between praying and trying not to cry. Luckily, others got the ball rolling and the situation was resolved. We even laughed a bit while she related what happened during those 22 painful hours. I know she probably left any bad out but the final outcome was good so I won't dwell on it.

Round #3

During that time, I had the strong urge to lose myself in bread-making. I started baking more often 3 years ago when bad news paused my life. I didn't know what to do so I went to the kitchen and baked cakes and didn't stop baking for a while. Earlier that year, I had taken up growing a sourdough starter and bread baking to deal with the anniversary of a death. Before that, there was an uptick in baking when I found out that I had a brain tumour. Baking is my therapy. (Oh, I guess I shouldn't just casually mention a brain tumour. I'll write about that more in the future or link to my other blog that has more info. Short story: I had surgery and hopefully, it isn't growing back. )

Back to December 23.  I grabbed pencil and paper and started scribbling notes for this month's Bread Bakers. Anshie challenged us to bake with rye using no refined sugars or refined grains. Oh boy. I have worked with 100% whole grain doughs before. A friend introduced me to white whole wheat. Wait. Can we talk about white whole wheat for a second? Why not call it whole white wheat? Saying white whole wheat makes it sound like bleached whole wheat. I guess since we don't call the other one red wheat, saying white wheat would be just as confusing to those just hearing about it. I still prefer to say whole white wheat. Now as I was saying. I worked with white whole wheat a lot so a 100% whole grain dough shouldn't have been too scary. But for some reason, I was apprehensive. It didn't help that I couldn't find any white whole wheat around here and had to "settle" for traditional red whole wheat. Confession: This was the FIRST time I was ever buying/using red whole wheat.

Round #2
It really wasn't that bad to work with. With the addition of rye, the texture of the dough was like nothing I had ever worked with before. I actually made this bread three times in the last three weeks. For the first loaf, I used 40% rye & 60% whole wheat. I didn't like it that much. I think it baked a little too long but the main reason was that I forgot salt. A lean dough without salt or any other flavoring. Yeah, I almost turned it into bread pudding. For the second and third rounds, I lowered the rye to 30% and added a bit of whole wheat to the poolish. I definitely preferred to feel of the dough. And I most definitely did not forget salt after autolysis. I'll try 40% rye again but with all purpose flour and maybe some flavor additions.

My final products were decent enough - not my favourites. But I think I need to get used to the taste of traditional red whole wheat. The crumb is dense (as I expected) but I managed to avoid the gumminess than can plague rye doughs. I read that letting the bread cool overnight could reduce this. Now, I don't know if that definitely helped or if I just baked to the right temperature. But I did not have a gummy loaf - dense but not gummy. I am eating a slice of round #3 as I type this. Lightly toasted with butter. I think I prefer it toasted.

I am looking forward to what the other Bread Bakers made with rye this month. Scroll down to see the list below.

Round #3's Crumb
Rye & Whole Wheat Bread
Recipe by: Kelly   
Yield: one ~680g (1.5lb) loaf
136 grams rye flour
44 grams whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
180 grams water

Final dough
All of poolish
275 grams red whole wheat
14 grams vital wheat gluten
130 grams water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the poolish ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and leave overnight (8 - 10 hours). The mixture will be puffed not bubbly.
Add all the remaining ingredients except salt. Knead for 2 minutes and then let rest for 20 minutes. After resting, add salt and knead for an additional 6 - 8 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled at room temperature 1 - 2 hours.

After dough has risen, shape into a ball and then let rest for ten minutes. After resting, shape into a tight boule. Allow to rest until almost doubled. This could take 45 to 60 minutes depending on the temperature of the room.

While dough is rising, preheat oven with a covered baking vessel to 450 F.

Slash the dough and carefully place in the hot vessel. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 425 F, remove cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the loaf reaches 200 F.
  •  Covered vessel examples - bread cloche, Dutch oven, oven safe slow cooker insert with foil. You could also create steam in the oven for those first 15 minutes.

Tangzhong Rye Bread by Stacy at Food Lust People Love
Sourdough Rye Bread by Ansh at Spiceroots
Potato Onion Rye Meteil by Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories
Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa) by Nicole at The 2nd 35 Years
Rye Fennel Crackers by Renee at Magnolia Days
Caraway Rye Crackers with Reuben spread by Jenni at Pastry Chef Online
Artisan Dark Rye Bread by Cindy at Cindy's Recipes and Writing
Chocolate rye bread by Rocio at Kidsandchic
Pain d'Epice by Laura at Baking in Pyjamas
Danish Rye Bread by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm
Hapanleipä - Finnish Sour Rye Bread by Robin at A Shaggy Dough Story
Banana Rye Muffins by Adam at Bakers and Best
Boston Brown Bread by Holly at A Baker's House
Rye and Whole Wheat Bread by Kelly at Passion Kneaded
Slow Cooker Boston Brown Bread by Mireille at Chef Mireille's East West Realm

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to


  1. At least I'm not the only one that heads to the kitchen for baking therapy in stressful times. I'm glad you kept going with the bread. The third time was the charm it appears.

    1. It's amazing how much it helps. In terms of 3rd time being the charm, the second and third loaves were identical. I just changed the shape to practise forming boules.

  2. I think the crumb of your bread looks great! Sorry for whatever bad news you got from your mom, but I'm glad it all worked out in the end. Baking is the best therapy. Many good wishes for your continued health.

  3. When my Pops was dying and my sister walked in the door, she and her husband started laughing. Then they told me that when she hung up the phone with the news Pops was in hospice she immediately started cleaning. When her husband asked what she was doing she said that she was dealing with Pops going into hospice and told him when we got to my house I would be cooking to deal with it and of course that is where they found me.
    Glad all worked out for your mom.

    1. Ha! I think baking is a great way to deal with stuff. My mother is a cleaner.
      Thanks, Wendy!

  4. Good wishes for a better health, Kelly. Baking is my therapy too. Your bread looks great. though I agree, the rye taste does take some getting used to.

  5. Glad to see I'm not the only one who has an issue with how white whole wheat is named!

    1. Alas, it may be too late to get them to change the name!

  6. I hope 2015 started out on a more positive note for you! Glad to know that baking is a therapeutic exercise for so many of us. Your bread looks great.

  7. Oh, Kelly, I found your other blog and read through it when you first asked to join Bundt Bakers. I'm kind of a budinski like that. You had never mentioned it so I never did either. I remember your posting, if I remember correctly, that you baked cake to celebrate/deal with the first anniversary of your surgery and new lease on life. I'm so sorry that you had to go through some trauma with your mom so far away. I can relate. But I am glad that it has all turned out. Meanwhile, your rye loaf is lovely! In fact, they were all lovely!

    1. Oh wow! I didn't realise that anyone found that one. I need to bring stuff from there over here but I just haven't decided on what to merge so it lingers.
      Yes, I do bake an anniversary cake. The next anniversary is in April and I already have the cake planned. I'm a bit excited about it.
      The hardest part of my mother being far away when things were at their worse was knowing how much she worried. Sure, I was in a lot of pain but I didn't want her to think about that. I think she aged a million years while in that hospital waiting room.
      Thanks, Stacey!

    2. Oops, Stacy. No "e". I've been talking to a friend who has that e and keep adding es where they don't belong.

  8. It's a lovely bread, Kelly. I definitely hear you on baking (and eating too, darn it) as therapy. There's something very comforting about it, especially the feel of the dough and how it transforms in your hands. I'm glad things worked out with your mom–being far away only adds more stress to an already stressful situation. Best wishes to you and yours and here's to continued good health. I've found your other blog and will definitely read through. And if you ever want to talk about those pesky brain tumors, just shoot me an email and we can compare notes. :/

    1. Thanks, Robin!
      Compare notes? You too? I'll have to email you soon.

  9. I find that if I don't have time in the kitchen, I have significantly more stress in my life. It's very therapeutic! My mom has been sick lately, and it is definitely hard to be on opposite ends of the country, unable to be near to support, so I totally empathize.

    1. Sorry that you can't be there for her! I hope she gets better soon

  10. I love the MFK Fisher quote, and I too use bread baking as therapy. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. This is such a beautiful post. xoxo

  11. Cooking and baking and blogging for that matter can be useful therapy. And delicious!

  12. The best therapy certainly be positive and bake bread. I am glad that the end was good and you could join this month at breadbakers. kisses

  13. Baking can be a good therapy and way to make you think as you toss and turn ingredients together, I'm glad to hear everything turned out well in the end. Lovely loaf you've created.