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New Bohemian Rye
or Edie's Bread

I was in a panic. I was having some serious cravings for Bohemian Rye Bread. The tangy rye, the balancing caraway, the deep rich tastes were calling me. And - the grocery store didn't have New Bohemian Bread - Edie's Breadthe medium rye flour I needed! They had whole rye. I'd never used whole rye, but I'd heard it had a great taste but reduced the rise of the finished loaf.

Since then emails with other bakers revealed that few grocery stores still carry medium rye! I really liked medium rye. I'd been told it handles better than whole rye and it has more taste than light rye. However, since all the local stores are carrying is whole rye, it was time to figure out how to use whole rye. And that lead to my New Bohemian Rye, or Edie's Bread, a variation on my Bohemian Rye Bread.

A closer view of the New Bohemian RyeIn talking about the Bohemian Rye, I said, "Sometimes it's called Deli Rye, sometimes it's called Bohemian Rye, but either way it's a light grey rye bread filled with sourness, caraway seeds, and flavor. Hickory Farm stores and deli's everywhere sell this bread. It's a rye bread so good it will make your toes curl. Slice it thick, slice it thin, cover it with meat and cheese, cover it with lox, it will be a delight. I've heard reports that some people even eat Nutella on it. (Actually, I've been known to do that. It's a lot better than it sounds. In fact, I do like it.)" In making the New Bohemian Rye Bread, I wanted to maintain the wonderful characteristics of the Bohemian Rye, but to make it with whole rye flour. If you are curious about the different types of rye flours, I have added a page that goes into a little detail about rye flours.

To make this bread with the whole rye flour, I had to change the recipe in a number of ways. I started by cutting back on the amount of rye flour. The whole rye flour has a lot more, and a lot stronger, taste than the medium rye so I dealt with this through the simple act of using less of the whole rye flour.Crumb shot New Bohemian, larger loaf

Next, the strength of the whole rye flour is not as good as that of the medium rye, so I built it up as much as I could by using all the rye flour in the recipe in the sourdough starter.

Finally, to make sure my starter was vibrantly healthy, I built it up over a day and a half in what is referred to as the "Detmolder three stage process." Detmold is a town in Germany which is the home to the German Federal Institute for Grain-, Potato- and Fat Research (Bundesanstalt fuer Getreide-, Kartoffel- und Fettforschung (BAGKF). Their scientists have developed several techniques to get the most out of rye flour. Each phase of the starter growth is carefully controlled with regards to time, temperature and hydration to help the starter be all it can be. I tried several other approaches to building the starter, and this was, hands down, the best approach. I was able to use starters out of the fridge that were not in ideal condition, run them through the three stage process and the process still worked to make a bread that was well risen and very flavorful. Because this process may be new to many people, I will explain it a bit.

Another crumb shot, new bohemian rye, larger loafIf you want more information about the Detmolder 3-stage process, there are two good readily available sources of information about the Detmolder 3-stage process. One is in Jeffery Hamelman's excellent book, "BREAD, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes," the other is on Samartha Deva's excellent web site. In addition to his own work, Samartha has an excerpt of Mr. Hamelman's book available. I'll summarize... the first, or "freshening", stage encourages the development of the yeast in the sourdough starter. To encourage this, we have a 150% hydration batter and a 5 to 6 hour process time at 80F.

The second stage us called the "basic sour" and it is a dryer dough (60 to 65% hydration) and a longer development time of about 24 hours at 80F. This stage develops the acetic acid potential of the culture, which eventually imparts the sour tang associated with sourdough bread.

The third, or full sour, stage develops the lactic acid in the starter, which will provide a smooth and mild acidity to the finished bread. In this stage we mix a 100% hydration dough and allow it to ripen at about 80F for 3 to 6 hours. At the end of the full sour stage, the rye sourdough has reached its final development and is ready to be used to make dough. As with all sourdough processes, the baker normally holds back a portion of the full ripe sourdough to make the next batch of bread.

If you look at the published literature, there is a fairly tight temperature range for the three stages.  In a class Mr. Hamelman gave I was surprised - and delighted - to find that he was a lot more laid back about the times and temperatures than one would think from reading the literature. I find that putting the culture in an oven with the oven light on is usually quite close to the desired temperatures. You can use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature of the oven with the oven light on, just remember to remove the thermometer before you turn on the oven.

In going through the three steps, have faith in the process. The three stages have a wide range of hydrations and are using 100% rye flour, so they will not behave in the ways you are used to seeing with lower hydrations doughs made with wheat flour. The first stage is at 150% hydration, and this wet a batter is not very likely to rise, not even if had been made with a high gluten wheat flour. So, go through with the three stages of the Detmolder process and then make the bread. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Detmolder 3-stage process 

Let's start the process at 6:00 AM on day 1. You may adjust the start time to meet your needs, however, the stage to stage timing should be kept close to the times given, and you should go directly from the Detmolder process to making the final dough. In other words, don't refrigerate the Detmolder starter or hold it. The first stage is built using your regular sourdough starter. It can be a white flour, wheat flour or rye flour starter. In the second and third stages, use the starter from the previous stage.

Please be aware that the cups and gram measurements are approximations of one another. Most people who measure in grams do not want to weigh out 1,234 grams. 1,230 is close enough. Nor do people using cups want strange cup measurements like 3/16 cup. So, please don't think that, for example, 90 grams of flour is 1/2 cup.

This recipe makes two 1 3/4 pound loaves. The bakers percentages are calculated for each stage of the 3 stage process, and again for the final dough.

Detmolder Three Stage Process:

StageTimeHours into the processLength of this stageStarterWaterWhole Rye Flour
Freshening - First
Day 1, 6:00 AM0 hours6 Hours5 grams
(1/2 tsp)
14 grams
(1 TBSP)
10 Grams
(4 tsp)
Basic Sour - Second
Day 1, noon6 hours24 hoursAll from above
91 grams
(3/8 cup or 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP)
130 grams
(1 3/16 Cups)
Full Sour - Third
Day 2, Noon30 hours5 hoursAll from above
290 Grams
(1 1/4 Cups)
290 Grams
(2 5/8 Cups)

The Final Dough -  About 5 hours after the last stage was started, it is time to make the final dough. Again, the full sour should not be refrigerated or otherwise held over. Schedule the process so that you can work straight through.

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
All of it - about 3 1/2 cupsDetmolder 3-stage rye starter from aboveAll of it - about 830 Grams123%
1 3/16 CupsWater270 Grams41%
2 1/2 tspButter, cut into smallish pieces37 Grams5.6%
5 2/3 CupsBread flour (1)670 Grams100%
4 tspSalt22 Grams3.2%
2 TBSPCaraway Seeds14 Grams2%

  1. In many recipes I like to use all-purpose flour. Not here. The weak rye flour needs something stronger to hold it together. I suggest something in the 12% protein and up range. I have made it with GM's All-Trumps (unbleached and unbromated), and Rocky Mountain Milling's Columbine.  GM's Harvest King should also be fine as should Central Milling's ABC and King Arthur's Sir Galahad or Sir Lancelot.

I strongly suggest that you use mixer for this bread. It is a very wet New Bohemian Rye Breadand sticky dough, and you'll be less likely to add too much bread flour if you use a mixer instead of making the bread by hand. Weigh, or measure, your ingredients into your mixer's bowl. Set up your mixer to knead, and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough should come together pretty well, though it will seem too liquid.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. This will let the flour absorb moisture from the dough. At the end of the 5 minutes, scrape the mixer bowl to dislodge any ingredients that stuck to it so they will become part of the bread.

Next knead for another 5 minutes or so, until the dough is fairly smooth. The whole grain rye will guarantee that the dough will be coarser than many doughs. The dough should have body, and resist your fingers when you press it. But it will be a liquid dough.

Once the dough is mixed, remove it from the mixing bowl, cut it in two, and then form the lumps of dough into rough loaf shapes.

Let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes or so.

Complete the loaf forming. There are two schools of loaf forming with rye doughs. Rye doughs tend to be sticky, and some people prefer to shape them with wet hands. Others prefer to shape them with absolutely dry hands - they will dust their hands with flour to insure they are dry, and remove any dough that adheres to their hands between forming loaves. Try both and see what works for you.

This is a wet, soft dough and it is not a good candidate for rising and baking as a free form loaf or with a brotform. You may want to bake this in a bread pan, or you may prefer to put the dough into a banneton.

Dust the tops of the loaves with flour and cover them with saran wrap. The flour will help keep the saran wrap from sticking. Let the loaves rise until almost doubled in size. This will be around 2 hours, depending on the activity of your starter.

Around 1 1/2 hours into the rise, start preheating your oven to 450F. Once it's at temperature, put the bread in the oven, put a cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven, and bake 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F. Bake another 45 minutes or so.

As with most rye breads, this is better, and easier to slice, the second day than the first.

And now a reading and cultural awareness test - there is a bit of a joke in the alternate name for this bread.  I'll give a free full sized copy of any of our cookbooks to the first person who lets me know through the Contact Us page what the joke is.  If you're the second person, a digest size printed copy.  The third person just gets an electronic copy.  After that, I'll end the contest and just explain the joke.

10 thoughts on “New Bohemian Rye Bread”

  1. Love your site, Mike. I’ve enjoyed playing with sourdough over the past 5 or 6 years and it all started here. So thanks so much for all the inspiration. I do want to point out that your gm to cup conversions on this Bohemian Rye recipe in the Detmolder section are incorrect. I figured that out when my Stage 2 looked like a swimming pool and your comment was that it will be a “dry dough”. I think it’s just the water volumes at stage 2 and 3. I suspect the grams is correct, but the cups are wrong. I usually measure by weight but was in a hurry. That’ll teach me. 🙂 (Also, couldn’t get the “Contact Us” button to work. Might just be my computer, but thought I’d mention it.)

    1. Hi Carol,

      Many thanks for the kind words!

      Thanks to you (grumble, grumble) I spent the last 5 or 6 hours looking at the recipe and the cup conversions in some detail. There were a few small errors, all of which would have made the dough dryer, rather than wetter.

      That left me scratching my head! What happened?

      Sadly, I don’t REALLY know. Your kitchen is not my kitchen. Your flour is not my flour. Your starter is not my starter. Still.. I can make a guess or two.

      I noticed that I put a note under the Detmolder instructions that should have been under the final dough instructions. It talked about needing to use bread flour. OOPS! In the Detmolder starter for this bread, it’s all rye. Whole rye. That was kinda the point of the recipe. And my note was misleading because of its placement. I’ve moved it.

      Still, that leaves the question of rye flour. Depending on where you live, it can be hard to find rye flour. For many Americans, rye bread is just in their culinary DNA. We had trouble giving our wonderful rye breads away in Colorado. And that’s a pity because rye bread can be so darned good! As a side note, many people who don’t like rye bread actually don’t like caraway seeds, but there are many great rye breads with no caraway seeds. Some people even think caraway is an unmilled rye kernel. It’s not. Completely different plant. But I digress.

      Getting back to rye flours. At one time I could go to the corner grocery store and buy light, medium, dark and whole rye. Now, oue corner store has NO! rye flour. None. They may not even have rye bread or rye crackers, though I have to admit I haven’t looked. There are profound differences in the flavor of these flours and how they handle. The more refined flours, light and medium rye, handle much like a white flour in terms of absorbing water. The dark and whole rye flours are sponges. If you happened to use a light or medium rye flour,the starter would be much more liquid than if you used the dark or whole rye flour. If you can get a light or medium rye flour, you might just make the sister recipe to this one, the Bohemain Rye bread.

      I must have watched an episode of “Click and Clack” recently as I’m hearing their recurring “Stump the Chump” segment rolling through my mind. Which is to say, pleawse let me know if I was close to what was happening in your bread.

      I’ll look into the “Contact us” link. Thanks for letting us know.

      Best wishes,

  2. Mike:

    I am making swirly rye bread today (actually going for the Marble variety). I got the doughs made and rising in bowls. Your recipe says leave them for 20 minutes and then get them into the pans according to your prep instructions. An online church service interceded the doughs have now been in the bowls for about 2 hours. I guess I will just forge ahead, do the cutting into little 1/2 to 1″ pieces and get them into the pans and into the proofer. Should I grease and flour the pans? anyway, as a first time effort I can accept something less than perfect, but I do have high hopes, if not expectations. I’ll let you know how they come out.

    1. Hi Paul,
      How you prepare a pan depends on the pan. There are some very good non-stick pans which need only to be kept clean and unscratched.

      Other pans need help, as do some older non-stick pans. My quick and dirty approach is to use Baker’s Joy, Baker’s Secret or the PAM spray that combines oil and flour. If you don’t have those, you can oil the pans with your favorite oil and then lightly dust them with flour.

      Hope that helps,

  3. the marble rye came out looking pretty good. I have not cut it yet, I ma not a rye aficionado but I understand it is always best to wait a day.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Great! On the wait to slice it, rye does want a longer wait time, however, it depends on how much rye flour you used. If they rye is less than about 30% of the formula, you can treat it like you would treat any other wheat bread. Beyond that, it helps to let it rest for 24 hours before slicing it.
      Let us know how it turned out!

      1. Mike:
        I buttered and floured it (I am my mother son after all) so some elements of old school live in me.

        The bread turned out GREAT! the crumb was not dense at all, all the pieces melded together into a consolidated loaf, the flavor was very pleasing (I added caraway to the light rye and fennel to the dark rye) and these flavors did not overpower the rye. The crust even had a slight crunch when toasted, I guess that’s the SD effect.

        I was ambivalent about making this bread but it looked like it might be fun, and anytime you can get a loaf on the table in one day start to finish, well I’m interested. Now that we’ve munched on it I can definitely see myself making this bread again, only maybe swirly next time, should be a little easier.

        I’d send you pics if you are interested but need an email addy.

        1. Hi Paul,
          That was great news! I’m glad the recipe worked out for you. It is one of Beth’s favorites. I’ll have to make it again fairly soon.

          Most of our breads are ready in less than a day. The idea that sourdough HAS to take days and days isn’t really true. Longer is, in some regards, better. With rye, not so much.

          Best wishes,

          PS – I sent you my email address in a separate email. -M

  4. I’ve not tried your rye bread yet. I was looking for PIllsbury Bohemian Rye bread flour when I came across your site. My grandma, who was first generation german born in Oak Park, Ill. use to make rye bread every Saturday according to my fad. None of which made it thru the weekend. The flour she used was a combo of 3 flours: rye, wheat & I don’t remember the third. It was a Pillsbury flour that was not available just anywhere. I visited her about 44 years ago and we had a bread making session. Now she never measure anything so I had her dump each ingredient in one bowl & then I’d measure. Made quite a mess of her always immauclate kithen. (It was a very moist sticky dough) When I returned home to Washington state I’d make a batch, freeze it and mail one to her , give one to my dad and save one for my family. She’s tell me what to tweak (be it brown sugar salt or molasses) and I’d try again. My dad said it wasn’t quite 100% but was as close to what he remembered. Made me proud I was the only grandchild who learned how to make this, and I’d like to teach my daughter in law how to make this to keep a family favorite alive. I haven’t made it in years as due to my MS don’t think I’d be strong enough to knead it now and I don’t have a mixer and its too difficult for a bread maker to handle.) Thanks for letting me share my story of my grandma’s german rye bread.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks for sharing your story.

      On the Bohemian rye flour, if it was once available, I doubt it still is. When I started baking in the early 1970’s a walk down the flour aisle of a grocery store would have you walk past many sections of flour. And a small section of mixes. Now, it’s reversed. Only a little flour and LOTS of mixes. Our local grocery store doesn’t even carry ANY rye flour, or even whole wheat flour.

      It used to be easy to get light rye, medium rye, dark rye, pumpernickel rye, and whole rye. Now, you’re lucky if you can find A rye flour in most grocery stores. This probably varies depending on where you are. If you are in, or near, an area settled by German, Jewish, Scandinavian, Russian, Polish, or Slavic people, I’d bet you’ll find rye flour. However, away from these areas, not so much.

      There are a number of mail order services that offer a variety of grains. I’ve had good luck with Honeyville Grains and Barton Sprins Mill. Honeyville Grains has a good selection of grains and their shipping costs are very reasonable. Barton Springs Mill specializes in organic, heirloom grains. When you buy from Barton Springs Mill you’ll find that all wheat is not the same, that not all rye is the same. Another option is to buy from health food stores. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they are usually good about getting it for you – and they don’t charge for shipping.

      And that brings around to kneading. I’ve taught baking classes for more years than I care to admit. In class, we knead by hand. A number of students have told me they can’t knead dough because of arthritis or carpal tunnel issues. I smile and ask them to try it my way. So far, all the students have been able to knead dough my way. We put a web page together that explains how I knead dough. BUT WAIT!!! Instead of kneading, you can stretch and fold the dough. It’s much easier! As you have guessed, I’ve put together a web page that explains how to stretch and fold.

      I hope you’ll look at how to knead, and how to not knead, and make your grandmother’s bread again, and then share the recipe with us!

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