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Rye Flour Classification: Untangling the Mess


Rye flours and meals
Rye flours (top row, left to right): white , light, medium, wholegrain, dark
Rye meal (bottom row, left to right): rye kernels, coarse, medium, fine

Note: This article first appeared in the Fall, 2017 issue of Bread Lines, the quarterly newsletter of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America.

When I buy a bag of wheat flour, I pretty much know what I’m getting. We’re a wheat-eating nation, and although there are no formal standards for wheat flour grading, the milling industry has reached a marketing consensus that puts everyone on the same page. So no matter who milled it, I can be confident that my bag of bread flour will contain 12-13% protein and 0.50-0.53%ash, my H&R/AP flour will come in at10.5-12% protein and 0.52-0.53% ash, my soft wheat cake flour will measure at 8.0-9.5 percent protein and 0.42-0.45% ash, and so on down the line for any other flour I might need. There are few, if any, surprises.

Rye is another matter entirely. Keep Reading

Ketex’s Crusty Boule/Bauernkruste (Germany)

Rye %: 89%
Stages: Sponge, Soaker, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 18-20 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One 2½ lb/1.2 kg loaf

I found this flavorful, crusty rye bread in one of the first German baking books I acquired, Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen (Rustic Breads from the German Countryside) by Gerhard Kellner, a well-known German bread blogger who goes by the nickname “Ketex.” It intrigued me for a couple of reasons. Keep Reading

In Defense of First Clear

FirstclearSide by side: Unbleached first clear (left) and unbleached high-gluten.

When I first started baking with rye, the breads I made – mainly the Jewish deli ryes and pumpernickels of my youth – called for first clear flour. And back in those early days, I had no idea what clear flour was, other than a very high-protein, high-fiber kind of wheat flour that had the “strength” to support up to 40% white rye flour and 30% medium rye – in other words, that the rye was an addition to what basically was a wheat bread that still depended on gluten to give it structure.
How little I knew!!! Keep Reading