Make this amazing soft, sweet, and hearty Polish Caraway Rye Bread with only 9 simple ingredients. Super easy to mix up and perfect for sandwiches and toast with jam!
Why You’ll Love this Polish Rye Bread
Traditional rye bread can be a bit dense, a touch sour, and super heavy.
Polish Rye Bread is totally different.
This homemade rye bread is light, not sour, and perfectly spiced with caraway seeds and a gentle rye flavor. The crumb is soft, the crust is crusty and a little bit chewy, and this bread is hearty and subtly sweet thanks to brown sugar.
While sourdough rye bread might be the more popular, I honestly prefer this version of bread because of how quick it is to mix up and doesn’t require you to always have a sourdough starter in the kitchen. Plus, the recipe uses a standard bread pan, no dutch oven required either!
Rye bread fresh from the oven is amazing. It’s tradition in our family to slice off the end piece (aka the bread butt) and give it a good dollop of some vegan butter. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite foods in the whole world.
After it’s cooled, rye bread is great with vegan butter and jams, as the base for sandwiches, toasted in the morning for breakfast, and is amazing as a side to soups like my stuffed cabbage soup or lentil soup with spinach!
For the full list of ingredients, complete with amounts, please see the recipe box below.
Rye Flour: I always use the organic rye flour from King Arthur Baking. It’s a medium rye flour, which is a good balance of flavor and makes a bread that is not too light or dark. This recipe calls for 1 cup of rye to 2 ½ cups of flour and while you can add more rye to have even more of a rye flavor, keep in mind that the more rye flour you use the heavier the bread becomes. When I was experimenting with this bread, I found that a 50/50 split of rye flour to bread flour was too much.
Bread flour: Rye flour has less gluten than wheat flour, so by using bread flour which has more gluten (aka more protein) it is extra insurance for getting a nice tall loaf of bread. All purpose flour can work in a pinch, but I found in testing that it didn’t produce a loaf that let the dough rise as much.
Brown sugar + Date syrup: The sugar feeds the yeast and helps to make a softer crumb in the dough. If you can’t find date syrup, you can use all brown sugar or use an equal amount of maple syrup or molasses.
Yeast: Typically I have active dry yeast on hand and prefer it over instant yeast but use what you are most comfortable with.
You’ll also need: Warmed water, neutral oil, caraway seeds, and salt
IMPORTANT! If you have dogs in your house who love to sample things (like my 2 pups do) you should NOT give them this bread if you add caraway seeds. Caraway is a seed that dogs can not eat without getting very sick. Simply omit the caraway seeds if you plan on sharing this with any four legged friends.
Make the Dough
Start by activating your yeast. Combine the tablespoon of brown sugar with the yeast and half a cup of warm water – 110F and 115F (43C to 46C). Whisk this together to dissolve the yeast and let it rest for 10 minutes to get poofy.
Now, you can make the dough either in the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (which I highly recommend!) or you can make the dough by hand in a large bowl and kneading on the countertop (which I’ve also done, it just takes longer).
- Stand Mixer: Add the yeast mixture to the bowl, along with the remaining warm water, oil, date syrup, and rye flour. Give this a quick mix before adding the salt, caraway seeds, and bread flour. Mix on low and medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, for 10 minutes. Add additional bread flour one tablespoon at a time as needed.
- Mix by Hand: In a large mixing bowl add the proofed yeast mixture with the remaining 1 ¼ cup of warm water with the oil, date syrup, and rye flour. Mix for about 30 seconds with a large wood spoon before adding the salt, caraway seeds, and bread flour. Mix with the spoon for a few minutes before turning the dough out onto the countertop and kneading by hand for up to 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, supple, and slightly tacky when done. Add additional bread flour one tablespoon at a time as needed.
No matter which technique you use, the dough will be soft, a bit tacky, and very supple when finished.
After the dough is mixed together, place it into a slightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.
Place the bowl in a warm place in the kitchen and let it rise for anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.
My kitchen, especially in winter, gets pretty cold. So I like to make a cup of tea and place the warm tea kettle next to the bowl as the dough rises. This helps with moisture levels and with general warmth. A warm dough rises better!
Just don’t have anything too hot touching the bowl. That will kill of the yeast and the dough won’t rise.
Since this is a dough with sugar, it will take a bit longer to rise, so if you are close to 2 hours in your first rise, that is totally normal.
When the dough has doubled in size, it’s time to shape the dough for its second, and final, rise.
Punch the dough down and place it onto a very lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rectangle shape that is about 8 x 15-inches in size.
Tightly roll the dough up from the 8-inch side so that it will fit into your greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Place the loaf pan back in the warm spot (time for a second cup of tea, perhaps?) and let it rise for another hour or so. The dough should poof up over the edges of the pan.
Baking the Rye Bread
Time to bake the bread! While the dough is rising for a second time, I like to start my oven preheating. This way the oven is really fully warmed.
Place the bread loaf into the oven, uncovered, and bake for 35 minutes.
The bread is finished when it reaches an internal temperature of at least 195F (90C). The crust will be a nice golden brown color and it should sound hollow when you tap it. Remove it from the loaf pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
- Knead the dough for the full time. This dough needs at least 8 minutes, and often I let it go 10 full minutes of kneading. Don’t add too much flour to the dough as you are kneading it. Too much flour will weigh down the dough. It can be slightly sticky.
- Low and slow is the best way to rise. Sometimes, depending on things like the temperature of your kitchen and what the humidity is, the dough can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to rise. Don’t be afraid if it is going slower.
- Use a thermometer to make sure the bread is baked all the way. Bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of between 195F-200F (90C-93C).
How to Store
Countertop: Keep the bread in an airtight container after it has fully cooled on the kitchen countertop for up to 3 to 4 days.
Fridge: Keep fully cooled bread in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Freezer: Slice the fully cooled bread and store 3 to 4 slices together in airtight containers or a freezer bag. Will keep for 3 months frozen.
Recipes to Enjoy with Rye
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- Mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- Loaf Pan
- cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 ¾ cup warm water divided
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons date syrup or molasses
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds optional
- 1 cup rye flour
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- Proof the yeast. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together half a cup of water warmed to 110F (46C) with the yeast and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Let rest for 10 minutes until yeast is activated and has poofed.
- Make the dough in a stand mixer. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the proofed yeast mixture with the remaining 1 ¼ cup of warm water with oil, date syrup, and rye flour. Mix for 30 seconds before adding the salt, caraway seeds, and bread flour. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes before increasing speed to medium and mix for another 5 to 6 minutes. The dough will be soft, supple, and slightly tacky when done. Add additional bread flour one tablespoon at a time as needed.
- Make the dough by hand. In a large bowl add the proofed yeast mixture with the remaining 1 ¼ cup of warm water with the oil, date syrup, and rye flour. Mix for about 30 seconds with a large wood spoon before adding the salt, caraway seeds, and bread flour. Mix with the spoon for a few minutes before turning the dough out onto the countertop and kneading by hand for up to 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, supple, and slightly tacky when done. Add additional bread flour one tablespoon at a time as needed.
- First rise. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 to 2 hours, letting the dough double in size.
- Shaping and second rise. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Turn the dough out onto the countertop and with a rolling pin, roll out to an 8 x 15-inch rectangle. Starting on the shorter 8-inch side, roll the dough tightly so that it will fit into the prepared loaf pan. Cover again and let rise for about an hour or until the dough has risen over the edges of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Make sure the rack is in the middle or lower third of the oven to prevent the bread from burning.
- Bake. Bake the bread uncovered for 35 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 195°F (46°C). If the bread is browning too quickly, gently tent over a piece of aluminum foil while the bread finishes. Remove the bread from the oven and from the loaf pan to cool on a wire rack for about an hour. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
- How to Store
- Countertop: Store any leftover bread in an airtight container on the countertop for up to 3 days.
- Fridge: Keep fully cooled bread in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- Freezer: Once fully baked and cooled, store the rye bread in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Allow the bread to thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for a few hours. I find that slicing the bread and placing a piece of parchment paper in between each slice helps for better storage.
- IMPORTANT! If you have dog helpers in your house who love to sample things (like my 2 pups do) you should NOT give them this bread if you add caraway seeds. Caraway is a seed that dogs can not eat without getting very sick. Simply omit the caraway seeds if you plan on sharing this with any four legged friends.