Double Light Rye Bread

Recipe by PJ Hamel

This sandwich rye bread is super-light and moist; and the recipe makes two loaves, thus the "double." Our thanks to the cooks on the classic Maine schooner Sylvina W. Beal, launched in 1911 in East Boothbay. They shared a version of this recipe with one of their passengers nearly 20 years ago, on a cruise he took out of Belfast; and he kindly passed it along to us. We've modernized it a bit, and are happy to share this bit of Maine nautical/culinary history with you.

15 mins
35 to 40 mins
3 hrs 30 mins
2 loaves
Double Light Rye Bread


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  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix all of the ingredients together just until everything is moistened. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 15 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to start absorbing the liquid, which will make the dough a bit less sticky to knead.

  2. Knead the dough for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer, or 10 minutes by hand. It'll be quite sticky; rye flour does have that propensity. But it should also be smooth, and feel elastic.

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it's nicely puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.

  4. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log.

  5. Lightly grease two 9" x 5" loaf pans; two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans, or one of each. The smaller pan will make a loaf that "mushrooms" a bit; we prefer 9" x 5" pans here.

  6. Settle the shaped dough into the pans. Cover the pans, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it's crowned about 1" over the rim of the smaller pan, and is about even or slightly over the rim of the larger pan.

  7. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  8. Bake the loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of one registers at least 190°F. If the loaves seem to be browning too quickly, tent them loosely with aluminum foil.

  9. Remove the bread from the oven, and after 10 minutes turn it out of the pans onto a rack to cool.

  10. Cool completely before slicing. Store airtight at room temperature for 5 days or so; for longer storage, wrap and freeze.