Rye & spelt loaf

by Beca Lyne-Pirkis

A dense, high fibre loaf, perfect for buttered toast or an open sandwich

Following on from my chocolate torte, this is the second of my January bakes designed to provide balance to your diet rather than grim self-denial.

Rye is high in fibre and as it has a low glycaemic index, it can help keep blood sugar levels steady, meaning that this nutritiously dense loaf will keep you fuller for longer. Enjoy at breakfast simply toasted and served with unsalted butter and homemade marmalade or some softly scrambled eggs, avocado and hot sauce. Make a delicious Scandi-style open sandwich with smoked fish and pickles for lunch, or how about a deli sandwich of salt beef, sauerkraut and mustard? This is easily my favourite bread of all time. The cacao powder and treacle don’t add taste or sweetness, but are there to give the loaf its distinctive dark colour. Don’t use sweetened cocoa powder unless you fancy a sweet loaf—and in which case add in 100g of raisins for extra sweetness and texture.


250g rye flour
250g strong brown bread flour
10g fast action yeast or 15g fresh yeast
10g salt
30g cacao powder
3 tbsp treacle
1 heaped tbsp caraway seeds, plus extra for the topping
3 tbsp seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds), plus extra for the topping
385ml water, hand hot
1 egg white


Add both flours to a large bowl, along with the yeast and salt on separate sides of the bowl. Add the cacao powder, caraway seeds and the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Measure out the treacle into a jug using a spoon that has been warmed in the hot water to make it easier. Add the hot water to the treacle and stir to dissolve.

Mix the dry ingredients until evenly combined, then add in the liquid and bring the mixture together into a sticky ball of dough. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can start the process off in the mixer and finish by hand, bypassing the sticky stage. If you’re making the loaf by hand, persevere through the sticky stage. Knead the dough on a clean surface with no flour dusted to get the gluten working. Rye’s gluten is less elastic than wheat, so you will need to work the dough much longer than normal bread dough—consider it a good workout.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic to touch—by this I mean that when you press a finger into the dough it springs back—dust a small amount of flour onto the work surface and bring the dough together into a tight ball. Place back into your bowl to prove. I covered my bowl with cling film and a tea towel as my kitchen is particularly cold. Leave to prove until double in size; again this will take longer than normal dough, so allow at least 3-4 hours.

Once proved, dust your worktop with a little flour and scrape out the dough. I tend to bake my rye bread in a loaf tin, but you can of course shape it free-form or into rolls. Lightly grease your tin with the smallest amount of rapeseed oil. Shape the dough into a sausage the same length and width as your loaf tin and place into the tin to prove for a second time. This second prove will take less time than the first, around 1-2 hours.

Preheat your oven to as hot as it can go—I tend to set it to 220C. Once the dough has had its second prove, gently brush the top of the loaf with the egg white then sprinkle over the extra seeds. Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Once baked, leave to cool completely before slicing.

Recipe & images: Beca Lyne-Pirkis