Marble Rye Bread

No matter how small of a ham I’m able to find, if I’m serving just the four (or sometimes just the two) of us there is going to be leftover ham.  It’s nice to cook once and eat twice (or more), so if I’m planning ham for one night, I plan what to do with the leftovers for the next night.  With the leftover ham from Sunday’s dinner, I made my favorite pea soup in the crock pot and decided to serve that with ham sandwiches.  The best way to serve ham sandwiches if you ask me is on fresh rye bread.  I haven’t found better rye bread locally than the marble rye from a bakery in my hometown but I couldn’t justify a forty minute drive for a loaf of bread.  I also wasn’t going to resort to grocery store rye bread because I always find that to be sub-par and I’d rather not have the preservatives and high fructose corn syrup that comes in every loaf.  With this recipe, I’ve managed to avoid the forty minute drive and nasty grocery store rye bread.

I was contemplating making half of the recipe because this recipe makes two full loaves of bread and I’m never sure exactly how well new things will go over with the kiddos.  Four grilled ham and Swiss sandwiches later, I don’t see any of this bread going to waste.  This doesn’t have the overwhelming rye flavor or a ton of seeds like rye bread I’ve purchased at the grocery store.  The best marble rye I’ve ever had is from a bakery in my hometown, and my days of contemplating a forty minute drive to get a loaf of bread are over now that I’ve made this.  At first it seemed a little intimidating because there are two separate dough recipes and more than a few steps, but really this is as easy as making any other bread.  The dough came together quickly and beautifully and was really easy to work with during the entire process.  Because there are multiple rises, I suggest allowing for a good length of time if you plan on making this.  The work and the waiting are well worth the results though!  The hardest part of this was finding rye flour locally, which I found easily at the second supermarket I tried (Hodgson Mills and Bob’s Red Mill both had offerings there).  You do not taste the molasses or the cocoa powder in this, so if you aren’t fans of either of those items have no fear.  As with many recipes, I strongly recommend weighing the ingredients for the most accuracy. I baked the loaves in loaf pans, but you can skip that step and free-form them into loaves or rounds on a baking sheet.  Whichever you choose, be sure that the seam is sealed well and that you bake the bread with the seam side down.

marble rye bread

Marble Rye Bread


for the light rye:

  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 C.) white rye flour (if you can’t find white rye flour, use regular- not dark- rye flour and sift it twice)
  • 13 1/2 oz. (3 C.) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. water, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

For dark rye:

  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 C.) white rye flour (or regular as explained above)
  • 13 1/2 oz. (3 C.) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. water, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water


To make the light rye dough, whisk together the rye and bread flours, salt, yeast, and caraway seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer*.

Add the water, molasses, and olive oil and mix at low speed, using the dough hook, until a rough dough forms. If needed, scrape down the mixing bowl and turn the dough in the bowl with a spatula if needed to make sure the dry ingredients incorporate.

Once the wet ingredients are fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough forms an elastic ball that clears the sides of the mixing bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times, shaping the dough into a round ball.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, smooth side up.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the dark rye dough.

To make the dark rye dough, repeat the same process as above, and add the dissolved cocoa powder to the mixture with the other wet ingredients.

Place the dark rye dough into a separate lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Let both doughs rise at room temperature for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Line a large baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.

Turn out both the light and dark doughs onto a lightly floured work surface.

Gently press down to deflate the dough, then divide each dough into 4 equal pieces.

Shape each piece of dough (8 pieces in total) into a round ball, then slightly flatten the ball and place all 8 pieces onto the prepared baking sheet.

Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping all of the others covered, roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin into a flat oval measuring roughly 5×8 inches.

Layer the ovals of dough, alternating light dough with dark dough, into 2 stacks of 4 pieces of dough each.

Roll each stack up, starting from the long side, like a jelly roll, into a cylinder.  Press the dough together to seal it as you roll it up.

Seal the final seam well.

Place the two loaves onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, seam down, or into greased loaf pans, seam down and cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and baked through (internal temperature of 190 degrees).

Remove the bread and place it on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves of marble rye bread.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart

* To make this without a stand mixer, you can either mix each dough separately in a bread machine on the dough cycle or by hand.  To mix by hand, combine the ingredients using the directions above in a large mixing bowl and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes elastic, then proceed.


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