Marbled Rye Bread and the Reuben Sandwich

Marbled Rye Bread and the Reuben Sandwich

This is the best post-St. Patrick’s Day meal I know. And it calls for an artisan loaf of rye bread to make a Rueben Sandwich with all that leftover corned beef

In day to day baking, I seldom make a loaf of bread that doesn’t have half a cup of rye flour in it. It seems to deepen the flavor, especially the second day, so be sure you give this bread a day after baking to develop its full flavor. Especially if you complement rye’s mild, nutty flavor with caraway, fennel, and/or anise seeds, which will give it the traditional deli flavor most of us associate with rye bread.

This bread, however, is not a quick loaf to make. You may find that it does not fit the usual rhythm of sourdough bread making. I usually need two days to make a loaf, but some bakers take it even slower.

Rye bread is darker than other sourdoughs, but not usually dark brown unless something is added. This recipe is made in two batches, one is light and the other is dark, but both are based on our Mischbrot (German Rye Bread) recipe. After mixing the dough, one half is darkened by adding a tablespoon or two of molasses, treacle, or extra dark cocoa.

To darken my bread, however, I have found Chocolate Rye Malt to be my go-to-solution. I just grind it along with my rye berries when making my flour. It is quite bitter, so I usually at 1–2 tablespoons of honey to my mix.

Marbled Rye Loaf Recipe



Rye Starter

  • 1 cup (100g) dark rye flour
  • ⅔ cup (100g) lukewarm water
  • ¼ cup (60g) sourdough starter

German Rye Bread Starter

  • Mix water and the starter together
  • Stir in rye flour until all ingredients are moistened
  • Cover and set in a warm (68–72 °F /20–22 °C ) spot for at least 24 hours

Bread dough

  • 6½ cups (680g) dark rye flour
  • 2½ (320g) cups whole wheat or bread flour
  • 3 cups (720g) lukewarm water
  • 1 Tbs (8 g) fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp (2 g) anise seeds
  • 1 tsp (3 g) caraway seeds
  • 1½ Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp molasses or dark cocoa (for the dark part of the dough)

German Rye Bread

  • After the start is fully activated, bring the other ingredients together except the molasses
  • Once mixed, divide the dough into two balls and return one to your mixer to add the molasses, cocoa, or rye malt to that part mixing it in well.
  • Put the lighter dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Then spread it into a rectangle about ½ inch (1 cm) thick. (It may be soft but should not be too sticky to handle, add more flour to make it more manageable if needed. This dough will not behave like wheat flour dough as there is much less gluten in rye flour).
  • Next work the darker dough, in the same way, laminating it to the surface of the lighter dough.
  • Roll the dough, like a jelly-roll and place the dough into long brotform dusted with flour (or line a long bread tin with a dusted towel). Cover and let rise another 2 hours.
  • When it’s ready to bake, dust an oven stone with cornmeal or place bread on oiled parchment and set the loaf on top or bake in a long bread tin.
  • An hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425°F/230°C while letting the dough proof
  • Fifteen minutes before baking, place a baking dish on a lower shelf filled with hot water.
  • Score the dough with a lame or sharp knife.
  • When the oven is heated, put the stone and loaf on the middle rack, but watch for steam as you open the door so that you are not burned.
  • Bake for 30 minutes then turn off heat allowing the loaf to cool in the hot oven.
  • After an hour transfer the loaf to a cooling rack for the final cool before slicing.
  • Remember this bread develops its full flavor the second day, so be patient

This recipe calls for dark rye flour, but it can be made with light rye or pumpernickel flour mixed with other bread flour. King Arthur Flour suggests:

“How much white flour should you use? The more white flour in the loaf, the higher it’ll rise and the lighter its texture will be. So this is entirely up to you and your tastes. Experiment with different percentages of white flour/rye flour until you find the bread texture you like the most.”

Personally, I use whole rye berries freshly ground with whole wheat berries, but commercial rye flour works well too. I have used both but prefer grinding my own flour whenever I can.

The Rueben Sandwich

Now that you have the bread to make the sandwich, here is how:

Let us know how your marbled rye turned out in the comment section below.

Author: Darryl Alder, retired Scouter and outdoorsman, who spent too many hours over a campfire using a dutch oven, and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire.


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