What’s the Difference Between Light and Dark Rye Flour?

Light and dark rye flour act differently in bread.

It’s all in the milling! It depends on the amount of bran left in the rye  after processing. The more bran, the darker the flour.

However, more than the color changes. Darker rye will have more nutrients from the bran. It will also have a slightly harder time with gluten formation.

What’s different about baking with rye flour?

  • Flavor: Rye flours impart a distinct rich, slightly sour taste—especially when used in sourdough!
  • Nutrition: Due to the higher amount of bran, it has more dietary fiber and amino acids than wheat flour.
  • Water absorption: It absorbs twice the amount of water of wheat flour
  • Texture: Rye flour creates a softer, moisture texture that helps with shelf life.

But do you usually bake with only rye?

Not normally. Many formulas call for a 50-50 blend of rye and wheat flour to help with gluten formation. In North America, rye bread typically contains about 20% rye flour in the formula (with a high percentage of wheat flour) to impart additional flavor and to add color. In Europe, it is more common to see bread loaves made from 100% rye.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: 13%
  • Carbohydrates: 80%
  • Fats: 7%

It is in the intermediate range of the Glycemic Index (rank of 56-69).


About the Author:

Lin Carson, PhD
Dr. Lin Carson’s love affair with baking started over 25 years ago when she earned her BSc degree in Food Science & Technology at the Ohio State University. She went on to earn her MSc then PhD from the Department of Grain Science at Kansas State University. Seeing that technical information was not freely shared in the baking industry, Dr. Lin decided to launch BAKERpedia to cover this gap. Today, as the world’s only FREE and comprehensive online technical resource for the commercial baking industry, BAKERpedia is used by over half a million commercial bakers, ingredient sellers, equipment suppliers and baking entrepreneurs annually. You can catch Dr. Lin regularly on the BAKED In Science podcast solving baking problems. For more information on Dr. Lin, subscribe to her "Ask Dr. Lin" YouTube Channel, or follow her on LinkedIn.

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