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Apr 20, 2008 10:39 AM

Cheaper to bake bread? no wheat, though

Hello everyone,

I am trying to find ways to save money. I have recently stopped consuming wheat for digestive reasons, but I love to eat authentic German rye bread and occasionally spelt (which I find to be more digestible than regular wheat).

I would love to bake my own breads, but I wonder if this is cost-effective? And difficult ?

Your thoughts would be really appreciated. Also, if anyone has any recipes that they love for non-wheat breads, please do share!

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  1. Rye flour is on the pricey side so unless you have a good bulk source for it you'll probably be better off just buying the bread.

    1. I'd have to agree with the first reply. With the rising costs of ingredients - and the time factor. Unless you really love the process, I doubt you're coming out ahead.

      1. I bake my own (wheat flour) bread and it's definitely a cost savings. Do you have access to a food co-op or other place where you can buy flour bulk? The prices are quite a bit lower that way.

        1. You can save quite a bit of money on bread by baking it yourself. And you can find many good rye recipes by Googling "Volkornbrot." However, without trying to be nosy about medical conditions, I would like to point out that there is growing clinical evidence that Celiac sprue patients tolerate wheat products that have been sourdough fermented. For more information on that, plus some good recipes, including rye bread, see the Weston A. Price Foundation site, And foodies out there interested in good nutrition and natural foods will find a lot there. It's worth subscribing to.

          1. Me again. Not writing as an expert. I've made Volkornbrot in the past, fermented slowly in a baking pan and steam baked in an oven, but not often enough to feel really at home with it. But I just remembered that Thom Leonard had a recipe called "Rye with a Capital R" in his little gem "The Bread Book" from East West Press, now sadly out of print. What I like about this is he describes how to handle 100% rye dough, because if overkneaded the pentosans in rye (vegetable gums) make it a terribly unworkable sticky mess. This book is worth hunting down through library loan so you can read the procedure. The ingredients are simple, 2 cups of leaven (dough consistency sourdough, wheat or rye but you would probably use rye if wheat is a problem), 2 1/2 cups water, 1-2 teaspoons salt, and 5 1/2 cups of whole rye flour. That would be about 30 ounces of rye and 20 ounces of water, so 67% hydration. He dissolves the leaven in most of the water and adds the salt and dissolves it. He adds the flour without mixing and then with wet hands mixes everything together by squeezing and then a kneading motion as it comes together. Work with moist hands and quickly it will come together in about 300 strokes. Return to bowl and let rise for 2 hours at a cool temperature. Always with moist hands, remove the ball of dough, knead for a few strokes (I wonder if folding it would work as well), divide and round into two loaves. Thereafter let it rise in floured towels or oiled bowls (as in the Lahey no-knead loaf) for 1 1/12 hours at 80 to 85 degrees. The dough will have increased in volume by about 50% and will just have begun to show stretch marks. Bake the loaves in preheated covered containers (casserole, dutch oven, cloche or flower pot) at 400 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, uncovering it after 40 minutes. His version is allowed to crack. The more traditional approach is to "dock" the loaf by indenting it to about 1/2 inch with a dowel or end of the handle of a wooden spoon. The crust should be chewy but not hard and the crumb fine textured and moist, but not doughy. I have to admit that I have been leery about baking any 100% rye bread that requires kneading since my first attempts turned into gummy messes. But I think I am going to try it again with my home milled rye flour.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Father Kitchen

              Before going to bed last night I checked a couple of other sources. Dan Leader in "Local Breads" and Peter Reinhard in his book on whole grain breads each give a three-stage recipe for sourdough 100% rye. Leader's hydration rate is 81%, or just over 8 ounces of water for each ten ounces of rye flour by weight. Reinhart's hydration rate is 87%--so my estimate of 67% above for Thom Leonard is way off. Even more interesting are a pair of Swedish recipes in Dan Lepard's new book, "The art of artisan bread". They use hot water to gelatinize the starch in some of the flour before mixing in the leaven. The gelatinized starch provides some crumb strength, since rye is low in gluten. It results in a more open bread that does not require the addition of wheat flour or vital wheat gluten. All of these books are worth getting from the library. If you must buy them, I'd start with the Lepard book, which has some very interesting recipes for barley breads and other (for us) nonstandard breads. It is available at a reasonable price from, a source every cook book hunter should know about.