Most discussions I have seen on the internet recommend increasing water content when substituting wheat flour with rye flour.

I find this a bit puzzling since I always thought that hydration of the dough should be based on the protein content - more gluten means stronger dough, which means it stretches without tearing even at higher hydration.

Rye flour (at least the one I have) is very high in carbohydrates but low in protein content, so why is more water required?

  • 2
    This feels the wrong way round - "when substituting wheat flour for rye flour." You mean rye for wheat?
    – unlisted
    Dec 29 '20 at 11:44
  • no, i mean rye. see for example this.
    – tungli
    Dec 29 '20 at 15:49
  • Still not clear. "To substitute x for y" is to use x where y was originally specified. Same on a football field (or anywhere) New player x was substituted for player y who had to retire because of injury.
    – unlisted
    Dec 29 '20 at 15:52
  • 1
    @Tetsujin -- unfortunately, "substitute" gets used backwards these days. Usually it's "substitute X with Y", analogous to "replace X with Y", but that seems to have corrupted "substitute X for Y" to also mean "replace X with Y". Sigh. Dec 29 '20 at 16:40
  • 1
    oh, good catch @Tetsujin! I misused the expression. I will edit the question to make sense. Thanks!
    – tungli
    Dec 29 '20 at 18:21

You are correct that higher-protein flours are capable of absorbing more water. However, protein is not the only thing that affects water absorption. In addition, according to Bakerpedia, there are:

Rye flour, while low in protein, is very high in water-absorbing pentosans. Hence the need and ability to add more water.


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