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Czech Wheat Rye Bread (Pšenično-žitný chléb)

Czech Wheat Rye Bread (žitný chléb or žitný chleba) is a traditional type of bread that for many Czechs tastes like home. It is often the food Czech expats miss the most. Today, I’d like to share with you my recipe that leads to delicious bread with crunchy crust every time.

rye brread

Fresh wheat rye bread with butter and chives or marmalade or even just with salt…for many of us that would have been common breakfast, snack or even dinner sometimes. Rye bread is also often eaten as a side dish to meat whether it be snitzel or roasted chicken with gravy to dip the bread in.

This is a recipe for a traditional Czech wheat rye bread with caraway that my great-grandmothers used to bake and it is, in fact, partly made with wheat. 100 % rye bread is also made in the Czech Republic, however, it’s a bit more complex, it requires sourdough and I don’t make it as much as we prefer the taste of the rye wheat bread.

wheat rye bread

This staple bread, just like other Czech breads and cakes, is prepared with a dough starter and in several stages of raising. Making the Czech Rye Bread takes time, count with half a day. The effort and time put into it pays off, your prize will be delicious bread with crunchy crust.


Dough starter

  • 340 g/12 oz of (wholemeal) rye flour
  • 500 ml/17 oz of warm water
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tsp of dried active yeast or 40 g of fresh yeast


  • 660 g/23 oz of plain wheat flour (in the Czech Republic, it would be hladká mouka, see Czech Flour Guide)
  • 4 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of ground caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp of vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of rapeseed or sunflower oil


  • caraway seeds
  • some more wheat flour

rye bread

Although baking professionals would tell you that malt is the best ingredient to use for the dough starter, let’s now forget that our forefathers who didn’t live with abundance of everything used what they had at home which would often be sugar or honey. I use honey and I find it works very well with the yeast. Talking of yeast, it doesn’t matter whether you use fresh or dried as long as it’s active yeast.

If you don’t like caraway, just skip it. It’s a very typical ingredient in Czech bread but don’t worry about it too much if you don’t want to use it. If you do, I recommend using ground or crushed caraway for the dough and full seeds to sprinkle the bread with. Also, if you have any problem with vinegar, you can skip it, as well. It helps the fermentation process and some people say it makes the crust crunchier. An ingredient you shouldn’t skip is the salt. The amount given will not make the bread taste salty but it’s very important and you will notice the difference if you skip the salt (Czechs call it jalový – idle).

There is one piece of baking accessory worth an investment if you plan on baking Czech bread regularly. It’s the basket made specifically for raising bread dough. However, if you don’t have one, just use any bowl you have, just make sure the dough doesn’t stick to it. The inside of the basket would be coated with a generous amount of flour, if you’re using, for example, a metal bowl, you can smear it with some oil.

Czech Wheat Rye Bread – Recipe

Dough Starter

Warm up the water and stir in the yeast. Then stir in the honey. Place the rye flower in a bowl, add the yeast mixture and combine everything well. A wooden spoon would be enough at this point. The bread dough starter will be quite liquid.

wheat rye bread

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest until you see that the yeast is properly activated and the dough starter is raising.

Preparing Bread Dough

In another and preferably larger bowl, combine the wheat flour, salt and caraway. Then add the dough starter, oil and vinegar, knead it with the wooden spoon while you can, then switch to hand kneading. At first, it will seem like there’s too much flour but be patient and give it time. I usually knead the dough for at least 20 minutes or even longer. When you incorporate all the flour, keep kneading until the dough is slightly sticky.

Take the dough out from the bowl and on a working table and hit it several times on the surface. This helps activate the gluten. Continue kneading with both hands folding the dough in different directions.

Raising Bread Dough

Put the dough back in the bowl, sprinkle a little flour on and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough raise in a warm place. If it’s a warm day, it shouldn’t take long, you can also place the bowl outside in sunlight (still covered though) or in an oven heated to approximately 30°C/86°F. When the dough has doubled in volume, take it out again and repeat the kneading process folding the dough several more times. Let it rise again.

Repeat the kneading one more time but this time, prepare your basket or bowl and let the dough raise in it.

wheat rye bread

Baskets are what gives the Czech bread their typical shape but you can really use any recipient you have and at this point, you can even sprinkle some flour on your working table, shape the dough with your hands and let it raise on the table (again, covered).


wheat rye bread

Preheat the oven to 250°C/482°F, flip the bread from the basket onto a baking tray, sprinkle with caraway seeds and bake it for 10 minutes.

rye bread

Then lower the temperature to 220°C/428°F and bake for another 35 minutes.

wheat rye bread

Take the bread out of the oven and let it cool down on a rack. If you like to tear pieces of warm bread with your hand like I do, go ahead and eat it warm. If you want to slice it nicely with a knife, let it cool down completely.

Serving Wheat Rye Bread

wheat rye bread

Serve and eat the Czech Wheat Rye Bread any way you like. A very traditional option would be with bread and salt or chopped chives.

wheat rye bread

Bread and marmalade or honey is a combination many of us remember from our childhood.


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