Sourdough Rye Bread

This is my favorite rye bread recipe of all time… so far. I could have just as easily called it Swedish Rye Bread or Aroma Therapy Bread for that matter (takes the coveted baking bread smell to another level). And if you’re not into sourdough baking, no problem, I cover the instant yeast version as well.

So much time had passed since my last video shoot I’d forgotten the challenge of keeping a video short and concise. Sorry about the way this one drones on. If you’re already a bread baker, you can probably just go off the written recipe and instructions below.

On Rye: Higher in protein, phosphorus, iron and potassium than wheat. It’s high in lysine, low in gluten and very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Zinc, Copper and Selenium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Manganese.

Rye bread, including pumpernickel, is a widely eaten food in Northern and Eastern Europe. Rye is also used to make the familiar crisp bread.

Some other uses of rye include rye whiskey and use as an alternative medicine in a liquid form, known as rye extract. Often marketed as Oralmat, rye extract is a liquid obtained from rye and similar to that extracted from wheatgrass. Its benefits are said to include a strengthened immune system, increased energy levels and relief from allergies, but there is no clinical evidence for its efficacy. Rye also seems active in the prevention of prostate cancer.

Sourdough Rye Recipe:
Click here to print recipe

Ingredients:
Water: 400 grams, 1 3/4 cups
Sourdough Starter: 70 grams, 1/3 cup (omit if making the instant yeast version)
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp. (omit if making sourdough leavened version)
Rye Flour: 245 grams, 1 3/4 cups
Bread Flour: 245 grams, 1 3/4 cups
Molasses: 44 grams, 2 Tbs.
Fennel Seed: 8 grams, 1 Tbs.
Anise Seed: 2 grams, 1 tsp.
Caraway Seed: 3 grams,  1 tsp.
Salt: 12 grams, 1 3/4 tsp.
Zest of 1 Orange

For sourdough version:

In a mixing bowl, mix the starter into the water. Add the molasses, all the seeds and orange zest.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours and salt.

Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet using a dough whisk or spoon until the flour is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, mix again for a minute or two. Again let rest for 15 minutes and mix one more time as before. Now cover the bowl with plastic and let sit at room temperature for roughly 12-14 hours.

For instant yeast version:

The only difference is don’t use sourdough starter and instead mix the instant yeast into the dry ingredients before combining with the wet ingredients.

Note on 12-14 hour proofing period: I typically prepare everything in the evening for baking the next morning. You can also mix everything up in the morning and refrigerate until evening then remove before bed to resume the proofing at room temperature. Alternatively, if you get started with mixing everything up early enough in the morning, the bread can also be ready to bake in the evening. This is a nice option when you want fresh bread ready to eat for breakfast.

After the long 12-14 hour proof, stretch and fold the dough and shape into boule or batard (round or oblong) shape for baking. (If you didn’t follow that, I’m afraid you’re doomed to watch the video.) Cover again with plastic and let rest 15 minutes before putting in a proofing basket for the final rise. If you don’t have a proofing basket, line a bowl with a well floured kitchen towel and put the dough in there for the final rise. The final rise should last somewhere between 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Keep the dough covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out.

Preheat your oven to 475 F a half hour before baking.

Score the dough with a razor or sharp serrated knife and bake until the internal temp is about 200 F.

Let cool completely before eating.

Jan 2, 2011 addition: Check out Joe Doniach’s variation of this recipe.

July 2011 addition: Also see Heinz’s simple and fast Swiss Artisan Bread Recipe.

{ 679 comments… read them below or add one }

kathleen October 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

can i leave out the seeds?

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Breadtopia October 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

Yes!

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Tom October 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

This is a really good recipe, although it didn’t always work out as nicely for me as shown in your video.
I’ve made a few changes that produce very good results for me.
(1) I use rye sourdough starter. I didn’t always get a nice rise when using starter made from white bread flour.
(2) Taken an earlier poster’s suggestion I use 300 g of rye flour, 300g of white bread flour and 400g of water.
(3) The dough is quite sticky as you mention in the video. Therefore I led it rest for 10 min or so before I go through a series of stretch and folds over the next hour.
(4) I keep the dough in the fridge for 24 hours. The dough rises slowly in the fridge but I’m not sure whether it doubles in size.
(5) After the 24 h refrigeration period I reshape the boule and leave it at room temp. for just about an hour during which time I heat up the cloche and oven.
Keep up the good work!
Tom

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Melissa October 8, 2014 at 3:20 am

I’m not sure if the starter needs to be fed after it has been in the fridge – mine doubled when it came to room temperature and had lots of bubbles – can I use it immediately or do I need to feed it three times as some sites say? P.S. My family loved the fragrant rye sourdough – thank you!😀

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Breadtopia October 8, 2014 at 4:07 am

Hi Melissa,

You can use it immediately. When starter doubles for you, it’s ready.

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Jeanette October 5, 2014 at 2:15 am

Because I used light rye flour, I’m wondering if this is why mine was soooooo soft. Maybe because the rye berries were milled on the job, it took more moisture than mine. Loved the taste but next time, I’ll add less liquid and add.

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Jeanette October 2, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I agree Leslie, I’m in the process of making it today and I can’t even handle the dough. This is my 3rd attempt at making a rye sourdough and this one doesn’t look good either. Might have to give up and stick to the white sourdough. I use the wild yeast, but would be interested in your results.

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Bill October 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I begin with less water and/or add flour until the dough is the consistency that I want. I’m addicted to the flavor of this rye sourdough bread.

Another baker commented that the wet dough gave good oven spring. I’ve never tried this.

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Leslie October 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I have made this bread several times and loved it, but struggled with the dough which seemed overly liquid to me. Yesterday I made a loaf using a recipe that yielded a dough too firm; this prompted me to refer to Michael Ruhlman’s excellent book Ratio in which he gives ratios for everything you’d ever want to cook.
According to Mr. Ruhlman, yeast bread should be 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid. This recipe is nearly an 1:1 ratio of liquid to flour, which explains its runniness.
Since I’m making this without starter (mine croaked!), I will weigh all the dry ingredients and try to make it as close to a 5:3 ratio as possible. Will keep you posted!

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Mike Parish October 3, 2014 at 7:04 am

Use “Bakers Percentage” to figure the water versus flour requirement. You can get away with up to 72% water to flour and still come up with a good loaf. the 82% in the on-line version is not only hard to handle but if you bake it the center come out like firm mush. I’ve now tried a dozen versions using various liquid amounts and the more liquid you use up to the max of 72% the larger the holes in the bread. If you use the typical 62.5% as most bread books recommend you get a dense loaf that still tastes great. I finally settled on 68% water when using starter. You can get away with a bit more water when using yeast (the starter adds a bit of liquid volume). I’ve got an earlier post on-site with my early attempts at this bread. You might want read that for additional information.

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Joffres October 3, 2014 at 7:13 am

Can you just tell us if the percentage is weight based? I am supposing it is. Thanks

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Mike Parish October 3, 2014 at 7:53 am

Yes, “Baker’s percentage” is weight based. Most bread average 62.5% water to flour. For example if you are using 600 grams of flour just multiply 600X .625 and you’ll get 375 grams of water. By reversing this formula you’ll discover that the on-line version of this rye bread has a 82% water content. This is why beyond anything I’ve ever seen in a bread book. The slackest dough I’ve ever read about was 72%. Best of luck.

Michael

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Dave Edwards October 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

But in a way that’s academic. This recipe does work, as I found out to my surprise. But I think it’s essential to bake in a pot or casserole, the dough is too soft to retain any shape otherwise.

In a pot it rises beautifully!

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doris w October 3, 2014 at 11:36 am

Dave you are right I assume the recipe was created this way because of the “no Kneading” factor. A sloppy dough is going to absorb better not needing the kneading.
I make this stuff nearly every week. I have always had a tasty but dense bread (hearty rye) as a result.
I have dropped the water to 370 grams and the dough is still stir-able, but a little less sloppy. YES bake it in a casserole or dutch oven with a lid! It would puddle too much otherwise!

Rhonda October 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

Those percentages also depend on your flour. I’ve consistently needed more water than the recipe calls for when dealing with rye flour, and I found out recently that US flour is quite different from Canadian flour. Notably for bread-making, with white flour in Canada we don’t need special bread flour or “vital wheat gluten”, our all-purpose flour has enough gluten to do a good job at making bread.

For rye flour, I’ve found that I always need to add significantly more water than the recipe calls for to get the dough to look (and rise) the same as in the instructions. I found a 100% rye recipe recently, which called for 70-80% hydration. At 80%, it was so stiff it didn’t even rise in the final proof and ended up baking like a brick. It wouldn’t rise for me until I took it to 100% hydration, because my flour was that much thirstier than the flour used by the person who wrote the recipe.

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Dave Edwards September 28, 2014 at 7:19 am

Followed the instructions but my dough was so wet and sticky I had to scrape it into the oven. I can’t help but think that the liquid measures given can’t be correct: 400ml/g of water is an awful lot, then the molasses and starter add even more moisture.

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Raul October 2, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hi Dave, here in this part of the world it is around midnight and I am leaving the dough ready for tomorrow morning and my mixture is not wet at all, similar to the one in the video, in my case I weight the water 400 grams, and a total of 500 grams of both flours, I used just 2 table spoons of molasses plus I add from my own idea some barley malted extract (1/2 teaspoon) and 1/2 tea spoon of something called treacle over here, it is very similar to molasses, you see I used more liquid than the required and it is OK to me and I am sure will be ok tomorrow to place in the oven.

Molasses and treacle are near the same, but when I did some taste it is not the same, as well I use sometimes a more refined version called Golden Syrup, all the info here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treacle

My sugestion sbout your problem check first than the scale works properly use some well know weights, and weight all the ingredients, and do not use cups at all, even when I have to use 1 Gr of yeast I use a digital scale used mainly to weight spices used in meat preserving, I think I paid around $15 with free delivery from China
http://www.tmart.com/Pocket-Scale/Capacity–200g/

My only problem was mixing all the ingredients I am still exhausted , I am waiting for my Danish Dough Whisk than will be arriving sometime next week, I have to purchase the whisk from Europe (UK) because postage from USA it is very expensive.

Well I wish you luck, but try again and I am sure will be OK

Raul

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Dave Edwards October 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the reply. The bread turned out superb with the best (and only) ovenspring I have experienced. I’m surprised because it was so wet as a dough. The only snag for me was I took it out of the oven too soon.

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