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.

{ 610 comments… read them below or add one }

crabioscar January 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I’m almost dancing! I just made this recipe as my VERY FIRST loaf of bread, and it’s wonderful! There are a few issues that I’ll need to deal with, but I just cannot believe that my first loaf tastes this good.

Here are the issues. I’d love to know what breadtopia et al thinks about them.

1) The loaf is a little bit on the flat side. Not like pita bread, but it didn’t puff up as much as the one in your video. I’m thinking that I might have let the second proofing go on too long. The dough rose considerably in the basket(bowl, actually), but then seemed to collapse a little bit on the baking stone.

2) My crust is underwhelming. It seems like it would be harder to make a great crust on a baking stone than in one of the clay bakers, but is it possible? Another website suggested preheating a cast iron pan in the stove along with the pizza stone, and then tossing some ice cubes into it to create some steam when the loaf gets put in the oven. How does that sound?

3) As a complete novice baker I decided that I should use commercial yeast the first time for the sake of my own sanity. But I’ve got a starter that’s been bubbling for a few days now, and I’ll try again with that. Hopefully that will give that even richer rye flavor that fills your entire mouth when you chew.

I know that seems like a long list of problems, but really I’m ecstatic. Ear to ear grin for the last hour. Thank you!

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Breadtopia January 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

Hi Judy,

I don’t know if this is a great answer, but I would say add enough additional yeast for it to help but so much that you end up with a yeasty flavor in the final bread. The amount could range greatly from one recipe to another and also depending on just how strong or wimpy your starter is. A mere 1/4 teaspoon may be all the extra spike you need.

In Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads book, many of his sourdough recipes also call for an additional 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast. That’s a lot but also because those breads are 100% whole grain and need a good kick to achieve the desired rise.

For this recipe, I would start with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp instant yeast and see how it goes.

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Breadtopia January 2, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hi WoundedEgo,

I hope your ego isn’t too wounded ;).

Yes, you can use your Romertopf for both bread and other types of cooking without a problem. That’s one of the nice things about them. We do and if there’s any flavor crossover to the bread, we haven’t been able to tell. That may be because we preheat our Romertopf to 450-500F for 30 minutes before dropping the dough in. That must burn off whatever flavor residue remains.

When we first went from a casserole back to bread baking with it, quite a bit of smoke (from the burning off of oils) was released when I took the lid off after preheating. On subsequent occasions, I preheated the Romertopf with the lid off, sitting on the rack beside the base. That solved the poof of smoke issue.

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Susanne December 31, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Great recipe! I’m from Germany and always searching for a good rye bread!
And I had just picked up a Roemertopf from Goodwill! Perfect timing, and a really easy to follow recipe, with a good outcome. I just ate the first slice with a little fresh butter, and it’s got great taste and a really yummy crust.
I made this one with yeast, but just found out that a neighbor has a sourdough starter, so the next one will be with that.

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Judy December 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Hi Eric,

I am experimenting with starters. I converted a white flour starter to rye. It’s still not strong enough to double yet. I tried this bread, without the spices, the other day. I used both the starter and yeast, but I wasn’t sure how much yeast to use. Very nice rise, but I was wondering–how much yeast would you recommend with a wimpy starter?

Thanks, and best wishes to you and your family in 2011!

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WoundedEgo December 25, 2010 at 8:55 am

Is it a problem to use the Romertopf for bread and pot roasts, etc? Or does it add undesirable flavors to the bread? In other words, do I need a dedicated Romertopf for baking my bread?

Thanks.

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Isabelle December 25, 2010 at 7:17 am

Finally I did it whole rye + whole spelt. Sooooo good! Thanks Eric!

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tam December 24, 2010 at 6:29 pm

best.recipe.ever. :D
my only issues are trying to get an even skin on the boule with such a sticky dough, and making a clean slash but neither of these things affect the AMAZING flavour of this bread…thanks!

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Zina December 23, 2010 at 7:42 pm

The flavor of this bread is amazing. I am so impressed with the results and must say this is the BEST bread I have every made so far! I was reluctant to try it because of all the spices involved and must admit I didn’t quite have enough of the called for rye flour and had to add the small difference in bread flour…still the perfect loaf. . .better than any bakery bread for sure!

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WoundedEgo December 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Thank you for posting your videos. So, so helpful.

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Joe Doniach December 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I’m having great luck with the following recipe:

250 g Arrowhead Mills organic rye flour
250 g King Arthur organic bread flour
1 tbs fennel seed
1 tsp anise seed
1 tsp caraway seed
12 g salt
44 g molasses
zest of one orange
350 g cold water
70 g liquid levain sourdough starter (50-50 ww flour and water)

Mix, rest in fridge 10 hours
Sit on counter at room temperature (68-70 degrees F) for 18 hours
fold per Eric’s instructions, sit for 15 minutes on cutting board
proof for 1:45 in banneton
bake 475 in cloche for 30 min
bake 10 min at 450 with cloche top removed, internal temp 210 degrees

It’s a real winner with everybody!

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Jimbo December 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm

This is by far the best sourdough rye recipe I’ve come across so far. I usually leave the spices out of it but still add the molasses and orange rind. I’ve occasionally even used date molasses instead of proper sugar molasses and the subtle difference in flavour it makes is really quite delicious. I don’t bake in a clay baker but I do bake on a large pizza stone, which gives me a lot of oven spring. Big thanks to Eric for all his videos and recipes – spreading the sourdough love.

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Sebastian December 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Hi,

I just wanted to ask if the the hydration in the recipe which comes out to be around 80% (400 grams of water to 490 grams of flour) is not too high. My dough was very wet and I had to use a non-stick pan to bake my bread. I used King Arthur’s bread flour and bread rye flower type T-720 imported from Poland. Overall, the bread tasted very well and had a good texture, but I guess next time I will have to lower the amount of water to 300g-350g. Do you know what are the usual hydration levels for rye, mixed rye-wheat, and wheat doughs?
Thank You for the recipe. I will use it again for sure.

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Breadtopia December 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Hi Isabelle,

You can do that and add more water as you suggest. The bread will be heavier but might still be very good in its own right.

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Breadtopia December 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hi Jim,

You can use either one to feed your starter. White flour is easier to work with and easier to tell when it’s healthy.

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isabelle December 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Is it posiible to use whole wheat/spelt flour and whole rye flour in this recipe adding more water? Or bread should be too “heavy”?

Many thanks.

Love your videos!

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Jim Ellis December 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I just received your live sourdough starter. It is my intention to use the starter to make the best sourdough rye bread from your video. My question is do i start feeding the starter with rye flour or white flour?

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Jason November 13, 2010 at 3:59 am

Oh My ! This is the best rye I’ve ever eaten ! Thanx so much for this recipe and Eric, all your videos rock !

Does it make me strange if I think the texture of dough that has been bubbling for 12+ hours with sourdough culture is the coolest culinary thing I have ever seen ? LOL

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Breadtopia November 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hi Diane,

Sure, you can scale everything up 10-15%.
Plus, the dough doesn’t have to be all that wet. You could make it as you did before but just incorporate more flour until the dough is stiffer than the last time. Then maybe it won’t pancake out on you. Or not as much anyway.

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Azaniah November 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

This is the best rye bread I have ever tasted, Thanks for making it so easy.

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Diane November 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi again Eric

I just thought of another idea to do with my larger Romertopf…increase all ingredients by, say 10-15%…please advise…thanks.

Diane

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Diane November 9, 2010 at 11:04 am

Good Morning Eric

I adapted rye sourdough…omitted spices and orange zest and instead added about 50gm each of chopped mixed soaked dried fruit and chopped pecans and reduced 3tbs of molasses to 1 each of molasses and honey (I am not a fan of molasses taste)…I did struggle with attempting shaping this very wet dough, lost some of the bubbles and because my bargin Romertopf from that 2nd hand shop is larger than yours the dough spead and the loaf was flatter than I had hoped…still it was delicious so next time I will, with more practice shaping and limiting space for spread, I will simply put dough in a bread pan and then into earthenware baker.

Diane

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Breadtopia November 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Excellent!

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Joe November 5, 2010 at 11:08 am

Eric,
Like most others, I tried the Rye bread (My first Sourdough Bread) and it turned out great! Cooked it in a Dutch Oven.
Thanks
Joe

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Breadtopia November 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Hi Judy. You can leave out the orange and other flavorings without having to adjust the flour.

Hi Sheila. I’d check the bread in the mini loaf pans with an instant read thermometer after about 20 minutes and then every few until it reads around 205-210.

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Sheila November 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

How long and at what temp would you bake no knead bread in a 5 inch mini loaf pan? Been thinking about this for gifts.

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Judy November 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Thanks so much for your AWESOME videos! You are helping a lot of people. I just watched the sourdough maintainance one also.

This recipe sounds interesting, but my hubby won’t eat those spices, and not with orange! Can I just leave them out? Do I need to add more flour?

THANKS, Judy

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Rosemerry Trommer October 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Eric,

The scent of orange and rye and fennel fills the home. Thank you for all the inspiration. Your site has created a renaissance in me … and this scent reminds me so much of living in Finland. I’ve made this loaf successfully several times now–and have loved the other no-knead recipes. My husband just bought me a cloche for my birthday–first loaf tonight! I have been grateful to have you as a mentor.
Rosemerry

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Tom Tigue October 20, 2010 at 1:14 am

Ok to use both enhancer and Deli Rye flavor in same dough….need to add more water for one or both addition(s)?

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Breadtopia October 5, 2010 at 8:54 am

Hi Sue,

Good questions. I find it’s typical, especially with largely whole grain doughs, to not get much a rise during the second proofing. If all goes well, the oven spring (the rise that takes place during the first several minutes the dough is in the oven) makes up for it. As for skipping the second rise altogether, sure, why not if you’re getting satisfactory results without it.

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sue October 5, 2010 at 7:58 am

Hi Eric, I have tried this recipe yestarday and wow i must say this is very delicious. Only problem i have in all bread recipes is the 2nd rising. the first rise is great , than i follow instructiosns , but then it doesnt raise as much as it should. Im not sure what im doing wrong but will continue to bake bread until i get it right. Is it necessary to raise it the 2nd time since the first is so successful? well thanks for a great recipe which my hubby loved also.

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Ryan September 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I’ve actually done 100% rye sourdough with rye berries I mill myself. The bread is somewhat heavy, but not significantly heavier than the 100% whole spelt sourdough I mill/bake. Salt and acid are crucial to making a pure rye bread, as is detailed here:
http://www.ssc.upenn.edu/~croehler/sourdough.htm

A real German pumpernickel done the traditional way (rye flour, cracked rye, water, and salt left out for 2 weeks to ferment naturally without a sourdough culture and then baked at 250F for 24 hours in a wet oven) will be much, much heavier.

Apart from the issue of rising, a pure rye bread will have a powerful taste. I found it barely edible, but my roommate likes it.

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Breadtopia September 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

Hi Deb,

You’d have a very dense loaf of bread. Something along the lines of pumpernickel.

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deb September 13, 2010 at 8:23 am

Hi Eric,
What do you think would happen if I use all Rye flour with no bread flour?

Thanks,
Deb

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Sheila September 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Here is my latest loaf. Hope I get the right picture this time.

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sue September 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

an you make this rye bread sustituting white flour wioth something else that is less gluten?

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Breadtopia August 29, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hi John,

Rye tends to be a stickier flour in general but either adjustment should help.

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John August 29, 2010 at 2:44 am

Hello Eric,

Thanks for the very informative site.

I tried the aromatic rye loaf, using my own wholewheat sourdough starter, following the recipe to the letter.
The “dough” was very sticky, and only possible to fold and roll with the addition of about three quarters of a cup of extra flour.

I can only assume my flours are less absorbent than yours.

My pan for next time would be to use 340 g of water, or would you suggest adding more flour?

Any help would be appreciated.

Cheers, from the UK,
John

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John Mageras August 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm

The exchange you have with so many people is educational for us all. Thanks so much for your time and energy. Its appreciated by all. John from Oregon

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Rasmus August 18, 2010 at 4:04 am

Hi Eric
Just curious about the Rye.
You mention Rye flour in a few recipes, but never mention anything about how coarse it is or if it is sifted or not. In the video for this bread I can see you mill your own Rye and don’t sift it, but is it fine, medium or coarse grind? My experience is that the corarser the grind (any flour) the denser the crumb gets since the gluten is cut by the bran.

Since I don’t have my own mill, I buy the finished rye flour and I can choose between sifted, medium and coarse grind. The sifted I presume don’t have that much bran and could give a nice and open crumb. Hmmm, i really should try the different Rye flours for this recipe and note down the differences…

R

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Petra August 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Hi Eric!

So I made the rye sourdough this morning and it’ already GONE! This is by far the best rye bead I have ever had! Thank you for your web and all the delicious recipes! Baking bread is like a therapy for me!
Petra

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Russ August 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

Hello, Eric…

First, thanks for all of the stuff I ordered! Great products and service. I especially like my lame! I just baked the sourdough rye from your recipe using starter made from your dried starter kit. The problem that I had was the dough seemed too dry when I completed mixing it. I added more water (1/4 cup) and it looked like the consistency in your video. After it rose overnight, it was pretty slack. I added flour to it to give it some firmness and that took care of it. After baking to 205* internal, it had a great crust and texture…just slightly gummy, but that may go away as the bread tempers. For me, the strong flavor that others have noticed was the initial flavor burst evident when the bread hadn’t cooled down. After cooling, the flavor is more mellow. Rye and whole wheat flours really suck up water, so I’ll just add a couple of tablespoons more to the mixing the next time. Also, the anise, fennel, and orange combination can be a bit different for those used to deli rye flavor (like me). The next time I make it, I’ll only use the caraway and see what it’s like. Thanks for the tools, videos, and support, Eric!

Russ

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Angelika Moelller August 12, 2010 at 9:28 am

I did the sourdough-rye-bread and it was wonderful, but almost flat like a pancake, so I will order the roemertopf soon to avoid this next time.
I used my self-made sourdough starter with unbleached all purpose flour, it rose and rose.My dough was very sticky maybe because of the different sourdough starter? I will fix me the “pineapple juice” whole wheat sourdough starter for my next breads.
Thanks for your great recipes :)

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Breadtopia August 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Hi Laney,

The bread with rise and bake fine without salt but most people will find extremely bland. There’s a region of Italy where bread is baked without salt, but I think the idea there is that it’s then served with very tasty food.

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Dario Montes de Oca July 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Thanks for this! I love rye bread, one of my relatives follows a same recipe very similar to yours here, it tastes so good. :)

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Butch July 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Eric,I am savoring a slice of the sourdough rye right now.Aromatherapy bread indeed!I left out the caraway,as my wife is sensitive to it,but the result is fit for the gods!The crust is perfect,and the interior is chewy,with large hole….YUM!!
as you mentioned,ovens vary,I had to cut down on cooking time by ten minutes as I was getting over-cooked loaves when I started using you recipes,but now……My wife has allowed as how she will let me do this again,I doubt this loaf will make it through the week.

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"Laney" July 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I am trying to find foods and recipes to help with high blood pressure. I love sour dough bread and want to give it a try. I just wondered if it would be ok to omit the salt or would that ruin the bread.

Thanks for any information you can give me.

“Laney”

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Breadtopia July 13, 2010 at 10:08 am

The sourdough starter I use is made with white wheat flour. Just your basic off the shelf white wheat bread flour.

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Hans July 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

Eric, thanks for your reply. What I meant was that I use a starter for rye bread. All other breads I make with instant yeast. And I use dark rye for the starter and also for in the bread itself. You mentioned white rye flour, so I will give that a try.
Ciao.

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Breadtopia July 13, 2010 at 9:48 am

Hi Hans,

I don’t know what “a sourdough for rye” means. I’m using my plain ol’ everyday white flour sourdough starter for this recipe. It’s often difficult for me to trouble shoot issues like yours since there are so many variables with any bread baking.

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