RyeDetailThis 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.

708 thoughts on “Sourdough Rye Bread

  1. Scott

    Hi I made this recipe last month for Thanksgiving and everyone raved about it. The only problem is that I left my dutch ovens at my parent’s house in Pa. Would I be able to bake this in a regular loaf pan or would it not work? I recently bought USA PANS Hearth loaf pan. Thanks

    • Hi Scott. Sure, the loaf pan will be fine. Although you might want to lower the oven temp to 425-450 and bake a little longer.

  2. JoAnne

    I made this bread today. It came out nummy but really dense. I omitted the caraway and fennal seed (we don’t like the flavor) and used a pinch of ground star anise (didn’t have seeds).

    I used fresh ground hard white wheat and fresh ground rye berries. I didn’t receive my KoMo yet so I had to use my vitamix dry. I don’t think the vitamix grinds as finely as it needs to. I am hoping this will fix the density of the bread. I also did the sourdough version with breadtopia sourdough starter that has been getting stronger for over a week now.

    My question is: if we use all fresh ground flour instead of “bread flour” should we be adding a couple of T’s vital wheat gluten? or do you think there is a big difference in the grind of the flour?
    thanks so much!!

    • Hi JoAnne,

      Did you eliminate the white flour altogether? Changing the recipe from 1/2 white bread flour to 100% whole grain flour would make a pretty huge difference in the density of the bread. All whole grain bread, while more nutritious, is typically quite dense. You’re probably not going to see much if any difference in density with KoMo ground flour vs Vitamix. Increasing the water in the recipe some and adding the vital wheat gluten should open up the crumb a bit.

      • JoAnne

        KoMo came today OMG gorgeous and works beautifully!! THANK YOU!!!
        I made some beautiful whole wheat pierogi today that were awesome!! I used all soft wheat berries and didn’t even sift it.
        I did eliminate the white flour in the bread I made. I will try a little gluten and see if that helps. I will play a bit. I really want to eliminate all store bought flour!!

        • They look sooo good. I’m instantly hungry.

  3. Sean

    Great recipe. The anise was a little strong for my tastes so in my next loaf I used only a half teaspoon of it then added a half teaspoon of dill seed just to mix it up.

    This bread is fantastic with cream cheese and lox!

  4. I could use some help. Very wet dough for me and little in any oven spring. My starter is very active no problem doubling this dough in 12 hours I left my starter on the counter and it nearly tripled in 4 hours room temperature. The dough was so sticky I had difficulty forming a loaf. I am new at this so hardly know where to start making changes. It would be very helpful in the video if you would show the consistency of the dough so I could get some sort of reference. Sorry poking just isn’t very helpful.

    • Winifred

      What did you bake it in or on? I find if I do the loaf on a flat surface – baking stone or cloche – I get very little oven spring. I’ve started using a clay baker with sides – sort of loaf shape and I get great spring (I’ll try to attach a photo of the one I use – I actually use the lid as the bottom and the bottom as the lid). I take the lid off for the last 15 minutes. I would imagine a Dutch oven would work well, too.

      Just started a loaf tonight! This is such delicious bread – I must make it at least once a month. It’s so worth experimenting with it until you get the loaf you want.

      • By the way, another trick that I learned from Canadian chef Michael Smith is to use a Silpat to work the dough on when shaping it. A Silpat is a silicone mat that is sort of stick-proof – people use them on cookie pans instead of greasing the surface. I flour it pretty heavily before I dump the dough on it and use a bench scraper to help me fold and shape the dough. The dough doesn’t stick like it inevitably does if I use my granite counter or a wooden board and it is so easy to clean up – dust off and wipe with a damp cloth.

        • Winifred
          Thanks for the reply. I baked another loaf reduced the water some and turned out better. I lowered the water to 77% which made the dough easier to shape. I did get some spring not as much as I would like but better then earlier efforts. I an using a Sassafras Cloche to bake. I am trying to limit my spending as this is a new hobby and its easy to get carried away. I love the recipe the smell of the bread is amazing. My friend actually preferred the loaf being a bit dense. Go figure.

          • I have a sassafras cloche, too – but I am finding I don’t get a lot of spring from anything I bake in it – so I have pretty much use my clay baker (which was less expensive than the cloche and everything I’ve baked in it has been great.

    • big mike

      Paul, not all starter is the same, it sounds like yours is hyper, like mine. I’m down to first rise of 4 hours and second rise of 2. If your dough doubles in less than 12 hours go with that. Leaving it too long, once it doubles, is asking for breakdown and no oven spring because the natural yeast is worn out by then. I have also learned not to over mix my dough, once it comes together and feels smooth and well mixed, I stop and do my first rise. I also use Romertopf clay pots to bake in that seems to work well, for oven spring. I have included a photo of yesterdays sourdough bread baking, where I made 3 different types.

  5. Jeanette

    I love this recipe but I never get an oven burst. Last time the second proving was only 50 minutes, but still no burst. Could it be that I’m not scoring it deep enough?
    Thanks Jeanette

    • Does your starter rise well after feeding it?

  6. kendyll

    Wow, Thank you for your speedy reply : )
    It turned out ok, just didn’t rise as full as I would have liked and it’s quite moist. But very yummy just the same. Yes, maybe less starter too. As there are many interesting things in the air in these parts. Sometimes I think I don’t even need a starter, ha ha. Thank for your suggestions I will start a log. Good idea : ) I love “Breadtopia” It has been so helpful and fun.

  7. kendyll

    This is my first bread from a starter! Exciting : )
    I live in Hawaii and it is warm and humid here. I fallowed the recipe perfectly. Proof 12 hrs and poured it out, it was so wet it pooled on the counter, even after folding with flour. It won’t retain any shape. I managed to get it into proofing bowl, but its going to be very wet, so it will get poured again into my baking vessel : (
    What can I do next time? Add less water? Decrease my over night rise time?
    There is no way I can even razor score it.
    Thanks in advance and sorry if this discussion is below.

    • Hi Kendlyll,

      Warmth and humidity will do that. You’re correct on the variables. Next time add more flour and/or use less water. If it’s possible to monitor the rising time too, you may find it’s done most of its rising in much less than 12 hours. If you want to stretch out the rising time you can also do a few things like reduce the amount of starter, use cold water, refrigerate for a while.

      It’s kinda all about making adjustments until it works the way you want. Make notes of your adjustments along the way.

  8. Winifred

    I love this recipe and have made it several times. Just took this one out of the oven.

  9. Pauline

    I bake bread in romertopf baker now, and it cracks on top. Before I used a plain pot to bake and everything was fine. What could be the problem?

  10. Angela Smith

    I just wanted to say that I am just a beginner in terms of baking using a sourdough starter and this was the first time I have attempted a rye bread, but this recipe is wonderful. With the help of the videos and the recipe, I was able to create a delicious loaf of bread that my friends thought was the nicest loaf of rye they had ever had. You can’t get better than that! Thank you.

    • That’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Angela.

  11. Rena

    When doing the rye bread my dough was not near wet enough with the 400 ml. I did weigh it out but had to add more water to get the dough more fluid like vs crumbly. I am in the beginning stage of this bread so I will see how it firms up with the additional stirrings. As a thought, I am using bread flour and dark rye flour, could they need more hydration than say an AP flour and light rye? Curious minds you know…

    • Rhonda

      I’ve found that dark rye is a lot thirstier than light rye. I’m told it’s the same difference as white wheat flour vs. whole wheat flour: whole wheat is also quite a bit thirstier.

  12. Michael

    I had the oven at 475F but the crust became overdone way before the inside temperature was high enough for a finished loaf. Any ideas?
    Thanks
    Michael

    • Do you have an oven thermometer you can use to check the accuracy of your oven settings?

      In any case, I’d just lower the baking temp and see how that goes.

  13. kathleen

    can i leave out the seeds?

  14. Tom

    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

  15. Melissa

    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!

    • Hi Melissa,

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

  16. Jeanette

    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.

  17. Jeanette

    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.

    • Bill

      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.

  18. Leslie

    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!

    • Mike Parish

      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.

      • Joffres

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

        • Mike Parish

          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

          • Dave Edwards

            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!

            • doris w

              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!

              • Doris, it worked for you because you dropped the baker’s percentage of water to 75% for 82% which is typical for no knead bread done in a Dutch Oven. I would still recommend you preheat at 450 and bake at 425 for 40 minutes covered and 15/20 minutes uncovered. Any time less and the bottom third of the internal loaf will be gummy. You need to go not only by internal bread temperature but more by time. I’ve found through experiment that bread will reach 195/210 within the first half hour of baking and stays below 212. It won’t go higher because of the moisture in the loaf that prevents it from going to the boiling point of 212. So, the internal temperature tells you very little about how baked the bread is. Obviously at 30 minutes the bread is still raw even though the instant read tells me the bread done. It’s all about time under a specific oven temperature that makes for good bread. You’ll note that the bead made by on this video has very large irregular hole. This isn’t a good thing. It means the gluten structure is weak and the bread will be chewy. Below the video the author mentions another on-site baker that had good luck with his version which is also only 75% hydrated. This really is the upper limit for a free standing loaf. Breads like Pizza and Frocaccia have higher content of water (80 to 90 percent) since they are flat breads that spread and are expected to be chewy and of course to spread out they need a weak gluten structure provided by lots of water so they can be spread or be rolled out. Otherwise they would constantly spring back after attempted rolling and spreading.

      • Rhonda

        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.

        • Since there is very little gluten in Rye flour it will have very little spring no matter how much or little water is used. That’s why most Rye breads combine Rye flour with wheat flour. It’s for the gluten content of the wheat flour. The 100% Rye breads are typical Swedish or German and they are all bricks. I guess it depends if you like that kind of density. Frankly, I don’t and therefore stick with a maximum of 60% Rye,

  19. Dave Edwards

    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.

    • Raul

      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

      • Dave Edwards

        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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