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.




Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread
Artisan 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). Covers both sourdough and instant yeast versions.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 18 hours

Yield: 1 Loaf


  • 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


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.

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.

Both Versions

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.


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.


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.

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.

Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread

Comments from our Forum

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  1. Patricia says:

    I have been baking bread for more than 40 yrs now, since my hippie days. And up until a few month ago I had an ancient sourdough starter, but alas and alack she died. So I've started with a new one. It is lovely. I've been making pumpernickel for my "boyfriend" since I started making regular sourdough for myself, again. I scan the Internet for different recipes all the time esp for the pumpernickel since its new to me. (He says why don't you just stick to one) well you know how that goes. So I'm making this Artisan Sourdough Rye. I can't wait to see how it turns out and how he likes it. He's laughing that I got up at 8am to finish it! I'm not a morning person. It's on its 2nd rise and looks lovely, not too sticky, nice rise, good shape. I want to thank everyone who contributed comments! Turns out you're not too old to learn new tricks! Heehee!d

  2. Patricia says:

    This bread turned out so beautiful and delicious. I didn't have anise or orange and can't wait to make it again with the missing ingredients.

    I think this is the most beautiful loaf I've ever made! And it does taste GREAT!

  3. sharondhl1 says:

    I love this bread, thank you Eric for the recipes and video tutorials. I'm not sure if any other recipe can beat this! I loved it and the whole family did as well. Just out of interest, what happens if I just use my sourdough from the fridge without feeding it?

  4. mcfunk says:

    Hi there. I'm another one with a rye sourdough starter and I'm starting to suspect that it behaves quite differently from white or wheat starters. It's nowhere near as stiff, for one. I'm sure it played a part of my first (and only yet) batch of this bread being overly wet and sticky, and I think the ratio of yeast to moisture impacts the rise as well (i.e., I suspect that I'm getting less yeast for the quantity of starter).

    I've seen some methods online that call for taking the starter "mother" and adding flour and water in given quantities to stiffen before using in a recipe, such as the following:

    To use for recipes - Combine 1/2 c (5 oz) mother starter from the refrigerator with 3 oz flour and 2.5 oz warm water (85 - 90 degrees). The mixture will be stiffer than the mother. Let it sit, covered, until doubled in volume (if it doesn't do so go back to maintenance procedure). When the starter has doubled, it is ready to use in a recipe. Measure the amount needed and discard any that remains. (

    Do you think that using such a method would produce a starter that would better approximate the stiffness of the starter you are using, and create more consistent results in recipes in general? Or am I better off just spinning off a white or wheat starter from my rye start?

  5. Paula says:

    Such a great recipe and comprehensive tutorial!
    I went with the Rapid Rise (instant) yeast method and was very pleased with the results. This was a test run for a dinner party next weekend for a group of us who went on a Rhine River cruise this summer and I am looking forward to sharing this wonderful recipe!

  6. Hi, what's the room temperature there? our room temperature here stays at 28~ 30 deg, does the

    proofing time remain at 12 hours?

  7. wilbri says:

    Have been following and baking with lessons from this site for a few happy months now.
    The most dramatic lessons I've learned, are the use of a Dutch Oven and an implanted thermometer.
    I have experimented with 100% rye (will write about that at another time) however, am trying to improve my technique with this recipe.
    Repeatedly, I get a very wet bread.
    Usually, the Dutch Oven is heated up to 240*C (i.e. 'hot' oven) and closed with the dough for 20 minutes.
    Then, the cover of the Dutch Oven's removed and the thermometer is speared into the still baking bread, with an alarm set for 98*C.
    This is usually reached in another 30 or so minutes.
    Round wooden skewer tests always come out wet, so I keep the bread in for longer and longer, causing it to over crust. Possibly even, to burn.
    At this time, I am baking the same recipe with 370 instead of 400 grams of water.
    The dough was very sticky - let's see what happens.🤔
    Any suggestions how to get the baked bread less sticky?

  8. ritchd01 says:

    Eric, I love your site but am having trouble with the Artisan Sourdough Rye bread. #1, I'm not sure if my sourdough starter is what it should be. I live in central Canada, Manitoba to be exact. A person I know that taught culinary arts in one of our regional high schools told me that we could not maintain good sourdough starter here. We do not have the good wild yeast like that found on the west or east coast. Is there any truth to that. What can I do to keep my starter healthy. I do the weekly feeding of the starter. Should I be adding some yeast with the flour and water? I tried this recipe twice and it just does not rise like yours. I like the taste but it is not what it should be. We are in late fall, early winter here. The temperatures have been very nice so far, for us. Our house is 18C at night and 21 during the days with a relative humidity of 57%. I tried to include a couple of pictures of my latest rye bread but could not do it.. It's better than the first would you believe. Any suggestions?

  9. Michelle says:

    I adore this recipe! So flavorful, and so easy to make!
    I put it all together in the morning but knew I would not have enough time to bake at the end of the day, so I put it immediately, after mixing, into the refrigerator, and then took it out at night, to warm up and rise overnight. The loaf was formed and proofed the next morning and then baked in a cloche, it is brown and beautiful and oh, so tasty!
    Thank you for this recipe!

  10. jbluebird says:

    wow! This bread is fantastic. Followed Eric's video and ingredient list as close as possible. This is my 4th NK attempt using the pineapple based SD starter, and the best to date.

    Only issue (for now) is the overly dark bottom. For this last try I raised the rack to its highest point and lowered the temp by ~10 degrees, but still a little burnt on the buns. Will try parchment paper next weekend.

    Thank you Eric for the great instructions and delicious recipes.


Earlier Comments

760 thoughts on “Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread

  1. Darlene

    I have some tips on freezing bread, and other soft items as well, that has worked great for me. Put the bread, either sliced (parchment paper between slices helps) in a plastic bag and freeze till solid. Then remove from bag and move to a vacuum sealing bag. This way, you will not compress your frozen bread when removing the air, and with less air inside, the bread will freeze better and stay fresh longer. I discovered this after I baked an elaborate, time consuming cake. It was frosted, but was so large, that my husband and I could not eat it all. I gave most away, then sliced the remainder. I put each slice separately into the freezer, and as soon as frozen, put in vacuum sealed bags. Came out perfectly, and retained the shape beautifully for weeks. Whenever we wanted cake, we just took out a piece. Works well for meats as well. I use the vacuum sealers sold in the food bag isle, with the free pump. This works well for me since I control how tight to make the seal. Hope this helps with the bread!

  2. Lesley

    I am unclear about the long proofing. What determines how long the dough should be left before the stretch and fold?

    • Christopher Dobney

      Double in volume.

  3. Lesley

    I made my second loaf today and am wondering why it heaved and split lengthwise down the loaf even though it was scored. Also, still having problems with the crust being over done particularly where it touches the Romertopf. I actually just realized that I forgot to turn the temp down to 450 which probably is why it was more over done than last time even though I took a few min off time.
    I understand that we have the high temp to achieve oven spring. Can anyone tell me how long does it take that to happen?
    I guess next time I will have to take bread temp when I remove the lid.
    One more thing – When I checked the dough 8 hrs into the long rise it looked as though it could have already risen quite a bit more than what it was as there where bits of dough on the bowl above. I left it for another hour (it was already doubled) and then went ahead with the stretch and fold. The last time the dough seemed doubled after 9 hours .
    Is it common for the dough to double so quickly? The recipe says 12 to 14 hrs. My starter was very active. I fed it in the late afternoon and it more than doubled in an hour or so.

    • Christopher Dobney

      Much of it depends on ambient temperature. If your dough is consistently rising too quickly, you can try cutting down on the amount of starter or even doing the entire proof under refrigeration.

      • Lesley

        Thank you Chris, I thought it was double the volume.
        My house temperature is only 68F over night, but I have been using 70g of starter as in the video. Maybe Ill have to cut back a bit. Does a longer proofing change the quality of the bread? I followed the video recipe which says to proof 10 to 12 hrs and my first loaf appeared to double by 9 but leaving it for 10 didn’t seem to make a difference. I was wondering if the severe splitting was also caused by too fast or too much rising during baking.
        Thanks again for this website. I am really enjoying the bread making and I don’t think I would have had as much success without it.

  4. Lesley

    Sorry, Not whole wheat flour in bread dough white, all purpose, organic.

  5. Lesley

    I just love this bread. Can’t stop eating it. I hope it turns out as good next time. I see from some of the comments that people are having a hard time with the rise. It took me a couple of weeks or longer to get starters going. I ended up having 2 all rye which were newer and started with the pineapple recipe, and 2 that i had converted to ww from my first rye that I tossed. The now ww had a nice sour taste but not much activity so I tried feeding with the pineapple mixture ( twice) and they became active. After, one I fed to double the weight which doubled volume over night. The other I didn’t feed at all after the pineapple mixes but it became frothy with a beer like aroma. The new rye starters were thick (not pouring) and very active but didn’t yet have much sour taste. One I put in the fridge over night and it was still full of holes the next day.
    Being that I had no bread experience at all, I followed the video weighing everything and used both types of starter to equal 70 grams. The only changes were using organic whole white wheat all purpose plus 2T (no bread flour). First rising doubled (volume) in 9 hrs but left for 10. I didn’t flatten much on the stretch and fold so was still quite poofy. Rose again for about 70 minutes (maybe about 40 percent) in a metal bread pan with rice flour cloth liner (lots of rice flour). Awkwardly flopped it into 475 degree Romertopf w/ lid. Then realized that i forgot to score so opened oven and Romertopf and scored. I could see it was already rising. Baked the 30min then removed lid and 10 min more at 450. The finished bread had increased about 60 to 70 percent again. Crust was slightly over done but wow, like I said, hope it goes at least this well the next time. It tastes so good!

  6. Lesley

    Yes, It was in the oven at 480 for about 10 min then 475 for 30 min waiting for dough to proof. The Romertopf had never been used for bread before and was smoking before the dough went in. I had added 2 extra T of flour because I only had organic all purpose white no bread flour. The proofed dough was quite flaccid.

  7. Lesley

    My first loaf. It rose well. Didn’t have the proper proofing basket so I improvised. Baked in my Romertopf. Very happy it worked this well.
    The crust is a bit over done. Specially on bottom and back side.
    How would I correct this for future?

    • Christopher Dobney

      Did you preheat the Romertopf?

      • Christopher Dobney

        Honestly, this has me a bit flummoxed. Usually my Romertopf does a pretty good job of distributing the heat evenly. It could be as simple as reducing the baking time by a few minutes. Do you have a temperature probe? Regardless of the time in the oven, when it hits about 205 F it’s done.

        Still, sound like you had some tasty bread the first time! For me, it took 3 tries before I got this formula down. I’ve made it 6 times now, and it’s become what I call an “old reliable.”

        Have fun!

        • Lesley

          Hi Christopher,
          I have a probe. Ill try checking bread temp sooner next time. Really love the bread and very rewarding to have success the first time.

  8. Lesley

    This is going to be my first bread making. My starter is ready to go and I have the Romertopf but no proofing basket. Can I proof my dough in a glass or metal rectangular bread pan and then bake it in the preheated Romertopf?

    • Christopher Dobney

      You can proof your dough in pretty much anything, Lesley. The main concern with a dough this wet is it’s stickiness. For this reason, whatever you use for proofing I’d advise either hitting it hard with oil or cooking spray, or lining it with a well-floured tea towel. I prefer rice flour as it sticks to the cloth better, but all-purpose works fine.

  9. Budding Breadie

    Is it possible to use a stout ale in place of the water for a vortlimpa?

    • Christopher Dobney

      Sure. I do recommend either bringing the beer to a brief boil or, if you’re concerned about the effect on flavor, letting it sit out for about 4 hours, to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Otherwise the alcohol will retard or prevent rising.

      • Christopher Dobney

        By “sit out”I mean pour it into a mixing bowl and allow it to sit uncovered.

  10. JoJoff

    What size proofing basket should I buy? I have found a site to order one from. Thanks.

    • Christopher Dobney

      I’ve found that an 8″ round is sufficient for 1-1/2 pound loaves. For a hearth loaf 9 x 4 1/2 is good. Some folks like them larger, and aside from the added cost there really isn’t any downside that I’ve found to using a larger basket. Wicker baskets , which you can pick up for a buck or so at thrift stores, work fine as we’ll and can give you really interesting textures.

      • Christopher Dobney

        Note on wicker baskets: with wetter doughs like this one you”ll probably want to use a liner. A flour-sack towel and a large rubber band works fine. Just make sure to rub flour into it well.

        • JoJoff

          Thanks that’s what I needed.

  11. John Precious

    Hello from Yorkshire in the North of England,
    this is my second attempt at this great loaf after a long lay-off and making a new starter from scratch.
    Before baking it again I watched the videos and read the comments.
    Observations on my attempt below.
    1. Followed recipe to the letter weighing all ingredients in grammes
    2. “Dough” was very moist & sticky after overnight proofing @ 20 Celsius
    3. Fold and roll on very well-floured was more “scrape and slap” – not possible to handle dough without it sticking to everything. First visions of failure, decided to persevere.
    4. Dough given fifteen minutes rest in baking bowl – no seam in glutinous mass of dough. Second vision of failure. Pressed on regardless.
    5. Scraped “dough” from bowl into *well-floured* cloth-lined proving basket. 3rd impression of doom – will it ever come out?! Kept calm & carried on.
    6. After 30 mins. heated Romertopf in oven @ 250 Celsius for 30 mins = 1hour rise time
    7. “Dough” (goo) had risen/spread. 4th vision of catastrophe – how to tip it into Romertopf?
    8. Lid off Romertopf, thumbs under proving basket, fingers above to catch “dough-goo”, inverted: Dough-goo dropped into centre of hot Romertopf.
    9. Cut with knife, lid on, into oven for 30 mins. 1st creeping premonition of success – will it be a loaf or a brick?
    10. After 30 mins @ 250 Celsius, removed lid. Success! A loaf! Risen! Albeit crazed and cracked with much white flour that acted as mould release agent. Back into oven for 10 mins. minus lid.
    11. After 10 mins. removed from oven, removed easily (no sticking) from Romertopf. Smells great. Image attached.

    Note for next time: start with less liquid (100g less) to improve dough consistency/handling whilst maintaining all other parameters the same.

    • Jeff

      John, if you scan down below to last year this time, you will see my similar experience with photos and sourdough starter.

      I agree…I advised to reduce the water and then add a little, etc.

      Also, I think sourdough only works in certain areas of the world, unless you buy the starter thru the mail. Use yeast. That’s why it was invented.

    • Jeff

      actually it was a series of posts I made down below March 2013…with pics

    • Bill

      John, I very much enjoyed your observations. And your loaf is beautiful! I measure by volume and I’m quite the bumbler. However, my made from scratch sour dough starter has supplied us with bread here in Valencia, Spain for almost a year and bumble though I may, thanks to Eric’s videos and recipes and the confidence they have given me, and a healthy portion of good luck I always end up with a great tasting loaf of bread.

      Looking forward to hearing more from you.

    • CarolynB

      Oh my gosh, I laughed and laughed at John Precious until the tears ran down my cheeks. What a funny outline of his experience.

  12. Angela Li

    I add 5 more minutes to covered baking time since using a baker inside of Dutch oven.

  13. Angela Li

    I am totally new on this bread baking thing. 🙂
    I made the rye sourdough bread today ( my second oven baked bread). It was a success ( the best rye bread we ever had).
    I tried no knead sourdough and rye bread so far. They are both wonderful. I love the breadtopia site. The recipes are delicious, instructions are clear and the steps are easy to follow.
    I followed the instructions word for word. I read the comments on the breadtopia site before starting. They are also very helpful. For example, the most common complaint is the dough is too wet to handle and it spreads out and turns flat when baking it. Some comments mentioned they line the baking vessel with parchment paper. I thought that is a great idea. This I what I do: I transfer the dough directly on the floured parchment paper after first rise, spread a little oil on my hands and fold the dough( I have to say it is not easy). Then put the dough along with parchment paper into a baker to rise again. I use two identical ceramic bakers, the one for proofing the dough, the other one for sitting inside of Dutch oven to preheat and baking the bread. The parchment paper makes the transfer easy when proofing is done. The baker inside the Dutch oven makes sure the bread rises up and does not spread flat when oven spring happens. I do not know if it makes sense to other experienced bakers, but as a total newbie, this method served me well. I got pretty handsome looking loaves (well, only two) so far (at least in my and my husband’s eyes). LOL…

  14. JoJoff

    Thank you to all of you for sharing your experiences. I would certainly have given up were it not for the availability of your comments. My mixture was so “liquid” that I skipped the stretch, fold, shape and proofing basket steps. I poured it onto the cookie sheet covered with baking paper and let it rise the second time for 1H30. I then followed one person’s advice to cook at 250C for 5 minutes, followed by 150C for 50 minutes which was enough to find that we were at 96C or 200F interior temperature. My starter is runny except when I feed it with rye. I forgot to feed it the night before last with rye so it was runny. I used less flour than called for because as I weighed it out it appeared more than the volume the recipe gave. Oh, I have not said where I am writing from: southwest France. Apparently, T65 flour here is about 20-25% lighter than what we have in America. The rye difference in weight was nearly equivalent. I also used only 300g water but next time I intend to try 200g water and only 1Tbs molasses – I used Treacle because I brought some back with me from England (molasses is very hard to find in France). My resulting bread is pictured here. It is very low but has a beautiful texture and a chewy crust (yes, I had a pan filled with hot water at the bottom of the oven). My oven is old and imprecise but heck, it worked. The taste is delicious albeit not to the taste of my French hubbie :-(. Never mind.

    • JoJoff

      I need advice for size of a banneton for this amount of dough. Can anyone please guide me with the size of your proofing basket? Plus indicate the shape. I have found a site to order one from. Thanks.

  15. Christopher Dobney

    Hi, Barbara and Breadtopia;

    The element in question is the grey and/or black residue which the baking stone or vessel collects after repeated use. That’s carbon which leeches out of both the clay and the food being cooked and, in truth, is really nothing more than burnt matter.

    That burnt matter, carbon, is one of the finest and most durable nonstick surfaces there is. That’s why a cooker, whether cast iron, carbon steel, or clay gets so much better with age.

    Happy baking and may your crust be chewy, your oven spring high, and your bread holey!

  16. Made the sourdough rye bread this morning for the first time and it turned out great. Will definitely make it again! Crust was crunchy and crumb looked great and it was very moist!

  17. Erv

    I have noticed many comments that one of the problems is with lack of rise due to the low gluten content of rye flour. I have recently been adding a tablespoon per cup of rye flour of vital wheat gluten to the recipe. This alone has helped give a much better rise to the loaf.

  18. Sara

    I am new to baking (aside from prepackaged mixes) and baked my first loaf today using this recipe and an Oven Brique clay cooker that I picked up at yard sale awhile back. I forgot to let the dough rest for 15 minutes after shaping the loaf but it turned out OK anyway. The one thing I noticed is that the inside is a bit sticky. Is this normal or a sign that something went awry? The internal temp was 200 when I took it out. The flavor is great and the texture is good, moist and springy with a nice crisp crust.

    • Leslie

      Hi Sara,
      I’ve made this bread about a dozen times and a few of those the inside was sticky. If you used the full amount of water it made a very wet dough and that alone may have been the cause.
      I found reducing the water to 300 g made a more manageable, drier dough that was easier to shape and that baked up nicely.
      Good luck!

    • John Jacobson

      Hi Sara, you could be experiencing a starch attack which happens with rye flours. The attack is a result of the enzymes in the dough living longer than the yeast as it’s baked (yeast dies at a lower temp than do the enzymes) while the enzymes are still alive, they continue to break-down the starches in the baked dough, converting those starches into a gum. I’ve read the way to avoid this is to preferment the rye in a sourdough before mixing final dough, and to bake at a high temp to quickly drive the inside of the dough to a temperature which kills those lovely enzymes. You can read a lot of detail on this in Leader’s book Local Breads or Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.

  19. Craig

    According to Cooks Illustrated, the wetter the dough, the flatter the loaf. It will be very sticky to work with, sticking to the board unless there is a LOT of flour.

    However, the crust will be chewy and there will be many large holes in a soft crumb.

    The less water, the smaller the holes, but the higher the loaf will be.

    Eric’s no- knead recipes approach 80% hydration which almost guarantees a flat loaf, but with great bread characteristics.

    I use a 63% hydration following Eric’s recipes with great results for me.

    I also don’t understand why you can’t have both sourdough starter and commercial yeast if you are having problems with the rise. I do this with no apparent compromise in flavor.

    I usually great a great dough proof, but a weak final proof so I now only go 12 hours for the first proof , and then 3 hours for the second proof, which is still only 15 hours and produces a good bread spring in the oven

    • Charles

      Craig, I concur, the cool weather is here and the humidity is higher and I am at a lower elevation and I have been doing the same thing, I have been reducing the amount of water by about 1/4C and doing first proof about 14Hr. and final proof for about 3Hr. and getting good oven spring.

      • Charles

        Also put 2T of Gluten flour in most of my mixes. Doesn’t hurt! and I think it helps with the rise. One note on this, I get good crumb but its mostly small holes not the big open ones like you get in a good sourdough bread but I like it for sandwich bread.

  20. Leslie

    I’ve made this half a dozen times now and the best method is Bill’s, putting the dough directly into the parchment-lined pan for the final rise then straight into the oven. I skip the folding and shaping step because, frankly, my dough is more like a batter and is not manageable enough to shape. It pretty much pours instead.
    That being said, the end result is great. Thank you to Bill for suggesting the method.
    I would, however, like to ask the Breadtopia folks why the dough is sooooo very wet. I weigh my ingredients so it’s not the volume of flour; and I’m in arid, drought-stricken Southern California so it’s not a question of hydration. Is the recipe, perhaps, a bit on the light side as far as flour is concerned?
    Thank you ~

    • Jeff

      Leslie…if you read my long drawn out posts below, I ran into the same experience with wet dough…stiff dough…dough that doesn’t rise…etc. I repeated many times until I finally relaxed enough to “make it work”.

      Here’s my secret…

      Halve the water in the recipe and only add water to acquire the stiffer dough (that you sort of see in the video). Then, depending on your starter…let it rise up to over 24 hours, until you see a rise (which is never double with sourdough starter in my experience). You may even skip the final knockdown if you are worried it won’t rise again. Then bake it, and even if it comes out flat or perfectly plump, it will ALWAYS taste good.

      If all else fails, I even learned you can add rapid rise yeast with a little water up to 2 days after a failed rise…add a little more water, and let it rise again, and it will STILL turn out good!

      • Leslie

        Hey Jeff,
        I wasn’t brave enough to halve the water but used 300g instead of 400g and got a much more manageable dough. Actual dough, instead of batter!
        However, I am now questioning the high oven temperature. I have a recently calibrated Viking so I know the temp is correct, but 450º seems too high. Anyone else lowering the temperature, I wonder?
        Next loaf I’m trying it at 425º.

        • mirek

          i bake mine @435 for 50 min and finish off (cover off) @450 for 10 min (this is for larger bread 1.5 recipe)
          i would say give it a try – if its wet after timer goes off give it more time (maybe 5-7 min increments)

        • I bake on a baking sheet. Start at 250 Celsius for 5 min to create crust and go down to 150 for 1 hour. Check temperature inside bread closer to the end. Add time if its less than 96 Celsius.

          • Leslie

            Thank you mirek and Alex!

        • Jeff

          I find water and temperature to be a personal variable that is not at all as complex as it seems. It depends on your experience and conditions… I tend to combine variables from various recipes. I cook this bread in a Dutch oven and I think 425 is sufficient, just check the internal temp and make sure you are happy with the outcome.

    • Bill

      Thanks, Leslie. I’ve gotten away from using parchment paper. Now I’m greasing my metal pan with butter. No sticking problems.

      I can’t say for sure if that would work with dough as wet as yours.

      I measure by volume and if my dough is too wet I just add more flour. Sometimes I add so much flour that I wonder if I should add more honey or salt. But the loaves always taste great, so . . .

      But if your end result is great, I wouldn’t change a thing.

      • Bill

        Sorry. I meant to say molasses, seeds or salt.

      • Leslie

        I have made this several more times and adjusted the recipe thusly: water 300 g, add 1 tsp yeast and 1 T vital wheat gluten. I’m not using parchment anymore as the reduction in water resulted in a dough that is much more manageable.
        An interesting side note: I live in Southern California and when hiking recently gathered some seeds from wild fennel plants — amazingly strong! Had to cut back from 1 T to 1 tsp and it’s still overpowering. In a good way, though. 😀

  21. Michal

    Does it matter which rye flour I use? I have been using whole rye, and for the life of me cannot seem to get the bread to rise much. Flavor is great, but no rise. I’ve tried long first proofing, shorter, doing the long proof straight in the proofing basket (instead of bowl, then moving to basket for final rise), tried playing with my flour/water ratios, and nothing. Have also made sure to have super active starter every single time. Could my results be different if I use medium rye? Maybe..?

    • Bill

      I’ve tried all of these things with varying degrees of success. I swear I got better rise right back with my first starter. I misread the care instructions and was underfeeding it and so it was weak.

      Recently I’ve gotten better rise with the whole spelt recipe by adding much more starter than is called for. Instead of 1/4 cup starter (mashed down) I recently used 2 1/2 cups of fluffy starter. I grew the starter in my 3 cup glass measuring jug and then added all of it to the water and honey mix. All other measurements were as called for in the recipe. Of course this has the effect of adding more flour but I left the honey measurement the same and I was very pleased with the taste. The increase in rise was not dramatic but it was more than I had seen in some time.

      I do the long rise in a glass bowl and then gently move that to a baking tin greased with butter for the proofing before baking.

      I plan to try this with the rye recipe this week.

    • adam

      rye flour just does not contain the gluten that white or wheat flours have so it is necessary to make sure that the dough is properly developed. if you want super high volume out of rye and still maintain flavor you will probably have to increase the overall weight of the loaf or bake in a loaf pan with the proper amount of dough. using the pan helps the dough to maintain its shape during the final proof yielding a standing loaf. on a side note over proofing bread can be easy and there isn’t a real recovery method for this so its really important to keep a watch during the time before baking.

      • Bill

        Thanks, Adam. Your comments about over proofing and loaf pan sized are a great help.

  22. Danielle

    hello all, I have made this Rye bread three times with no oven rise! I am new to bread making and I am also new to using fresh ground flour. We live in the South where the climate is very warm this time of year so I have cut the proofing time, and still no rise:(
    I know it is not my yeast. Can anyone offer me suggestions? This bread tastes so good, I just want to get it right.

    • sue

      Hi i live in the mid south and i had a problem also with bread rising, Until I used a dough enhancer with my fresh whole ground grains. Hope this will work for you.

      • Bill

        Thanks. I’m new to baking and had never heard of dough enhancer. I found a website with a recipe and will be giving it a try.

  23. Michal

    Wondering if anyone has tips on freezing this and the other wonderful sourdough breads once they are baked. In recent months I have let the loaf cool completely (for several hours), cut it into 1/2 inch slices, and double ziplock bagged it for freezer storage (not a deep freezer, the one on my fridge). I like the idea of being able to grab a couple of slices for a sandwich rather than defrosting an entire loaf. But the result has always been slightly freezer burnt bread. Anyone have experience successfully freezing their loaves?

    • Jeff

      I always freeze them…because I bake my own breads, I like to savor them for some time rather then devour them in a short time. I let them cool until slightly warm, I preslice them, and I freeze the slices in ziplock bags and take as I need. I always toast them, and they taste fresh baked.

  24. Peter

    Thanks for the recipe – this is my first go and the first I’ve made from my starter. I used a baking stone. It was incredibly wet and difficult to handle so will try with more flour next time.

    Loved the videos. Great website!

  25. Jeff

    I have had issues punching down the dough and getting it to rise any further…I am tempted to put in the dutch oven straight after the long rise,without punching down and folding. Any advice on this matter?

    • Jeff

      Came out great!

  26. Mick

    Made this for the first time (will bake again for sure) this week. Did not use anise or orange zest, added 1 tsp dill seed. Did not use proofing basket, just formed batard on parchment and used rolled towels to hold shape. Baked it on stone, removed parchment after 10 minutes. Used the “5 minute artisan” technique with water in pan below stone.
    Result: delicious, slightly aromatic, wonderful crust, crumb.

  27. Lou

    I made this rye bread with yeast twice and it did not have much of an oven rise. It came out rather flat; tasted very good. Any suggestions of why my loaves did not rise much in the oven. I baked them in a clouche.

    • Bill

      Lou, if you ever get to the bottom of this mystery I hope to hear about it. I have been using my sourdough starter for this recipe. My first two or three loaves rose as expected. Then I had one or two that did not rise so much. On one other occasion I was in a hurry and cut the overnight rise for a spelt sourdough loaf to three or four hours. The oven rise was incredible. The loaf more than doubled in size.

      Getting back to the rye bread. My solution has been to cut the long rise time down to about six hours and also to do that rise in the proofing basket, dumping straight from there to my preheated baking pan.

      When following the recipe, all of the rises were as expected but after the long rise, when I moved the dough to the proofing basket I didn’t get any rise there or in the oven. I’ve tried more starter and less starter but only skipping that final handling has helped.

      • Michal

        Bill, so you simply made the dough, let it sit the 15 mins in the mixing bowl, then transferred to the proofing basket and let it sit for 6 hours? Then into the oven? Just want to make sure I understand you correctly, as I’m having the same flat bread issue :-/

        • Bill

          After mixing the dough I let it rest 15 minutes, mix it again, let it rest another 15 minutes, mix it again and then put it in the proofing basket for 6 hours and then into the oven. If I’m using a metal baking tin then I line it with baking paper and use it for the proofing basket and the baking container. If the dough is very wet then proofing it in a basket, even one lined with cloth, can be a sticky mess. Good luck!

          • Michal

            Did another try yesterday with the original recipe, reducing the first proofing step to 8 hours, and got a better, but still relatively flat loaf. Will definitely give your version a try tomorrow morning – thanks!

          • Leslie

            Bill, thank you so much for the recommendation of lining the pan with parchment and letting the final rise occur “in situ.” My dough was extremely wet and sticky, completely unmanageable, but this skirted the problem nicely.
            I’m wondering whether the flour used in the video was dryer somehow, or if freshly milled rye flour absorbs more liquid, because each of the three times I’ve made this loaf it has not resembled the one pictured at all.

            • Bill

              Leslie, you’re welcome. I’ve been making bread for six months and my loaves rarely turn out the same from one to the next. But they all taste great!

  28. Treesa

    OH DEAR LORD! This is the first rye bread I have ever made and it has blown my mind. Great recipe! I smeared it with some homemade pear butter and I think I heard the universe crack. I was very intimidated to try to make it but I’m so glad I did. Thanks for this recipe, It’s going in my “keeper” recipe book.

  29. Philip Scott

    Baked my first Sourdough Rye loaf today. Sooooooooo Good! Had some friends over and they raved about it. One problem I had was that the final dough mix was so wet, I had to keep flouring it just to handle it enough to get it into the oven. I followed the ingredient’s exactly. Should I start with more flour vs. liquid, or what would you recommend?
    Thanks, & BTW it was great running into you & Denise in Asheville last month.

    • Hi Phil,

      It was great seeing you and Marilyn out there too. Birds of a feather.

      The wet dough syndrome comes up a lot, and yes, just add more flour at the start to make it a bit stiffer than you think it should be. The dough tends to magically get more wet and slack during the long proofing period.

      • Allison

        Alternately, you can wet your hands and implements when working sticky/wet sourdough.

        That way you don’t add too much flour.

  30. mirek

    hello all
    i baked this bread at leas half a dozen times now -and everyone in my family loves the taste / texture. I scale the recipe to 1.5x – this is so that i get a little larger loaf
    The problem i have is the look – it gets burned on the outside (i bake mine in bread dome) @ 550F for 50 min and then 10-15 @500F – this is to get the inner temp close to 200F (i don’t take a lid off as it burns the top even more. ( if it matters i have wolf oven and i do have baking stone as well i tried baking with stone removed and it burn effect was even worse)
    any ideas how i could get nice looking and tasty loaf in my situation?
    thanks to all in advance

    • I would try reducing the baking temp by about 75-100 degrees.

      It will still bake all the way through, only the outside won’t burn.

      • mirek

        ok i finally got it down
        new temp 355 for 55min, and then 10 min @ 300 with lid off and a cup of boiling water in the oven.
        i now let the dough sit 36-72 hrs in the fridge to get more sour taste.
        best recipe ever – everyone loves this bread.

  31. Clare

    Here’s my first loaf

    • Heinz

      It looks so nice and crunchy. Good job Clare.

  32. Clare

    Just made my first ever sourdough from these instructions. The video’s are great. The loaf turned out perfectly even though I didn’t have all of the same ingredients and equipment. I just let mine prove in a tea towel draped in the colander and baked it in a casserole dish. Thanks for teaching me!

  33. Could you please give baking directions for baking on a stone. My loaf burned on the outside inorder to reach a 200 degree inside temp. Thank you in advance.

  34. Hi Jeff

    I do not have any baking stone or dutch oven. I bake in a teflon form on a baking metal sheet.
    I have 2 problems:

    1. My bread gets dark at about 30 minutes baking. But it is still very soft inside. How can I fix it? Should I reduce temperature and increase baking time?

    2. I have a small whole inside my bread in the center. Not sure how to fix it.

    • Bill

      Hi Alex,
      If your bread isn’t covered then put a loose foil tent over it during the first two thirds of the baking time. This will slow down the darkening of the top and give you more time to get the center baked.

      I use a metal pan and I reduce the temperature about 10 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scorching on the bottom.

      I also use a thermometer to make sure that the interior of the loaf has reached 200 F before pulling it from the oven.

  35. Jim

    Made this today/last night, sourdough version. Minus anise and fennel seeds. Baked 45 minutes in dutch oven. Came out great! Thanks for the formula.

  36. Helmsdale

    This is a GREAT recipe! My ex- and best friend is Polish and she has traveled extensively in E Europe. She’s bread nut too, and when she visits me in the UK always brings loaves from German, French or Belgium bakeries because she hates British Chorley Wood supermarket bread (I totally understand that). I made this recipe using a good 15 year old rye starter, with quantities exactly by the list except for…

    • adding a sachet of Nestles Capucino Mocca instant coffee (instant coffee and cocoa, with added sweetener).

    • mixing black treacle and half golden syrup in lieu of molassses (we don’t get molasses easily in the UK), but reducing qty by half.

    • The other half of sweetening was made up with Seville marmalade with fine cut peel, and omitted the orange zest (because had no oranges)

    An interminable phone call from a friend made me forget the oven timing, and the boule stayed in the oven 15 minutes longer than planned. Also, it expanded so much that it stuck in my home-made cloche and needed to be prized out. It looked rather burned, tbh, and I thought it was another train smash. Still, it felt okay and had good oven spring, despite the charred appearance.

    So I offered it with apologies when my ex- visited the next day. Amazingly, she reckoned it was the best rye bread she’d had for years! Moreover, she took half of the loaf back for her friends and started taking orders. I’m just hoping that I can repeat the feat!

    A great recipe! Thanks.

  37. Julie

    Just made this…2 loaves…rye-spelt and rye-ww…taste is great,crumb perfect but it almost burned on the bottom and crust too thick on bottom. I likely should have put it more in the middle of the oven. My dough was so wet it could hold NO form…spread to size of pan and went up from there. There was no stretching and folding for sure. I just poured it in to the pans. I am wondering if my much more liquid starter off set the wet/dry ratio or perhaps fresh gr. flour absorbs more moisture. I used commercial milled flour.
    Anyways, very pleased with the taste and texture! Thanks for the recipe and all the help on this website!

  38. Mark Jordan

    I tried the sourdough recipe for the first time. In measuring the ingredients, I used a measuring cup for my sourdough starter, then weighed it. The starter weighed in at about 35 grams. I chose to go by weight and added another 35 grams. Otherwise I followed the directions. The resulting dough was quite sticky and fairly hard to work. At the end of the 12 hour rise, it looked “softer” than the dough in the video (part 2). I shaped it into a boule. It seemed to sag a more than the video version. While the cooked bread had some depth, it did not seem to be as tall as the video version. Was this a result of “too much” starter? Or did I do the right thing by practically doubling the starter based on weight?

    Oh, the bread tasted great. My 18-month old grand daughter insisted I give her part of the loaf.

  39. Stash

    Hi Jeff,

    sounds like you’ve got what I wanted, a bit of tang to the bread. I’m sure that nail polish smell will vanish when you bake.



    • Jeff

      Tang? I’ll say! I’m afraid I made poison.

  40. Jeff

    I have an emergency…I made a dough last night with my starter…it was a simple unbleached bread flour recipe for a no-knead bread.

    It rose, but it smells like nail polish remover! What happened? Can I salvage it? Or should I dump it?

    I can’t seem to nail this sourdough starter down. UGH.

    • Doris

      Jeff, I think you have us all puzzled. You are going to have to describe step by step how you make your sourdough starter. 🙂 Yes, sourdough starter does have quite a strong smell.
      Did you actually bake the bread and taste it?
      I believe Breadtopia does sell a sourdough starter mix and if they don’t, King Arthur flour definitely does.
      It would be worth a try just to see if you get a result with a bought sourdough starter. :):)

    • Bill

      I just smelled my starter and even my wife agrees, it does smell a little bit like nail polish remover. But makes yummy bread. Jeff, if possible, some face to face collaboration with another baker might smooth out your process.

      A friend of mine felt unsure after watching the sourdough rye videos, even though she has much more baking experience than I do. We got together one evening to make the dough, sharing a couple of glasses of wine and trading spices and kitchen gadgets, and then the next morning to bake the loaf. She’s making them on her own now with no problems.

      • Jeff

        Thank you all, here’s the status:

        The dough that sat out for almost a full day rose (a little less then double) and had such a strong smell, it was as if I had unscrewed the lid on a bottle of nail poilish remover. I folded and proofed the bread anyway, let it sit an hour, and baked it in a Dutch Oven. Meanwhile, I researched the issue.

        There wasn’t a whole lot of info, but it turns out ethyl acetate, not acetone, may have been what I was smelling, and may very well be a key component of the yeast process. Also reported, an underfed starter that is kept in the fridge could acquire this odor. (Mine was fed just a couple days ago).

        In any case, the bread came out wonderful…a true sourdough, the best white sourdough I’ve made.

        Coincidently, this all happened after deciding to have less water, and more flour in my starter based on the advice here in order to see if this helped with my starter rising.

        I verified the starter in my fridge also had this odor, albeit to a lesser extent.

        Turns out, ethyl acetate is used in many products and is not toxic in rats. Haha. I’m no rat.

        Let me know what you know about this!

        Thanks to you all.

        • Stash

          glad it worked out in the end. there’s nothing so satisfying as eating that first slice of a new loaf of your very own sourdough. Gets me every time LOL.

  41. Sara

    Lovely recipe – turned out perfectly the very first time. Thanks for the precise instructions and detailed video. I’m not new to bread baking, or even to the NKM, but sourdough is new for me – my other attempts so far have been only satisfactory – this was exemplary! I didn’t have the spices or orange on hand, and I subbed in regular sugar for the molasses (went better with the meal I was serving it with), but I am excited to try for a fragant loaf was you have listed here next time.

  42. Jeff

    What I’ve learned…

    The recipe is great, but my personal experience has taught me to limit the water to 1 cup, and then add water to attain the consistency of that shown in the video. I found that 1 3/4 cups created too wet of a dough (based on my environment and ingredients).

    Also, I’ve included pictures of my starter, and my failures, since that might be more help to people then all the successes shown here…and maybe someone can tell me what looks wrong…or have a good laugh.

    • Jeff


      • Jeff

        After proofing Failure #3

        • Jeff

          …Failure # 1 looked great, but because I added so much flour to stiffen it, it was hard as a rock..haha

          • Jeff

            This is the consistency of my starter…look funny?

            • Jeff

              …Attempt #4… “Proof” you can save a dough that didn’t rise after 14 hours by mixing a little water and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. I guess my starter is “weak”…

            • Add a lot more flour (use AP or bread flour for now) to your starter until it’s more like wet dough than runny batter. If there’s a living culture in there, the stiffer mix will rise within several hours of it sitting out.

              When starter is runny, like yours, the bubbles from fermentation will just float up through the mix. But if the mix is thick, the bubbles will be trapped and will cause the starter to rise. That rising (to hopefully about double the original amount) is your proof that your starter is viable. If your starter rises, you can reasonably expect your bread to rise also.

            • Jeff

              Breadtopia- Thank you…that actually makes sense, that the bubbles will rise in a thinner starter, and although that seems obvious now, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I’ve experimented with thicker starters and have seen it rise better, and assumed that once it was mixed with ingredients it would become thicker and rise all the same. But you’re right, this would be a good test- perhaps the final feeding, before making a bread, for example.

          • Jeff

            Failure # 2 didn’t even make it to the oven, as I lost patience…

            • … or you could give up 😉

            • Jeff

              I only quit for a couple days. : )

    • Doris

      Jeff, how about making a whole new starter? I know it would take a few days before you can try to make a loaf again but it’s worth a try. Try the pineapple juice method mentioned in Eric’s text for making sourdough. I started mine that way and it’s still going strong.
      I always “feed” my starter when I take it out of the fridge and leave it for a couple of hours or so before I actually use it. Being in New England at this time of year you may have to leave it out longer depending on the temp in your house.
      How did your latest attempt taste? It looked quite good.

      • Jeff

        Thanks Doris. I have a couple modifications to think about. What is it about pineapple? Is it the flavor it adds, or is there some compound in the pineapple that benefits the natural yeast? Or is it the pH?

        • Doris

          this is the last paragraph of an article called The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 1 from Debra Wink’s blog (I think)
          ” …..I was hoping orange juice would perform well, since it is a good source of Vitamin C and a staple in many homes. But, it turned out not to be acidic enough to meet the group’s objective, which was to use it only on the first day. However, Orange juice and apple cider do work well if they are used in place of the water for two or three days. Pat was the first to try pineapple juice, which has a lower pH than most other juices, and just happens to come in handy 6-oz cans (exactly the right measure for day one). She liked it so well that she stopped testing anything else and started recommending it to others. Almost everyone who tried it was thrilled with the results, and so pineapple juice became the solution that stuck. While the group’s mission was accomplished, the story doesn’t end here. But the rest will have to wait until next time, so please stay tuned…
          1. Doyle, Michael P., Larry R. Beuchat, and Thomas J. Montville. 2001. Food Microbiology Fundamentals and Frontiers, 2nd ed. American Society for Microbiology Press, Washington, DC.
          This article was first published in Bread Lines, a publication of The Bread Bakers Guild of America.
          Vol. 16, Issue 1, March 2008″
          The whole article can be found on the website below. It deals with comparisons to using diffrent juices as starter liquids

          I think the pineapple juice has a lower pH as well as flavour.
          However, the article is quite detailed, but as an engineer I think you will find it interesting.

          • Jeff

            Wow, thanks Doris! I don’t mean to take up so much of your time. 🙂

  43. Caarole

    Successful 2nd time making this bread.
    My batter is sticky also, but, I was not afraid to work it a little more when I was shaping it and adding a little flour on my board and hands. Still turned out great!

    • Jeff

      Caarole, while yours was sticky, I can tell from the picture it was able to hold a shape and had good oven spring. I would love to see a picture of the dough both before and after the final proofing stages. Mine looked a bit like wet oatmeal cookie batter soup!

      • Caarole

        Hi Jeff,
        Tell you what I will do, the next time I bake this Sourbough Rye, I will take pictures so you will be able to see what it looked like. So far I have been lucky, as I am not a pro at this, but I love baking. Mine looked like a sticky mess until I worked with it after the 12hrs., I wasn’t sure if it was going to hold its shape or not. I did work with the dough more with flour and was able to form it into that log look. It did well in the proofing basket and when I put it in the Romertoph I was hoping it would rise more and after 30 min. when I took the lid off I was surprised to see how good it looked.
        I hope you keep trying, you will master it!

      • Doris

        Jeff, I hope you had better luck this time with your bread. I am still a bit puzzled why you are having so much trouble with this.
        What does your starter look like when you actually come to use it ?Is it very runny or does it stay on the spoon when you take it out of the jar/bowl? What kind of flour are you using? I think the rye flour is less water absorbent than the wheat and regular flour.
        Do you have too much rye flour in the mix?
        My dough is also quite wet but it generally seems to turn out looking like Caarole’s loaf.
        Would it help if you described your bread making step by step as well as the
        ingredients/amounts/consistency/conditions/equipment you are using. Maybe one of us can detect a possible solution.
        As I said before, people have been baking bread for a long time and it must be possible to turn out a loaf that is acceptable to you.

    • Jeff

      Well…over 24 hours later…

      after rising all day…my dough didn’t rise…my starter must not be effective, especially with this recipe.

      When I got home, I added a half cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast hoping to save the dough. It rose over night and I stayed home this morning to proof the dough and bake it. I think I managed to save it!

      I will sample later, but here is a picture.

      • Doris

        looks great :):):)
        seems to have risen quite nicely

        • Jeff

          Thank you Doris. I must have a weak starter? It bubbles, expands, but seems to be hit or miss depending on the recipe. Maybe it’s too cool in New England this time of year, or the wrong yeasts/bacteria have entered my starter mimicking a starter but not being optimum for breads?

          I suspect more people are using active yeast here then they admit. : )

  44. Jeff

    I’ve just put my 4th attempt at this recipe in the fridge for the night. I will take it out in the morning to proof, and then complete in the evening.

    Since my earlier attempts were so wet and unworkable, and had so little “spine” and minimal rise, I’m experimenting with 2/3 cup of my starter and only 1 cup of water. I’m hoping the additional starter will provide more impetus for natural yeast action, and the reduction in water in a stiffer dough. Also, since there’s more starter (liquid-like) reducing the water made some sense. Already the dough seems to be responding better, although I am afraid, while being moist, it will end up too dry.

    I guess I’ll find out. Wish me luck. (I thought I’d go against the grain here, no pun intended, since I’ve failed 3 times at this recipe, and make some adjustments based on the possibilities that my starter may have a different personality, and that the environment in my house may require a drier mix).

    • Caarole

      Jeff, I do not know if this will help or not, but, I made my batter in the early evening and Never put it in the Ref. at all, just covered it with plastic in the bowl and left it there over night. At 6;00am, I continued to shape it and let it rest for 15 minutes and then placed it in my proofing basket to rise for 1hr. Half hour before I preheated the oven at 475 with the Romertoff in it on lower rack.
      After the 1hr. I gently placed it in the baker oven, placed the top on and baked for 30min. then the last 10 min., baked with the top of baker off. Done at 200 degrees when I tested it.
      Hope this helps some.
      The only time I put my dough in the Ref., is if I make it early in the morning and want to bake it the next morning. I take it out before I go to bed and let it raise covered for the 12-14 hrs.

      • Jeff

        Thank you Caarole. The thing is, I had to work today, and I thought I’d try the tip given in the recipe, which was to do as I did. I didn’t want to over-proof the dough by letting it sit out more than 12-14 hours at room temperature.

        As I sit at work I am worrying I made the dough too dry and stiff and that it won’t rise. This sounds brute-force, but if I go home and find out it didn’t rise, I may add water and active yeast and try to revive it. Anyone have experience with this?

  45. Caarole

    Great Recipe! I already made this bread once and baking it again tomarrow morning. My husband and I just love having this homemade Rye bread available to us all the time. We never buy store bread any longer.. Ya, gotta try it!

  46. Marjorie

    I just made this bread and the flavor is amazing and it looks great. I did use a rye starter that I’ve had but it is not a thick starter. The breads temp was 205 range when i pulled it. When I cut it after cooling for several hours its “sticky” not doughy, there are nice air holes and it looks like its normal but it’s sticky. Yes I baked it in a Dutch oven. Could it be my starter wasn’t correct? It’s the loaf in the front.

    • Christopher Dobney


      How does it compare (stickiness wise) with otherRye recipes you’ve made? If it’s just a tiny bit sticky, that’s normal for Rye, especially if it’s made, as most are, with molasses, which is the only sweetener that can get through the strong taste of the Rye flour. It’s most likely just right.

  47. Jeff

    This is the 3rd attempt at making this recipe. The first was a brick. The 2nd I threw away before it made it to the oven, and the this time (the last time) I literally had to pour the dough onto to stone. As I look in the oven, I see what will soon be a flat piece of hard tack.

    If you want a stable and delicious rye bread recipe I highly recommend this one:

    It is probably the best rye I ever had and I made it 3 times without incident.

    • Jay J. Schneiderman

      Please note, I say this in all candor. The problem is not with the recipe, the problem is with you. Please don’t take this as an insult,because it wasn’t meant that way.
      This recipe is one of the finest sourdough rye recipes on the planet. I’ve been making bread for approximately 50 yrs now, and sourdough bread for about 20 yrs. I’ve been there, and done it all, your problems stem from your improper use of the recipe. It is obvious you aren’t following the recipe. Btw, you mention pouring the bread onto a stone; last time I checked, there was no stone mentioned in the recipe!!!!
      I hope you aren’t doing something idiotic like not using the Dutch oven or Cloche. This recipe is designed to be baked in a Dutch oven/Cloche.
      Follow the recipe, and you will/can have success.

      • Jeff

        Thanks Jay…I do take some insult, but that’s ok. I’ve posted before and had little advice that seemed to make sense based on what I experienced. So I appreciate any advice.

        The first time I made this recipe I DID use a dutch oven, and while I had similar problems, the bread came out like a rock, and I had mentioned I thought this was because I had wet dough and tried to add flour, which obviously was the wrong move, since it did little to stiffen the dough, but sure stiffened the outcome. (This attempt rose and proofed nicely, however, but was hard and inedible).

        The second attempt ened up in the garbage because I simply couldn’t handle it and thought it would fail again.

        This time I followed exactly (except for the dutch oven part). As a follow-up, while there was no iver spring, it didn’t come our half bad, although very flat and moist on the inside. Everyone thought it was good.

        My biggest problem is, why, even though I follow the recipe exactly 3 times now, is my dough not looking or behaving as stiffly as in the video…rather it is wet and gooey. It almost seems like it would ne better if I proofed it in a bread pan and then, so as not to over-handle it, baked it just like that.

        Would a poor starter create this characteristic?

        • Jay J. Schneiderman

          Hi Jeff……
          To me, it sounds like you have not mastered the KNM, which is short for the NO KNEAD METHOD. Again, please don’t be put off by my analysis. Btw, I have a package listed on ebay which could help you immensely with your bread baking efforts, listed under Sourdough starters, it’s called “Seriously Active Sourdough Starter + 20 page Bread making course”.
          So much for my plug.
          Jeff, there are a number of reasons your having trouble, to eliminate them you need to go back to the basic NKM , using instant yeast, a proper Dutch oven, and simple tools necessary to achieve consistant success with the basic yeasted KNM. As I discuss, and cover in my short course, the BASIC NO KNEAD LAEHY METHOD, is a documented proven method of producing some of the most bodacious most beautiful loaves of bread on the planet. You must start at the beginning, it sounds to me like you have never mastered the basic yeasted NKM.
          I would recommend you go back and do so. While I can’t take you through my 20 page course in such a small space here, I can only try to point the way out of the usual “newbie” pitfalls of the KNM. Your first NKM loaves should be made of 100% white bread flour, such as King Arthur or Hodgson Mills bread flour. Your yeast must be from a known source, preferably a new bag of instant yeast. Your Dutch oven should be of the proper size and type, if you are really interested and can part with a few bucks, get yourself a Sassafras Bread Dome. Next get yourself a Bread whisk, and use it. As far as water goes, I use only bottled spring or filtered water as the yeasties don’t like chlorinated tap water.
          Jeff, to answer all of your question in this limited space is impossible. But, yes your starter can be a problem as well. I heartily recommend “newbies” start with a known quality starter, not something they made them self. But, as I’ve said earlier, I think you need to go back to the basics, which in this case means the basic yeasted NKM, using the right tools and bang out at least half a dozen Masterpieces before you jump into Sourdough. It very much sounds to me, that you’ve skipped that part of your learning experience. Only when you can do that, would I recommend switching over to Sourdough, working with Sourdough is a bit more complex.
          Wishing you the best, and hoping you won’t give up.
          Once again, spend $9.99 buy my starter + my 20 page course, if you are dead serious and willing to put forth a bit of effort to succeed. Do not cut corners, too many newbies keep asking me, do I really need a proper Dutch Oven, do I really need a Dough whisk, do I really need a scale?
          of course the answer is no, you can probably bake bread in an old shoe, but I don’t think we are here for that.

          • Jeff

            Thanks Jay, but the No Knead Method was my first, and easiest bread. I found it simple, for both yeast and sourdough methods.

            The recipe herein is not a No Knead bread, and if I have to pay for something I’m not interested.

            Thank you.

        • Doris

          People have been making bread for a looooong time and did not always have the benefit of a scale or a special whisk etc to help them along or were able to buy commercial sourdough starter. They certainly did not have Jim Lehey’s NKM or Eric’s superb video demonstrations, so I don’t think Jeff’s problem are any of those.
          Maybe the problem lies with too much liquid.
          How runny is your starter Jeff? I find that a very liquid starter gives me lots of problems. When I make/feed my starter I use more flour than water so that it is actually quite thick and stiff when I use it.
          Do you use your starter straight from the fridge or do you take it out, feed it and leave it for 2/3 hrs until it is bubbling nicely and ready for use? I find when starter is thin the water to flour ratio in the final dough is too high and the dough can be poured into the baking container which is obviously not going to give us a nice loaf.
          Maybe you could try to also slightly reduce the amount water for the dough itself and see if that gives you a better result.
          I still have varying results but it’s fun trying.
          I live in Florida and the weather condition are not always ideal for bread making.
          So Jeff, persevere and try a few different approaches, I am
          sure you will ultimately succeed.
          Best of Luck.

          • Jeff

            Doris, thank you for the well thought-out advice. This is exactly the help I’m seeking. And I agree…I have read countless recipes and watched countless videos, and I think “exactness” is over-rated, and I am focusing on feel rather then measurements. I am an engineer, an I find it curious that there is so much talk of “exactness” in baking bread, but they always say “add water of flour to acheive the correct consistency”. So baking is NOT an exact science, as so many claim. I am trying to understand what I should see and feel as well as following measurements.

            My starter is a batter-like consistency…thick, but creamy or even, excuse my French, almost with a consistency of snot. I keep one in the fridge that I feed weekly, and one on the counter I feed daily (every two days seems better). The house is between 61 and 68 degrees F this time of year. The starter bubbles and forms a liquid on top, but doesn’t necessarily double, although when it shows growth, I find a way to use it. It is certainly not foaming over the edges. I must add, I wanted and made my own starter…half rye, half bread flour, equal part water, feeding bread flour/water, dumping half. I am opposed to mail order because I want to use my resources.

            Again Doris, I don’t know why, but, from the initial mix of the ingredients, the dough is very wet, and the mix is unlike any other recipe I’ve come across. I’ve tried reducing the water and adding a little more flour, and the best description I can give you is that the mixture seems impervious to any adjustments. Would a bad starter show this sign so early in the mixing process? Am I reading the recipe wrong??? It says 1 plus 3/4 cup of water, right???

            Thank you all for your help and guidance. I want to conquer this recipe!

            One final note… Might this recipe be so much like simple bread that I should be cooking it in a bread pan?

            • Doris

              Jeff, I am just thinking back on how I made my sourdough starter. I started from scratch using the
              Pineapple Juice Technique, by Debra Wink. It’s mentioned in Eric’s text for the sourdough video. If you click on Make Your Own Sourdough Starter on the left side of the Breadtopia website screen about half down where the videos are mentioned you will find the starter reference and the name is mentioned in the text for the video.
              I found that a very good starter base. Also, I do not use rye-flour in my starter.
              The other item I do not use either is the molasses. Don’t like the appearance or flavour.
              We do not use molasses in our regular rye bread in Germany. However, that is a matter of taste.
              Not having the molasses in your dough will automatically reduce your liquid.
              Also, I do not use cup measures (have never been able to get along with those unfortunately, always had scales. :):)
              My starter is a little thicker than batter, which is easy to achieve, as I said just increase the amount of flour a little.
              I am not sure what you mean by a bread pan, have never heard of it or seen one.
              I bake my bread in a Roemertopf and that works very well.
              Although I have noticed recently that if the dough is over proofed and I then tip it into the hot “pot”
              the dough never rises as well afterwards and I do have a few “crinkles” in the bread.
              I have tried proofing it in the base of the Roemertopf and then put in hot oven which also gives it a lovely “spring” but there are often problems releasing the bread.
              Anyhow, as I said before just play with recipe a little and see what works for you. Do not give up!
              I am sure it will eventually all come together for you.

            • Christopher Dobney


              There will always be snobs, pay no attention. I as well had some difficulty with this recipe, and I have been making bread for 25 years. You’ll see my first attempt below. As is said repeatedly on pretty much every bread board, “let the dough tell you what it needs, not the recipe.” A formula is a point of departure. Ingredients and climate make every bread baker’s experience unique. No recipe is one size fits all.

              I don’t think putting it in a bread pan is a bad idea at all. My first attempt was pretty flat, and I think next time I’ll try the pan and parchment method.

            • Christopher Dobney

              Just tried the bread. Oh..,My….Goodness. This is the best bread I have ever made. Chewy thick crust with a great crunch, moist crumb, texture just right, a tad sticky but no more than you’d expect from a rye. Made it in a Dutch oven. Don’t think I’ll change anything except the form next time.

            • Leslie

              Hi Jeff, I’ve made this bread a bunch of times and had the same problem as you have had. It was a soupy batter, it was not a dough. Irrespective of the rude “helpful suggestions” of others, I found the best way to combat that particular problem was to cut back on the water. So I went from 400g to 300g of water and it made a huge difference. Then I added 1 tsp of packaged yeast, and that made another difference. The final amendment I made was to add 1 T of vital wheat gluten to the dry ingredients. I now have a lovely, leavened rye loaf, which I bake in a conventional bread pan so I can slice it & pop it into the toaster in the morning.
              I’m sure the sourdough purists would frown on the addition of the packaged yeast but I can assure you it does not detract from the flavor — I have a rye sourdough that is quite strong-tasting — nor does it render this less of a loaf of bread. It’s still awesome.

  48. Lyd

    Hi. I was curious – the sourdough starter in this recipe – is it ACTIVE or straight out of the fridge where I keep mine in between weekly ‘feedings’? Thanks!

  49. Bill

    Can I use whole spelt flour in place of the “bread flour” in this rye bread recipe or would that be too heavy?

    • Aileen

      I have been making this rye bread with spelt instead of bread flour and it rises less than my no-knead spelt bread. The taste is great but it’s very hard with fewer holes. I have thought about trying to use less rye and more spelt and am considering trying wheat gluten. The dough is very stiff, so I’m also wondering whether to add more water. What do you recommend?

  50. Barbara

    I just tried to bake my first bread in my new Romertopf clay pot. After baking, he bread stuck to the pot and wouldn’t come out. When it had cooled, I could pry it out and some of the clay stuck to the bread. Needless to say, the bread didn’t turn out too well. What did I do wrong?

    • Hi Barbara,

      You didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes there’s a tendency to stick when they’re new. For some reason, it becomes less with use. In the mean time, you can sprinkle some flour in the bottom just before putting in the dough. Or you could use a piece of parchment paper.
      Also, the dough is much less inclined to stick if the baker is preheated before putting the dough in. If you did that and it still stuck, try one of the above mentioned things and you should be fine. After a few uses, you shouldn’t have to do anything special.

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