Crusty Sourdough Rye

Sourdough Rye with Walnuts

Sourdough Rye with Walnuts

By Cat, Jan 2012 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Sourdough Introduction; 2. Bread & Rolls Menu;

This month I started a rye sourdough starter, using dark rye flour and water. I love rye bread, and right now it’s the only true grain to which I am not sensitive, so until my grain sensitivities can be cleared, it’s my only choice. Good thing I love rye! I also like rustic breads, with crispy crusts, so I’m sure to like this recipe (tho I have not yet tried it).

Rye is a true grain, but is lower in gluten than wheat. As a flour, it comes in different grades of wholeness, from light rye (the rye equivalent of unbleached white flour, containing primarily the endosperm), to whole rye (contains the bran, germ and endosperm). See Sourdough Home: Rye Types (2) for a great discussion of the types of rye, and which are the best to use for different purposes. He recommends medium rye, which is a comparable mix of light and whole rye. Unfortunately, that can be hard to find at local grocers; it is still available at certain online stores. See Online Sources in the References section below.

Crusty Sourdough Rye

This recipe is adapted from (1). The original calls for both sourdough starter and yeast – sourdough for the overnight rest, then yeast is added the next day with the additional flour. I’ve modified it for just the starter, but include instruction for adding yeast if you wish. Just remember that the yeast and the sourdough will compete for the starches and sugars in the grain. I would prefer to add more sourdough starter instead of yeast when adding the additional flour  The absence of commercial yeast may require longer rising times than the original recipe.

It also uses a mix of rye and wheat flour (mostly wheat). It doesn’t specify whether the starter is wheat or rye, but I think either would work.

While the original uses a stand mixer fitted with dough-hook, you can use a hand-mixing and kneading method which I prefer – I like to communicate with my bread dough, through my hands, something I learned from my Dad.

I’ve added instruction for an optional autolyze step, which ensures full hydration of the flour before the rise.

Makes 1 artisan stye loaf, but can be doubled for 2 loaves. Not yet tested

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 ¼ cup sourdough starter * (fed the night before)
  • 1 ¼ cups warm non-chlorinated water, divided
  • 1 ½ cups rye flour (light or medium)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups unbleached white flour plus extra for kneading (about ½ cup)
  • 1 tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp Rapadura or white sugar
  • 2 ½ Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
  • 2 bowls
  • wooden spoon
  • cotton cloth/towel
  • banneton * (rising basket, optional)
  • baking sheet
  • pan of water in bottom of oven


* NOTE: You can add all the starter in the first step. OR, if you wish to include commercial yeast in your bread, reduce the sourdough starter to 1 cup in the first step; proof the yeast (1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp) to the ¼ cup water in the second step when you add the whole wheat flour (See the original recipe (1)). OR you can add 1 cup starter at the beginning, and the remaining ¼ cup starter with the ¼ cup water and the whole wheat flour in the second step.

  1. Measure starter * and 1 cup water into mixing bowl and stir to combine. Then mix in rye flour. Cover with damp cloth weighted down with a plate (to keep it from drying out), and let stand in a warm place at least 6 hours, until bubbly and sour – may even smell a bit boozy (the longer the rest, the more sour the bread). * See note, above.
  2. Add remaining ¼ cup water,* stir into sourdough mixture, then add whole wheat flour ½ cup at a time. See note, above.
  3. Whisk 1 ½ cup white flour with salt and seeds (if using), then work into the dough. If dough is too soft/sticky, work in more white flour, 1 Tbsp at a time. Turn dough out onto floured surface to knead if it gets too difficult to mix in the bowl (however, first try letting it rest 5 – 15 minutes in the bowl to hydrate the flour, then try mixing again). If using stand mixer, mix on low speed until dough comes together.
  4. If you wish to add an autolyze step, return dough to oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth and weight it with a plate (or place covered bowl in a plastic bag), and let rest 1 – 2 hours.
  5. Knead on lightly floured surface about 10 minutes, adding more white flour a tablespoon at a time as needed. Or if using stand mixer, mix on speed 2. Dough will be a bit sticky but smooth and springy.
  6. Clean out bowl, then lightly oil the inside of the bowl. Place ball of dough in bowl; rotate so all sides are coated. Cover with damp cloth weighted with plate and let rise in warm place about 1 – 2 hours, until doubled. Without the yeast, it may take longer to rise.
  7. Punch down and knead a bit int he bowl to release air; shape into round loaf and place on sheet of parchment (can put that on a baking sheet to help with transfer to hot baking stone) or on greased baking sheet. Cover lightly with damp cloth and let rise another 30 – 60 minutes, until almost doubled.
  8. Meanwhile, about 30 minutes before bread has risen, place baking stone (if using) on lowest rack in oven; set oven to 425°F to preheat oven and stone.
  9. Cut 2 small slashes about ¾” deep on top of loaf. Spray with filtered water and bake for 9 minutes, spraying loaf at 3-minute intervals. You can also place pan of hot water on bottom of oven.
  10. After 9 minutes, reduce heat to 400°F and bake another 20 – 25 minutes until loaf is browned and sounds hollow to a tap on the bottom. Transfer to cooling rack.


  1. recipe (

Online sources of Medium Rye flour

  1. Honeyville Grain, 50 lb bags (
  2. King Arthur Flour, 3 lb bags (
  3.  Weisenberger Grain, 5 lb bags (


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