Simple Sourdough Rye Bread with Rye Starter

Sourdough Rye with Walnuts

Sourdough Rye with Walnuts

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

Includes: 1. My Sourdough Rye Starter; 2. Simple Sourdough Rye Bread

See also: 1. Sourdough Introduction; 2. Bread & Rolls Menu; 3. Ronny’s Simple Sourdough Bread (includes Rye Starter info)

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!

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.

See SourdoughHome: Useful tools (1) for info and photos of various devices for artisan bread-making, including banneton, proofer, retarder, pizza peels, kneading troughs.

My Sourdough Rye Starter

See Sourdough Introduction for more detail

This month (January 2012), I fermented Bob’s Red Mill’s dark rye flour to make a starter. (Note:  SourdoughHome, Rye Types (2) indicates the name ‘dark rye’ does not necessarily mean whole grain rye – often it is just the bran. However, Bob’s Red Mill brand is “100% stone ground from premium organic U.S. #1 dark, plump rye berries,” which indicates a whole-grain flour).

I used 2 cups whole rye flour and 2 cups water in a quart jar covered with cheesecloth. Since we’re having a cold January now (temps in the 20s), I keep my starter on top of my pilot-light warmed gas range, using a trivet for air circulation between the jar and the stove top. I started feeding it on the 3rd day, and by the 5th day it was definitely active and bubbly. On the 6th day, it had grown enough that I need to remove some, which I used to make chapattis. I don’t recommend Rye for chapattis.

For subsequent feedings, I alternated between whole rye and light rye.

Simple sourdough rye bread

This is a rye version of Ronny’s Simple Sourdough Bread which uses whole wheat flour.

Here’s my rye recipe, which I have lightened up by using part light rye flour. It goes without saying that freshly ground whole grain flour is best, but I want to use up my commercially ground flour first.

Your best bet is home-ground rye berries, as it would be the freshest. Other alternatives include:

  • whole rye flour (or Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye flour)
  • medium rye flour (half whole-rye, half light rye)
  • your own mix of whole rye and light rye (this is what I did)

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ¼ cup rye starter (fed the night before)
  • 2 – 3 cups non-chlorinated water, divided
  • 4 ½ cups rye flour (I used 2 ½ cups whole rye, 2 cups light rye flour)
  • 2 level tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • 2 bowls
  • wooden spoon
  • bread baking pan


  1. Feed your starter the night before and let crock sit on counter overnight. In the morning it should be bubbly. Stir in the hooch before taking out some starter for the recipe.
  2. Put starter in one bowl; stir in 1 cup water to hydrate the flour
  3. Measure flour & salt into other bowl; whisk to mix.
  4. Add hydrated starter to the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Knead: Moisten hands, then mix dough a bit to work the gluten, adding more water as needed to achieve the right consistency.  If difficult to work in the flour, let it rest 5 minutes (to hydrate) and try again.
  6. Cover with moist towel, and weight with a plate that rests on the top of the bowl. Let rest on counter overnight (about 12 hours).
  7. Knock down to deflate, and knead a bit more (not much). You can turn it out onto a floured board to fold each of the 4 sides over the center to shape the loaf, or press it into a rectangle then roll into a loaf shape.
  8. Place loaf in buttered baking pan; cover and let rise about 2 hours, preheating oven to 400°F during last 30 minutes of rise. Slash loaf down middle to give it room to rise. Place in hot oven. Alternately, let rise on a pizza paddle, then transfer to a hot baking stone in oven.
  9. Bake about 35 minutes, until internal temperature of 190°F.
  10. Remove from pan and let cool on rack


Sorry, I forgot to record the results of my test. I only made one batch, because shortly afterwards, my food sensitivity to other grains was resolved.

If I remember correctly, my rye loaf did not rise much, so was rather heavy, but had good flavor.


  1. SourdoughHome, Useful tools (
  2. SourdoughHome, Rye Types (

About Cat

See my 'About' page
This entry was posted in Baked, Flour, Leavening, Sourdough and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.