Sourdough Bohemian Rye Bread

Light Rye Bread

Light Rye Bread

By Cat, Jan 2012; updated May 2014  (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Includes: 1. Sourdough Bohemian Rye (Old Version); 2. Sourdough Bohemian Rye (New Version)

See also: 1. Sourdough Introduction; 2. Bread & Rolls Menu; 3. Rye Starter info

Bohemian Rye is also known as Deli Rye, most commonly used as sandwich bread, but I also like it as toast. It is medium-rye in flavor, and spiced with caraway seeds.

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.

In my research for sourdough recipes, I keep returning to Sourdough Home (1) for recipes, general info, and inspiration. And that’s where I found these recipes.

Sourdough Bohemian Rye (old version)

This recipe is adapted from Sourdough Home’s Original Bohemian Rye (3). The original recipe uses a white flour starter, so calls for more rye flour and less white flour. I’ve modified amounts of starter and flours to use rye starter. It also calls for medium rye flour, but if you’re grinding your own, you will get whole-rye flour, so use a whole-rye/light rye mix as indicated.

He has since updated his recipe because medium rye flour is hard to find. The new version,  New Bohemian Rye (4), uses a rye starter specially activated for strength, and bread flour (wheat) for structure. He says that mixing whole rye and light rye (as I did with my adaptation of his original recipe) will not do the trick.

The following is my original adaptation of his original recipe and makes 2 loaves. (With 1-loaf version, for testing, included). Below this is his new version, which I have not yet adapted, tho I have added a few notes.  Not yet tested either version

Ingredients (2 loaves)

  • 1 ½ cup rye starter (fed the night before)
  • 2 cups non-chlorinated water
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour, plus more for kneading
  • 3 ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • 2 ⅓ Tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 ¼ cups medium rye flour (or 1 ¾ cups home-ground rye and 1 ½ cups light rye)

Ingredients (1 loaf, for testing)

  • ¾ cup rye starter (fed the night before)
  • 1 cup non-chlorinated water
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour, plus more for kneading
  • ½ TbspUnrefined sea salt
  • 3 ½ tsp butter
  • ¾ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp medium rye flour (or ¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp home-ground rye and ¾ cups light rye)


  • 2 bowls
  • wooden spoon
  • cotton cloth/towel
  • banneton * (rising basket, optional)
  • baking sheet
  • pan of water in bottom of oven



  1. Measure starter, water, white flour, seeds, salt and butter/oil into mixing bowl; mix well. Add rye flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to mix.
  2. Transfer dough to flour-dusted kneading surface; cover with damp cloth and let rest 15 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the moisture, making the kneading easier.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes or so, until smooth and satiny. Try not to add much additional flour, but you may need to adjust the liquid/flour mix.
  4. Form dough into a ball, wash mixing bowl and then oil it lightly. Put ball of dough in the bowl and turn it over to ensure the surface is coated evenly with oil.
  5. Cover mixing bowl and place in a warm place to rise until doubled. 80° – 90°F is good.
  6. Punch down, knead a bit, then cut into rough loaf shapes. Cover again with damp cloth and rest for about 30 minutes.
  7. Form loaves, then put each into a banneton * (optional) or set on baking sheet. Cover loaves and let rise until almost doubled. You may wish to score the top of each loaf with a sharp knife or razor blade.
  8. Preheat oven to 450°F about 30 minutes before rise is finished. Put bread in the oven. Put a cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven, and bake10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake another 45 minutes or so, until done.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. If you can bear to wait, the bread will taste better, and be easier to slice, the next day…

* NOTE: a banneton is a wicker basket with a cotton cloth liner. The liner absorbs excess moisture from the surface of the dough for a better crust on the bread; the basket helps the rising dough to hold its shape. After the dough has risen, turn the basket upside down onto the baking sheet, then remove the cloth liner. You may see the wicker pattern imprinted on the surface of the dough.

Sourdough Bohemian Rye (new version)

This recipe is adapted from Sourdough Home’s New Bohemian Rye (4), and makes 2 loaves. This version was created when it became difficult to find medium rye in stores, and is quite different from the original version. The only rye is in the starter; the remainder of the flour is a high-rpotein bread flour (wheat).

Sourdough Home recommends using a mixer (stand mixer): “This is a very wet and sticky dough, and you’ll be less likely to add too much bread flour if you use a mixer instead of making the bread by hand.

Also from Sourdough Home: “As with most rye breads, this is better, and easier to slice, the second day than the first.

Eventually I’ll get around to adapting this and reducing it to a 1-loaf version for testing. Most bread flour is brominated, which I prefer not to use because of the toxicity of bromine; I’ll have to look into non-brominated high-protein flour.

Ingredients (2 loaves)

Starter: Detmolder 3-stage process for maximum strength and vitality

  • ½ tsp rye starter
  • fresh, filtered water in 3 stages: 1 Tbsp; ⅜ cup; 1 ¼ cup
  • whole rye flour in 3 stages: 4 tsp; 1 ⅛ cup; 2 ⅞ cup
  • time: 1 ½ days


  • all of above activated starter, about 3 ½ cups
  • 1 ⅛ cups water (1 cup pus 2 Tbsp) or 270 grams
  • 2 ½ Tbsp (37 grams) real butter, cut into ‘smallish’ pieces
  • 5 ⅓ cup (670 grams) high-protein bread flour (at least 12% protein)
  • 4 tsp (22 grams) Unrefined sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp caraway seeds


  • stand mixer, with dough hook is highly recommended by Sourdough Home
  • mixer’s bowl
  • banneton (rising basket) is also highly recommended
  • old steel baking pan or cast iron skillet (to hold water at bottom of oven, providing moisture while bread bakes)


At least the first time, it’s a good idea to weigh your ingredients in grams (in parenthesis for each ingredient, above), as volume measurements (cups) are not very accurate, especially for flour.

Mix/knead dough

  1. Place ingredients into your mixer’s bowl. Set up your mixer to knead [dough hook], and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough should come together pretty well, though it will seem too liquid.
  2. [Cover bowl with cloth to ] let dough rest for 5 minutes, [allowing] the flour [to] absorb moisture from the dough. At the end of the 5 minutes, scrape the mixer bowl to dislodge any ingredients that stuck to it so they will become part of the bread.
  3. Next knead for another 5 minutes or so, until the dough is fairly smooth. The whole grain rye will guarantee that the dough will be coarser than many doughs. The dough should have body, and resist your fingers when you press it. But it will be a liquid dough.
  4. Once the dough is mixed, remove it from the mixing bowl, cut it in two, and then form the lumps of dough into rough loaf shapes.
  5. Let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes or so.

Complete the loaf forming

There are two schools of loaf forming with rye doughs. Rye doughs tend to be sticky, and some people prefer to shape them with wet hands. Others prefer to shape them with absolutely dry hands – they will dust their hands with flour to insure they are dry, and remove any dough that adheres to their hands between forming loaves. Try both and see what works for you.

  1. This is a wet, soft dough; not a good candidate for rising and baking as a free form loaf or with a brotform. You may want to bake this in a bread pan, or you may prefer to put the dough into a banneton (5) [see also Bread-Making Equipment].
  2. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour and cover them with saran wrap; the flour will help keep the saran wrap from sticking. [I don’t like exposing acidic foods to plastic; instead, use waxed paper or oiled parchment; alternately, overturn a large bowl over each loaf – choose a bowl large enough to give the dough room to rise].  Let the loaves rise until almost doubled in size. This will be around 2 hours, depending on the activity of your starter.
  3. Around 1 ½ hours into the rise, start preheating your oven to 450°F.


  1. Once [the oven is] at temperature, put the bread in the oven, put a cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven, and bake 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F. Bake another 45 minutes or so.
  2. Remove from oven to cool on rack.


  1. Sourdough Home blog, home page (
  2. SourdoughHome, Rye Types (
  3. Sourdough Home, original Bohemian Rye recipe (
  4. Sourdough Home New Bohemian Rye recipe (
  5. Sourdough Home, on banneton (

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