Sourdough Rye Bread

Rye bread is the bread of my childhood. My family lived in the Czech Republic when I was young, and I have fond memories of the loaves of dark, crusty rye bread we would buy at the local Potraviny (neighborhood grocery). They had a subtle flavor of caraway, which I grew to love. My school lunches were made on slices of this delicious bread, usually with a schmear of butter and a slice or two of salami sandwiched in between–a combination I still crave to this day (aren’t childhood memories funny like that?). As I’ve baked more and more sourdough bread, I realized that I needed to make a delicious loaf of sourdough rye bread that would transport me back. This rye bread is perfect for sandwiches. It’s perfect for toast. It’s perfect to eat plain with a little bit of butter–unsalted for me please.

Sourdough Sample Schedule: A sample schedule is often helpful when making any sourdough bread because it takes more time for the sourdough to ferment and develop. Use it as a guide and do what works for you!

  • 9-10 PM Mix leaven, let rise overnight
  • 7:00 AM Mix dough
  • 7:30 AM Stretch and Fold #1
  • 8:00 AM Stretch and Fold #2
  • 8:30 AM Stretch and Fold #3
  • 9:00 AM Stretch and Fold #4
  • 9:00-1:00 PM Bulk Rise (anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on ambient temperature)
  • 1:00 PM Pre-shape
  • 1:30 PM Shape (refrigerate at this time for 24-48 hours if desired)
  • 4:00 PM Pre-heat oven
  • 4:30 PM Bake

Working with Rye Flour

Have you worked with rye flour before? If you haven’t, here’s a little bit of information to help when adding in a whole grain flour to sourdough.

  • Rye contains a lot of micronutrients that yeast is attracted to. Adding a little rye flour to a sourdough starter can increase its activity.
  • Sourdough bread made with rye will often ferment a little faster because micronutrients in rye flour encourage fermentation.
  • Rye is most often used in combination with wheat flour to get the best benefits of both flours.
  • Bread made with rye flour will typically be a little more dense than bread made with white wheat flour.

Just like wheat is milled from wheat berries, rye flour is milled from rye berries. It has a nutty flavor and is categorized by how much of the rye kernel is in the ground flour (endosperm, bran and germ). Pumpernickel flour is the darkest type of rye flour that contains all of the ground up rye berry. It will give you the deepest rye flavor in your baked goods. In this recipe, you can choose to use a medium rye or a more coarsely ground pumpernickel flour, depending on how much rye flavor you want.

Temperature and Time

With changing seasons, sourdough can sometimes throw you for a loop. This sourdough rye bread performs best when kept at ambient temperatures between 74-76 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t know about you but my kitchen is not always the perfect temperature for sourdough. I find that in the summer, when my house is humid and warm that sourdough bread takes less time to ferment. In the winter, it can take many more hours! Do your best to keep your sourdough in that perfect 74-76 degree temperature range to see consistent results. On cooler days I let my sourdough proof in my oven or microwave with the light turned on. This acts like a “proofing box” (just don’t turn them on!) and can help give a consistent temperature. All that said, take the time ranges in the recipe as a guide. Before beginning a recipe, check the temperature in your kitchen, and be aware of how that will affect your sourdough resting and rising times.

Adding Caraway Seeds to Rye Bread

I made many versions of this rye bread while still feeling like something was missing from the flavors of my childhood Czech bread. The bread of my childhood had the most distinct yet subtle flavor. After a little bit of digging, I added caraway seeds to my loaf of bread. The minute I took a bite I was transported back to the packed lunches of my childhood. Caraway seeds add a distinct and mild anise flavor. It is earthy and just delicious in small quantities. If you prefer rye bread without caraway seeds, you can leave it out. I found caraway seeds at my local grocery store in the spice section and add them whole while mixing the dough.

Whole Grain Rye Bread

This recipe for sourdough rye bread calls for three types of flour: rye flour, whole wheat flour and bread flour. A combination of whole grains and white flour makes the bread a little more dense than bread made with only white flour, but it also packs a whole lot of flavor and nutrition in the finished bread. Whole grains can absorb more water, which means they need more water than traditional bread dough, otherwise the bread can end up dry. I purchase my flour primarily from a local mill: Weisenberger Mill. I like using this rye flour or pumpernickel flour in this recipe. This hard whole wheat flour is delicious and I always buy my bread flour from the mill too. Using a high quality bread flour will make a big difference in your bread.

Create a Rye Leaven

In almost all of my sourdough recipes, I like to mix a leaven specifically to complement the bread I’m making. Some recipes use a stiff sourdough leaven like this Sourdough Babka. Other recipes use a 100% hydration leaven such as this artisan bread. This allows me to keep my sourdough starter small and build it up for specific recipes. For this rye bread, I use half rye flour and half white flour to mix the leaven. Rye flour has a special property of attracting the microorganisms that ferment bread. Using rye flour to build the leaven increases the activity and enhances the flavor of the bread. To a small bowl, add the rye flour, white flour, a Tablespoon of sourdough starter and water. Mix together and cover to rest overnight or about 6-10 hours until doubled or tripled in size and bubbly. If you are concerned about the rise, take a little bit of this leaven and plop it in a cup of water. The leaven should float, which tells you it is ready to use.

Mix the Rye Dough

When the leaven is bubbly, passes the float test and has doubled in size, add the leaven, water, rye flour, whole wheat flour, bread flour, salt and caraway seeds to a bowl. Mix together with your hands or a dough whisk until a shaggy dough forms. Set a timer and prepare a set of stretches and folds to the dough every 30 minutes over the course of two hours (4 times total). “Stretch and Fold” is a way for wet dough to develop the gluten strands and strength needed to rise and trap all the air bubbles in the bread as it rises and bakes.

How to Stretch and Fold Sourdough

  1. Wet your fingers
  2. Grab a portion of the dough and stretch it upward
  3. Fold the dough over and into the center of the bowl
  4. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat with the next section of dough
  5. Repeat this process until you return to the first portion of dough
  6. Cover and wait 15-30 minutes to stretch and fold again

Tip: For your first stretch and fold, the dough will feel elastic and weak. As you continue through the process, the dough with strengthen and tighten up typically by the 3rd or 4th fold. Instead of dense and flat dough, the dough will be smooth and jiggly.

Shaping Sourdough Rye Bread

The goal in shaping sourdough bread is to create tension and form the crust that is going to make your beautiful loaf of bread. I usually shape my bread in a circle if using a dutch oven, or in a rectangular shape if using a baking stone. To shape the bread, gather the edges of the dough and pull them up to the center, creating a circle as you go. Once the dough forms a ball, turn it over and lightly drag on the countertop while using a circular motion to create tension. Continue this circular motion until the bread is in a tight ball. Place shaped bread in a floured banneton or a floured bowl. At this point you can refrigerate the bread and bake the next day (or up to 48 hours later) or you can cover the bread and allow it to rise at room temperature before baking.

Scoring the Bread

Once the bread is ready to bake, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper. My favorite parchment paper is from Costco, but you can find it on Amazon too. This bread can be baked after shaping and final rise. For the best score, refrigerate the dough and score it immediately after pulling it out of the refrigerator. Sourdough bread is easier to score if it is chilled and baked cold. I use a bread lame to score sourdough bread. A quick, sharp motion with a sharp lame is the best way to get a beautiful score. You can also use a very sharp knife if you don’t have a bread lame.

Baking Sourdough Rye Bread

This rye bread is only about 65% hydration, which means it is a bit easier to work with than a wetter dough (like this 75% hydration sourdough). I have found that this bread gives similar results whether baking on a baking stone or using a dutch oven or potato pot. Choose which method works best for you:

Baking Stone Method: Place a baking stone in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees. Pre-heat for about 30 minutes to let the stone get very hot. Place the scored bread (including the parchment paper) on top of the baking stone, be careful because it’s HOT! Throw a handful of ice cubes into the hot oven and quickly close the oven door. Reduce the temperature to 450 degrees and let the bread bake for 45 minutes.

Dutch Oven Method: Pre-heat a dutch oven or my favorite potato pot in the oven at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes. Working quickly, take the pot out of the oven and place the scored bread, parchment paper included, into the pot. Put the lid on the pot and place it back in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take the lid off the pot and bake for another 20 minutes.

Wait For It…

The most difficult part of this whole recipe…waiting for the bread to cool! If you try to slice it right out of the oven the bread will be squishy and difficult to cut. Wait a little bit until the bread has (mostly) cooled to enjoy a slice or two.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Rye Flour and Pumpernickel Flour?

Rye flour is milled from rye berries (instead of wheat). It has a nutty flavor and is categorized by how much of the rye kernel is in the ground flour (endosperm, bran and germ). Pumpernickel flour is rye flour. It is the darkest type of rye flour, often coarsely ground that contains all of the ground up rye berry. It will give you the deepest rye flavor in your baked goods.

How long can sourdough be refrigerated before baked?

Most sourdough bread can be kept in the refrigerator for 48-72 hours before needing to be baked. The longer it is refrigerated, the more sour flavor you will probably notice. Ideally refrigerating up to 24 hours is going to give the best quality of bread.

How do I store leftover rye bread?

I store leftover rye bread on the counter for up to 24 hours. After 24 hours, slice the bread, stick it in a ziplock or bread bag and freeze for 2-3 months. When you’d like a slice, pull it out of the freezer and place it straight into the toaster. Toast from frozen and enjoy. You can also let the bread come to room temperature and then use as desired if you don’t want to toast it.

Sourdough Rye Bread

Sourdough Rye Bread

Sourdough Rye bread inspired by the rye bread I ate daily in the Czech Republic. This rye bread is made with 100% sourdough, rye, whole wheat flour and caraway seeds. It is the perfect bread for a sandwich or to eat with a bit of butter.
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine Czech
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

Leaven

  • 1 Tablespoon sourdough starter about 30 grams
  • 100 grams rye flour
  • 100 grams all purpose flour
  • 200 grams water

Sourdough Rye Dough

  • 200 grams leaven
  • 650 grams room temperature water
  • 200 grams rye flour
  • 200 grams hard whole wheat flour see note
  • 600 grams bread flour see note
  • 1 Tablespoon salt about 26 grams
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds about 10 grams see note

Instructions
 

Leaven (6-10 hours)

  • In a small bowl, mix together a Tablespoon of starter, rye flour, all purpose flour and water. Cover and let rise for 6-10 hours until the leaven is doubled in size.

Sourdough Rye Bread (6-10 hours)

  • Mix the leaven, water, rye flour, whole wheat flour, bread flour, salt and caraway seeds with your hands or a dough whisk (affiliate link).
  • Perform a series of stretches and folds every 30 minutes for 2 hours, a total of four times. To do this, pick up the underside of the dough and fold it on top of itself, turning the bowl after each fold and picking up a different section of the dough to fold and turn. An example of this folding technique is found here (halfway through the video).
  • After two hours, cover the dough and leave it on the counter for about 2-3 hours until puffed up and risen. If you are baking in the summer or in a warm kitchen, the dough will rise faster (about 2 hours). If baking in a cold kitchen, the dough will take longer (3-4 hours).
  • Once the dough is puffed up, cut the dough in half and shape into two loaves. To shape: Gather the edges of the dough and pull them up to the center, creating a circle as you go. Once the dough forms a ball, turn it over and lightly drag on the countertop while using a circular motion to create tension.
  • Place the bread dough in a floured bread banneton (affiliate link) or a floured mixing bowl, circular/taut side down. Cover and let rise again for 2-4 hours (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). See recipe note for refrigerating the dough overnight.
  • Place a pizza stone (affiliate link) in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Alternatively, you can use a dutch oven or bread pot (affiliate link) and preheat the oven with the pot to 500 degrees. Turn the oven on to preheat at least 20 minutes before baking the bread.
  • Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper. Score the dough using a bread lame or a sharp knife. Throw a handful of ice cubes into the preheated oven and place the scored loaves onto the pizza stone. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees to bake. If you use a bread pot, there is no need to throw ice cubes into the oven. Place the bread into the pot, cover it and put it back in the oven to bake. Take the cover off the pot after 25 minutes of baking and bake for another 20 minutes. Repeat with the second loaf.
  • After 45 minutes, remove the loaves from the oven and let cool before slicing and eating. Enjoy!

Notes

Hard Whole Wheat Flour: I buy my flour from a local mill. You can use any whole wheat flour, though I prefer a white wheat flour. You can also substitute all purpose flour if you don’t have whole wheat flour.
Bread Flour: If you don’t have bread flour on hand, you can substitute all purpose flour and add 3 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten increases the protein content of the flour, making it more similar to bread flour.
Caraway Seeds: Caraway seeds are what give this bread a traditional Czech flavor. Add fewer seeds for a more mild flavor or more seeds for a stronger caraway flavor. You can also leave the seeds out all together if you want a mild rye bread.
Overnight Rise: Once the dough is shaped, it can be covered with plastic wrap and rise for the second time in the refrigerator. Let it rest overnight or up to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the pizza stone inside. Turn out from the fridge, score and bake immediately (while still cold) for 45 minutes.
Keyword czech bread, czech rye bread, easy rye bread, homemade bread, rye, rye bread, sourdough bread, sourdough recipe, sourodugh

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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One response to “Sourdough Rye Bread”

  1. Kris Avatar
    Kris

    Yesssss!! And the butter, plz don’t forget the BUTTER! 😉😜🧈🍞😋

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No Knead, Rustic Sourdough

I am the type of person who likes to do things really, really well the first time. I always want the best of the best and I like to “shoot for the stars.” This can be a good quality but it also has its downsides. Sometimes I won’t try if I don’t think I can do it well enough. Sometimes I bypass the “easy” and “beginner” recipes for the more complicated ones and miss out on some really great bread, like this no knead, rustic sourdough.

Jump to No Knead, Rustic Sourdough Recipe

Perfect Beginner Sourdough Bread

No knead, rustic sourdough is the perfect beginner recipe for a delicious loaf of crusty sourdough bread. It will produce an addictive, crunchy crust and a yummy middle. It doesn’t take much active time, just a lot of “hands off” time and you can have a delicious loaf of bread with no commercial yeast. This bread is no-knead and even the newest bakers can make it and treat their families and loved ones to some of the best bread right out of your home oven. Basically, it’s the perfect starter recipe. In some ways I wish I had learned to make this recipe when I first learned about sourdough because it would have been helpful to understand some basics before trying to wrap my mind around “more advanced” techniques. I also love how simple this bread is and that you can keep the dough in your fridge for up to two days before baking. Fresh-baked bread on demand?! Sign me up! If you are new to sourdough, this recipe is for you!

Sourdough Basics

If you are a sourdough beginner, it’s important to understand a couple basics. People will often use different terms when talking about the rising agent in sourdough. You will see recipes on the internet or in cookbooks that talk about starter and leaven (levain in French). The makeup of these is basically the same…flour, water and natural yeast/bacteria. The purpose of them is different. 

Sourdough Leaven Explained

A sourdough starter can be thought of as the “mother” (maybe you have heard of the term “mother yeast?). You keep the “mother” at the same level, re-feeding it weekly by getting rid of the discard and adding flour and water to the “mother” starter. Anytime you want to make bread, you take a portion of the “mother” and create leaven with it (the offspring of the mother). The leaven is the yeast that is actually used in the bread. It is an offshoot of the “mother yeast.” The process of building the leaven looks the same as the starter. Take a small amount of the sourdough starter (“mother”), add flour and water as dictated by the recipe and allow it to rise and ferment over the course of a few hours or overnight. This is a new leaven. The leaven is what you will use when you make your loaf of bread.

Said another way, your leaven is “built” using a small portion of your starter. In all my sourdough recipes, I keep my “mother” starter separate from my leaven. I always build a leaven (using the starter) for the recipe. Clear as mud?! You can also look at few of my other sourdough posts for more information on working with sourdough.

Making the Bread

I like to mix my leaven the night before I plan to make the bread. I let my leaven sit out, covered, on the counter overnight and then it is ready to use in the morning to mix the bread dough. After mixing the dough, you will spend the day doing a series of stretch and folds and letting the sourdough work in the dough to create air and gas bubbles. In the recipe notes I have an option to bake the bread the same day as you are developing the dough. This works but the flavor will be better if you can put it in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours. To watch the recipe start to finish on IGTV click here.

Dutch Oven

One more important note about this recipe and about artisan sourdough bread is that you will need a dutch oven. A dutch oven helps trap the steam which gives your loaf of bread a beautiful “oven spring” and rise. If you don’t have a dutch oven or a bread and potato pot (my new favorite, affiliate link) and want to bake sourdough, you can try using a pizza stone (affiliate link). The pizza stone may not give quite the same results, but they should be good if you follow these steps: Throw in a few handfuls of ice cubes at the bottom of your oven right before you close the oven door to bake your loaf. This will generate some steam and give you some crust and rise. I do highly recommend investing in a dutch oven if you can and are planning to  make this bread. It is worth it. The caramelized crust and delicious flavor with a hint of sourdough are perfect when paired with some soft butter or a dollop of jam.

No Knead, Rustic Sourdough

The perfect no knead, rustic sourdough bread for beginners! This recipe will produce a crunchy crust, yummy middle and it does all the work itself in this relatively hands-off sourdough made with no commercial yeast. It's the perfect starter recipe if you are new to sourdough.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting/Rising Time 23 hrs
Course Bread, Sourdough
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

Leaven (8 hour rise)

  • 50 grams ripe sourdough starter
  • 200 grams water, room temperature about 3/4 cup (plus 2 Tablespoons)
  • 200 grams all purpose flour about 1 1/3 cups

Dough (8-36 hour rise)

  • 230 grams leaven about 1 cup
  • 400 grams water, room temperature about 1 3/4 cups
  • 600 grams bread flour or all purpose (see recipe note) about 4 1/2 cups
  • 12 grams salt about 2 teaspoons

Instructions
 

Build the Leaven

  • To a bowl or large jar add 50 grams of starter, 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour. Mix together. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 5-8 hours until the mixture has doubled in size (this will take longer in a cold kitchen and speed up in a warm environment).
  • Once the leaven has doubled in size it is ready to use. At this point you can do the float test to see if it is ready to use. Drop a small piece of the leaven in a glass of water. If it floats, it is ready. If not, leave it to sit a little longer. If you decided to mix your leaven the night before, let it sit out covered on the counter overnight. In this case you don't need to worry about the float test.

Sourdough Bread

  • Mix 230 grams of ripe leaven (you will have some leftover), room temperature water, flour and salt in a bowl using a wooden spoon or dough whisk (affiliate link). The dough will look “shaggy” but will come together. 
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit for an hour. After an hour, uncover the bowl and do a series of three "fold-and-turns". To do this, pick up the underside of the dough and fold it on top of itself, turning the bowl after each fold and picking up a different section of the dough to fold and turn. An example of this folding technique is found here (halfway through the video).
  • Cover the bowl again and let it rest for another hour. Notice how the dough is coming together. It doesn’t feel shaggy anymore and is becoming more stretchy and cohesive. For the second time, do the series of three folds.
  • Cover the bowl again and let it rest for its third and final hour. Repeat the series of three folds.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and put it in the refrigerator to rest overnight. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for 8 to 48 hours. See recipe notes for instructions on baking the same day.
  • The next morning (or whenever you are ready to bake your bread), put a dutch oven (affiliate link and see recipe notes for more options) into your oven with the lid on and set the oven to 500 degrees. Preheat the dutch oven by leaving it in the oven for 50 minutes.
  • Immediately after setting the dutch oven to preheat, pull out a piece of parchment paper. Take your dough out of the fridge and shape into a round ball. Do not punch down the dough, just lightly form with the palms of your hands. It should be fairly easy to work with because it is cold. 
  • When your dutch oven has preheated for 50 minutes, score the top of your bread with a bread lame (affiliate link), sharp knife or razor.
  • Take the dutch oven out of the oven. Warning: This is a VERY HOT dutch oven. Keep those oven mitts on and be very careful not to burn yourself. Take the top off the dutch oven and place the dough and parchment paper into the dutch oven. Place the top back on the dutch oven and close the oven door.
  • Immediately decrease the baking time to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes, take the top off the dutch oven and continue baking for 20 more minutes. This will produce the crisp crust you are looking for.
  • Pull your bread out of the oven. Wait (if you can) to cut into it until your bread has cooled. Enjoy!

Notes

Bread Flour: If you don’t have bread flour on hand, you can substitute all purpose flour and vital wheat gluten. Use 600 grams of all purpose flour and add a Tablespoon vital wheat gluten. 
Instructions for Baking without Refrigerating the Dough: The sourdough flavor comes through the most and is more complex the longer you refrigerate the dough. If you want to bake the bread immediately without refrigerating, once you finish your series of stretch and folds, let the dough rest in the container a couple of hours to rise. Once it is puffed up and doubled in size, preheat the oven and pot. Gently shape the dough into a round ball, doing your best not to deflate the dough. Cover and let sit for another hour while the oven preheats. Then score and bake according to the recipe.
Dutch Oven: This is the dutch oven I have used for many years. I recently purchased this bread and potato pot and love the bake I get with it. If you don’t have a dutch oven you can also heat a pizza stone to 500 degrees. Once the pizza stone is pre-heated, throw a handful of ice cubes into the hot oven and place the bread on the pizza stone. This will mimic a dutch-oven bake.
Keyword beginner sourdough, easy sourdough, sourdough

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