Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (2024)

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If you long to bake sourdough rye bread, but you're worried it might be too hard, then this easy sourdough rye bread recipe was written just for you.

This delicious sourdough rye bread recipe uses a combination of rye flour and bread flour to give you a perfect balance between taste, texture, shape-ability and crumb. Seriously, it's going to be your go-to rye sourdough recipe in no time!

I've shaped this simple sourdough rye bread recipe into a boule, but you can shape it into an oval or batard or even bake it in a loaf pan if you'd prefer. It works really well for sandwiches and toast, so you can just choose the shape that best suits your needs.

If you're looking for more sourdough rye recipes you might enjoy these sourdough rye bagels or this sourdough rye pickle bread. Or if you're looking for a recipe that pairs whole wheat flour and rye together, try this easy whole wheat rye sourdough bread, or maybe this spelt sourdough bread is more your style.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (1)

What Is Rye?

Rye is a grass, closely related to the wheat family. Rye has an intense taste that can be overpowering if it's not complemented with other stronger flavors. This versatile grain can be used in beer, whiskey, vodka and of course bread and sourdough! You can even use cracked rye grains in salads and greens for increased flavor and texture.

There are different types of rye including a lighter rye flour and dark rye flour. The darker the rye flour the more vitamins and trace minerals present. Using rye flour in your sourdough baking (or any bread baking) is a fantastic way to give your baked goods a higher nutritional profile.

While rye flour contains less gluten, it's not considered gluten free.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (2)

What You Need To Know About Using Rye Flour

This really is a great rye bread - but the best thing is, it's much easier to work with than a sourdough made only with rye flour. Being lower in gluten, rye flour really needs to be paired with another flour of higher protein content to ensure it's not too sticky to shape. The richer, more complex flavors of rye flour really do pair well with the fermentation process which only serve to enhance their complexity.

Dough made with rye flour will be wetter and stickier than you're used to. The dough can feel a bit overwhelming if you're not used to it, but rest assured the wet dough will firm up as you perform stretch and folds. As long as bulk fermentation is timed well, you'll find this dough isn't too difficult to shape (as long as you have a dough scraper and rice flour on hand).

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (3)

The most important thing to remember when working with rye flour sourdough is not to panic! If the dough seems to tear, wet your hands and gently perform some stretch and folds to further agitate the gluten structure.

What is the Hydration of Sourdough Rye Bread?

This sourdough rye bread recipe is 80% hydration. It has less flour than a regular white sourdough recipe, as well as liquid molasses (which is not actually part of this calculation).

400g of water (350g of water + 50g from starter) divided by 500g of flour (450g of flour + 50g from starter) equals 80% hydration.

Rye flour absorbs more water than bread flour or all purpose flour, so you need to add more water to make the flour workable. If you feel the dough is too stiff after autolysing this dough, wetting your hands can be a good idea to gradually work extra water into the dough.

You can read more about how hydration in sourdough bread here.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (4)

Do I Need a Rye Starter?

You don't need a rye sourdough starter for this sourdough bread, but you can enhance the rye flavor by building a rye levain specifically for this loaf. You definitely do not have to though and you can use your regular active sourdough starter.

But if you do like the idea of using rye for your starter you could build a rye sourdough starter or use your existing sourdough starter to build a rye levain for this sourdough bread.

To build a rye levain, take 20g of your own sourdough starter and feed it with 50g of warm water and 50g of rye flour. Allow the levain to double before you use it in this recipe. This will give your bread an intense rye flavor and can help to build a more sour flavor profile.

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How To Make Sourdough Rye Bread

Sourdough rye bread can seem a bit overwhelming because of the way rye flour dough can behave. The great thing about this bread is that it still contains a percentage of bread flour which provides structure and fantastic oven rise to the bread.

Autolyse

Weigh out your bubbly starter, water and molasses into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Mix them together briefly. Then add your rye flour, bread flour and salt and mix altogether with the end of a wooden spoon.

The dough will be fairly shaggy and only just brought together.

Cover your bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and let it sit for around 1 hour. This process is called the "autolyse" and allows your flour to soak in all the water and become hydrated.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (6)

Forming Up Your Sourdough Rye Bread:

After the dough has been through autolyse you need to bring it together into a ball. You'll notice that the dough is fully hydrated after soaking all the water up.

Work your way around the bowl, grabbing the dough from the outside, stretching it up and over itself until a sticky ball is formed (remember that rye flour will make the dough stickier than you're used to).

Once the dough has formed into a rough ball, pop the plastic wrap or food cover back on and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (7)

Stretch & Folds:

Over the next few hours you need to create some structure for your dough by "stretching and folding". Aim to do around 4-6 sets of stretches and folds. For each set, stretch the dough up and over itself 4 times. Leave around 15 minutes in between each set. Again you do not have to be exact with time, but you need to do at least 4 sets over 2 hours.

You will need to really work the dough to develop the gluten - because rye flour has a lower gluten content. But do not worry if the dough seems sticky, it will be ok and it will get less sticky during the fermentation process.

*if you want to add caraway seeds, add them during the second stretch and fold*

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Bulk Fermentation for Sourdough Rye

Once you've finished your stretch and folds, place the plastic wrap or damp towel back over your dough and let it rest and ferment at room temperature until the dough has grown. For this recipe you are looking for the dough to sit just under double (you don't want over fermented rye as it will be a big sticky mess).

You can find a full guide to sourdough bulk fermentation here.

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Shaping Your Dough

Once your dough has finished its first ferment, it's time to form it back into a ball and give it some shape and surface tension. You'll need to have a lightly floured surface to shape this rye bread. I don't normally use flour to shape however you'll need some rice flour to shape this sticky dough.

Use a silicone dough scraper to gently ease the dough out of the bowl. You want it to land upside down on your counter so that the smooth top of the dough is on the countertop and the sticky underside is facing up. This will make it easier to shape.

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Once the dough is shaped into a tight ball, place it into your banneton smooth side down, so your seam is on the top - this way the top of your dough will get the pretty lines from the banneton. If you're using a cloth or tea towel in a bowl it's ok to put your dough with the smooth side up. Just make sure the dough is tight.

Lift your dough around the edges to pop a little more rice flour if you feel it needs it. Just try to handle the dough as little as possible and be really gentle as you really want to preserve all the gases and air bubbles that have formed during your bulk ferment.

You will need a floured banneton to put your dough into. If you do not have a banneton, then a bowl or basket lined with a floured tea towel is perfectly fine. Make sure your bowl isn't too big though, you want your dough to retain some shape.

Whatever you're using needs to be liberally floured with your rice flour. If you're using a banneton - liberally sprinkle it with rice flour. If you're using a cloth or tea towel, rub the flour into it to ensure it becomes non stick.

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Cold Ferment

Now your dough is in its proofing basket cover it loosely with a plastic bag or damp tea towel and place into the fridge. I use a large plastic bag to cover it - I just reuse it each time. It's not totally essential to cover it - you can place it in the fridge uncovered if you'd prefer.

Try to leave it in the fridge for a minimum 5 hours up to a maximum of around 36 hours. The longer you leave it the better your bread will be! A longer cold ferment creates beautiful blisters on your crust and a deeper sourdough flavour. It will also ensure your dough forms a skin which makes it easier to score.

Preparing to Bake Your Sourdough Rye Bread

Once you're ready to bake your sourdough, you'll need to preheat your oven to 230C/450F.

Place your Dutch Oven into the oven when you turn it on so it gets hot. Try to preheat for around 1 hour to ensure your oven is super hot - but you know your oven so just adjust this time if you need to.

Leave your dough in the fridge until the very last minute - placing a cold dough into a hot oven will give you a great "spring".

Baking Your Sourdough

When your oven is at temperature. Take your sourdough out of the fridge.

Gently place it onto a piece of baking paper.

Make sure that you make the baking paper big enough to use the edges as a handle to lower to dough into your Dutch Oven.

Gently score your bread with a lame, clean razor blade or knife.

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Carefully take your dutch oven out of the oven. Place the sourdough into the pot using the baking paper as a handle. Put the lid on and place into the hot oven. If you want to you can spritz your dough with extra water before you put the lid on.

BAKE TIME:

  • 30 Minutes with the lid on at 230C/450F plus
  • 10-15 Minutes with the lid off at 210C/410F

If you feel your sourdough rye isn't done, it's totally fine to leave it in the oven for a bit longer. Sometimes I find that taking it out of the Dutch Oven and placing it on the rack directly for an extra 5 to 10 minutes can help to give your sourdough a deeper, darker crust. This can be important due to the extra moisture content in this bread.

Finishing Your Bake

When you remove your dough from the oven, carefully remove it from the dutch oven as soon as possible and place on a wire rack to cool. Sourdough bread containing rye flour takes much longer to cool than white sourdough bread. I recommend letting your sourdough rye bread cool for at least 12 hours before you cut into it (with your Mercer Knife of course).

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Does Rye Bread Always Have Caraway Seeds?

Caraway seeds are a very popular addition to rye bread, particularly in the United States. They are used as a spice in the rye bread and are used to boost the flavor of the bread. Caraway seeds add an aniseed flavor to the rye bread which is quite unique.

A fun fact - caraway seeds are actually the dried fruit of the plant.

You don't have to add the caraway seeds to your rye bread (and in fact I prefer it without). This is the great thing about making your own homemade sourdough bread - you get to choose what you put in it!

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Should I Add Vital Wheat Gluten To Rye Bread?

Vital Wheat Gluten is an additive you can add to flour to increase the protein and thus give you a better gluten network.

It's often used with low gluten flours like rye and whole wheat. It's certainly not essential to this sourdough rye bread recipe (because it contains some high protein bread flour) however it's worth experimenting with to see if you prefer working with dough containing vital wheat gluten.

What To Serve With Sourdough Rye Bread

This delicious sourdough rye bread is just asking to be topped with your favorite things! Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy this hearty sourdough rye bread:

  • spread with homemade cultured butter
  • serve with this whipped herb butter for a big flavor hit
  • toasted and spread with this fig and cream cheese spread
  • used for open sandwiches and topped with tender roast beef and whole grain mustard
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Does Sourdough Rye Last Longer Than Sourdough Bread?

Because rye flour absorbs more moisture than white flours (like bread flour), sourdough made with a higher percentage of rye flour has a more moist crumb than you might be used to. This means that it will stay fresher for a little longer than conventional white sourdough bread, which can go stale very fast. I have found that this sourdough rye stays fresh for at least a couple of days, after which it's perfect for toasting.

Because this rye bread is oh so pretty, I love to store this under a glass cloche on my kitchen counter.

You'll find more ideas on how to store sourdough bread here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does rye flour make sourdough more sour?

Yes using rye flour can enhance the sour flavors of fermented sourdough bread. Rye flour has an intense and more sour flavor than processed white flour. This flavor is further augmented when put through a fermentation process like sourdough (or beer and whiskey making). Using a rye sourdough starter or replacing some of the white flour in your recipe with rye flour is a popular way to make sourdough more sour.

What is the difference between sourdough and rye sourdough?

Sourdough and rye sourdough are both essentially sourdough bread, made using a sourdough starter. Conventional sourdough bread is made with high protein bread flour, whereas rye sourdough contains a percentage of rye flour, if not all rye flour for increased flavor and texture.

Does it make a difference whether you use light rye or dark rye in sourdough baking?

Using light rye or dark rye won't make all that much difference to the actual process of making sourdough rye. However, dark rye flour will give you a more intense flavor and color to your bread than light rye. Dark rye also contains increased levels of vitamins and minerals, giving bread make with dark rye a higher nutritional profile.

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (16)

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (17)

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

A simple rye bread with big intense flavors perfect for sandwiches. Bake it as a boule or batard or even in a loaf tin, the choice is yours!

4.57 from 81 votes

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Prep Time 4 hours hrs

Cook Time 45 minutes mins

Fermentation Time 22 hours hrs

Total Time 1 day d 2 hours hrs 45 minutes mins

Servings 1 Loaf

Calories 1814 kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl

  • Digital Scales

  • Banneton

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • 100 g Sourdough Starter (fed and bubbly) see notes for using levain
  • 250 g Bread Flour
  • 200 g Rye Flour (darker or light rye is fine)
  • 350 g Water
  • 25 g Molasses
  • 10 g Salt

Optional

  • 15 g Caraway Seeds (approx. 2 tablespoons)

Instructions

  • Autolyse:

    Weigh out your sourdough starter, water and molasses into a large ceramic or glass bowl.

    Mix them together briefly. Then add your rye flour, bread flour and salt and mix altogether with the end of a wooden spoon.

    The dough will be fairly shaggy and only just brought together.

    Cover your bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and let it sit for around 1 hour. It's ok if it's a little bit longer, it's not going to matter too much.

    This process is called the "autolyse" and allows your flour to soak in all the water and become hydrated.

  • Forming Up Your Dough:

    After the dough has been through autolyse you need to bring it together into a ball. You'll notice that the dough is fully hydrated after soaking all the water up.

    Work your way around the bowl, grabbing the dough from the outside, stretching it up and over itself until a rough ball is formed. You shouldn't need more than about 20-25 folds to form the ball (and remember that rye flour will make the dough stickier than you're used to).

    Once the dough has formed into a rough ball, pop the plastic wrap back on and let it rest for 30 minutes.

  • Stretch & Folds:

    Over the next few hours you need to create some structure for your dough by "stretching and folding".

    Aim to do around 4-6 sets of stretches and folds. For each set, stretch the dough up and over itself 4 times. Leave around 15 minutes in between each set. Again you do not have to be exact with time, but you need to do at least 4 sets over 2 hours.

    You will need to really work the dough to develop the gluten - because rye flour has a lower gluten content.

    *if you want to add caraway seeds, add them during the second stretch and fold*

  • Bulk Ferment:

    Once you've finished your stretch and folds, place the plastic wrap or damp towel back over your dough and let it rest and ferment (see notes).

  • Shaping Your Dough:

    Once your dough has finished it's first ferment, it's time to form it back into a ball and give it some shape and surface tension. You'll need to flour your counter top with rice flour for this (we use rice flour because it has no gluten). Try to be quite sparing with the rice flour, you only need a very light dusting.

    Use a silicone dough scraper to gently ease the dough out of the bowl. You want it to land upside down on your counter so that the smooth top of the dough is on the countertop and the sticky underside is facing up. This will make it easier to shape.

    You can shape into whatever you like. I prefer this one as a boule but it also works well as a batard or even in a loaf pan.

  • Once the dough is shaped into a tight ball, place it into your banneton smooth side down, so your seam is on the top - this way the top of your dough will get the pretty lines from the banneton. If you're using a cloth or tea towel in a bowl it's ok to put your dough with the smooth side up. Just make sure the dough is tight.

    Lift your dough around the edges to pop a little more rice flour if you feel it needs it. Just try to handle the dough as little as possible and be really gentle as you really want to preserve all the gases and air bubbles that have formed during your bulk ferment.

  • You will need a banneton to put your dough into. If you do not have a banneton, then a bowl or basket lined with a floured tea towel is perfectly fine. Make sure your bowl isn't too big though, you want your dough to retain some shape.

    Whatever you're using needs to be liberally floured with your rice flour. If you're using a banneton - liberally sprinkle it with rice flour. If you're using a cloth or tea towel, rub the flour into it to ensure it becomes non stick.

  • Cold Ferment:

    Now your dough is in it's "shaping container" cover it loosely with a plastic bag or damp tea towel and place into the fridge. I use a large plastic bag to cover it - I just reuse it each time. It's not totally essential to cover it - you can place it in the fridge uncovered if you'd prefer.

    Try to leave it in the fridge for a minimum 5 hours up to a maximum of around 36 hours. The longer you leave it the better your bread will be! A longer cold ferment creates beautiful blisters on your crust and a deeper sourdough flavour. It will also ensure your dough forms a skin which makes it easier to score.

  • Preparing to Bake Your Sourdough:

    Once you're ready to bake your sourdough, you'll need to preheat your oven to 230C/450F.

    Place your Dutch Oven into the oven when you turn it on so it gets hot. Try to preheat for around 1 hour to ensure your oven is super hot - but you know your oven so just adjust this time if you need to.

    Leave your dough in the fridge until the very last minute - placing a cold dough into a hot oven will give you a great "spring".

  • Baking Your Sourdough:

    When your oven is at temperature. Take your sourdough out of the fridge.

    Gently place it onto a piece of baking paper.

    Make sure that you make the baking paper big enough to use the edges as a handle to lower to dough into your Dutch Oven.

    Gently score your bread with a lame, clean razor blade or knife.

    Carefully take your dutch oven out of the oven. Place the sourdough into the pot using the baking paper as a handle. Put the lid on and place into the hot oven. If you want to you can spritz your dough with extra water before you put the lid on.

    BAKE TIME:

    30 Minutes with the lid on at 230C/450F plus

    10-15 Minutes with the lid off at 210C/410F

  • Finishing Your Bake:

    When you remove your dough from the oven, carefully remove it from the dutch oven as soon as possible and place on a wire rack to cool. You'll need to allow this bread a bit longer to cool due to its higher moisture content. It will take up to 12 hours for it to cool completely.

Notes

Notes on Rye Starter / Levain - You don't need a rye sourdough starter for this sourdough bread, but you can enhance the rye flavor by building a rye levain specifically for this loaf. You definitely do not have to though and you can use your regular active sourdough starter.

But if you do like the idea of using rye for your starter you could build a rye sourdough starter or use your existing sourdough starter to build a rye levain for this sourdough bread.

To build a rye levain, take 20g of your own sourdough starter and feed it with 50g of warm water and 50g of rye flour. Allow the levain to double before you use it in this recipe. This will give your bread an intense rye flavor and can help to build a more sour flavor profile.

Notes on Rye Flour - rye flour has a lower gluten content than bread flour and so will make the dough harder to work with. Stick to it though, it should become easier to work with as you move through the stretch and folds. You can use light rye or dark rye for this recipe. Darker rye will give you a more intense color and flavor.

Caraway Seeds - if you want to add caraway seeds you can add them during the stretch and fold stage. I would recommend adding them during the second stretch and fold. They will become fully incorporated by the end of the process.

Notes on Bulk Fermentation -

The time this takes will depend on the temperature in your home. If your home is warm then your dough will ferment a lot faster and could be done in as little as a few hours.. If it's colder, it will take longer, possibly overnight. This recipe has 100g of starter and is a higher hydration dough so it will ferment fairly quickly. You can reduce the starter to 50g if you want to slow the ferment time. You can find more information on changing the amount of starter here.

You will know your dough is ready to move to the next stage when it is nearly doubled in size. It will be fairly wobbly and full of bubbles. You should be able to see large air bubbles under the surface of the dough. You don't want to let it go any further than doubled as it will be over fermented. You can learn more about bulk fermentation here.

Notes on Baking -

If you prefer a less crusty loaf, wrap in a tea towel and let it cool under that. The tea towel will make the bread sweat a little and soften your crust.

If you're worried about your bread not being cooked all the way through, turn the oven off and place your dough straight onto the oven rack. Leave the door ajar and let your bread rest there for a few hours.

Nutrition

Calories: 1814kcalCarbohydrates: 377gProtein: 57gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 3916mgPotassium: 1566mgFiber: 36gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 59IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 253mgIron: 11mg

Keyword Sourdough Bread, Sourdough Recipes

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Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe [hearty + rustic] (2024)

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