5 Ingredients or Fewer

Rye Sourdough

September 14, 2009
9 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Being of mixed Jewish/Catholic heritage I know everything about guilt there is to know. Thankfully there's some great food in those two cultures to make up for it. The recipe for this tasty and simple rye bread is in grams - I know, I know this site is US centric, but you know, there's cooks and bakers to the north of you and we don't use ounces and the like. Especially when it comes to baking, grams are the way forward, because it's so easy to measure stuff. —Andreas Düss

What You'll Need
  • 300 g bread flour
  • 200 g rye flour
  • 200 g active sourdough starter
  • 10 g salt
  • 300 ml water
  1. Day One Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge. Feed generously. Rye flour is a good choice to get the starter going, wheat will take a little longer.
  2. Day Two, morning

    Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the starter and stir in. Start kneading, I use a kneading hook and a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, on speed 2. Add the water, adjust until a shiny dough has started to form that comes away from the side of the bowl.

    Go have a shower, get dressed, feed the cats. Come back after 10 minutes and check the dough. If you can see gluten development – take a little dough and stretch it – you’re done for now. Take the dough and put it into an oiled bowl. Cover, refrigerate, go to work.
  3. Day Two, Evening

    Arrive home, open a beer. Relax. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about two hours. It should have grown a little, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look as if anything has happened.

    After two hours, pre-heat the oven to 500º. Take the dough and stretch and fold three or four times. If the video upload on this site would be working I'd show you how to do that, but it doesn't, so I can't. Take it up with the authorities.
  4. Put into a floured banneton (or brotform) for the last rise. After an hour, drop the dough into an earthenware cloche or on a pizza stone and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the bread has an internal temperature of 200º. Let rest for at least an hour and enjoy.
  5. When I first started exploring this formula, I started out with a mixture of 300 g bread flour, 200 g rye. The starter I feed whatever I have on hand, bread flour before it goes back to sleep in the fridge, rye if I need activity fast. Ever now and then, as a special treat, I throw in a handful of wholewheat flour, which is the yeast equivalent of feeding tequila to teenagers. I am pretty certain that sourdough purist will faint dead away at this laissez faire, laissez aller attitude but so far the yeast and bacteria population of my starter seems to be both enthusiastic and healthy. Which, in the end, is really all that counts.
  6. While we’re ruminating on the subject, sourdough is one of these things that a fair number of people get far too mystical about, at least for my personal liking. Before the development of commercial yeast not that very long ago, naturally leavened bread was the only bread there was. Which means that great bread has been produced for millenia by people who a: thought the earth was flat and b: who’s idea of personal hygiene was a bath at Christmas time, and then only if you really needed it.
  7. What I am saying is, don’t sweat it. We’re surrounded by everything we need to create leavening cultures. All we need to do is create the environment the little critters like to move into. A clean glass jar, clean to make sure the undesirables won’t take hold before the yeasts move in, some, ideally, organic wholewheat flour and water, as well as a source of gentle acidity is all you need. The acid is ideally being supplied by fruit juice, with natural pineapple juice being, apparently, the best and most effective choice. Mix, stir, cover with cheese cloth and wait for a couple of days. Chances are that after a week or so you’ll have your very own bread starter.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ryan McKinnon
    Ryan McKinnon
  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
  • AntoniaJames
  • tniles
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser

14 Reviews

ldeflitch3 February 12, 2021
made this with white rye (not dark, aka not pumpernickel) and it turned out wonderful!!! perfect ratios for me. for those who might need more direction, I followed the following timetable:
-feed starter
-after 5ish hours (when starter is ripe): autolyzed water + flour for 30 min, then added ripe starter
-4 folds every 30 minutes at room temp; moved to fridge for overnight bulk fermentation (about 14 hours)
-took out of fridge, preshaped, left for 30 minutes, shaped into baskets, left for final rise for about 3 hours
-baked in dutch oven at 450 (cause my bottom burns at a higher heat, even with tinfoil) for 20 min lid on/ 20 min lid off
Ryan M. December 13, 2020
So many recipe blogs drive me mad because I have to scroll through stories about their childhood and how this recipe makes them feel on a cool Autumn afternoon. I found this one refreshing, read it out loud to myself, and bookmarked it to make later, to go with the Montreal smoked brisket I'm planning. Cheers.
sscook December 18, 2020
I totally agree with Ryan M. I started laughing out loud as I read through the narrative on my way to the Recipe. I put this as my next up bread as I just finished getting my no knead sourdough ready for the oven. Today I threw in walnuts, sundried tomatoes chopped up and fresh rosemary but this rye will be made when I next feed my starter.
Liz August 25, 2019
I'm unclear on the timing, even having made many sourdough loaves before. You let it warm to room temperature out of the refrigerator for 2 hours, then let rise for 2 additional hours? Then you form the loaves and then proof?
Stephanie B. April 21, 2019
Haven't tried this bread, but it's definitely one of the most enjoyable recipes to read I've come across in a while. The funny instructions make me want to try it.
Linda August 8, 2018
I haven't tried your bread yet, but I mean to get started tomorrow. I just wanted to say your post is well-written and funny and I enjoyed it.
David April 15, 2018
Did you use white flour starter?

AntoniaJames January 14, 2015
Whoa, this looks great. (Nice spring on that loaf in the photo!) And I for one appreciate the metric quantities. I plan to try this recipe soon. Thank you for posting it. ;o)
Marty March 27, 2014
It looks great! I have a double batch in the works right now :) Just wondering, did you score the loaf? It looks like it split kinda funny, not that it really matters!!
Andreas D. March 27, 2014
Scored it, yes, but not deep enough by the looks of it. Keep in mind, this was over four years ago :)
Marty March 27, 2014
Gotcha! Thanks for the quick answer. One more if you have a sec: What brand/type of rye do you use?

I'm using Great River. Can't even find it around town, so ordered 25lb bag from Amazon. It's pretty good but I'm a novice so...
tniles October 21, 2010
Andreas-I tried your recipe yesterday with a sourdough starter i had for over a week, and it turned out great! I didn't refrigerate it over night but it still had great flavor. I love rye bread and next is pumpernickel...do you have a recipe for that one? I am going to keep this in my collection and use it often. It was great toasted with a smear of roasted garlic cream cheese i made and slices of tomato.
Amanda H. September 14, 2009
That is a beautiful loaf of bread!
Andreas D. September 14, 2009
Thanks Amanda. I started baking earlier this year, after years of cooking, and it has been quite the adjustment.