Sourdough Rye Bread

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This rye sourdough bread is easy and delicious! You can use it as part of a sandwich or just eat it on its own with some butter. Once you try this recipe, we know you’ll be hooked!

Like, not to be that guy, but after the hottest summer in memory, I can honestly say I am ready for cool weather.

Not cause I like cool weather.

But because cool weather = baking weather. And I am here for it!

This sourdough rye bread recipe is dedicated to baking weather.

Sliced sourdough rye bread stacked in a red dutch oven.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> Be aware that this dough will feel much sticker than a standard sourdough loaf dough, but by the end of the stretch and folds it should firm up and be closer to what you’re used to.

No. 2 –> I like to use wet hands to work with sourdough rye especially during the stretch and fold stage. It helps to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands too much.

No. 3 –> Sourdough can be a bit of a lengthy process, but I’ve found that I enjoy the methodical process of sourdough baking. It takes a bit to get the hang of, but once you’ve got it, life’s good!

No. 4 –> There is an option for a cold ferment/ cold retard with this recipe. Continuing the ferment in the fridge will add even more flavor to your dough, AND as an added bonus gives you a little flexibility when it comes to baking. There is nothing worse than having to stay up way past your bedtime to bake bread! #beenthere

No. 5 –> If you don’t have a proofing bowl or banneton, all you have to do is line a bowl with a flour sack towel and flour it generously with rice flour before placing your bread inside to ferment!

A half loaf of rye sourdough showing the crumb.

Key Ingredients

Rye Sourdough Starter: If you don’t have a rye sourdough starter, grab my easy rye starter recipe. It’s important to feed your sourdough the flour it’s used to feeding on. As an added bonus, a rye starter will impart more flavor than a regular starter.

Dark Rye Flour: Using dark rye flour in this recipe gives not only that delicious rye flavor but due to rye’s ability to absorb and hold on to moisture results in a deliciously moist loaf that will last longer after being baked.

Bread Flour: Because rye flour has a low gluten percentage, it’s nice to mix it with a modern grain with higher gluten content. Using a combination helps to improve the structure and airiness of the bread, as well as oven spring, but doesn’t compromise on taste.

Labeled ingredients for sourdough rye bread.

How To Make Rye Sourdough Bread

Feed The Starter:

  1. Combine 50g of your rye sourdough starter with 50 g warm water. Stir until most of the aged starter is broken up.
  2. Add 50 g of dark rye flour. Stir until completely combined. Cover and set aside until bubbly and doubled in size. Don’t forget that rye starter has a different structure than your usual sourdough starter, so they won’t look exactly the same.

Build The Dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 50 g of active starter with 245 g warm water, 45 g molasses and 25 g brown sugar. Stir until the starter has been broken up in the water, using a whisk helps. Add in 8 g of whole caraway seeds and whisk until combined.
  2. Add 260 g bread flour and 100 g dark rye flour to the mixing bowl. Stir until all of the flour is absorbed. I like to whisk the dough until it’s too thick, then I switch to a bowl scraper to fold over the dough until completely mixed. If I had a dough whisk, this would be the perfect time to use it!
  3. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Bulk Ferment + Stretch + Folds

  1. Sprinkle 10 g of coarse kosher salt over the top of the dough and knead until completely combined, I like to take my time and knead here for about 2 minutes. Recover and set aside for another 30 minutes.
  2. Perform a series of stretches and folds: with wet hands, grab the dough and gently pull it until the flap is long enough to fold over itself, then fold the flap, rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat 4-8 times. Recover the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total of 3 stretch and folds over the span of the bulk ferment.
  3. After the last stretch and fold, allow the dough to rest, covered at room temperature for approximately 6 hours, until the dough is airy and has formed a smooth dome.

Pre-Shape + Shape

  1. Scrape the dough out of the bowl on to a barely floured surface. Apply a small amount of flour to your hands and the top of the dough.
  2. Use one hand tuck the bottom of the dough under itself, pulling in a gentle circular motion. Preshape is done when the top of the dough ball looks rounded and smooth and feels taught. If the dough begins to tear, stop and allow the dough to rest.
  3. Use your bowl scraper or bench scraper to carefully pick up the dough and move it to a floured surface to rest, covered with a damp towel for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Turn the preshaped loaf, upside down on a floured surface. Fold the dough into a square-ish shape.
  5. Flip the dough one last time, so the floured side is up, and using the same technique as the preshape, tucking the dough underneath itself in gentle circular motion until a round boule forms.
  6. Transfer the dough to your proofing basket, banneton, or bowl. If using a proofing basket or banneton, flour well before transferring dough. If using a bowl, line it with a flour sack towel and flour well.
  7. Cover the dough and rest for another two or so hours, until the dough puffs up and becomes slightly jiggly. It won’t double at this stage and that’s ok. If you’re not going to bake right away, cover the dough and place it in the fridge for 12-16 hours. If performing a cold ferment, bake sourdough cold, straight from the fridge, but add an extra 5 minutes of bake time.

Bake

  1. Place a large dutch oven into the oven and preheat together to 475f.
  2. Once oven has preheated, turn proofed bread upside down onto a parchment square.
  3. Score the dough between 1/4 and 1/2″ deep.
  4. Remove the heated dutch oven from the oven and using the parchment paper, lift and carefully lower the sourdough rye bread boule into the dutch.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes uncovered in a 475f oven, or until the dough has browned sufficiently.

Cool

  1. Use the parchment paper as a sling and carefully remove the cooked sourdough rye from the dutch oven and place on a wire mesh rack to cool until room temperature before slicing.
Baked sourdough rye in a red dutch oven.

Baker’s Schedule

DAY 1:
1 pm: Feed sourdough starter
7 pm: Build the dough
8 pm: Knead in salt + perform 3 stretch and folds over 2 hours
10 pm: Cover and allow to rise overnight (around 70f)

DAY 2:
7 am: Preshape and shape the dough
8 am: Preheat oven and dutch oven
9 am: Bake or place in the fridge for a cold ferment

DAY 3:
7 am: Preheat oven and cast iron dutch oven
7:30 am: Remove dough from the fridge and bake

Close up of the split crust on the sourdough rye loaf.

Batch + Storage

Batch:

This sourdough rye bread recipe makes 1 good size boule. I find one of these guys lasts my family of 4 around 2 days, we do dig a good sourdough though!

Storage:

Your boule can be kept cut side down on a cutting board for up to 12 hours before the crust becomes too crisp. I recommend transferring it to a bread bag once cooled.

Your rye sourdough loaf can also be frozen. To freeze, cool the loaf to room temperature, then tightly wrap in plastic wrap, slide it into a bread bag, seal it up and stick it in the freezer for 1-2 months. To use after freezing, remove the loaf from the freezer, unwrap and allow to come to room temperature (1 -2 hours) before slicing and enjoying.

More Great Sourdough Recipes

How To Enjoy Rye Sourdough Bread

There isn’t a bad way to eat this bread. Seriously. But here are some ideas:

  • as a hearty toast smeared with butter
  • in an egg salad sandwich
  • as the vehicle for a delicious roast beef and pickle sandwich
  • as part of a grilled cheese sandwich loaded with swiss and brie cheese

3 qt cast iron dutch oven: Much of the success of this bread depends on having a heavy ass cast iron dutch oven. It’s one of those things you should already have, and if you don’t have one, fix that! The little red one in these photos was my first piece of cast iron and something that started somewhat of a cooking revolution for us a decade ago. A 3-quart CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN is a workhorse in the kitchen, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it often.

Scale: It’s really hard to make sourdough without a scale. Sorry, but them’s the facts! bread baking and bread dough are a bit of a science. A GOOD KITCHEN SCALE will treat you well over a huge range of recipes, not just sourdough. Think of  HOMEMADE BACON!

If you love this recipe, please give it a star rating or leave a comment below! This helps me to create more content you enjoy!

📖 Printable Recipe

Close up of the split crust on the sourdough rye loaf.

Sourdough Rye Bread

Allyson Letal
This easy sourdough rye bread recipe will walk you through how to make your very own delicious homemade rye sourdough bread!
4.19 from 16 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Fermenting Time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours
Course Sourdough
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 181 kcal

Ingredients
  

for the starter:

  • 50 g sourdough starter active
  • 50 g water warm
  • 50 g dark rye flour

for the sourdough rye:

  • 50 g active sourdough rye starter
  • 245 g warm water
  • 25 g brown sugar
  • 45 g cooking molasses
  • 8 g whole caraway seeds
  • 10 g coarse kosher salt
  • 260 g bread flour
  • 100 g dark rye flour

Instructions
 

Feed The Starter:

  • Combine 50g of your RYE SOURDOUGH STARTER with 50 g warm water. Stir until most of the aged starter is broken up. Add 50 g of dark rye flour. Stir until completely combined.
  • Cover and set aside until bubbly and doubled in size.

Build The Dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 50 g of active rye sourdough starter with 245 g warm water, 45 g molasses and 25 g brown sugar. Stir until the starter has been broken up in the water, using a whisk helps. Add in 8 g of whole caraway seeds and whisk until combined.
  • Add 260 g bread flour and 100 g dark rye flour to the mixing bowl. Stir until all of the flour is absorbed.
  • Cover the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Bulk Ferment + Stretch + Folds

  • Sprinkle 10 g of coarse kosher salt over the top of the dough and knead until completely combined – about 2 minutes. Recover and set aside for another 30 minutes.
  • Perform a series of stretches and folds: with wet hands, grab the dough and gently pull it until the flap is long enough to fold over itself, then fold the flap, rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat 4-8 times. Recover the bowl and set it aside for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total of 3 stretches and folds over the span of an hour and a half or so.
  • After the last stretch and fold, allow the dough to rest, covered, at room temperature for ~6 hours, until dough is airy and smooth on top.

Pre-Shape + Shape

  • Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a barely floured surface. Apply a small amount of flour to your hands and the top of the dough.
  • Use one hand to tuck the bottom of the dough under itself, pulling in a gentle circular motion. Preshape is done when the top of the dough ball looks rounded and smooth and feels taught. If the dough begins to tear, stop and allow the dough to rest.
  • Use your bowl scraper or bench scraper to carefully pick up the dough and move it to a floured surface to rest, covered with a damp towel for 20-30 minutes.
  • Turn the preshaped loaf, upside down on a floured surface. Fold the dough into a square-ish shape. Flip the dough one last time, and using the same technique as the preshape, tuck the dough underneath itself in a gentle circular motion until a round boule is formed.
  • Transfer the dough to your proofing basket, banneton, or bowl. If using a proofing basket or banneton, flour well before transferring dough. If using a bowl, line it with a flour sack towel and flour generously.
  • Cover the dough and rest for another two or so hours, until dough puffs up and becomes jiggly, or rest in the fridge for 12-16 hours. If performing a cold ferment in the fridge, add an extra 5 minutes to the baking time.

Bake

  • Place a large dutch oven into the oven and preheat together to 475f.
  • Once the oven has preheated, turn the proofed bread upside down onto a parchment square.
  • Score the dough between 1/4 and 1/2" deep.
  • Remove the heated dutch oven from the oven and using the parchment paper, lift and carefully lower the sourdough rye bread boule into the dutch oven.
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes uncovered in a 475f oven, or until the dough has browned sufficiently.

Cool

  • Use the parchment paper as a sling and carefully remove the cooked sourdough rye from the dutch oven and place it on a wire mesh rack to cool until room temperature before slicing.

Notes

Batch:

This sourdough rye bread recipe makes 1 good size boule. I find one of these guys lasts my family of 4 around 2 days, we do dig a good sourdough though1

Storage:

Your boule can be kept cut side down on a cutting board for up to 12 hours before the crust becomes too crisp.
Your rye sourdough loaf can also be frozen. To freeze, cool the loaf to room temperature, then tightly wrap in plastic wrap, slide it into a bread bag, seal it up and stick it in the freezer for 1-2 months. To use after freezing, remove the loaf from the freezer, unwrap and allow to come to room temperature (1 -2 hours) before slicing and enjoying.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 181kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 5gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 391mgPotassium: 162mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
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9 Comments

  1. I made this the other day. With the exception of slightly burnt crust on the bottom it turned out beautifully. The flavor is delicious. I have made several different sourdough rye and this is my favorite. I will try lowering the heat the last 20 minutes or set a trivet in the Dutch oven. Hopefully the bottom will be better. The burnt bottom did not detract from the flavor of the bread just made it hard to cut. Will be making again in a few days. Thank for the recipe.

    1. That’s great news Jude! Happy to hear you loved it. You may have a little luck sprinkling some cornmeal in the bottom of the dutch oven to add a small air layer – like they do with wood fired pizza?

  2. 1 star
    This is an easy step by step recipe with great results. I needed to start a Rye Starter with a little of my white/wheat starter, but was quick and easy to do. Now I have a Rye Starter! Yes, there is a difference! Stickier Dough, smells amazing, a labor of love with the cold ferment, but so worth it.

    1. Hey Tavifa, sorry for the late reply, but it can be held in the fridge for at least 36 hours, maybe 48. I haven’t pushed rye that far. Hope that helps!

  3. Excellent bread!
    I doubled the recipe and left out Cumin as I don’t like the taste. I added a tsp of rey malt ferment powder.

    1. Rye bread is really different than bread made with only wheat flour, the dough is pretty tacky. You can always add a bit more flour to the outside of the dough to make it a bit more manageable.