German Style Sourdough Rye Bread

Rye Bread is full of character. Rye flour contains less gluten than wheat flour, and this makes Rye bread significantly denser but also more moist. Bread made from Rye flour has a slightly sour taste giving a distinctive flavour to your bread. Bread made from Rye is often combined with wheat flour to make a lighter style of Rye bread. The higher the Rye ratio in the bread to more dense and flavoursome your end result. In this recipe I use about 60% Rye flour to get the typical structure and taste you find in the famous German Rye breads. A good option for an even more authentic flavour is to add some caraway seeds to your dough.

Rye flour is high in fibre and considered a more healthy alternative to wheat flour. People who are gluten intolerant sometimes eat Rye bread as an alternative. For an optimum result when baking a Rye bread your best option is to use a Rye Sourdough Starter and mine has a 100% hydration, meaning I feed it with a 50/50 water and Rye flour.

Rye Bread is a perfect companion to a hearty soup like Dutch Split Pea Soup or French Onion Soup. If you are looking for some lighter Sourdough Bread versions try my Easy Sourdough or Wholemeal Spelt Sourdough Bread

Makes: 1 small loaf | Preparation: 20 min plus a few times folding | Proving: 16-20 hours | Cooking: 40-45 minutes

Who connected us?!   Growing up in the Netherlands as a kid I used to going skiing in Austria every year and that’s where I learned to appreciate the wonderfull Rye Bread varieties.

Timing: Start your Sourdough making process a day ahead, get the Sourdough Starter out of the fridge in the morning and give it a good feed to activate. Around midday you start preparing your dough for a beautiful fresh loaf for nexts days lunch.


  • 150g active Rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 250g Rye flour
  • 175g bakers flour
  • 300g water
  • 10g salt
  • Optional caraway seeds tbs


  1. Make sure you have taken your Sourdough Starter out of the fridge and feed it well to activate. Mix flour and water in a large bowl and let it autolyse for about an hour.

2. Add the sourdough starter, mix well. Add the salt and mix again. You do not need to knead this type of bread dough like you do with wheat based breads.

3. Stretch and fold the dough. Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds in total during bulk fermentation, spaced out by 30 minutes, until you notice that the dough is consistent.

4. Let the dough rest for about 4 hours at room temperature of about 25c. Longer when the room is cooler.

5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured bench top. Flatten the dough and form it into the shape you prefer, a bâtard or boule. You can also shape your dough in a banneton or colander lined with a towel. Cover the dough and let the dough rise until it passes the finger poke test. When you poke the dough it should bounce back in shape. This can take a few hours depending on your ambience. The dough will rise, but not as much as when you are baking a wheat based bread. Don’t worry the bread will rise further when you bake it.

6. Preheat the oven to 250c with your pizza stone or Dutch oven if you are going to use one. You can also bake your bread on a tray lined with baking paper. Put a tray on the bottom of the oven that you are going to fill with water to create steam once you have put the dough in the oven.

7. Score the loaf in your preferred pattern and place it in the oven on your pizza stone or in your preheated Dutch oven . Pour some water on the plate below and bake your loaf in 35-45 minutes. When you are using a Dutch oven, you do not need to create steam. Halfway through the baking process you might want to take the lid of to give the bread some colour.

8. You can check if the bread is ready by tapping it on the bottom. When it sounds hollow, the bread is done. Let it cool on a wired rack.


  • 100% hydration: The Sourdough Starter I use has a 100% hydration, meaning that I feed my starter with equal parts of flour and water. When you have a starter that has less hydration you can add a little bit more water to the dough. When you really get very specific in your Sourdough baking you can boost your knowledge by reading about the “bakers percentage”.
  • Caraway seeds: It adds a nice aniseed like flavour to the bread. Try it, and you might like it.
  • Rye flour and your bread structure: Rye flour has a different effect on the amount of water it subtracts from the dough and therefore your Rye bread will have a different density to the bread made from wheat flour. The more Rye flour ratio the more dense your bread will be.
  • No metal: I recommend to use a plastic or ceramic bowl and wooden spoon if you can. It’s a bit of an old wisdom from the olden days where metal bowls and cups could get rusty. The Sourdough is made sour by acids. Acids react to metals and therefore it could be a bad combination. Nowadays most bowls and utensils you use are made from stainless steel and you should not have a problem. I do not always follow this advice myself, as I sometime quickly mix the dough in the stand mixer which has a stainless steel bowl, but if you can avoid the metal you’re safe.
  • Active Sourdough Starter: When you keep your Sourdough starter in the fridge, like I do because I do not bake bread every day. Make sure you get the starter out of the fridge a few hours before using it and give it a good feed. More about sourdough starter making and feeding you find here.
  • Resting the baked bread: Although warm bread straight out of the oven is tempting, the bread needs to cool down before you can properly slice it. When the bread is not cooled down properly, it is sticky inside.
  • Say NO to all purpose flour; you could take a short cut and use all purpose flour, but you lose in taste and bread-structure.
  • Salt; 10 grams of salt looks like a lot, but you definitely need it otherwise the bread taste bland. We put in the salt after the wild yeast mixture is combined with the flour, otherwise the salt might influence the Sourdough Mother and your bread will not rise properly.
  • When the bread is proving, the wild yeast is feeding on the water and flour. In theory the three things that all bacteria need to grow are heat, moisture and food. Any excess of these three things will kill the yeast (as well as salt, which seasons the bread – it’s not half so nice without it, but it does slow down the proving to some extent).

Try some Ciabatta or Focaccia next!

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