100% Rye Sourdough Bread

Submitted by: Olga Bragstad
The healthy SD real rye bread with the rich flavor. Possible to start with minimum bread baking skills. No kneading, just stirring, no S&F. No tools exept the large spoon, bowl and bread tin. I shall bring you step by step through the method of my baking of this authentic, pure rye, that I have been developing and adjusting for 14 years. You need just a good SD starter. And waht is interesting, it may be even just wheat starter! It will take three days of feeding it with wholemeal rye to get a good strong rye SD starter.


Rye active  starter.  May be built with wheat starter by means of feeding it with wholemeal rye for two three days.

Rye flour – wholemeal, coarse for preferment  and mix of coarse and fine milled for the dough.

malt syrup for the preferment

dark molasses for the dough.

fresh brewed espresso for the dough

milk kefir for the dough

olive oil . Or another oil.

seeds: caraway seeds or coriander, flax seeds, sesame seeds.


This is the recipe I have placed in the files of the group in 2018.

I have altered the recipe, turning it to more basic and easy to use. The options in ingredients, other than in the recipe, will be named at the end of the recipe.

The recipe looks like a long one, but this is only due to the details I cannot avoid, as the new rye bakers may need them. Actually they will need even more and finding everything in one place helps a lot.

So, here I will give not only the recipe and method . but shall include my tips, concerning rye.

Olga’s  100 % rye Sourdough dough bread.  

What you need.

Warm place for the dough about 23C-25C!

Tools:  bowl for the dough of circa 1 000 g., bread tin for the same amount of the dough, large spoon. Kitchen towel.

For the dough: wholemeal rye flour, better a coarse one. As option both coarse and fine milled.

Warm water , malt syrup. Salt , dark molasses, kefir. Seeds: flax seeds, sesame seeds, caraway whole seeds or instead  coriander seeds (powdered  and crashed).

Step 1. Overnight preferment.

250g rye wholemeal (preferably coarse) flour.

150g active rye starter ( I feed mine at least two times ). See the picture of the rye active starter.

350 water , a little bit warmer that RT.

20 g malt syrup

Mix well, cover and let it ferment in the  warm place for about 8+12 hrs, depending on the ambient T, activity of your starter.

Step 2. Dough.

Morning.  Remove some preferment (20-30g) to the clean jar, to keep it as starter in the fridge for the further bakes.  Feed it after you finish mixing your dough. Keep it on the counter to watch the way it develops. This is very convenient to be aware of when your dough is ready with its bulk and proofing.  This is better than to watch the exact time, given in the recipe.

Mix the  wet ingredients:

Add to the preferment  20g. dark  treacle/ molasses, 50 g. milk kefir, 15g fresh brewed espresso,  10 g. olive oil ( or another oil of your choice )

Mix in the separate bowl the dry ingredients:

250g. wholemeal rye. You may use now fine milled rye, or mix of the coarse and fine milled rye.  See pictures of different types of rye. ¤¤¤

20 g sesame seeds, 20 g flax seeds, 7-10 g caraway whole seeds ( or coriander seeds, crashed)

11 g salt.


 you may have choice here . Use in the dough either mix of the fine milled wholemeal rye and sifted rye ( you may call it white rye in your country) . or just sifted rye/white rye. But, them you need to add oat flakes to meet the hydration of the dough. Add about 20 g. and keep this idea in a case of the very wet dough. You can always add some oat flakes to adjust the wetness of the dough, as it depends as you know on the flour, and may vary when you use new bag or new producer.  

You may add  the optional ingredients, such as: 10g. buckwheat flakes , 20g raisins, or cranberries (cut them first),  40g. Crashed nuts- mix of the hazelnuts and almond nuts. Your bread will turn then to the nice dessert  bread.

Mix the dry into the wet, stir very well with a spoon. It is wet dough!!  The dough is ready for the bulk.  See the picture.

Step 3. Bulk ferment .

Place the covered bowl in to the warm place (rye likes to be kept warm) for about 3hrs. to 4 hrs. This is bulk stage.  The dough will look very airy and fluffy , and about 1,5 times more in the volume. See the picture.

Step 4. Final proofing.

When your dough has puffed in the bowl it is time to place it in the bread forms and to proof you bread.  I use 1,5 l. bread forms. Grease the bread tin well with cold butter.  This works even with the old tins. Much better than oil, or melted butter. You may of course line the tin with baking paper, if you prefer, but cold butter is the easiest way.

How to transfer your dough in to the bread tin. You need just the same large spoon! Keep a small bowl with warm water at hand, to wet your spoon often, while transferring your dough into the bread tin.  Do not spare water,  it is all right if this process gives some more water to the dough with your wet spoon. Press lightly, form a kind of small smooth dome with the wet spoon. Cover with the cling film ( brush it with oil from the side facing dough, not to ruin the top of the dough if it rises very much).  You may use a big plastic bag over your bread form, giving space for the raise of the dough. ¤¤¤

Proofing stage takes about 2 hrs. in the same warm place.  But, watch your fed starter in the jar, that you have left on the counter. It gives more reliable information about the process. Switch on your oven.

When ready , you will see many small holes on the surface, confirming that the bread is well proofed.

Now you may brush it with the starch water, or flour water, cooked till it thickens, but, use thin layer of it with brush and do not let it drop on the bread tin sides. It will give a shiny surface. And top  with seeds of your choice.  Sometimes I decorate it with  stencils, or create patterns with different kind of seeds. And I prick it then  with wet wooden or plastic  toothpick.

¤¤¤.   About the topping of the dough. You may choose another classic look of the rye bread. Not the shiny crust, but dusted with flour. This should be done in advance, not right before baking. You dust the surface of the dough after you place it into the tin and let it proof. After fully proofed the surface will get very nice cracked pattern. You will be able still to see small holes in the places where floured surface is cracked. And I prick it then in the cracked areas with wet wooden or plastic  toothpick .  But, this method works better when bread is baked in the preheated oven and less steam.


Step 4. Baking

Here you may have two options, that depend on the final proofing.

 Option 1– preheat your oven to 200C and start baking at this T. reducing it to 180 C after the first 20 min baking with steam. And continue till the bread is ready. Inner should be T 96C. this option is good if you start baking after your dough has been fully proofed, and raised over the bread tin.

Baking time will be circa 40-45 min.

Option 2. Start baking form the cold oven or from 50C. with steam. Put the oven to 200 C after bread is in the oven and continue baking for 25 -30 min . after 30 min, steam out, T reduced to 180 C and baking continues. This option is good for the slow dough , that hardly reaches the level of the bread tin edges. And may speed it up to finish fermentation in the oven.

Baking time will be circa 50-60 min.

If the bread is browning too quickly, shelter it with aluminum foil .

After the inner T is 96 C remove the bread form the bread tin and return it to the oven, placing it on the side, to prevent burning the top.

Step 5. Yes, we have one more step here! The rye bread needs time to be really ripe and ready. And it continues its magic for 24 hrs or more. So, right after it is ready it needs to be warm wrapped and covered to keep its warmth as long as possible.

Only after this it will reward you with its real flavor.  See pic.


Tips to the 100% rye SD baking.


For rye lovers, if I may say so:)

My regular 100% rye bread.

For those who are interested in rye , some tips may be useful.

The flour and the T play big roles .

The Themperature: Rye loves to be warm:). Do not use your experience with white bread to retard. It is meaningless.

The flour: I always have good crumb with wholemeal coarse or very coarse rye flour. It is possible to mix it with about 20-30% fine milled wholemeal rye, but not more. If more, the crumb turns very dence. And it is necessary to use a bit less water. Different countries, different flour. Look for the really coarse. Try it and you will see the difference.

Fermentation : good to use the transparent bowle , as you are supposed to look for the bubbling surface only in the preferment, but not for bubbles at the sides of the surface in the bulk ferment. But, you will see through the transparent sides of the bowls the way rye ferments, turning from gluey mass to airy mass.

When bulk ferment is ready, you need just spoon to transfer your dough to the breadtin . Oil tin well . Wet the spoon often while transferring the dough. Fill the 2/3 of the breadtin. Smooth the surface with wet spoon , cover with showercap and let it proof in really warm place – about 26C. The bread will rise and you will see small tiny holes on the surface . This means it is ready for baking.







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A special sharp knife, or tool which holds a razor blade, in a curved or straight manner. You use it to score the dough before baking.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is generally understood to be a covered earthenware or cast-iron container for cooking casseroles. They are ideal for bread as they can accommodate bread dough and be covered to help generate the steamy environment requiredto encourage the dough to rise. Enamel roasters with a lid, covered pyrex dishes, or even a flat tray with a bowl over the top of the dough, are equally effective.

Bakers’ Percentages

Sometimes called baker’s math, this is a method to express the different ingredients as a percentage of the total amount of flour. It makes scaling a recipe or building a recipe very easy once you know the total weight of the flour, and also allows you to know the ‘hydration’ of your dough.

Example: If you build your dough with 1000 gram flour, 670-grams water, 20-gram salt, and 8-gram yeast. According to bakers percentages, that will be 100% flour (the amount of flour is always 100%), 67% water, 2% salt, and 0.8% yeast.
You divide the amount of the different ingredients with the amount of flour.

Banneton / Brotform / Proofing Basket

A type of basket or container used to provide structure for shaped loaves of bread during proofing. Banneton baskets are also known as ‘Brotform’ or ‘proofing baskets’. It is normally used for doughs that are too soft or wet to maintain their shape while rising. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for ones that fit the size of loaves you want to bake.

They are often made of natural rattan, or wood fiber. You can also use any container lined with a well-floured tea towel.

Oven Spring

The final burst of expansion of dough upon being introduced to a hot oven and where the yeast activity is increased during the first few minutes. At approximately 60C/140ºF degrees the yeast is killed off, but up until that point, dough can expand in the oven in the first phase of baking if it’s not over-fermented and still has dough strength. Many factors can impact oven spring including the length of fermentation, gluten development, and the hydration of the dough.


An alternative to traditional kneading used to develop gluten. The process is performed periodically in the bowl throughout the bulk fermentation. Take a side of the dough and gently stretch it up and over, to fold it upon itself, rotate the dough 90º, and repeat, then turn the bowl 45º and the same stretch and fold. Once all four corners of the dough have been stretched and folded, gluten development and a smooth, elastic dough are underway. Also, see ‘Folding’ and ‘Coil Folds’.

Bulk Ferment

Most loaves have two fermenting cycles. One before and one after the loaves are formed. Bulk fermentation is the first cycle, with a long fermentation period of the dough after the initial mixing of flour, water, starter, and salt and often comes during and after a period of kneading or ‘stretch and folds’.During this stage we are aiming to create dough strength, structure and flavor. The dough should feel alive, strong, airy, spongy and the surface shouldn’t feel sticky.

The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature, unless otherwise noted in the recipe and is a longer period of time (4 -12 hours) than the final proofing period. This step may be referred to as the first prove or first rising. Acetic acid, an organic acid is produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang. The warmer the environment, the faster the development of the dough will be

Window Pane

The window pane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently stretched and folded your bread dough. Pull a small piece of the dough and using both hands and your fingers stretch the dough very thin if it holds its shape without tearing the gluten is well-developed and your dough is ready to be pre-shaped, shaped and rest for it’s final prove.

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

A mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. Made either by inoculating with an established colony of bacteria or by capturing wild bacteria and yeasts over a longer period. Sometimes also called Leaven / Levain.



Autolyse (pronounced auto-lees) is a process in which a portion of (or total) water and flour in a bread recipe are gently pre-blended and set to rest for a period of time.

This resting period gives the dough special processing characteristics and improves the overall quality of the baked goods.

During autolyse process, several events can occur in the pre-mixed water/flour mixture:

  1. Continued flour hydration. Water molecules work their way into damaged starch, intact starch granules and proteins.
  2. Protein bonds continue to develop as a consequence of adding water, creating more gluten strands without mechanical work. This leads to better gluten structure and gas retention.
  3. Flour enzymes (mainly proteases) acquire time to adapt and work on the gluten by breaking down protein bonds.Protease activity is higher at low pH (acidic conditions). This is why autolysed doughs that contain yeast or pre-ferments (e.g. poolish) often experience greater protease activity. Such doughs are more extensible, weaker, softer and show less resistance to deformation than autolyzed non-fermented doughs.2
  4. Finally, as a result, the dough feels less sticky and very smooth after the autolyse.

As a general rule, the longer the autolyse time:

  • The shorter the dough mixing time (less mechanical development of gluten-forming proteins in needed). This means less energy consumption during mixing.
  • The shorter the dough stability duration
  • The less tolerance to overmixing. Breakdown is more pronounced once peak (maximum strength) is attained.
  • The smaller the P value in the alveograph test
  • The more extensible and less elastic the dough becomes at the end of autolysis
  • The better the sheetability and machining of dough during lamination of croissants
  • The easier and faster the dough expands during oven spring (better volume)
  • The lower the need for dough conditioners
  • The better the flavor and aroma of the finished product
Leaven/Levain/Sourdough Starter
  1. A substance, in this case a wild yeast starter, that is used in sourdough baking to make dough rise.
  2. Some methods of baking, such as ‘Tartine Method’ require a sourdough leavening agent be made from a sourdough ‘mother culture’ (aka your Starter). This technique is often employed to boost the yeast activity of the sourdough starter by feeding a small amount of starter a larger quantity of flour and water. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter, a leaven can be prepared 8-12 hours before the dough will be mixed by combining 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter with ½ cup flour and a scant ½ cup of water. This leaven can then be used as the sourdough starter and will be quite active come baking time.
  1. cause (dough or bread) to rise by adding leaven.