Rye Sourdough Loaf

After the Dwarf Bread Debacle I did some research. Bloodied (that Dwarf Bread was tough) but unbowed I tried again, this time using strong white bread flour for the sponge and rye flour for the rest. I also used a slightly different technique. So:


500g Strong White Flour

600ml warm water

One ladle of sourdough starter


600g Rye Flour

25g salt

  1. Combine the sponge ingredients, cover with clean plastic and leave to ferment over night.
  2. Next morning, add 600g flour and 25g salt to the sponge, mix to a soft dough, and knead until soft and pliable (about 10 minutes)
  3. Form dough into a round, moisten with olive oil, cover in plastic and leave for an hour.
  4. Gently flatten dough out and re-shape into a ball, cover, leave for an hour again. Repeat twice more.
  5. After 4 hours of rising and deflating the dough should be more elastic and bouncy. Now divide into three, shape into loaves, and cover in plastic to rise for 2-3 hours, until almost doubled in size. Rye bread probably won’t rise as much. I just left mine for 4 hours and gave up!
  6. Slash the tops of the loaves, spray with water and put into an oven pre-heated to its highest temperature, on a pre-heated baking tray, with a tray of boiling water beneath. Cook for 10 minutes and turn the oven down to 180C (170C if tops already looking very brown) and cook for about another 20 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Rye Sourdough Sliced

I first tried this the week before Christmas, but didn’t manage to take any photos because the visitors we had devoured the lot. I took that as a vote of confidence and baked another batch. Sadly the rest of the household don’t really share my love of it, so it will be an occasional part of the bread repetoire- and always when said visitors are due!

Personally I think it is glorious with cheese and pickle, patè, or toasted with marmite. Now I’m off to the allotment to do more digging…

22 thoughts on “Rye Bread Revisited

  1. This looks very appealing – can you give some details about your sour dough starter ? – I make bread about once a week but in winter when we eat a lot of soups and stews (mostly but not exclusively vegetarian) – we tend to make ordinary bread dough but then cook it in a pan, with a tiy bit of olive oil. This makes a sort of semi leaven flast bread which is great ripped into pieces anbd dipped into soup.

    1. Your flatbread sounds lovely – I make soda bread for the same reasons, to soak up soups and stews at this time of year. You will find all the details for making a sourdough starter in a previous post. Good luck!

    1. Bet I’m even more hungry – just back from an hour’s digging…

  2. This looks delicious–a baking success! It’s been awhile since I’ve baked any kind of bread; sounds like a good idea on these long winter days.

    It was good to see on your last post that someone is able to dig in the garden this time of year–I keep forgetting that the UK is a warmer zone than we are here in the Midwest. I liked your idea about working a set amount of time often rather than too much in one day. Those first few days of good spring weather I usually try to do more than I should and wind up with aching muscles all the rest of the day.

    1. Hi Rose, I think I am really lucky in that the allotment plot has good drainage and most of the soil has been well worked, just now weed-infested. Mind you, it was a little on the claggy side today after all the rain we’ve been getting… “Little but often” seems to be working well for me so far. I tend to be a bit over enthusiastic if I don’t give myself some limits, and don’t want to wreck my health before I even get to plant anything! Good luck avoiding Spring back ache.

  3. Now that is a perfect loaf of bread~I remember how exciting it was to open the oven to fresh bread. Yummy. gail

    1. Which reminds me, I am up here catching up on email and blog reading when I should be shaping the next batch of loaves!!

  4. How nice to see you blogging about bread again, Janet! Allotmenteering is all very well, but…
    We love rye bread with “continental” dishes – such as goulash and beef soup. I have to say though that many people in the UK would probably not find it to their liking. I wonder why. They are probably just too conditioned to thinking that bland soft white bread is what they should enjoy (poor souls!).

    1. You make me sound like some kind of superwoman Laura! I’m truly not – saved only by working part time from home and lots of help round the house.

  5. From your earlier post I felt compelled to move forward with my sourdough bread. I am lazy in the kneading catagory — used my machine to bake it. The crust wasn’t hard enough, so today I did it on the stone in the oven with the pan of water under it. My water disappeared– will have to add more water next time.
    I read through your sourdough starter recipe. Mine isn’t quite that involved, I imagine yours is a lot better. I hate the idea of getting rid of half the mixture every couple days. If you want, I can email you the friendship bread that Tina mentioned last time. It is a sweet bread, we like it with cinnamon and raisins.
    Your rye looks super!

    1. Hi Janet. great to know I helped spur you on with your own bread making! Does your bread maker have a knead only mode? Lots do, and friends who have arthritis or who are short on time use it to do the hard work but then shape loaves and bake them in the oven to get the crustiness. Was it better in the oven, despite the disappearing water?

      Re chucking part of the sourdough mix each feed, apparently it is to stop it becoming too huge, but I tend to only throw some out every other feed because like you I feel it is such a waste. I’d love to try the friendship bread recipe, so yes please, do email it to me!

  6. It looks really good. You are definitely one determined cook and I bet a very good one too! Happy New year to you!

    1. Happy New Year Tina. It helps that I like eating so much, it does wonders for one’s motivation!!

  7. hello there

    I am drooling (not pretty!) I’m not good with breadmaking nice to have you and your blog to make me think about it more – looked amazing!! Good luck with all the digging, which will need more bread to keep you going!

    1. Hi Fay! I’ve finally got hold of some cream of tartare, so the next bread challenge is to try Bere bannocks…

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