Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

This is the simplest sourdough recipe that I use and is a great place to begin if you are new to sourdough or have struggled with it in the past.

Because rye flour has a lot less gluten than wheat and spelt, it is much simpler to make sourdough from. It also has a lot more wild yeast so is quicker to get going.

I recommend refreshing your sourdough starter at least twice before attempting this recipe to ensure it is lively and increase you chance of success. Your starter needs to be at peak activity in time for this recipe. A good rule of thumb is that your starter has reached peak activity when it has double in volume. Its worth experimenting and finding out how long this takes in your kitchen. Then you can adjust times, so it is ready in time.

For example, in my kitchen my rye starter takes 6 hours to double in size. So, if I am planning on making this recipe at 9pm, I will feed my starter at 9am and 3pm earlier that day.

Unlike recipes using wheat, rye sourdough only needs one long prove, so we will mix and shape the bread in one go. As rye has so little gluten there is no point kneading it!

This dough is very sticky, and it is tempting to add flour to make it easier to work with. Avoid doing this, as the high water content will help to give your bread a holey, open structure. If you’re finding its sticking to your hands, either lightly dust your hands or dip them in water to prevent the dough sticking too much. Its handy to have a dough scraper nearby, if the dough starts sticking to the table, you can just scrap it back into the rest of the dough.

The shaped dough will prove overnight and be baked as soon as you get up. Therefore, it is a brilliant way to get fresh bread in the morning without having to get up in the middle of the night.

Bread made of 100% rye flour are very dense and rich. I prefer to add wheat flour to lighten it. By all means use 100% rye in the recipe below.

This recipe makes 1 loaf or 10-15 rolls


1 ladle of very active rye starter

300g wholemeal rye flour

200g wheat flour

10g good quality sea salt

325g lukewarm water


If you want to have fresh bread for the morning, I recommend starting this at 9pm, proving overnight and baking the bread at 7am the following morning.

  1. Combine both flours in a large mixing bowl with the salt and mix well
  2. Add the ladle of very active starter to this flour then add the lukewarm water
  3. Mix the flour and water with your hands. Once it starts to come together, turn it out onto the table and gently kneed until all the ingredients are incorporated. Make sure you have a dough scraper or something you can use to remove the dough from your hands as the dough will be sticky
  4. Line a baking tray with a silicon mat of baking paper.
  5. Shape the dough into a loaf. This can prove on the baking tray, or in a well-floured proving basket if you have one
  6. Alternatively divide the dough evenly in 10-15 and shape into round rolls and place on the baking tray
  7. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave to prove overnight
  8. At 7am the next morning set your oven to 210-degree C. To help develop a good crust place a tray of boiling water at the bottom of your oven to create steam.
  9. If you are making rolls, remove the clingfilm then use a sharp knife to cut a slash 0.5cm deep along each roll. Bake them for 12 minutes.
  10. If making a loaf turn it out of the proving basket if you used one, on to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Use a knife to make a slash along the length of the bread. Bake the loaf at 210 degrees C for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 190 degrees C and bake for another 30 minutes
  11. Allow the bread to cool before you eat it.

One of my favourite breakfasts is freshly baked rye bread with scrambled eggs!

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