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100% rye

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AnyAnnie's picture

100% Sourdough Rye not rising much, distressingly gummy.

September 10, 2012 - 1:29pm -- AnyAnnie

(An introduction before my plea for advice---I've been coming to The Fresh Loaf to learn from your helpfulness for almost six years now---and every one, from the first pita to the recentest baguettes ciabatta, has come out lovely to eat and lovely to learn from. After a recent trip north, I decided I wanted to learn to make 100% sourdough rye, and it's the first thing I've been stuck enough on to feel like I need to ask for help.)

dabrownman's picture

After reading Juergen Krauss’s blog on making 100% Russian Rye here

and re-reading Andy’s (ananda) many posts on rye breads, we decided to see if yeast water levain, in conjunction with rye sour levain, could do a better job of lifting this heavy dough to new heights and provide a more open crumb.


We wanted to stay near the 85% hydration, 35% preferment, 100% whole rye grain that both these fine bakers use.  We added home milled whole grains to this model.  But, we do like rye sprouts, prunes and a combination of seeds;  fennel, anise, coriander and caraway, that go so well in 100% whole rye breads to produce a more complex flavor and interesting crumb texture.  No scald was used as Andy sometimes uses in his rye breads.


We also added some barley malt syrup and home made white and red (diastatic and non diastatic) malt to sweeten things up a tad and get some more enzymatic action working on the carbs turning them to sugars that the combo yeasts could use to make CO2 and hopefully more and bigger holes.

This was a lean toward Andy’s methods. We figured the sprout and prune addition would only make the rye even more difficult to lift to a more open crumb.  We also decided to take the hydration up to over 92% to account for the fresh home milled thirsty flour.  We added a 2 hour autolyse for the water, flour, salt and 3 malts.  No retardation for this loaf for some reason but it's loss leaves another thing to try someday and see how the bread changes.


We decided to use Juergen’s baking temperature and schedule rather than Andy’s since we just didn’t have 6 ½ hours to bake low and slow as Andy does sometimes.  Someday, we will use Andy’s bake temperature and time schedule, to see the differences it will surly make.  We used Juergen’s uncovered baking method instead of Andy’s covered low and slow one.

The dough nearly doubled in the pan, was docked with a toothpick and placed in the steaming oven.   The bake went well in the mini oven with Sylvia’s steam contained within.   The loaf sprang another 1” in the oven which was unexpected for this bake.


When the loaf finished cooling, we wrapped the loaf in the parchment paper we use for tamales (much less quality and 1/3rd the price) instead of bread parchment.  The parchment covered loaf was then wrapped in a towel for the 24 hour (or more if I can make it that long) wait to slice requirement.    I’m shooting for 48 hours and a Sunday cut and taste.  Haven’t ever made it that long before :-)


The formula follows the pix’s.  Last night's sunset - 'red sky at night , sailor's delight'  Was a good omen for a old sailor like me.  This bread easily sliced 1/4" thick., had a nice open crumb, was very moist , very tasty and just plain delicious.  toasted with butter it was  sublime.........can't wait for lunch and pate!   Enjoy the sunset.  Lunch photos follw it.

The pate doesn't look too interesting cut in half, but ,once cut in quarters the caramelized onion and mushrooms, egg, Swiss chard and carrot come out.


The rye berries were ground to medium flour consistency in the Krups coffee grinder.  The sprouts were started by soaking the rye berries for 3 hours and then sprouting them between layers of damp paper towels covered in plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  The sprouts were done in 20 hours, just in time for the mix.

My apprentice actually forgot to put them in and we had to de-pan, mix the forgotten sprouts in and then re-pan.  Whew!  I’m sure it didn’t hurt the dough any since it is not a dough but a grayish, tan paste that sticks to water and oil and anything else all at the same time – no problem.

The two levains were built separately over (2) 4 hour builds with an overnight 10 hour retard between the two to allow the sprouts to germinate.  The flour, water, salt and 3 malts were incorporated and allowed to autolyse for 2 hours before the rye sour levain was added and mixed on KA 2 for 2 minutes and then allowed to rest and develop for 30 minutes.

The rye sour was behind the YW levain in doubling so it was allowed to catch up in the dough before the YW levain was added 30 minutes later and also mixed on KA 2 for 2 minutes.  The seeds and prunes were added and mixed in.  Then the sprouts were mixed in by hand. 

The dough was allowed to ferment for 30 more minutes before being shaped with wet hands and placed in to a canola sprayed Pyrex loaf pan.   The top was lightly sprinkled with bran.

The panned dough was allowed to proof for 90 minutes.  When the bran on top had barely cracked the loaf was lightly docked and the pan was placed into the preheated 500 F mini oven with 2 of Sylvia’s steaming Pyrex cups in place.  The temperature was turned down to 450 F after 2 minutes and the loaf was steamed for an additional 10 minutes.

At the 12 minute mark the temperature was turned down to 425 F and the loaf baked for another 10 minutes.  At the 22 minute mark, the steam was removed and the temperature turned down to 375 F (convection this time) and baked for another 20 minutes, rotating the pan every10 minutes until the inside temperature reached 205 F.

The bread was cooled on wire racks, wrapped in parchment paper and the towel to rest for 24 - 48 hours before being cut.

100% Whole Grain Rye with Rye Sprouts - YW and Rye Sour Combo Starter










Mixed Starter

Build 1

Build 2



SD Starter





Yeast Water





Dark Rye










Total Starter




















Levain % of Total










Dough Flour





Non - Diastatic Malt





Diastatic Malt





Dark Rye





Dough Flour




















Dough Hydration










Total Flour





Total Water





T. Dough Hydration





Whole Grain Rye %










Hydration w/ Adds





Total Weight










Add - Ins





Caraway, Anise, Fennel, Coriander





Dried Prunes





Barley Malt

























Total Sprouts






Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Dear All, 

I am posting here aafew photos taken along the way of making a Russian Rye, procedure and formula as in the first recipe in my blog (there it's called Russian Rye, Andy's version (85% Hydration, preferment 167% hydration, 35% flour from preferment)):

Here the rye sour ready to go:

The ingredients mixed into this clay-like paste:

Shaped immediately without a bulk rise:

After 60 min at 30C:

30 minutes later - ready for the oven:

My current batch of rye ferments rather quickly ...

After the bake (10 min at max temperature with steam plus 25 min at 210C):

The crumb - dense but not too heavy, as expected:

I hope this is useful to someone.


Happy Baking,



Xenophon's picture

A couple of days ago I decided to try my hand at Jeffrey Hamelman’s Vollkornbrot with flaxseeds.  I did this with some trepidation because

a)     I’m a western expat living in New Delhi, India and THE key ingredient (rye flour) is not available here, meaning that I have to bring it in from Europe on each trip.  This one recipe  would blow about 1/7 th of my precious supply.

b)    The recipe as per Hamelman requires the  use of a sourdough starter, used to create a long fermenting sourdough and two soakers (flaxseeds and rye chops) .  To these are added the last fraction of the rye meal and the salt + some water and yeast so it’s not exactly a straight dough setup with minimal rise time.

The original recipe can be found in ‘Bread’ by Jeffrey Hamelman, I’m not going to reproduce it here for the obvious copyright reasons.

Modifications vs the recipe:

a)     I didn’t have rye chops and there’s no way for me to acquire those here.  So I used pinhead oats (also called steel cut oats) instead.  This worked without a hitch.

b)    One of the big challenges of baking breads here is dough temperature control.  We’re past the peak of summer but still, the temperature in my kitchen is about 35 centgrade.  This is an obvious problem when using ‘long’ rise times/preferments etc.  What it boils down to is that I shortened the sourdough rise time from the recommended 14-16 hours at around 21 centigrade to 9 hours at 33-35.


The dough (detailed instructions see the recipe in the book):

For the sourdough I used a sourdough starter that had been initiated 3 months ago, it started out as a rye sourdough starter but has been refreshed countless times with normal bread flour so it’s totally white now.  This is added to 100% rye flour and water.  Hydratation is 100% at this point.

While this is covered and put away to start its long rise, a flaxseed and –in my case- a pinhead oats soaker were prepared.  I added all the recipe’s salt to the oats soaker in order to inhibit enzyme activity (long rise at high ambient temperature).

After 5 hours I could definitely see activity in the sourdough, based on the look/consistency and the taste I decided it was ripe after 9 hours of fermentation.  Tasting/feeling/looking are imho the only sure ways to determine ripeness.  Let it ferment too long and the taste becomes harsh/vinegary.

Everything was brought together with some extra rye flour and mixed at slow speed for 10 minutes.  Bulk fermentation took 15 minutes.

After bulk fermentation I had a very slack, sticky dough that proved almost unmanageable and had a very dense texture.  This was dumped in a large cake tin (no pullman form available) that had been oiled and covered in rye flour.  I used a spoon to flatten the top somewhat.


First 15 minutes in a hot oven (245 centigrade)  with steam, followed by 1 hour 15 minutes at 195, dry.   Hamelman remarks that a full bake is imperative and I concur, given the high hydratation and the density.

Unpanning and cooling:

15 minutes before the end of the bake time, the loaf is taken out of the baking tin (very easily, no stick at all) and baked off the remaining 15 minutes to remove some extra moisture and firm things up.

After baking I was stuck with what literally seemed to be a very dense brick.  This then has to cool/rest between 24 and 48 hours so the internal moisture has time to redistribute.  It took an almost superhuman effort but I managed to wait 30 hours.  Don’t give in to temptation, I think the bread really requires this long rest before slicing.

Some pictures: 







Rye sourdough with flaxseeds and pinhead oats after unpanning and cooling for 30 hours at room temperature.










As you can see, the crumb is very, very dense and looks underbaked.  However, it looked and tasted exactly like the German whole grain Vollkornbread that’s for sale in (North) Germany.  It can be sliced very thin (4 mm is not a problem at all) with a serrated bread knife and the taste is slightly sweet, nutty with a delicate sourdough tang.  If you really want an extremely pronounced sourdough taste I guess you’d have to let the sourdough ferment a couple of hours more.  The bread goes very well with cured meats, jam, (dark) chocolate spread and cheeses that have a pronounced taste.


Big warning: Only try this and the other Vollkornbrot mentioned by Hamelman if you really like very dense German breads like Pumpernickel (the German version, has nothing in common with what's sold as such in the US).  Do not try to make rolls or smaller loaves as the crust is very hard indeed and -in the case of rolls- these would be inedible because this bread can only be enjoyed if you slice it really thin.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

This is not for the fainthearted.

When I got ITJB (Inside  The Jewish Bakery) and flicked through, my rye addiction kicked in, and the unusual process (kind-of Auermann three stage) of the Black Bread intrigued me. This was the first recipe I tried from ITJB - and failed spectacularly.

The top half of the (freestanding) loaf was nice, but turning the temperature down as stated in the recipe let the loaf sink in, and the lower half was dense and badly undercooked.

Encouraged by a PM by Stan, whom I contacted, I gave it a second try - and failed again - this time I attributed it to family business interfering with the proving schedule.

After a long break from this recipe - and some recalculations, and lots of learning about rye and my oven I tried it again last weekend, using my proofing box. This time I baked in a tin, and extended the hot phase of the bake.

The bread came out very wet - looking undercooked, almost greyish in the middle (cut after 12 hours). I was disappointed and tended to attribute this to the superhyrated dough: 117% (if my calculations are correct).

BUT ...

I had made 2 loaves and kept one aside, in a plastic bag.

Today (4 days after the bake) I opened the bag - amazing smell. I cut the bread - still moist, but the crumb had changed completely. Beautiful chocolate brown, with a rich, tangy taste:

My advice if you want to make this bread:

1. Don't Panic

2. Follow the recipe (take oz amounts as a base - I calculated the bakers % from those)

3. Use loaf tins first

3. You might want to extend the hot phase of the bake by 10 minutes (and/or consult ananda's posts about Borodinsky bread for ideas about the baking regime)

3. Wait at least 3 days before cutting into it!

ITJB rocks!



codruta's picture

A while ago I made my first succesfull 100% rye bread (click to open the post). Since then I kept on baking, different sorts of bread, but never 100% rye again. Afraid of failure? NO. But I'm easily distracted and the list of must-try breads is getting longer and longer everyday and there are too many new formulas that I want to try, so I rarely decide to repeat a recipe. Or at least not very soon after I made it.

It was not the case with today's subject.

In march, Andy (Ananda) posted a formula for seigle d'auvergne. I then modified the formula and made the best 60% rye-40% einkorn ever. Time flew and I forgot about it, till I recently found the photos on my computer. Here is one photo with the crumb (you can see it was early in the spring, as I had some blue and white Hyacinth on the table):

I decided to make it again, using his formula as a starting point, but this time with a higher rye percentage. In 4 weeks, I baked it 4-5 times, with the following changes:

1'st: I replaced the white flour from his formula with einkorn flour and I added altus, rye flakes and caraway. I increased the water percent and I baked it on a tin.


2'nd: 100% rye bread, with dark rye flour instead of his white flour (also, altus, rye flakes and fennel seeds this time)


3'rd: I replaced the white flour for Malthouse Bread Flour from Doves Farm (no altus or rye flakes, but some caraway seeds cause I like the flavor)


You can see more photos on my flickr page, link HERE, or on my Romanian blog post, link HERE.

All the combinations mentioned above have as result some great breads. A friend from Bucharest who received for tasting a rye-malthouse loaf said that was the best rye bread he ever had. My sister in law from Paris got 2 loaves of rye-einkorn when she flew back home and she was very happy as long as they lasted :)

I finally can say that I'm not afraid of rye anymore. I wish I can go further and try pumpernickel or some dark russian breads, but the rye flours I find here are usually light or medium. When I'll find the proper flours, pumpernickel will be the first to try.


With this post I want to encourage everyone who, like me a while ago, is scared of rye paste to give a try to this formula. I find it to be very easy to work with and very friendly and rewarding. Andy, thank you for the inspiration and for being such a great friend and baker.


Codruta ♥


After 3 and half years of home baking, I decided that have to follow my passion and to go on on the bread path. Things are going in the right direction and I will soon share some exciting news with you.

ps. another rye bread I discovered on my computer few days ago is dated from april 2009. I'm glad to see that my skills improved :)

codruta's picture

hi everyone!

A few weeks ago I tried my first 100% rye bread. I wrote about it in a previous post (click here for link). In the meantime, I received a fantastic bread pan special for rye breads from a friend from Russia, Masha (mama lunetta) and I imediately used it. I was very happy and confident, but the bread was a semidisaster. Please check my post here to see what I mean (beware, not a pretty image, my bread). I wouldn't give up so I went to Mini Oven for help. How to season the pan, how much dough do I need for this new pan, how to set the oven, etc. A lot of new factors for me, but thanx to Mini, I'm happy and proud of my first successful 100% rye bread!

And the result... voila:

I began with Andy's formula, I used some altus I had from the previous bake, I put some rye flakes and I all the four I used was rye flour type 1150. Unfortunatelly I forgot to add the honey in the scald, and I thought I'll add it next day in the final paste, but I didn't write it down and I forgot completely :(.

Good news for me, I'll receive a jar of blackstrap molasses at the end of May! I can't wait to try the real thing!


The taste is delicious. The crust is chewy, the crumb is moist, but not sticky, the rolled rye give a nice texture and contrast, the coriander is there but not dominant (I put less than in Andy's recipe, maybe next time I'll add a bit more). I miss the sweetness of honey and I sense that I'm very close to a extraordinary bread but not quite there yet. After few days the taste was better, richer and the crumb colour was darker.

Another thing that bothers me... I remember Phil saying once (click for link) he could fold a slice in half without breaking. I can't do that :( I wonder why?


I wrote the modified formula on my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare. (translated: Water.Flour.Salt.) (link for post here), translation is automatic and pretty bad, but if anyone is interested in more details, please ask.


Thank you Mini Oven, thank you Masha, thank you Andy, Varda, and thank you all who helped me along the way and encouraged me in my previous attempts.



ps. please stay close, I'm dreaming, negociating and planning to open a bakery here in town and I'm scared and don't really know where to begin with. All I have are my hands and my passion... will it be enough?! ♥

dabrownman's picture

I pretty much followed Phil's post, except my pan was 4 x 2 3/8 x 8 and much smaller in height, so I baked it less time at 2 higher temp and added a lower setting that Phil didnlt use.  I did 45 min at 375 F, 45 min at 300 F and 30 min at 225 F. When I checked the middle of this small loaf was 210 F so I called it done and let it sit in the oven with door ajar oven off for 10 minutes.  205 F would have been a better internal temperature for sure but you can't get everything you want.  It smelled great right out of the oven, not as dark as Phil's due in part to to my rye berries not being very dark ones at all.

When it rose and inch in 30 min starting at the 2 hour mark of final proofing and started to crack, like Phil said it would as a signal to bake it off, I put it in the oven.  I did wait 2 days to cut and try a slice as Phil recommended, but I'm sure 1 day wouldn't make that much difference would it?.  The crust was firm but not hard.  The loaf was easy to cut in 1/4" slices - no worry.  The crumb was actually airy with small holes throughout.  It was also soft yet still chewy, moist and just plain delicious.  Buttered and lightly toasted was also exactly what i expected.  After marketing, selling and delivering Rubschlager Rye Breads for 20 years, I have a taste for fine rye breads and this one reminds me of Rubschlager Rye Breads only more rustic and chewy.  It also looks more rustic than Phil's crumb too.  Maybe I had a larger granules in the soak and scald? It is a keeper for sure.

Here is a lonk to Rubschlager

I am very happy with Phil's Rye as a first try at a 100% rye (if you discount the spelt) for me - thanks for all of your help Phil and Jay (longhorn). It was really not bad at all as long as you are ready and can handle the wetter mass of the dough.  I just floured up my hands and board and shaped on it, plopped it in the oil sprayed pan seam side down and smoothed out the top.  I am glad I was only doing small loaf :-)   Since no high temps required I baked it in my mini oven on a sheet pan, with a larger loaf pan over the top of the aluminum foil covered smaller pan that had the bread in it.  When I bake this again I am going to double the baking time and reduce the heat even further following Phil's advise again.  I think I might try one of Andy's rye breads next if I can find one not too difficult.  Here are some pix's.


loydb's picture

This went badly, badly wrong. Yes, that's how it came out of the oven.

They can't all be home runs...


Deepak's picture

First 100% Rye The Vollkornbrot attacks!

December 8, 2011 - 2:32pm -- Deepak

I'm doing it, my first Fresh loaf post! I've been a regular on this site for almost two years and now it's time.I'm very grateful for everyone's wonderful post and I hope I get some congratulations for this first post because my bread certainly won't be getting any.

I felt it was time to rise to the next level of baking so I chose a Vollkornbrot bread from Peter Reinharts 100% whole grains. The finished product came out as scary as the word "Vollkornbrot" sounds.

Any ideas, suggestions or advice of any kind would be gratefully appreciated.


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