The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye sourdough

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,



codruta's picture

I'm posting this bread hoping that it will inspire other TFL members to bake it, because it is a great bread. It took me a long time till I decided to make it and now I regret that I haven't done it sooner. Full of flavor, easy to make and friendly with rye beginners, it is light and healthy and for my taste, it's perfect.

I followed mr. Hamelman's formula from "BREAD" page 194, with few modifications:

- I didn't used commercial yeast.

- I increased hydration from 68% to almost 73%.

-Instead of white flour I used a mix of 41% Malthouse Doves Farm (which is a mix of Brown Wheat Flour, Malted Wheat Flakes 15%, Rye Flour 3.6% and Malt Flour), 41% Whole Wheat Doves Farm (but I removed the big brans) and 18% white flour austrian W 480 (mehl griffig).

For those who don't have the book, eric (ehanner) posted the formula on his blog, a few years ago (here is the link to the formula).

For the quantities and details of the method I used, please visit my romanian blog (translation available), link here.



Hope you'll make this bread as soon as you can! Happy baking to all of you!


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Mischbrot variations

In earlier experiments with breads having a higher percentage of rye flour I found that adding spelt, emmer or semolina complemented the rye very well.

With this bake I wanted to compare the effect of substituting the wheat part with emmer and spelt in breads with 70% rye. The flours are all from Shipton Mill.

The outcome:

I used my tried and tested Mischbrot formula as a base, this time using a rye starter with 100% hydration. The starter is made with dark rye, while the remaining rye in the formula is light rye.

Here the formula:

Straight formula



Amount (oz)

Dark Rye




Light Rye




Bread flour




Or light spelt flour




Or wholegrain emmer flour




















Rye sour




Dark rye flour








Mature starter
















Light Rye




Bread flour




Or light spelt flour




Or wholegrain emmer flour












Rye sour








At the current cooler temperatures (about 23C / 73F in my kitchen) the starter took 16 hours to mature.
With 70% rye the doughs / pastes are very sticky and require only a short mix/knead so that all materials are mixed well.

After 100 minutes of fermentation at 23C / 73F I shaped rounds with very wet hands (in mid-air), and put t hem into baskets (floured with light rye) for the final rest..After 60 minutes the rounds showed cracks, a sign that they are ready for the bake.

The bake (on a stone, with steam) started at maximum temperature (ca.  240C / 464F), after 15 minutes I turned the loaves and lowered the temperature to 210C / 410F, After another 20 minutes the bread was ready.

I am very happy with oven spring and bloom. All three breads performed equally well and were indistinguishable from the outside.

After a day I cut into the loaves. The crumb is quite similar in all three loaves, the bread containing wholegrain emmer  is a bit darker and more dense.(The wheat bread got a bit of a shadow - bad photography!)

Although the crumb looks fairly dense, the breads actually feel light.

The crust could be thicker, but that's my oven – not much I can do about this at the moment.

The taste of the three breads is also very similar – quite complex with rye dominating, and a distinctive tangy after-taste. The emmer bread has the most complex taste.

There are a few things I would like to try with this formula:
1. using all wholegrain flours
2. going back to the original German way: using all medium rye and refined flours (which would be called ”Berliner Landbrot”)
3. Reducing the amount of rye sour and using some of the wheat/emmer/spelt in a stiff starter as a second preferment
4. using a wheat/emmer/spelt poolish as a second preferment
5. adding spices

Lots to do!

Juergen Krauss's picture

Mischbrot Madness

January 9, 2012 - 4:12am -- Juergen Krauss

For a while now I was thinking how to incorporate several doughs with different rye:wheat ratios into a single loaf, for various purposes( aestatics, spot the difference ...).

On the weekend I had some spare time and went the whole way (that's the madness component)

Using my single-step Detmolder formula I made 9 doughs with rye:wheat ratios of 20% to 100% and a simple white yeasted 100% wheat dough to wrap it all up.

wassisname's picture

I have been working through an abundance of whole rye flour and strong bread flour lately so I’ve dropped anchor in the sourdough rye section of Hamelman’s Bread.  I couldn’t quite make up my mind this week so I picked two.  First was the Whole-Rye and Whole-Wheat Bread, baked pretty much by the book.  Next was the Sourdough Rye with Walnuts.  I turned that one into something a little different.

This is my second try at the whole-rye and whole-wheat bread.  The first one was terrible.  I didn’t take enough care with the fermentation at any stage and paid the price.  At least I learned my lesson.  This time it turned out much, much better.  I made two changes to the book version – I left out the yeast (and so increased the ferment times) and I changed the bake temps, starting hotter at 500ºF and ending cooler at 425ºF.

I was happy with the result, but I don’t think this will be one of my favorites.  The flour proportions (25% rye, 25% ww, 50% bread flour) kind of leave it in no-man’s-land to my taste.  I think I would prefer it if one of the elements would stand out more.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve been baking more rye lately and my taste is leaning in that direction. 


Then came the Sourdough Rye with Walnuts… without walnuts… but with other stuff.  This turned into a big pile of pecans and cranberries (sweetened and dried from the store) wrapped in rye bread.  Oh, yum.  The dough is 50% whole rye as in the book, though I left the yeast out of this one as well.  The pecans are a bit over 20% the weight of the flour and the cranberries about 10%.  Beyond that it pretty much speaks for itself.

Though fairly dense from all the rye and nuts and berries,  there is enough bread flour to keep it soft.  Just add butter and breakfast is served!


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


For the harvest festival at my son's school I revisited Andrew Whitley's formula for Russian Rye, an inspired by Varda and JanetCook I used some of the surplus starter to make two variations of his "Really Simple Sourdough", both from his book"Bread Matters".

Both formulas call for baking in tins.

Here the results, from left to right: Wholegrain Spelt, Shipton's Swiss Dark Flour (high extraction), Russian Rye ...

And the crumb, in the same order:

The Starter is a 200% hydration starter wich I had going for over a year  now. I keep it in the fridge; for baking I essentially follow Andrew Whitley's instructions - I make a "production sourdough" with 100% wholegrain rye, 200% water and 25% starter from the fridge (The book recommends 100% starter). My kitchen was about 22C, and I left it ferment for ca. 16 hours. (At the end it was a bit frothy with a slightly sour taste)

I prepared the starter to bake the Russian Rye on Tuesday evening so that the bread would have time to set and develop character until Friday, the day of the festival. I put thje surplus starter into the fridge on Tuesday afternoon after mixing the Russian Rye,

The "Really Simple Sourdoughs" (RSSD) were mixed on Saturday evening (9pm) with the starter coming right out of the fridge - this formula calls for just 40g starter for a 500g loaf. They proved overnight in their tins at about 17C and were  baked on Sunday morning at 10am.

The Russian rye has been slightly underbaked and tasted watery at first, but fr Sunday's supper it was excellent with chicken liver pathe. The spelt variant of the RSSD tasted a bit bitter after the bake, with a distinct nutty note. On Sunday evening the bitter note had disappeared.

The RSSD with Swiss Dark Flour became an instant favourite of my wife - the crumb is springy, the taste is wheaty, but not nominating.

I'll keep this in my repertoire (I hadn't made RSSD since joining The Fresh Loaf, I think)

** UPDATE: The Formulas **

Both breads are shaped with wet hands right after mixing and proofed in tins.

Russian Rye for 2 hours to 8 hours at 24C or more,

Really Simple Sourdough for up to 12 hours at 20C

Russian Rye

Production Sourdough (Dough Temperature 30C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 31%

Water 62%

Yield 92%

Final Dough (DT ideally 28C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 69%

Water 42%

Salt 1%

Production Sourdough 92%

Yield 205%


Really Simple Sourdough

Rye Starter (can be taken from fridge if not too starved)

Wholegrain Rye flour 5%

Water 10%

Yield 15%

Final Dough (DT 20C)

Wholegrain flour (Wheat, Spelt) 95%

Water 66%

Salt 1.5%

Rye Starter 15%

Yield 178%

That's it.




alexlegeros's picture

Hello all you bakers with far more experience than I!  I love this site for all your tips and notes.  I have my own, which is more about the process and reflection from an amateur perspective. Hope you'll share your comments with me!



Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

During the last two weeks I revisited the formula posted earlie in my blog:

with some modifications in flour composition.

Each time I return to this formula I am amazed about the eae of the mix and bake and the richness and quality of the outcome.

I won't repeat the whole process here, just as a reminder:

1. Preferment with wholegrain or medium rye, 80% hydration, 10% of mature starter, ripe after ca. 12 hours.

2. Fairly short mix, if using yeast the bulk proof is about 30 to 60 minutes, the final is 60 to 90 minutes.

I used the Shipton Mill Irish Soda Bread flour for the first time - it's a high extraction flour which has still bits of bran in it - that is why I call it "almost wholegrain wheat" in my formulas. A miche using this flour only is on my TODO list.


Added a comment with another take on this formula (30% rye), now with crumb shot:

Here some pictures:

This bread is based on the "Mischbrot" with 50% rye.

Here the straight formula:

Wholegrain Rye 23% ( used in preferment)

Medium Rye 27%

Wholegrain Spelt 20%

(Almost) Wholegrain Wheat 21% (Shipton Irish Soda Bread flour)

Bread flour 8%

Salt 2%

Instant Yeast 0.3%

The process is as in the above post.

Below a crumb shot:

Very deep, rich flavor, and a surprising lightness.

The following pictures shows the results of another bake, from left:

40% rye with wg rye in the starter, medium rye and bread flour for the remaining flours (scaled at 750g)

70% rye with wg rye in the starter, medium rye and Shipton's Irish Soda Bread flour for the rest (scaled at 750g)

An experiment with desem type starter, 100% wg wheat (scaled at 1500g)

Here the crumb shots, from left:

70% rye, 40% rye, WW

The details:

70% Rye - straight formula

Wholegrain Rye 28% (from preferment at 80% hydration)

Medium Rye 42%

(Almost) Wholegrain Wheat 30%


Salt 2%

Instant Yeast 0.3%

40% Rye straight formula:

Wholegrain Rye 20% (from preferment at 80% hydration)

Medium Rye 20%

Water 72%

Bread Flour 60%

Salt 2%

Instant Yeast 0.3%

100% Wholegrain Wheat with desem starter

I built the preferment with wholegrain wheat at 50% hydretion, inoculated with a small amount of rye starter, over two elaborations (24 hours each at ca. 18C ambient temperature).

The straight formula I used:

Wholegrain Wheat 100%

Water 75%

Salt 2%

Flour from preferment: 30%

Bulk proof ca. 2 hours, final 3 hours, at ca. 24C

This was a first try, and I am pleased with it. It developed a great wheaty taste after three (!) days.


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

-Update 14/09/11: added some photos of 100% WW and 70% WG Rye

-Update 15/09/11: added crumb shots of 100% WW and 70% WG Rye

Initially I only planned to bake two kinds of bread that fitted well into a family holiday schedule:

7.00 being woken by our 5 year old

7.15 to 7.30 preparing pre-ferment (rye sour or biga)

8.30 breakfast

9.30 to 19.00 being busy with having fun

19.30 to 22.30 baking time

As it turned out this schedule worked very well, but peer pressure from TFL and the family made me bake a much greater variety of bread, specifically: Bara Brith, Pain de Campagne with variations, 70% Rye sourdough with variations, Potato Bread, 100% Wholewheat Sourdough, Pizza, White French Bread

Unfortunately I can't post many pictures as the camera charger gave up during the holiday, but I will bake some of the breads again in the near future and post photos then.

Notes about the formulae (explicit formulae follow below):

  1. Bara Brith: I used Elizabeth David's recipe – it is a very dry dough, so I added a bit more milk. The original uses 150 ml milk per 450g flour, I used 170g milk. I also used a different flour mix: 400g strong white flour (Hovis) plus 50g wholewheat flour (Tesco's strong stoneground organic). Very nice result. Below my first try, with a bit of Welsh countryside:

  2. Pain de Campagne after DiMuzio (I have his “Appendix Of Formulas” on my phone). Once by the book and once with biga and 50% wholewheat. Both turned out nice, but the latter one could be tweaked.

  3. Potato Bread (after Elizabeth David). I used the original formula – this uses 4.4% salt. As I had no idea how potatoes would affect salinity I went for it. Nice bread (smell, consistency), but too salty. Couldn't eat it. I'll retry with 2% salt.

  4. French bread: 300g flour, 200g water, 6g salt, 2g instant yeast. Mixed and proofed in the evening, retarded in fridge and baked before breakfast.

  5. 100% Wholewheat Sourdough, inspired by DiMuzio and Andy, great result, formula given below.

  6. 70% Rye sourdough with variations. Details given below.

 It was quite amazing to see how all of this baking fit in with our busy holiday schedule, without putting too much strain on family life.

 100% wholewheat sourdough:

 Straight formula:

Wholewheat flour 423g (100%)

Water 317g (75%)

Salt 8.5g (2%)

Yield 748.5g (177%)

 Flour from Soaker: 33% at 75% hydration

Flour from preferment: 33% at 75% hydration

 Soaker (kept in fridge for 12 hours):

Flour: 141g

Water: 105g

 Preferment (kept on bench for 12 hours, at 22C):

WW flour: 141g

Water: 105g

Mature rye starter (80% hydration): 25g

 Adjusted Dough:

Flour: 141g

Water: 105g

Salt: 8.5g

Soaker: 246g

Preferment: 246g

 Bulk proof at 24C: 1.5 hours

Shaped into loose boule,

Final proof: ca. 2 hours

Reshaped boule into loose envelope shape (as in some of the Pane di Altamura videos)

baked immediately at ca. 230C for 30 minutes without steam.

Complex taste and quite open crumb for a 100% wholegrain bread.

Photos of the bake on 14/09/11 (a 750g loaf)

The dough after final proof (could have done a little longer, but started to get fragile)

After shaping (right into the oven from here):

And after the bake:


The crumb of the 100% wholewheat bread is not great, nowhere near the nice open structure of the bread I made in Wales, although I think this one tastes even better. I attribute the crumb appearence to a number of causes:

  1. I rushed this bread (a mix of family duties and misjudgement of the dough development)

  2. The starter was slightly over its maximum

  3. The flours I used here were quite different: I am running out of stock and had to use a mix of Canadian high gluten wholewheat with low gluten wholewheat (both from Waitrose), whereas for the holiday bread I used Tesco's strong organic stoneground wholewheat.

  4. I stretched the dough too much when shaping.

I'll work on this and report back in a separate post.

70% Rye with variations

Update 14/09/11: Got the percentages slightly wrong when I wrote my notes - this now reflects what I actually baked. Must have been tired ...

These breads are based on the German Mischbrot formula which I posted earlier

 Straight Formula:

WG Rye flour: 70%

WG Wheat flour: 30%

Water: 75%

Salt: 2%

Instant Yeast: 0.3% (optional)

WG Rye flour from preferment: 28% at 80% hydration, (using 10% ripe WG rye starter, 12 hours on bench)

WG Wheat flour from soaker: 30% at 74% hydration (12 hours in fridge)

WG Rye flour from scald: 22% at 80% hydration, after cooling kept in fridge

I used different amounts of instant yeast to stagger the breads – I could only bake one loaf at a time.

Bulk fermentation ranged from 45 min to 2 hours, final proof for 1 hour at 22C.

The loaves were shaped with wet hands into rounds for freestanding bake.

I made 4 variations of this bread; all had a wonderfully complex taste:

  1. Without soaker and scald, with 20% sunflower seeds

  2. as given

  3. as given, plus 20% sunflower seeds

  4. as given, plus 3% caraway seeds

Despite the quite strong taste these breads go very well with all sorts of foods, even jams. Stilton cheese complements the bread flavours especially well.

Photos of the bake on 14/09/11 (two 750g loaves)



A very pleasing bread.



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