The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Detmolder Sourdough With And Without Yeast - Comparison

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Detmolder Sourdough With And Without Yeast - Comparison

For some time I have been looking for German bread formulas, although not systematically. Some time ago I came across Meister Süpke's Blog about sourdough, and setting up a German group at my Son's school gave me finally the incentive to try out Mr Süpke's formulas for bread using the "Detmolder Einstufen-Führung" as I agreed to provide the bread.

Bread according to these formulas (see German Baking Day) can be made with various amounts of wheat and rye using a stiff rye starter at 80% hydration that has been refreshed with 5%-10% mature starter and kept at 24C to 28C for 12 to 18 hours. The Detmolder single step process uses a small amount of commercial yeast in the final dough.

The yeast content raised some questions: Is it necessary? Is the bread loosing sourdough characteristics? Are the bakers in Germany giving up quality in favor of quantity?

From Meister Süpke I got the answer that he could make the bread without yeast added, but in order to get through his schedule he has one hour for the final proof, which is being archieved by adding 1% yeast or less.

Another answer comes from Daniel DiMuzio's book Breadmaking: For some formulas he says one can add up to 0.7% of instant yeast without changing the character of the bread significantly, e.g. p.232, San Francisco Style Sourdough

Well, I wanted to know if the yeast does more than cutting the prooving times short, so I did some comparative baking.

First some pictures.

The 60% Rye loaves:


The 30% and 100% rye loaves:



Quite surprisingly, there is hardly any noticeable difference in the appearance the bakes with and without yeast. The slightly higher volume of the loaves with altus are due to the additional amount of altus in the dough, I didn't scale those down to 500g.

The loaves with altus were also a bit chewier and tasted more earthy. There was a slight difference between the 60% rye with and without yeast, the sourdough only version being milder. And the 100% rye with yeast maintained a bit of the starter's fruity notes.

The only striking difference loies in the times for the final proof, as shown in the table with the formulas below.

This experiment would suggest that the yeast is not necessary, but it is a great tool to fit this type of bread into a production schedule without the loss of quality. I would be very interested to hear if anyone has different experiences.

Now to some details about the process:


All the breads in this comparison call for a rye starter with 80% hydration. For the 60% rye batch I used wholegrain rye flour, for the others I used light rye flour (Type 997). I am maintaining a liquid wholegrain rye "mother" at 200% hydration, which is very reliable and worked well as a seed culture.

The starters were made in two elaborations (same process for wholegrain and light rye starters):

 1. 100% flour, 80% water, 10% mother fermented at 24C for 16 hours

2. 100% flour, 80% water, 10% starter from (1) fermented at 24C for 16 hours

This way the original liquid "mother" makes up just 1% of the starter - no worries about the wrong hydration or grain. The starters rose well to about four times their original volume, and had a nice tangy smell. The light rye starter developed a very nice fruity-flowery smell.

The altus (fresh "old bread", 80% rye) has been added to the water for the 2nd elaboration to soak. No aditional water added. There was very little difference in the starter consistency with and without altus.

Ingredient100% Rye100% Rye + Yeast60% Rye60% Rye + Yeast60% Rye + Altus60% Rye + Yeast + Altus30% Rye30% Rye + Yeast
Straight Formula, in baker's percent
Wholegrain Rye  60606060  
Light Rye100100    3030
Wholegrain Wheat  8888  
White Wheat  323232327070
Instant Yeast 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Altus    1010  
Wholegrain Rye from starter  25252525  
Light Rye from starter3535    1818
Final Dough, in grams
Wholegrain Rye  186186186186  
Light Rye187187    3636
Wholegrain Wheat  25252525  
White Wheat  99999999209209
Instant Yeast 1 1 1 1
Altus    1010  
Timing in minutes,
Ambient Temperature28C28C27C27C27C27C24C28C
Bulk Rise4040404040404030
Final Proof65501037484569060


CarlSF's picture

Hi Juergen,

Thank you for the excellent write up of your rye bread experiments!  I noted the time difference between the breads with and without yeasts, and it seems the time difference is about 30 minutes at most.  I wonder if waiting an extra 30 minutes to bake breads without yeast is a big difference for bakers or not?  I do have a couple of questions.  Just what exactly is "altus?"  Is that leftover or old bread that you roughly chop up and soak in water and then you add it to the final bread dough during mixing?  I noticed that your starters were done in 2 phases or elaborations.  You use your seed culture to make the 1st starter which is 100% flour,  80% hydration and 10% mother and let it ferment for 16 hours at 24 C.  After the 16 hours, you then make your 2nd starter which is 100% flour, 80% water and 10% starter from the 1st starter.  Is that correct?  If my assumption is correct, have you ever tried just using 1 elaboration instead?  I wish I could sample your bread to taste, see and smell the difference!!  Very tempting indeed!  Thanks again.


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Carl, Nice to hear from you.

The breads are truly delicious, gaining a lot after 1 day.

You are correct with your description of what I did with the starter - the first elaboration is mainly to wake the starter up after a sleep in the fridge, and to wean it to a different hydration and grain.

As for the baking schedule, I'm not a professional baker, but I can imagine that when a bakery runs at capacity the most limiting ressources are oven space and space in prooving boxes. And if all the other produce runs on a 1 our schedule a batch of sourdough breads that need longer might be hard to fit in, even if it's only 20 minutes.

And Altus is just old bread. Many add it dried and soaked, but Suepke just soaks fresh bread from the fay before and subtracts the water from the total. I thought I would just soak it in the water for the 2nd elaboration - easy enough.

The "Leitsaetze Fuer Brot" which defines some of the things bakers can do in Germany states that you can use up to 20% of rye dominated bread or up to 6% of wheat dominated bread (fresh weight) in your dough.




CarlSF's picture

Hi Juergen,

I have a question about your sourdough feeding method.  I noticed the title of your post is "Detmolder Sourdough."  I was wondering if you are referring to the Detmolder Einstufenfuehrung?  Have you ever tried the Detmolder Dreistufen method?  From reading your post I understand that you have a rye seed starter that you keep at 200% hydration!  I was wondering how often do you feed or replenish your rye seed starter and what % of  the rye seed do you use to feed it again?


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Carl,

I am using the 200% hydration probably because it is the first successful sourdough I ever made (from Whitley's Bread Matters), and i find it easier to maintain than a stiff rye culture. I used to do a feed a few days before a bake using 100% flour, 200% water, 100% mature culture, and left it out overnight.

I have learnt a few things since, and after my experimenting with the German formula I try to keep to a schedule of 100%/200%/10% once a week.

So far I only used two different flours for my rye culture: Wholegrain ryes from Dove's Farm and from Shipton Mill, and they behave/taste/smell like two different animals. Once again there is no perfect one-fits-it-all way to do this.

And you are right about the process - It's Detmolder Einstufen. I'll definitely try the dreistufen-process, but at the moment the weather here in southeast England changes faster than I can think - not a good time to try.


RonRay's picture

Juergen, I very much like the detail in your posting. I wish more people would provide such worthwhile observations, as well.

Thanks, again-


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Ron, Your kind comment is highly appreciated.

I am an admirer of the graphical quality of your posts!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

both with and without yeast in the 60% rye loaves.  :)

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Mini, That is true.

Obviously, the yeasts get a bit more predigested food this way.


AnnaInMD's picture

did you bake the above with or without steam, actually, how did you bake them - gas, electric, convection and in what containers ?  I cannot see the third picture, you might have addressed some of my questions.

Thanks much, great job !


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Anna.

There should be four pictures - but they probably wouldn't answer all your questions; pictures 2 and 4 are shots of the 100% and 30% ryes.

My oven is a simple fan oven, and Mini and others helped me to get the most out of it.

I baked with steam at about 230C, turning down to 200 after 10 minutes for another 20 minutes.Total about 30 minutes.

All loaves are 500g. I baked the 100% and 60% ones in tins, brushed with water before and after the bake.

The 35% ryes have been prooved in baskets.

Let me know if the pictures turn up, if not I can make them available in a different way.

Thanks again,


AnnaInMD's picture

popped up,  wonderful bakes, Jürgen !

Thank you !



Janetcook's picture


Thanks so much for not only experimenting with SD and yeast added versions of these breads but for documenting it so clearly and presenting it here for others to learn about your results.

We were discussing this on your last blog and I am so happy you followed up the discussion of why commercial yeast is added to loaves in German recipes.  Not only did you hypothesize why it was added but you have now provided proof!  

I think of the Professor Clavel (sp) and all he added to restoring bread to it's former standards and I can't help but think that people here - you very much included - are still following suit by searching out your own answers and baking in your own kitchen to come up with 'traditional' breads.  

It is a cycle to be sure.  The old way worked and then something changed it -$$$$ and time constraints - a good motivator I might add ;-).   People switched to the 'new'  (people wanting to be modern!) and soon the old ways were forgotten.  How easily the simple things are forgotten and the basic premises lost....

I imagine that German bakers, like the French bakers, gravitated to commercial yeast for very obvious reasons and then a switch occurred which resulted in bringing SD back but with the addition of commercial yeast in their formulas and that is how it has remained until now when people like you are not only questioning the methods but are running your own baking experiments as well!  An example of living history - not sure we can live history though because it is always the present but that is an entirely different topic *^).

I feel very fortunate to be able to use your hard work in baking breads in my own kitchen without having to run the experiments you have done.  Not only do I get the results of your experiments but I get some lovely formulas too.

Thanks so much!

Take Care,



Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


It's a joy and often a surprise to untangle the threads of regional taste, commerial interest and natural ressource aavailability.

I am learning a lot in the process, and I am glad it is useful to you, too.


ananda's picture

These are all very fine breads, Juergen, and the post makes an excellent read.

Thank you for writing up this experiment.

In commercial bakeries, where the sour is in constant use, and where you apply rigorous feeding schedule as you describe, in your homebaking, then the sour will perform in a way which renders the additional use of yeast as unecessary.   In these circumstances, the yeast is there exactly for the reason you speed up final proof.

But, if the sour being used has been less well tended, or has been allowed to ferment a bit long, then the yeast will act as a form of insurance policy to some extent at least.

I really like the whole range of breads you have produced here.

Best wishes


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you for your comments, Andy.

and for the clarification of the difference between homebaking and professional environments.

By the way, I'm going to get some flour from Plumpton Mill, Then I'll have a go with your miche.