The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye Sourdough Loaf

fionabakes's picture

Rye Sourdough Loaf

I use to regularly make a rye sourdough, but haven’t for years. Today I pulled out my old recipe and a couple of loaves have just come from the oven. They look beautiful and the texture is perfect, but I feel as though I need to tweak the taste. Also, after having so many years between baking them, the recipe has prompted a few questions that perhaps someone here can help me with.

First just quickly, here are the ingredients:

1 cup sourdough starter

2 cups warm water (ended up adding about 1/2 cup more)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup gluten flour

1-2 cups plain flour

2 cups rye flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon bicarb soda

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

*Initially the starter is mixed with the water and four cups flour (wholemeal plus plain). Left in a warm spot until spongey .

*The rest is mixed in, kneaded, left to rise.

*Shaping. Left to rise on cornmeal coated tray.

*Brushed with cornflour/water cooked together. Slid onto hot tray in steamy oven. 10 min then brush again and 10 more min.


So, here are my questions:

1) What is the bicarb for? I feel as though I can taste it a little now. Can I cut back on it or even leave it out? I’m guessing that it combines with the acidity of the sour starter to give extra rise, but perhaps there’s too much. What is standard?

2) It has very little sweetness in the flavour. I do want a savoury loaf, but I’m thinking perhaps this needs just a tablespoon of honey or something? Any thoughts? Anyone with a similar recipe who can let me know the differences?

3) I now use an Ankarsrum for my dough mixing (previously had a kenwood major).  It was very difficult to get the ingredients to all mix in with the ankarsrum.  Normally you’d start with water, salt, sugar - then add flour etc. With this recipe I’m starting with a fairly stiff (at least, not liquid) starter dough and adding flour and other ingredients to that. Also, once all the ingredients were in, being a very stiff dough I had to help it with a little push sometimes to get it around the dough thing. Any suggestions for mixing this sort of dough with the ankarsrum?

Looking forward to making this bread again with a few improvements.  It’s an old recipe that I have written down from when I was in college and I don’t remember my current concerns with the taste of it from then. Hoping to end up with a simple recipe I will enjoy again.


BreadLee's picture

Sorry for brevity here but just some ideas.  

1. Yes you are likely correct about the bicarb. I wouldn't use it at all myself.  

2. At first glance,  your numbers look like a very low hydration unless I'm missing something.  I'd up your water.  And that will improve your mixing/ kneading 

3. If you want it sweeter yes you should try honey,  real maple syrup,  1 tbl sugar,  or more molasses. Try one or two of those items.  Play with it and jot down what you do and the results.