The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye Sourdough

fsu1mikeg's picture

Rye Sourdough

I have a question regarding the German rye sourdough I have been using...

I have successfully cultivated a nice rye starter that I have used for a couple of bread recipes from Daniel Leader's Local Breads book.  However, there are very few recipes using this rye starter in the book.  Can I use my rye starter for other recipes?  I was  not as successful with the stiff dough levain, so all those breads are out for the time being.  I would like to either convert this current starter for use in non-rye breads (particularly whole wheat) or any other recipes that require a rye starter would be greatly appreciated.



bwraith's picture


You can probably use your rye starter in any of the stiff dough levain recipes, or any other recipes for that matter, as is. It may not have the exact same flavors, but it shouldn't make very much difference if you are building preferments and the final dough with the flours in the recipe. Depending on the particular organisms in the starter, it's possible, although unlikely, that the starter might not do well growing in a wheat flour dough. Or, you may want to be more true to the flavors of a white flour or whole wheat flour starter.  If so, then you may want to convert some of your starter to a white or wheat flour starter.

You could use your rye starter to create a firm starter. For example, take 1-2 tsp of your rye starter, combine with 2 tbsp water, and 4 tbsp white or wheat flour. Form a dough and allow to rise at room temperature for 12-24 hours. It should rise by about 3 to 4 times the original volume. A few hours after it flattens out and begins to have dips or "hills and dales" on top, feed it again. Continue this process until it rises by 3x to 4x consistently and seems fully active and stable. Increase or reduce the amount of starter in the feeding to shorten or lengthen the time between feedings to fit your schedule conveniently. 

You can use refrigeration to store the starter for periods of time once it is fully active and stable. However, ideally it should be brought back to a fully active state at room temperature each time you bake using the procedure in the previous paragraph.

If you want more details on how to create a firm starter from scratch, I recommend you go to Zolablue's post on the Glezer firm starter. It is a well tested method, and it's very easy to do. A number of people on this site use a Glezer style firm starter. However, if you already have a rye starter, it should be easier to convert to a white or whole wheat starter, rather than trying to start one from scratch.


rainbowbrown's picture

I recommend converting some of it and keeping both the rye and wheat starters around.  Even if you only use one regularly, the other can just be kept stiffer and not be fed as often.  Have you tried Leader's Polish Cottage Rye? That bread taught me that rye sourdough has great leavening abilities on its own in large percentages.  In the final dough the formula calls for 76% starter.  I've tried using the rye starter on its own to leaven random breads as well and have found that it works better in larger percentages, because rye starter is more bacterial than yeasty.

fsu1mikeg's picture

Thanks for the respones.  I will try to convert some of the rye to use for other types of breads.  I have not tried the Polish Cottage Rye yet.  I have been making regularly the Dreikornbrot (successfully) and I tried the German Farmhouse Rye (came out like a brick and I didn't like the flavor of all the seeds/spices).  I also used the rye starter to make one of the Czech light ryes, but I substituted regular rye flour where it called for white rye flour, which I couldn't find.  It came out great.  Can't wait to use the starter or converted starter for other breads.  Thanks again.

nbicomputers's picture

you can get white rye on line from King A as well as first clear flour

try this bread