The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Pane di Segale

JoeVa's picture

Pane di Segale

Wednesday my sister bought a rye loaf at the town market. I remember when I spoke with the guy and asked him more about this bread: this is a true rye they buy from Austria, the frozen dough is baked it in their oven.

What!?!? Frozen and from Austria! Why don't you make it here, it's bread! No comment.
Yes, I know it is not bread if you think at wheat based bread, rye is a different baking world. Here in Italy, with the exception of few small communities in the very north regions, is almost impossible to find a bakery that bake true rye bread. But this is obvious if you think 90% bakers do not have a sourdough culture! And most of the few bakers that have a sourdough got it from a friend, they never started a culture from scratch.

Going back to the market rye, that time I have to admit it was good: I think >=70% high extraction rye, sourdough and some molasse enrichment(?).

Last time it was ...uhmm, so and so. When I tasted a slice I said my sister - this is not rye, do you remember my last rye? She said something (she don't like to speak about bread but she like to eat rye bread), so yesterday I baked it again (and baked also my usual Pain Au Levain, I remember DiMuzio lesson "master one bread"). Now, I can say her - this is rye.

The formula is from J.Hamelman "80% Sourdough Rye with Rye-Flour Soaker", for me just "Pane di Segale". This is my favorite true (>70%) rye bread and the rye flour soaker is a great addition.


And this morning, after a rainy week, we finally see a ray of sun (or a rye of sun?).


Overall formula

Whole Rye Flour 80%
High Gluten Flour 20%
Water 78%
Yeast 0.5% (1.5% original)
Salt 1.8%


Preferment: 35% of the total flour (whole rye flour) is prefermented at 83% hydration. Remember to subtract the flour and water from the final dough ingredients. I usually build the sourdough with a 5:83:100 ratio and ferment about 14:00 at 21°C.

Whole Rye Flour 100%
Water 83%
Sourdough 5%


Soaker: 20% of the total flour (whole rye flour) is soaked with hot (boiling) water. Pour the water oven the flour, cover and let it at room temperature for 14:00. I keep the soaker in a warm spot for the first 02:00. Remember to subtract the flour and water from the final dough ingredients.

Whole Rye Flour 100%
Water 100%


Dough consistency: o_O ... it's rye! 


  • Mix all ingredients (desired dough temperature 28°C)
  • Bulk fermentation 00:30
  • Shape
  • Proof 00:50
  • Bake on stone with steam for the first 00:05-00:10 at 240°C, then another 00:45 at 220°C.

The dark dense crumb:                   
Next time I will try with some molasse or brown cane sugar. EDIT: next time I will try a long baking.


nicodvb's picture

Very good looking and surely delicious, but why did you add yeast if it already contained a rye sourdough?

I recommend against molasses: sweetness comes naturally from a slow cooking (2 hours at 150 degrees are already good enough) and from the hot soaker itself.

JoeVa's picture

I added fresh yeast: 1/3 of the J.Hamelman formula. I think Hamelman adds yeast to get an additional boost but, as he said, it's not required if you have a strong rye sourdough and you know what you are doing. As I am "new" to rye (1), I converted in just two step a portion of my wheat starter to rye (2), and I don't know what I'm doing (3), I followed the receipt with minor adjustment (that is 0.5% vs 1.5% yeast).

I'm with you about the slow cooking, I think I will try it. Just a question: should I bake covered with a 2 hours slow cooking?


nicodvb's picture

I obtain the best results covering with aluminum foil for 1 hour and 1 hour without, then 15 more minutes out of the pan after having brushed the outrside with water.

Look at this ilnk for a reference (I think you have never seen what rye bread she makes, she's a absolute championess):

and if you want to see a 100% rye bread with the same crumb as a soft wheat bread look at this:

dmsnyder's picture

"Keep in mind, when Mr. Hamelman disagrees with me, he is right." ... proth5

The reason for adding the commercial yeast is to make fermentation and proofing times more predictable. In this type of bread, I don't think it really detracts from the flavor or texture. 

Hamelman's formulas are both authoritative and reliable. I think you did well to stick to the formula, especially since you don't have experience with high-percentage rye breads (yet). That goes both for the ingredients and the baking technique. 

Now, if you want to add sweetener to the dough or try baking longer at a lower oven temperature next time, that's entirely up to you. If you do, please let us know what you think of it. 

Happy baking!


JoeVa's picture

After a full 24h rest the bread is at maximum flavor.

Tomorrow I will try with longer baking.

On p.192 and p.224 J.Hamelman explain the "long baking technique" for rye bread. Hotter initial temperature and gradually down during the baking.

These should give maximum volume and lot of sugar release. I'm really excited from the natural sweet potential of rye!

I know it will be tricky, but I will go for something like this:

00:00 - 00:10    220°C  (pan covered)

00:10 - 01:00    180°C  (pan covered)

01:00 - 02:00    130°C  (pan covered)

02:00 - 03:00    off       (pan uncovered)

I will use a pan and no yeast. I hope to report the result.


Pablo's picture

Now I'm inspired to try that recipe.  Your bread looks wonderful to me - the crumb is so open for an 80% rye bread, or so it seems to me.  I haven't baked more than 40% rye yet. Do you know the gluten percentage of your high gluten flour?


JoeVa's picture

The crumb is just a very dense rye crumb. I do not think high gluten flour will maker a big difference, but in my case the gluten is >12%.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Makes me want to drive south!  How's your weather?

I raise all my ryes with sourdough only.  That will come with time.  The first time you taste your "sourdough only" bread with be a turning point.  When you go that path,  you will want to observe the dough a great deal.  More so than now.  You've already started by watching your starter.

A few things I tend to do...  Feed my starter by taking roughly a rounded teaspoon for every kilo of dough that I desire.  My feeding varies depending on season and room temp.  When it is cold, a little bit more old starter is used.  Then I thin it out with cold water and add rye flour until it's like toothpaste, then I add my spices.  If I forget, they go into the dough the next day.  No hurry, no worry.   It will weigh anywhere from 115g to 160g and fits nicely into a large coffee mug.   Cover with plastic and hold with a rubber band.  Let stand 8 to 16 hours or overnight on the counter 20°c.   The next day it has a thick foamy consistancy and may fall if stirred, stir slowly and note the bubbles breaking on the back of the spoon.  I get mesmerized by the starter, but this is my favorite moment, the aroma, the smoothness, a wonderful little beasties doing their work so well and together.  It is also a judgement moment for the health of the starter.  (Always save a little in the bottom of the mug for the next feeding!)  I want my dough to also come up to this moment without loosing any power for a perfect bake.

For a rye dough, 16 hrs of ripe starter is sour but to a wheat dough it makes a sour that will stand hair on end and shoot your socks off!  I will only let it ripen 6 to 10 hours for doughs with more than 50% wheat.  With more rye, a longer feeding time is good.  My last loaf was 95% rye and the starter was fed 18 hours before being mixed (I had planned for 2 hours.)  My taste buds said sour, my son's said, "tastes like bread!"  The next day after it had cooled and stood overnight, the loaf's flavors had blended more.  Now, a few days later it's at its best and I've run out of bread.  (I'm enjoying every bite with cold butter and self made Kumquat marmalade.)  I believe the starter had weighed 155g, water 500g and flour about 500g plus 30g bread flour, 1.6% salt.    From mixing dough to oven was about 7 hours.  One fold with the spatula at 45 min, one  stir/fold  around the edges two hours later (noticed some rise and lots of bubble formation) and gently poured into a heavy form and patted the top three hours later,  I heated the oven but it wasn't up to temp but put it in anyway at about 160°c with a water sprayed cover.  After 15 minutes I took a peek.  The temp was still under 200°c but the dough was rising from the outside edges.  I was worried about the middle so left the cover off and let it bake until inside temp was reached, an hour later.   The middle did rise up.

Timing with added yeast is too short and fixed for me but with more observation of sourdough, you will discover what influences the starter (eventually the dough) can be controlled and manipulated.  You will find you have more time to develop flour flavor and sweetness,  more so than when yeast is added so added sugar in not so important.  

As you know,  sourdough is affected by water temp, hydration (more liquid speeds things up) where it stands (put it into a draft to slow down yeast, like by a shaded window)  or what you feed it sticking to a flour that your starter already knows.  Park it in a warm place or in sunshine to speed up the yeasts, most desired with wheat flours for less sour.   Adding sugar, honey, will also speed up the fermenting time.  Salt to slow it down. 

There are (what seems) limitless variables.  Play and experiment with your starter to make mini doughs and test the outer boundaries, rolling them in flour to make observations easier.  Make notes.  Choose the variables that fit your situation and play around.  Experiment within your environment, as the season changes so will some variables.   When your starter is good and healthy,  try upping the almost ripe starter to flour ratio for quicker final proofing. 

Guess I got carried away in rye nirvana....



JoeVa's picture

... and I'm going to love it too. It's a new world in front of my eyes. Just 10 minutes ago I had my Pain Au Levain and Sourdough Rye on the table for lunch and I couldn't stop eating the thin slices of Rye with fresh ricotta.

The contrast with Pain au Levain is so ... light vs dense, mild vs sweet, wheat vs rye! 



ehanner's picture

Giovanni, This is really very nice looking Rye. You are inspirational. I love this type of bread and the sweet deep flavors. Your sister is lucky.


ques2008's picture

Joe Va,

Funny, I bought rye flour this morning because my friend asked if I would make rye bread for him.  The rye flour is from La Milanaise here in Quebec which makes organic flour.  They had a recipe on the label with molasses and whole wheat flour as well.  I will try their recipe and if I'm not pleased, I will try yours.  I also bought caraway seeds; will make it tonite and then refrigerate it.


rayel's picture

Hi Giovanni, great looking 80% rye bread! I can see the challenges to get past. I was looking at J. Hamelman's Formula for this bread, and had to stop. My head hurt. High percentage ryes are a whole other world. Did your rye flour soaker consist of rye flour or rye berries, or both? Nice photos.  Ray

JoeVa's picture

Ray, I used only (stone grounded organic) whole rye flour, no berries.


rayel's picture

Thanks. Ray