The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

100% Rye problems

bshuval's picture

100% Rye problems

Hi all, 

I love rye bread, especially 100% rye bread. It is, however, proving to be tricky to make. Having received Hadjiandreou's book recently, I decided to follow his recipe (multiplied by 1.5 to fit in a 4.5 by 8.5 inch pan). In the following, "rye flour" means whole-grain rye flour. 


  • 150 g rye sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • 225 g rye flour
  • 300 g water at room temperature
Mix starter ingredients together in a large bowl; cover and ferment overnight. (Note: I actually measured the acidity of my starter after the fermentation, and it was pH 3.5)Dough: 
  • 300 g rye flour
  • 9 g salt
  • All of the starter
  • 225 g hot water (just off the boil)
Prepare a 4.5x8.5 inch loaf pan (I use some non-stick spray, which works well). Mix together the rye flour and salt, and spread over the starter to protect it from the hot water. Pour the hot water on top, and immediately mix all ingredients well with a wooden spoon. You will get a nice, warm, dough. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the pan. The dough is quite clay-like and sticky, and there's no gluten to speak of, so I just use wet hands to make a loaf shape. Prove for 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to its highest temperature (250C, approx. 475 F, preferably). Place an old pan at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Place loaf in the oven on the middle shelf (Hadjiandreou doesn't call for docking/slashing it), pour a cup of hot water in the pan at the bottom of the oven. Close the oven door, reduce the heat to 220C/425F and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. (The original recipe is for a 4x6 inch loaf, which bakes for 30 minutes. Reasonably, the baking time for a larger loaf would be longer, too). I have made this bread twice already. The first time I did the "1.5" version above. The second time, I did the smaller loaf, but baked it in a 4x8 inch loaf pan. I have encountered several problems with my bake: 1. The bread wasn't even close to done at the end of the baking time. The top of the bread might have been brown, but when I touched the bottom of the loaf, it felt soft and not hard at all. I ended up baking the loaves for far longer (>2 hours). The first time I baked at a high temperature for a long time, which caused the corners of the loaf to burn. (The remainder was okay and quite edible). The second time I baked differently: I reduced the temperature to 180C/350F after about 15 minutes, and baked for a long time at this temperature. I also left the loaf in the turned-off oven overnight. 2. Even after the long baking times, the crumb of the bread was quite gummy and wettish (after having waited 48 hours to slice the loaf). Moreover, the bottom of the bread was gummier than most of the bread. (It had a 1 cm line of bread that looked much gummier). 3. The bread exhibited the "flying crust" phenomenon, where there was a big, gaping, between most of the loaf and the top crust. (Thinking that I might not be introducing enough acidity into the dough, in the second attempt I also added a tablespoon of vinegar to the dough. It didn't help.)Crumb picture:  All that said, the flavor of the bread was very good. I would like to know what I can do to solve my baking problems. I don't know why the bread is taking so long to bake, nor do I know how to avoid the flying crust. I do measure the ingredients out very carefully, and follow the steps diligently. Any help from rye-baking experts will be appreciated!
Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


Your recipe is 100% hydration, just like the Russian Rye I bake frequently.

My bread is ready proofed in 2 hours at 24C dough temperature.

I am pretty sure yours is overproofed. To me a good sign when the bread is ready for the oven are little bubbles popping at the surface. If that happens and I wait 10 minutes longer I get the flying crust.


As for the baking - I have a suspicion that too much steam can lower the temperature too much in my oven - the same might happen to yours.

These breads are very rewarding, once they are tamed!

Happy Baking,


bshuval's picture

Actually, the dough didn't show any bubbles. The dough had the consistency of clay, and it simply rose slightly. The temperature of my kitchen is 17C. 

I think you are right about the temperature. I'll try to remove the steam pan after ten minutes. (Unfortunately, my oven is a convection oven, and the convection cannot be turned off.) 

Even with the flying crust, though, the bread is delicious!

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi, The bubbles might not pop because of the gelatinizing effect of the hot water.

Did you take the dough temperature?

All the great comments in this blog raise valid points and I am learning a lot from them.

One important thing to remember when you go on baking this:

Turn only one screw at a time. Never change many things simultaneously. You would be giving up what you want to achieve: Control.

Here is a link to a Russian Rye of mine, made with a starved starter and totally overproofed:

Take Care,


ananda's picture

Hi bshuval,

Quick clarifier on tin volume relative to scaling weight.   You only give 2 dimensions to your pans, so it is hard to see whether your scaling weight is part of the problem.

I use a Pullman Pan to make the large all-rye type loaves.   My pan has a volumetric capacity of 2900ml and I scale 1900g into that.   So the weight of your rye paste should be 65.5% of the volume of your pan.

I have met Emmanuel, but I haven't used the recipe.   I would follow Juergen's lead on this as he has been experimenting with All-Rye breads at 100% hydration.   For my part, that is overly-hydrated and is a big reason why you are struggling to achieve a bake with this bread.   I hydrate All-Rye breads at 85% and would anticipate a 950g loaf would take well , over an hour to bake at 190 - 210*C [depending on your oven] and a 480g loaf would take 45-50 minutes.    My Pullman Pan usually takes 2.5 hours at 160*C with the lid on.   You have greater hydration levels making the oven phase all the more challenging.

With regard to proof, follow Juergen's advice about assessing the proof level.   You cannot solely rely on Emmanuel's times and expect it to turn out.   I don't know where you are based, but he is working in Nottinghamshire, UK just now, and the daytime temp will generally be less than 10*C at this time of year.   You will have to learn to relate your own proving conditions to the time you then need.   What I would say is that a wet dough and a rye sour of this type, plus warm final paste is clearly designed for a rapid final ferment.   If you are not achieving this, then your final loaf will not be of the highest possible quality.

Good luck, and I hope you can make use of the info here.


bshuval's picture

Hi Andy, 

The height for all the tins I mentioned is about 4 inches. 

I am glad that you are mentioning long baking times. I don't know why Emmanuel listed such a short baking time. 

Yerffej's picture

My first thought is that you are killing your starter with water in the final mix that is much too hot.  Secondly, the bake time and temperature seem inadequate.  I bake a 100% rye by putting it into a 500° F oven and immediately reducing to 320° F for a three hour bake with steam throughout the entire bake.  I do not have time to go over more details of your recipe right now but I am certain you will hear more from the army of competent rye fanatics on this forum.

Happy Baking,  Jeff

nicodvb's picture

that you are experiencing a massive starch attack due to the accelerated amylase activity favored by the heat of the water. The acidity of the starter and the vinegar maybe help to counteract it, but remember that diluting the acidity with the ingredients of the second dough/paste will raise the pH once more. BUT if you kill the starter, as Jeffrey wrote, there won't be any fermentation and the pH will remain constant, in high danger zone.

It's not sure that the starter died (I observed several times that yeasts in rye doughs seem to resist -at least in part- even to very high temperatures), but what about adding  the starter to the hot dough only in a second moment, when the dough is already homogeneous? It would surely be much safer for the poor critters.

Also, waiting for a safe drop in pH before baking (at very high temperature) will help. Since you have the instruments use them!

Good luck, I hope it helps.


bshuval's picture

The starter is definitely not dead. I, too, thought that the boiling water would kill it, but it doesn't. The overall dough temperature was quite comfortable (around 30 degrees C). The bread did exhibit a rise, so the starter was fine. 

I don't think that starch attack is happening all that much. 

ananda's picture

Hi bshuval,

Thank you for publishing your photo.   It is just about the best evidence you could offer to support Nico's theory that starch damage is an intrinsic part of your problem.

Starch damage has caused racing amylolitic activity which has caused over vigorous fermentation and used up all the sugars.   My first course of action would be to change your flour source.   It is quite possible the flour is either of poor quality, or, has been milled badly, or over finely, and this has caused excessive starch damage.

Another possible solution is to cool down your  temperatures throughout all stages of the process.

Others may not agree, but I also believe this demonstrates excessive hydration.   Your water content should be 85% on flour.   The flour does not have the strength in the late stages of proof to support that amount of water.   Therefore it has collapsed at its weakest point.   The reason why you cannot get the lower part of the loaf to bake is that the collapse means that portion is too dense to bake out.   Have you ever seen the cut face of a loaf baked without the addition of yeast?

Best wishes


nicodvb's picture

Did the first bread (baked at 220°) came out equal? Did the crust fly and the crumb feel wet and gummy like the one in the picture? If not then your problems in the second bread stem from the long baking at lower temperature, that didn't denature amylase (rather the opposite).

In order to protect your bread from burning you could cover it with some aluminum foil after 20-30 minutes, at least in theory (I didn't try).

If it can help I add to what I wrote previously that I had the same problems you experienced whenever I baked at low temperature breads  made mostly with finely milled flour. In my opinion low temperature works well only when applied to dough made mostly or entirely of rye chops/groats/fragments.

And yes, as Andy says that hydratation would be excessive with the rye flour I use, that may differ a lot from yours.


Well, another nice recipe to try!

bshuval's picture

The first bread came out about the same as this one. (The crust on the first bread flew a little more).

The rye flour I used is indeed finely milled. It is a whole grain rye flour, stone ground. 

I haven't tried to tent the bread with aluminum foil. (I used it in the past for rich bread, but never for 100% rye). It's a great suggestion. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and add a few more grams of salt,  it turns into my favorite 100% rye ratio.  (150g rye starter 100%, 525g water, 625g rye flour, 12g salt)   The major difference is that I don't do the ferment build on the starter.  I would mix it all together and bulk ferment longer.   But I still ferment more flour for less time.  And I don't scald half the flour or get my dough so warm.     Interesting...  

I could come up with 3 things to change but this formula should stand on its own.  

The scalded flour would thicken the dough, letting you get by with 100% hydration.  I don't see a problem there.   I agree that your dough overfermented.  I think I would go with a cooler (below room temp.  say  at or below 21°C or 70°F overnight ferment of the starter to slow things down a bit.  Does the recipe specify the overnight temp?   And watch the panned ferment.  I would dock it and cover the pan with foil tightly (if there is no lid) so it steams in its own juices.  

Bake: Starting out at 200°C raise it up to 240° holding it there for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 200°C to finish the bake.   Uncovering 45 minutes into the bake and checking the inside temp and finish browning.