The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Cleanup on Aisle 1...

Dixongexpat's picture

Cleanup on Aisle 1...

Wow. What an utter clusterf*ck of a session *that* was in the kitchen.

So I took a recipe from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. Whole Grain Rye bread. Easy peasy.

I intended to add sourdough starter, so I put everything in a spreadsheet and did some calculations. I added 250g of 100% hydration starter so I removed 125g of flour and 125g of water.

Mixed it all up, let it rise. And it rose!

I did make one definite mistake here. I lost my place and instead of pulling maybe half of this batch to bake tonight, I tried to shape and form the entire batch of dough, theoretically enough for a 4-pound loaf. But still, I think the result would have been almost the same had I worked with only half the batch.

Glue. It just stuck to everything. No amount of flour would protect. I estimate that I washed a solid cup of dough off of my hands down the drain. I also added probably one and a half cups of flour. That's what it took to get this dry enough to where I could actually get it into a boule. I pulled a huge chunk off and threw it into a pan, the rest went into my dutch oven.

The boule seems to be done, the loaf pan went back in the oven. Neither has the 'thump' I expected. I'm suspicious.

Dixongexpat's picture

As it turns out, pretty good bread! Good thing as we now have several pounds of it...

Danni3ll3's picture

Rye is sticky! Next time, instead of going for the flour, go for water or oil. Glad it all worked out in the end. 

clazar123's picture

I am amazed at the handling differences between all the different grains. 100% rye is very unique.

As Danni says, use damp (not totally wet) hands or oil and a wet or oiled bench scraper. Rye has a lot of natural starch and doesn't require a lot of kneading to develop its small amount of gluten. "Shaping" is more like clay than dough. If it is a highly wet dough, a pan is good and you will end up with a dense, chewy loaf. Rye is NOT know for being fluffy...ever! Shape the top into a dome shape as it really doesn't have much spring. Definitely let it sit for at least a day or the crumb will seem gummy.

MiniOven is a great source of knowledge on rye and has written MANY posts on it. Search for her, here.

Have delicious fun!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

stuck in it.  :)   Enjoying your post.  I have so been there!  Water is your friend when it comes to rye.  Helps to keep a bowl of water handy or the tap dribbling for a short time as you dip your hands and tools under.  I use a very sturdy spoon scraper to mix the dough as I've broken many handles.  I usually work with two, one to scrape the other and get them wet first before they touch the dough.  A lightly oiled counter top with a light misting of water works great and saves on clean up.  

I tend to work in the bowl with the rye paste (any dough over 50% rye) avoiding the counter top if I can.   A little dribble of water around the edges of the bowl and a wet spatula or scraper loosen the paste as you tip it out.  I can't get more than 2.5 lbs of dough into one hand at a time if I work with the dough in the air.  I dampen my hands alternately.  Takes a little getting used to but fun once you get the hang of it.  A very wet dough can just be spooned into a greased pan or form.  Had some real fun a few weeks ago mixing up 3.5kg of rye paste.  I just about reached the limit of hand mixing in my kitchen bowl.  Dividing into three 1.2 kg loaves was a real mess but I put an oiled bowl on the scales and strangled the dough with wet hands to get chunks of it.

Rye teaches to clean up right away before any dough has a chance to dry to concrete.  If you have a lot of dough to wash "down the sink" think about using a bowl of water and dumping the water into a compost pile or let lumps dissolve before going down.  A bit of dry AP flour rubbed on hands helps clean ups over the trash bin.   I also have a net from a fruit bag and a nail brush to rub surfaces if needed.  Wet hands works pretty good to avoid the big sticky mess.  Makes the dough surface very slippery if too much water is used.  You will soon find the right amount with a little experimenting.   The higher the % of rye, the less kneading and shaping.  It is more like a few folding in half things or tucking and be done with it and smooth the surface rounding the shape.  :)

Dixongexpat's picture

I should clarify a few things here...

First, the flour ratio was as follows:

KA Bread flour: 300g

Dark Rye flour: 330g

Fuller whole wheat flour: 175g

Flour portion of starter: 125g

So the Rye portion of flour was around 33% - much less than the 50% or 100% you both mentioned.

I did, in fact, wet my hands down with water running in the sink. I put flour on the board and on the dough. None of these seemed to matter, until I had added enough flour to the dough to substantially change the flour percentages. I do not exaggerate to say that I probably added 200g of AP flour while washing off at least 75g of dough.

I had not yet picked up a scraper. The closest thing I had was a spatula. It proved insufficient. A scraper has been ordered!

dabrownman's picture

drywall scrapers at Home Depot or the hardware store.  No need to order an expemsive one. 35% rye is a nice delii rye - just treat it like any other  bread and you will be fine, 100% rye is like concrete at 100 % hydration.  That os mix and dump bread.  Mic it up let it fermen t fo abouit an hour adn half and them dump it in to a pan to rise.  Dock witjh a toothpick and then bake it higher temp and lower it down ......or baking it low adn slow over many jousr like a pumpernickel - I prefer pumpernickel but here is my favoerit of the fast and hoter version

Happy baking 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but it will still be sticky above 30%.  What I tend to do with such a low rye is to mix and beat in the wheats first and get the gluten going then add the rye last (before salt) that seems to reduce the amount of handling.  The rye then soaks up the rest of the moisture from the doughy glop.  I once cut up one of those cheap super thin cutting board matts in an emergency need for a scraper.  I've also used the rubber spatula sideways.  I do find the best scrapers in the hardware department under drywall or plaster.   The one I'm using now is for grouting, a little small but handy for one loaf sizes.  Will need a larger one soon.  

DB, "wet cement" not concrete.  Concrete is after it has dried.  :)   That happens too.  Great building material that rye goop.  

IceDemeter's picture

Just what kind of insane hydration level did that recipe call for?!  You're a brave soul diving in with converting a yeast recipe --- especially one with a goodly amount of whole grains with lower gluten!

I'm not overly familiar with the "5 minutes a day" recipes, but the ones that I've seen were designed for super-high hydration suitable for no-knead, instant yeast, and a whole pile of vital wheat gluten (which is an absolute necessity for that procedure using a rye / whole wheat percentage like that).  If you didn't include that 1/4 cup or more of vital wheat gluten, then I wouldn't think that you'd be able to develop enough gluten to make it workable without kneading or at least doing multiple stretch-and-folds.

I'm not nearly skilled (or brave / crazy) enough to go much over 80% hydration.  I've got dough pre-shaped right now that's 40% rye / 20% whole spelt / 40% AP flour (with some diastatic rye malt to help with the enzyme action) that is at just over 83% hydration and I could never have handled it that high without doing the tang zhong with 50g rye / 250g water to get it all started.  I actually started working with it at 75% hydration, got the gluten started, and then gradually worked in more water as I kneaded it.  I work in the bowl until I get to pre-shaping - which is done with a damp hand and damp scraper on a clean work surface - and final shaping, which uses at most a couple of Tbsp of AP flour.  I go by what it "feels" like instead of by a strict recipe --- if it doesn't "feel" like I can work with it in a way that I'm comfortable with, then I'll add more flour or more water at the mixing stage.

I love the discovery that even the most insane of clusters still end up with being really good bread --- it's saved my butt more than once! 

You might want to check out Trevor J Wilson's website:  for recipes / articles / videos with a really down-to-earth attitude.  I like his approach, and have found that his style of working the dough feels really natural and comfortable for me.  His "stiff dough" video / recipe gave me some encouraging success early on, and a great basis to work from for future (without the adventure of having to do the sourdough conversion).

Oh - and if you like high percentage rye breads, then I highly recommend you checking out 

I followed her example and it was the most delicious and easiest loaf of bread that I've ever made.  No massive mess, no futzing with scrapers, just an easy mix of rye paste and baking in a loaf pan, and pure freakin' deliciousness...

Keep sharing your adventures - and keep having fun and making great bread!

Dixongexpat's picture


Here is the flour/water mix I was using. Not sure what % of hydration it represents, but as I look at it now, I'm not sure I reduced the water enough. The original appears to be 105-110% hydration - am I reading that right?

The left side is the original recipe, right side is my batch after substituting starter for yeast and replacing some of the flour/water


OriginalAmountUnits4/7/17 BatchGrams
   Sourdough Starter250
Whole Wheat Flour2.5CupsFuller Whole Wheat175
Rye Flour2.75CupsDark Rye330
AP Flour2.5CupsKA Bread Flour300
 7.75  805
Kosher Salt1TbspSea Salt14.75
Caraway Seeds1.5Tbsp  
Vital Wheat Gluten0.25CupsVital Wheat Gluten30
Lukewarm Water4CupsLukewarm Water821.36

Trevor's site looks interesting, although I'm hoping he has some recipes that don't require hovering around the kitchen for hours...

IceDemeter's picture

Hats off to you - if I'm figuring this correctly,  you actually were working with 102% hydration (only a shade less than the original recipe @ 110%).  I consider that level to be "flour soup" (90ish would be "batter" - in my world it's not "dough" unless under 90%) and not something to be dealt with by hand without mucho experience!

Using KAF's weight chart (, it looks to me like the original recipe called for 283g whole wheat, 292g rye, 300g AP, and 960g water.  Your version dropped the whole wheat to 175g, increased the rye to 330g, and increased the bread flour to 300 + 125 in the starter (so, 425) for a total flour weight of 930g.  You used 821g water + 125g in the starter, for a total of 946g water. 

No wonder you were having to add flour!  With those same flour amounts, and without a pile of dough handling experience, I would have started the hydration at 65% or 70% tops --- so, 125g in the starter plus 480g to 526g more in the final dough.  Even going up to 80% since you added the VWG would have no more than 619g added in the final dough.

I don't know - I get the feeling that the whole "no-knead" thing may not work the best with just straight up sourdough, since the mysterious workings of the combination yeast / LAB don't follow the same concise and quick schedule as commercial yeasts do...

On the other hand, recipes like Trevor's can be easily tweaked to allow for working around a person's schedule (he mentions quite often that nobody should be a slave to their bread).  Personally, for a work day I'd be looking at mixing the levain / starter on the evening of Day 1, then doing pre-mix using ice cold water (autolyse with salt) first thing in the morning of Day 2 and leaving out for the day, doing final dough mix and kneading when I get home from work on Day 2, do a bulk ferment at room temp evening of Day 2 with 4 stretch-and-folds at 30 minute intervals at start if convenient (or not, if I'm busy), pre-shape with short bench rest then shape just before bed on Day 2, place in proofing basket in a plastic bag and in to the fridge immediately.  Baking would be when I get home from work on Day 3. 

I'll grant you that it needs a bit more attention than the no-knead type, but really it's just the kneading itself and stretch and folds only if it is convenient.  The trick is to find a formula and procedure that is comfortable and enjoyable for you to work with, and play with things like hydration and types of flour and amount of starter and temperatures to make the dough work for you.  One of the most useful tools I've found for that is here: (and the link, in case it doesn't work from there:  It is explained better in the comments section than in the original post, but you might find it handy in tweaking recipes to suit yourself.

Kudos on managing to get something actually in to the oven and deliciously edible from that batch of flour soup - and good luck on your next adventure!

Dixongexpat's picture

...the original recipe. Yep, i had the numbers right. Here is a screenshot from the book:

Dixongexpat's picture

So basically one day these ancient people were making an adobe-type structure and discovered that rye bricks also tasted pretty good? LOL

I'll try a smaller batch with less rye next time, *after* my scraper comes in :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you've come up with a wistful story.  

Rye flour makes a good binder for natural pigment paints.  Long history up to present.  

Ach, don't let a little rye push you around.  Another thought is to take 5% of the recipe flour or rye and blend with 5x the weight with some of the recipe water.  Cook until it starts to thicken and then cool.  Rescale adding any evaporated water. This will not be sticky at all added to dough.  It even does a good job of taming doughs with more raw rye flour.  Like Lepard's black pepper rye.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Usually go for 100% hydration. Mix, bulk ferment till holes start to appear, portion into loaf pan and smooth over with back of wet spoon, final proof till some small holes begin to appear (not too many) and bake. 

Rarely do I handle Rye and only if I have the energy :)

If Rye is an addition to a wheat loaf and not too high i will do as a normal loaf. But if I want a Rye loaf I go 100% Rye.