The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Hi from Doug

DoughIsRisen's picture

Hi from Doug

Just stumbled into this website, searching for the why of the bulk fermentation phase and finding a nice long thread discussing exactly that. 

I love a good forum, and they were fabulous in their heyday. Everything is YouTube now, and conversations rarely develop out of that.  It's the development of the conversation that usually leads to the lightbulb moments.  

At any rate, my name is Doug and I ferment. 

For a couple of years, I was pretty seriously into cheesemaking, won a national gold for one of them here in New Zealand. 

The link was discovering that the moulds that power France's legendary Roquefort cheese are produced by loaves of rye bread left in the caves, and the realization that cave temperatures (14C), yeasts, moulds and microbes lead to so many of the good things we cherish.   

Around that time, I tried my hand at German-style sourdoughs. Fermentation is fermentation, no? My wife LOVES a German sourdough, and it's hard to find good German bread here, so I had powerful motivation. I got very mixed results, and gave up.  

Fast forward to the pandemic, and everyone's making sourdough because everyone's at home. Including Rosie, a German friend who claimed to be making very consistent, perfect German breads.  At the risk of looking like a pandemic fashion victim, I took it up, actually way later than everyone else.  

I got good results pretty much right away, and within a month, I was able to make a German loaf that sent my wife into paroxysms of pleasure.  The clincher, of course, was the mix of coriander/fennel/caraway/aniseed, but solid sourdough baking is a prerequisite. 

So now my search is for ways of making sense of my rye-laden loaves, what the right mix of rye to other grains is, how much shaping and strengthening is useful, how much to just leave it alone because rye doesn't behave like white or even whole-other-grain flours.  

This looks like a good place to start, even if it is old and a little less-traveled. I look for intriguing back streets when I travel, too, which I'm hoping to do again before long! 


Floydm's picture

Welcome, Doug!

LOL, yeah, I suppose this site is a bit of a throwback. I played around with making YouTube videos a bit and decided it wasn't my thing. Partially because I'm lazy and camera shy, partially because I loathe watching videos to learn most things. Tai Chi or dance moves? Sure, videos are great. Technical things -- I'm a programmer -- or recipes and formulas? I'd much rather read about those that sit through a video.

Looking forward to seeing some of your ryes. 

albacore's picture

My rule of thumb is that a well written paragraph of instructional text is equivalent to about 15 minutes of Youtube video.



alcophile's picture

I couldn't agree more. I like well-written procedures because they demonstrate that the writer really understands his subject. Peter Reinhart and Daniel Leader definitely are in that category, and it shows in their books.

idaveindy's picture

Among the currently active TFL rye-bakers I admire are:

There are some others who don't come to mind right now. 


Rye-baking users of the past, or currently infrequent posters of note are:

Gadjowheaty's picture

Thanks for this, Dave.  Very good to know.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Welcome Doug, please share some picture and recipes for your rye breads, there is a few rye aficionados here who would enjoy seeing more of this delicious grain used!

DoughIsRisen's picture

Hi Ilya, 

Thanks for the invitation to post pictures!

Here's a picture of today's German-style rye loaf. Actually, it's a little light on the rye (which is probably why the shape and oven spring turned out so well).

The starter is 100% organic home-milled whole rye flour

The preferment is 200g rye, 200g water

The bulk loaf is  100g rye, 200g whole wheat, 300g Italian durum wheat pizza flour, 400g high-grade (unbleached white)

3tsp each of caraway, aniseed, coriander, fennel, ground in a whirly-blade spice grinder. 

20g salt

Hydration is 75%

I've been using 300g rye in the bulk loaf, but ran out of rye. So this turns out to be more like the transition-level rye loaf recipes that start conventional sourdough bakers down the rye track. You know, those recipe that have a high ratio of white flour and light or medium rye, that make it look like everything you know about stretching and shaping still applies to rye loaves.  

My early frustration with high ratios of rye had to do with watching some of those transition videos and thinking I was doing something wrong.  The dough wouldn't turn, wouldn't stretch and fold, wouldn't take a shape.  

If you break through to some of the videos that show %100 rye flour recipes, you find that this is perfectly normal, and that there's not a lot you can do with a rye loaf.

But the loaf pictured here is one that probably belongs to the "transitional" category. It turned beautifully, developed strength and stretchiness, and took an actual shape.  

That's the white flour talking.

Next week, it's back to more rye flour, and the struggle will continue!

DougRye Loaf 

gavinc's picture

Hi Doug,


Your rye loaves look great. I personally prefer lesser per cent rye formulas, like Hamelman’s 40 Percent Caraway Rye. I have previously made a Detmolder method 3-stage 70% rye sourdough, but I thought the rye was too strong for my liking. It was complex with multiple temperatures throughout the process. I have also made some beautiful deli rye loaves with 15% rye that I really liked.

It's great to experiment.



Gadjowheaty's picture

Hi Doug!  Welcome, congrats on your cheese win and can't wait to see your posts.  Rye is literally right now on my radar as well.

I know you're a Kiwi - do you happen to know - gosh, can't recall his name.  French-Canadian by birth, transplanted Kiwi, former cheesemaker, returned solely to engineering?  Did a lot of work with underground cave engineering/consulting?  Not much to go on, I know, but we exchanged a lot - I used to make traditional French Alpine cheeses, Abondance, reblochon, tommes de grise/Savoie.

At any rate, awesome to meet you here.  Anyone who uses "paroxysms" is aces in my book. :)


DoughIsRisen's picture

Hi Gadjoweaty, 

Nice to meet you, have started seeing your name on a fair number of threads, have registered your cheesemaking chops too, now. 

French Alpine cheeses? The ones you mention are pretty uncommon and fairly advanced for home cheesemakers, so you must be pretty deep into it. 

I apologise, I haven't looked, but where are you from? Is there some French in your background? 

I don't actually know anybody who answers your description, French-Canadian Kiwi engineer formerly into cheesemaking.  If I had met someone like that, I'd have certainly remembered.  I have a friend in civil engineering here who also spends time in caves professionally, so must ask him. 

I'm a New Yorker, actually, grew up just outside the city, then traveled a lot. I met my wife, a Scottish-born Kiwi, in Austria, and she had returning to New Zealand really high on her list of things to do. 

Looking forward to hanging out some more here, seems like my kind of place. 


gavinc's picture

Welcome, Doug. This is a great place to learn and share. There are a lot of experienced bakers here that will help you hone your baking skills.




alcophile's picture

Welcome Doug! I, too, am beginning a journey into the Rye Zone. I consider myself a newbie even though I baked bread many years ago. I also arrived at the bread baking craze late in the pandemic, not because it was fashionable, but I finally decided I wanted bread that I couldn't buy in the store (like a good rye).

The members here have given me great advice and I look forward to continue learning about bread.

wlaut's picture

I, too, am a novice baker and home-miller devotee who appreciates all the pro bakers who generously give their time to help us.  idaveindy, who has already introduced himself, helped me greatly to master 100% whole wheat baking. 

Can you please elaborate on what type of rye bread fuels the production of Roquefort?  Once I take possession of my rural property, I plan to dig a deep (15 ft / 5 m underground) root cellar for storing veggies, and for aging cheese.  Your revelation is intriguing me.

Please post your recipes, and consider blogging here.  I, too, will soon be mastering sourdough, and rye and ancient grains, and would enjoy learning from your experience!



DoughIsRisen's picture

Hi wlaut, 

Nice to meet you. 

I can't comment much further on the rye mould-Roquefort connection than I already have, I'm afraid. I couldn't even tell you any more where I read that little tidbit. 

Knowing what I knew then of rye bread (mostly through daily consumption of Austrian German rye bread), I wasn't surprised that it was rye and not another grain. Rye just has so many interesting flavours. 

Your underground cellar should be stellar! I'll be jealous. You'll need to be careful, though. I think you have to discriminate as to what yeasts and moulds wind up in your space.  There's usually one that dominates, and it's not always the one you want.  

I know, for example, separate refrigeration is kept for cheesemakers who make, for example, white mould cheeses (brie, camembert) and washed-rind cheeses.  If you kept them both in the same space, you'd eventually only have one (I think it's the washed-rind, actually, but am not sure). 

You could do worse than to wind up with a Roquefort-style mould dominating your underground space!



wlaut's picture

Hello Doug:

Your cautions are well-taken.  My root cellar will have both fresh-air and exhaust ventilation for the reason you cite.  Otherwise the stored produce would spoil too quickly.

For cheese-making, I am currently have no experience, and since I'll be building a cellar, my initial conjecture is to "wax" the cheese before aging in the cellar.  Then I read your post and it inspired new ideas.

If/When I try it, I would place the rye / cheese near the exhaust vent.  LOL!  It will probably just buy the Roquefort penicillin!

Rye tantalizes me.  This week I begin my journey into sourdough, with a goal of baking home-milled rye and ancient grains. I'm going to mill Danko rye berries, as I understand they are favored in German and Eastern Europian rye bread.