The Fresh Loaf

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Sour Rye - Still no crackle's picture

Sour Rye - Still no crackle

I restarted baking sour rye recently and I'm pretty satisfied with the taste and texture.  I'm trying to get the krinkly ?sp cracked crust and found some posts on achieving it.  Nada, nothing, zero, zilch.  I baked 5 mins in a preheated over at 425 degrees.  I used a 1/4" baking steel at mid height.  On the very lowest rack I have a big cast iron Lodge frying pan to which I had 1/2 cup of boiling water as soon as the loaf goes in the oven.  I have have a round cast iron griddle above the frying pan and below the baking steel to have lots of mass in the oven.  I preheat for 1 hour before baking.

So my regiment is put the round load in the oven and immediately add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the frying pan to produce steam.  After 5 minutes i remove the loaf, dock it, and brush with corn starch mix (1 tsp into 1 cup of water to a boil, then cooled).  My oven has a fan that kicks on every time the heating element fires up, even in CONVENTIONAL mode (not convection), so I have to place a big stainless steel bowl over the loaf to protect it.  I turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake another 35 minutes.  At the end of bake I remove the stainless steel bowl and let the load remain in the oven with the door slightly ajar.  I did this for 12 mins.  When I removed the loaf, no cracking.  So I brushed with room temp corn starch mix again.

The rye of my youth had tons and tons of cracks, very much like an old worn leather jacket.  The 'units' were 1/2" to maybe 5/8" jagged 'squares'.  I've spoken to the baker who bought the bakery that made the rye of my youth and he says he remembers the rye bread making cracking sounds when removed from the oven.  (It was a HUGE oven, the door was ?8 feet wide) and the baking surfaces were on a conveyor mechanism. The baker would press a button (If I recall correctly) and the door would slide up?/down?  The baker would load the bread (or remove the bread) and press a button.  The next table/surface would advance.  The current baker said the oven had very hot and cold spots and that the previous owner ran one temp.  They baked light sour rye, dark Lithuanian rye, a white sandwich loaf, and then all sorts of sweets like sticky buns, cakes, cupcakes, etc so they baked more than just bread. 

Like many, I'm chasing the bread of my youth since it's not available from that home town bakery nor anywhere else I can seem to find it.  FYI my conjured up recipe...


91 gr (1 cup pyrex cup filled with old sour rye from the freezer) dumped into mixing bowl

225 gr water at room temp

Mash bread with pastry blender until mushy ... save off.


300gr Clear

200gr white rye flour

12 gr Morton course Kosher Salt

2 generous TBLsp of vital wheat glutin

3 TBLsp caraway seeds


250 gr rye sour @ 150% hydration  (59 degrees- out of fridge for about 3 hours...)


Add the altus to the flour mix and mix in Kitchen Aide classic mixer until dough pulls cleanly from side of bowl.  Knead for ??? 3-4-5 minutes???  Sorry I knead for a bit and didn't keep exact time... First rise 1 hour in warmed, moist microwave,

Deflate, knead 2-3 minutes, form into ball and rise again, 1 hour.

Bake per the above.


Any ideas on getting the crack/krinkle?  Also any other tips are greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Dave K.'s picture

overn spring?

squattercity's picture

Hey Dave K!

I'm assuming by 'clear' you mean a variety of reasonably high extraction wheat flour, which means you're basically baking a 40% rye. So here are four thoughts:

1. do you really need to add gluten? My experience with similar ryes is that the wheat flour is strong enough to ensure a good rise. Maybe the added gluten is messing with the rise and the crust.

2. You could consider baking at a slightly higher temp - 450F - and only stepping down the temp if the surface is scorching.

3. I'm wondering about the impact of painting the crust with cornstarch after just 5 min in the oven.

4. I'm also wondering about keeping a bowl over the bread for the entire bake. I know the convection fan in your oven turns on no matter what, but my experience is that to rise and get a good crust bread needs both time with steam and time without. By keeping the bowl over the loaf & steel for the entire time, you seem to be steaming the bread rather than baking it. Perhaps you can try removing the bowl after 20 minutes or so.

I hope this helps.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

out of the recipe first.  Then if that doesn't help ...your recipe is about 50/50  wheat/rye, try no extra gluten and kicking up the rye % until you get what you want.  That crackling is typical for rye breads but with all the wheat gluten in there, the surface is not breaking down and shining crackling through.  You may need a weaker gluten matrix.

Did I read the use of a floured cloth lined basket or banneton for the final proof?  Drying that surface a bit in the cloth during the final proof will give the loaf a skin that may tear or crackle for you.  Be generous with the flour dusting if the dough is over 80% hydration. (Sorry, I didn't do the figuring.) You can brush off the flour later.  

Singing rye loaves. Now that could be an urban legend. I tend to bake with higher percentages of rye and I have yet to hear them sing.  Crackles I got plenty!  

I'm not sure if you are perhaps describing crackles in a wheat bread surface instead of a rye. Rye crackles are not squares but odd shapes torn at the edges looking more like roots or veins. Wheat crackles do sing as they cool and can be squarish.  Memories can play some silly games in our minds.  If you are after wheat crackles, then perhaps only dropping the % of rye flour would help and not use rye altus. (But I love rye altus!)  Up to you to play around.  If you find a picture of what you're looking for, please post it.

Mini's picture

The bakery we got our rye from operated 85 years before closing in 2008.  The rye was a bit darker color when baked and was simply called "light rye".  My mix is 50/50 First clear flour to white rye flour.  My Lithuanian grandmother would say, 'if you are going to the bakery, get me a loaf of 1/2 and 1/2 rye.  We all knew that rye as "1/2 and 1/2".  It wasn't a swirl of light and dark.  I've settled on 50% first clear and 50% white rye (from Bakers Authority) since my family and others knew the bread as 1/2 and 1/2 rye. The bakery did NOT refer to that rye as 50/50.  In fact when we asked for 50/50 rye they had no idea what we were talking about.  They'd say, we have light rye and dark rye.  I'd point to the light rye and sometimes ask for 8 to 10 loaves to bring back and dole out to family and neighbors.

It was light on the inside and moist.  It had a nice rich auburn color and was DEEPLY cracked with dozens/scores of fractures.  Think dried mud.  Here's a pic so you get the picture (no pun intended).  The color of the pic isn't right but that's the cracks that were in the crust. The crust, despite being cracked was not dry or hard.  It was leathery and chewy.  The rye bread would toast to a rich golden brown.  Toasted rye with butter was its own meal!

I've added vital wheat gluten as a substitute for incompetence.  My early trials resulted in bread that started as a nice round ball maybe 5" in diameter, but during the rise would simply spread out like a fat pancake 3 1/2" high and 12" around....  I think my technique is better so perhaps I'll try a loaf skipping the vital wheat gluten. 

The current bakery shop owner was very clear, he said when the rye came out of the oven, you could hear it crack and krinkle?sp.

I'll bump the temp up (again).  I've tried as high as 500 degrees.  The fan in the oven wrecks havoc on the bread.  The back half gets scorched and front is unaffected.  If I go to turn the loaf, all the heat is lost when I open the door, the heating coil kicks on and the fan runs again... 

I've made many, many loaves and had some epic failures.  I've also had some successes but none repeatable.  Such a simple bread, made by largely uneducated, untrained immigrants...   A bakery can't handle bread dough 2 or 3 or more times.  The current baker says that his recollection is the dough was mixed first thing very early in the morning.  It was dumped on a working table and bulk fermented.  After some delta time it was portioned out, shaped and placed on racks to rise.  Then it was baked and sold.  How did this bakery that made so many other things have time to dote over 50 loaves handling it multiple times?  I figure they simple didn't have time to.

I'll try skipping the vital wheat gluten, up the temp to 450 and if need be get me another stainless steel bowl and drill holes in it to let steam escape...  Thanks for the insights and suggestions.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You will hear this often enough when tweaking a recipe. Change only one thing at a time so you know what changed for the result.  Burning bread is obvious...too hot. Heat up the lodge pan and turn the partially risen loaf obto parchment and slide it onto the hot pan. Cover to prevent a direct assult for the first 40 minutes, then uncover. And rotate the pan.  If the temp still tends to burn one side, turn the oven down more.  190° or 180° C. With the fan running it will distribute heat and be hotter on the pan and loaf. 

I do think you can leave out the VWG two changes.  No more! For the next bake.

If you find the loaf riping apart and flattening out during final proof, try reducing the yeast amount in following loaves.  This all has to do with the dough and room temp.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven's picture

The rye did not have those deep fissures.  The loaf had a bit of a shine, not a gloss shine but more of a subdued satin sheen.  Think very old, brown leather jacket. The individual 'pieces' were ? about 1/2".  They weren't square you hopefully by looking at the dried mud image you get the idea.  Cracked 'pieces' like a jigsaw puzzle.  But thanks for sharing and that load looks amazing!

alcophile's picture

Is this what the bread looked like?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to yours with a few exceptions. Brushed with milk before baking uncovered in oven for aprox 75 min. 200°C So your recipe is sound. (No vital wheat gluten.)

 It uses 250g cooked potato instead of altus (peeled but boiled in the skins.) Either pre-cooked/gelled starch works about the same, holds moisture and should give a longer shelf life. All liquids are warm. 

  Shorter rise times though. This might be where you're getting the falling and flat spreading.  Overfermenting. Rye with instant yeast is a fast fermenter.  Shape after well mixed and kneaded. Let rise in a floured cloth draped bowl (no need to drill holes) covered and allow a 30 min rise.  Turn out onto a greased baking sheet, paint with milk, and into a hot oven.  

turetam's picture

Do you do the second rise in banneton and put the ball into basket the smooth side up? If the answers for both are "yes", then you can  wait for a few minutes after releasing the proofed bread from banneton. It helps forming cracks on the skin.

Drop the vital gluten, maybe it's the reason why your bread behaves more like wheat bread than rye.'s picture

I know I should only make ONE change at a time, but I guess I pushed a bit and made several.  I omitted the 3 tblsp of vital wheat gluten but kept everything else the same.  I baked at 450 degrees on my baking steel for 5 minutes with 1/2 cup water in the lower frying pan to produce the steam.  I removed the frying pan after 5 mins (also releasing any steam from then oven) and placed another heated cast iron pan to replace the one I removed.  It was heated to around 430 degrees.  I turned my oven off for 10 minutes and let the bread bake uncovered.  Then I covered the load with my stainless steel mixing bowl (pretty darn big) and set oven temp to 400.  The oven had dropped to 375 but quickly built to 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes I kept the bowl on and set the oven to 475 for 5 mins.  So that 5 mins at 450, 25 mins at 400, and 5 mins at 475 (not exactly as it took 2-3 mins to go from 400 to 475...  After 35 mins total I removed from the oven a brushed with COLD corn starch mix (1 tsp corn starch to 1 cup boiling water, then cooled). 

The results were OK but no cracking or krinkling?sp.  I don't think I got as much oven spring and overall the loaf was a little smaller.  But it didn't blow out either.

I'm really trying to honor the bread and how it was baked.  It was baked 'freeform'.  It wasn't placed in any bowls, etc.  It raised on flat boards stacked in baking carts.  I'm convinced (or actually can't envision) the bakery handle the bread very much.  I don't even remember seeming them brush the bread with anything.  My memory is certainly clouded as it was probably 25+ years ago when I saw them taking the bread from the oven.  I honestly think they'd scoop 2 loaves at a time from the oven and put them in the carts and then get the next 2, etc.  I think they just let them cool.

I now understand that I gotta slow down and carefully record what I'm doing and making 1 change at a time.  Every element has to be recorded to the tiniest detail...  Drat.  I'm a 'hmmm seems about right kind of cook' so that's really challenging to me ...  I any event here's the latest.  Thanks for all the suggestions.  I figure I'll report any significant follow ons and not bother people unnecessarily.

squattercity's picture

Just spitballing here, but I wonder if using some percentage of whole rye instead of white might give you the caramelization/cracking you are seeking. In the breads I've made (different recipes, of course) I get much more cracking with whole rye than I do with light rye.

At some point (I've got a few other breads in the queue), I'll try a 50/50 loaf like yours and I'll post again in this thread.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

getting control of the hydration might be key. A few thoughts separate the dry ingredients to calculate hydration. Weigh the dry altus and add target hydration amount of water. (Two columns on you note sheet.). Weigh and Calculate the water need for white rye (between 83 to 85%). And the wheat flour type and hydration. Starter, separate flour and water amounts.  Then add up your columns of flour and water and figure total hydration. 

Oh! Don't be afraid to bother us about trouble shooting. We thrive on it. :) ...we do!

This might give some ideas as well.  I believe it has more to do with crust handling and note which kind of starch you are using on crust surface.  Might want to make a loaf with a variety of glazes to nail it down. Include just plain water as a control in the experiment.

squattercity's picture

I baked a 50% rye following your recipe

As you can see, I got no cracking but achieved some rustic caramelization.

The differences from yours: 

-- no altus (I didn't have any old rye)

-- I used whole rye (bc I didn't have any light) and faked high extraction with 2/3 whole wheat and 1/3 all purpose flour

-- I skipped the IDY (bc I felt the sourdough was strong enough)

I had to add 25 g more water to get the dough to come together ... and I could have added more. Fermentation went fast -- only about 1 hr and 15 minutes bulk and 45 minutes proof. I baked it for 35 minutes at 450F in a Dutch oven -- 16 minutes with the lid on, 16 minutes with the lid off, and the final 3 minutes out of the Dutch oven entirely.

It's dense, moist & spicy, with lots of caraway tang. In other words, a fine formula! This is the first time I've baked a rye using a 150% hydration levain.


-- why do you add so much IDY? A whole TBSP is a huge amount for one loaf this size. Do you not trust your sourdough starter to lift the loaf? And even if you want to add IDY, I would think a TSP would be more than sufficient. That being said, I have no clue if the amount of yeast can influence crust formation.

-- Mini may be right that upping the hydration could make a diff

-- I'm guessing I could have gotten more lift and maybe more cracking if I used a higher percentage of all purpose flour.

-- how sure are your that the loaf was 50/50, aside from what your family called it? I've found that many light or 'deli' ryes are somewhere around 1/3 rye and feature a higher percentage of all purpose flour in the mix. That might be something to try. I made one with 1/3 light rye / 2/3 all purpose last week and it came out halfway decent.

Thanks for your posts, which spurred me to try this. And good luck getting the crust the way you want it. I wonder: is there any way to block or disconnect the fan in your oven?

Rob's picture

That last loaf, I guess with 3 slashes on it, looks absolutely amazing. 

I settled on 50% First Clear to 50% light rye only because that's how my Lithuanian grandmother and other relatives would refer to the rye.  They'd say 'half and half'.  My brother, my sister, my cousins (still in PA), my Aunt in NY all remember referring to that rye as half and half.  We'd dutifully go to the bakery and ask for 1/2 and 1/2 rye and no one there had any idea what we were talking about.  We'd point to those beautiful round loaves all krinkled up and say, those, over there, I'd like X loaves.  In the early 2000s, when visiting my relatives, I'd bring back 8 or 10 loaves to hand out and everyone raved about them. The bakery just called the rye, light rye.  Heck I had no idea it was a sour rye until a few years ago.  We simply called the bread, "rye bread" and always wondered by store bought rye tasted so different, so light, so dry, with a paper crust.  Who knows maybe the rye ratio to clear wasn't 50/50.  Maybe whatever the rye was, it was a 50% mixture of 2 rye flours and the wheat % was ?60-65-70%... I don't know.

The nice lady who owned the bakery (when selling the bakery), said the recipe wasn't for sale to anyone, ever...

I've baked I guess 100 loaves over 2 years and I don't think ANY loaf matched any other.  I fought with flat no rise dough for ?months and settled on vital wheat gluten to help the shape...  I can't imagine that bakery used vital wheat gluten, but when you are desperate you try anything...

Someone asked why 12gr (1tablespoon) IDY.  Well I guess that was my guess.  I found a recipe online years ago and it called for 1 1/2 Tablespoons of either ADY or IDY... It was from a blogger (The Brown Eyed Baker) and the recipe was for Jewish (sour dough) rye.  The recipe was given in volume.  I tried it and failed pretty badly...

Last year I signed up for on online class on baking "traditional' sour rye (I don't remember the charge).  The night before the class, the recipe was sent out; All Purpose flour and light rye.  The "sour" was a ?overnight ferment (12 hrs)...  I didn't bother attending...  Heck I've seen recipes that use pickle juice as the flavoring ingredient!  Heck a popular bakery supply company sells 'deli rye flavor' and dry acid flavorings."For rye bread that tastes like it came straight from New York bakery, try our Deli Rye Flavor.".  That's what we've come to for sour rye.  Make it quickly, cheaply, add artificial ingredients and call it a day.  Did NYC bakers use flavor enhancers?  Were there just 6 ingredients?  (light rye, first clear, salt, water, yeast, caraway seeds)?

I don't know where my obsession comes from.  I guess it's just trying to capture something of my youth.  Many thanks for all the suggestions.  I'm still experimenting and trying to do a better job documenting what I do.  I swear, the slightest nuance causes the most extreme change imaginable.  I just baked another loaf and tried a Barley Malt coating, brushed on after 10 mins of baking at 425 degrees.  It's a light brown, no krinkles loaf and the *&^% loaf blew up on the 2nd rise so I had to deflate, reshape and rise a 3 time.  It's about 3/4" smaller in diameter.  The only other change was heating the water (225gr) to my 90 gr of old rye.  The dough was nice and soft, kneaded very well and shaped nice and smooth.  I jinxed the entire operating by telling my wife it was the best mix I had done and I was SURE the loaf would be amazing.  So naturally the Universe overheard all this and "re-balanced" things...

Thanks again.



squattercity's picture

"Hast thou seen the white whale?" No I haven't. But I'm looking forward to learning how the search continues.

Perhaps, as part of your quest, you might want to compare notes with a tried 'n' true sour rye recipe that is said to be quite authentic: I made it once and it came out aggressively sour, but that's probably down to the state of my sourdough starter at the time, which I wasn't feeding enough. I really should revisit it now that my starter is in better shape.

A recipe I've had fun with (the source of the 3-slash loaf you so kindly praise) comes from Ilya Flyamer's blog: I've made it a number of times, adjusting the flour mix for the flours I have at hand, and it's never failed.

Keep on! I have no doubt you'll find your fish! And, anyway, the search is the true delight.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would try a 40% rye total loaf.  Jeffrey Hamelman's loaf is originally in English if you want to follow it.

The reason I suggest 40% is because I have always found 50% rye/ 50% wheat dough to be often unpredictable.  Pure rye loaves behave a lot different from pure wheat loaves and a 50/50 mix, with the slightest tweak can make the loaf behave more like a rye or a wheat bake making it hard to control consistency.  Just saying, you may be less frustrated with experimenting if you stay either above or below 50% rye.  Rye 40% will act more like a wheat bread and rye 60% more like a rye bread.  

Please don't knock pickle juice, vinegar or any other acid used in rye bread recipes.  There is good reason to include these natural ingredients.  You might also try toasting lightly and crushing the caraway (and coriander.)  Get more out of the spice mix.  More bang for your buck. If added to the just fed sourdough starter, not only can you use less spice but the soaking softens the hard bits. Toasting the altus will also give more flavor.'s picture

Thanks for the suggestions, yes I'll look at those links.  In the mean time I tweaked my recipe and made another loaf.  I think the dough as the best i've experienced, but alas on baking, covered the loaf erupted a bit.  I've got an idea on how to protect my bread but prevent excessive steaming.  Here's the adjusted recipe.

90gr frozen rye cubes

300 gr water at room temp (to make the altus, mashed at 52 degrees)


300 gr First Clear * + 2 tsp added during mix so dough pulled cleanly away from bowl

200 gr White rye * + 2 tsp added during mix so dough pulled cleanly away from bowl

10 gr salt (so right around 1.7-1.8%)

2 Tblsp caraway seed

1 Tblsp IDY

250 gr sour (at 150% hydration)


I note that on mix the dough was sticking to the sides of the mixer and so I added each 2 tsp of clear and rye to maintain 50%.  The dough was very soft and pliable.  It was a joy to work with.  I kneaded for just a minute or so and allowed the dough to rise on my marble pastry 'board', covered for 1 1/2 hrs. Dough temp at start of rise was 68 degrees.

After 1 1/2 hour, I deflated, kneaded lightly?  Maybe 8-10 times... Formed into ball and allowed to rise in warm/moist microwave.   Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Allow loaf to rise 2nd time 60 mins.

After 60 mins, spray loaf with water, put into oven (make steam - water in frying pan on bottom of oven), allow to back 8 minutes uncovered.

After 8 minutes, remove and brush with cold corn starch coating (1 tsp corn starch to 1 cup boiling water, then chilled in refrigerator).  Turn oven down to 400 degrees and cover with stainless steel bowl for 40 minutes.  After 40 mins turn oven temp up to 500 for 5 minutes.  (total bake 8 + 40 + 5 mins).

After bake (53 mins) remove from oven and brush again with cold corn starch.  No cracks or krinkles but OK loaf.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

maybe until the oven spring it maxed, then uncover to dry out the crust.

.'s picture

Yes, I'll look at the various links and suggestions, especially as regards cutting back on the rye.  I may try a loaf this weekend with ?40% rye.  (my 50/50 works well, for me, because then when I order, I order one 5lb bag of rye and one 5lb bag of clear... I know, silly and lazy.... but yet TRUE!!!

As for vinegar and pickle juice, I just can't fathom a baker in NYC from late 1800s to through ? 2000 using either vinegar or pickle juice or other acids and 'flavor enhancers'.  I can't.  Why would you tend to a sour that has lactic acid, acetic acid, and 7+ more organic acids, if you are going to use vinegar or pickle juice?  To me, it's like comparing pickles quick fermented with vinegar or acetic acid to pickles made years ago with a natural lactic/acetic acid ferment.  (ya can't get a pickle barrel pickle anymore, can you?)

As far as I can tell, the sour rye bread (aka NY Deli rye) millions of Americans grew up with has all but disappeared.  This is strictly my opinion, but based on going online and poking around, what was once ubiquitous and pretty much everywhere (sour rye) simply isn't around or readily available.  Tastes have changed, we are more culturally and ethnically diverse and new waves of immigrants have brought their wonderful foods and cooking/baking processes to our country.  I'm sure that's part of it, but maybe, and i strongly suspect, the rye I grew up with and had for ?50 years, was a labor intensive bread to bake.  The relatively few bakeries that exist and haven't been pushed out by big box/corporate or in-store mega chain grocery stores can't afford the time commitment to this bread.  <-- my best guess...

I recently heard that France was so concerned about the loss of bakeries making traditional French Baguettes that they commissioned work to codify that bread so that it would not be lost to history.  It is part of their cultural history and as their country changes, they didn't want that bread slipping into history. (where some years from now someone like me goes on about trying to re-discover the baguette of their youth!).

squattercity's picture

Unfortunately, you're right: Here in NYC, I wouldn't know where to go to buy a good sour rye.

Occasionally I have this silly daydream of opening a bread bakery called 'Ryes' -- or maybe 'Rise', or maybe 'crummy bread.' The delirium passes when I remember that I love baking exactly because I'm doing it in extremely small batches.

I look forward to learning from you as you continue the quest.'s picture

I (ME!) joined to learn from you all.  The only thing I can add, is my experience (lots of failures, many so-soes, and an occasional, holy smoke I did that!!).  As I said, having baked over 100 loaves in 2+ years, I don't think 2 were/are the same...   It is truly amazing how the tiniest variation can have a striking affect.  (Think Jurassic Park chaos theory...).  The seemliness unimportant detail can really impact the outcome.  THAT was a hard, hard lesson for me.  Even now, as many notes as I take, they are not enough.  You gotta write down the tiniest detail of what you did.  E.g., don't write 'docked?sp the loaf'. You gotta write, 'used bamboo skewer, made 12 holes in 3" diameter circle at top of bread, at 3" depth to dock the bread".  Don't write, 'added water to frying pan to make steam'.  You write, 'added 4 oz of boiling water (210 degrees) to frying pan to make steam'.  It seems silly but I swear if you look the wrong way or miss ANY detail, the rye knows it and will bedevil you.  Fair warning: do NOT reply to a text or answer your phone when baking.  Rye finds that incredibly rude and WILL pinkle on your bake party....  I will post the latest recipe variant later in the weekend.  I plan on baking on Saturday and will try the suggestion of 40% rye.  (interesting as my first ? 40-50 loaves were around 38% rye flour...)

On to tilting at windmills!!!'s picture

OK I'm trying 40% rye (1st rise underway).


 90 gm frozen rye cubes from previous "adventures"

 300 gr water heated (@133 degrees)

 Mashed with pastry blender (final temp 88 degrees)

 (I tested some of my rye cubes, drying them out.  90 gr of frozen rye cubes, dried in oven 2 hours at 200 degrees resulted in 55 gr rye and so 35 gr of the 90 gr of rye cubes is water).

Bread mix

 360 gm first clear

 140 gm white rye

 250 gr sour (150% hydration) slightly warmed to 52 degrees (I was impatient as I usually allow several hours to get to room temp).  So that's 100 gr rye & 150 gr water in the sour (100+140=240gr rye.  Total flour is 360+240 = 600gr and so 240gr is 40% of 600gr total flour).

 10 gr course salt (1.67%)

 2 tsp IDY (I've cut down from 1 Tblsp)

 1 tsp ground caraway

 2 tsp whole caraway

 Mix at speed 1 (KitchenAide classic) for 2 mins, switch to speed 2 for 2 mins.  (I had to add 4 tsp of first clear and 2 tsp of white rye (1 tsp at a time) to get the dough to pull cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

 Dump onto lightly floured pastry board, knead 2 minutes (about 50 times).  Cover with another bowl and start the rise at room temp on pasty board.

 I figure 1 hr for the rise

TBC (I'll post the rest shortly.  I figured I could do the first post while waiting for the first rise).  Including the moisture from the rye cubes the hydration is (300+150+35)/600 or 80.8%.  I skipped the vital wheat gluten, reduced the IDY a bit,  The salt is 1.67% (down from 2% I've been using) and I've added some ground caraway as I've found recipes and mention that NYC Deli Rye sometimes included ground caraway along with whole caraway.  Of course there were many regional variances of flavorings; fennel, anise, poppy, chernushka and others.  I bought some chernuska and will try some of that in a loaf.

Cheers!  Does disaster await?  Will I be crushed again?  We'll see.  I recently came to the conclusion that sour rye is a like high maintenance super model that demands 110% of your attention to detail.  The slightest misstep and rye throws a hissy fit; then you're in the doghouse.  Heck sometimes, even for no good reason, you're in the doghouse.  Such is sour rye.  It explains a lot of things...'s picture

The first rise was 1 hour.  My notes say the rise was OK.  I deflated, reshaped and put into to microwave for the 2nd rise.  ( I heated 2 cups of water to a boil in the microwave to create a warm, moist environment).

After 1 hr (2nd rise) the loaf more or less just spread out.  There was a clear lump from my 2nd knead where I folded a large lump and just didn't get the ball nicely shaped.  The oven was preheated to 425 degrees for the full 2nd rise.

The dough just didn't rise much and may have been over proofed but at least it had not torn or shredded into shaggy dough.   I may try this recipe one more time, reducing the rise time, but I'm not happy at all with this result.  I'm definitely re-considering putting the vital wheat gluten back in...

I have pics of a loaf from Feb 21 the darned bread looked almost like a basketball.  I have another pic from January 2022 and loaf is a rich auburn color, huge oven spring, and mega round (side profile).  It's like I've regressed...


Anyway, if any if this is useful, have at it!

Bake regiment

Spritzt loaf with water from spray bottle

8 mins uncovered at 425, with steam from 1/2 cup hot water (194 degrees) into preheated cast iron frying pan

Remove from oven, dock with 9 holes (skewer), 3" deep.  I think that REALLY deflated the dough.  Brush with corn starch solution (1/2 tsp corn starch, 1/2 cup water, boiled, whisked...) Cooled to room temp before applying to the bread.

Reduce oven to 400, cover with bowl (I bought a new SS bowl and drilled holes in it...) bake additional 40 mins

Open oven door to release residual steam, increase oven to 450, bake additional 5 minutes, still covered with bowl.

Remove from oven, brush 2nd time with corn starch.

squattercity's picture

Hey Dave K ...

I hope you you won't mind one practical suggestion and two questions.

the suggestion: perhaps you could defeat the problem with your oven fan by getting a Dutch Oven. This would mean you would not need a steam pan (the water in the dough creates its own steamy environment as long as the cover is on) and, when you uncover the bread, the fan action might actually help create the crackle you are looking for.

I never believed it could make much of a difference, but when I found a Dutch Oven that one of my neighbors was throwing out, my crusts and my oven spring suddenly got way, way, way better.

the questions

1. are you happy with the taste, texture? I ask bc I'm somewhat surprised that the crumb is that tight, given that you are adding yeast -- but the ultimate test is the eating.

2. Also, how strongly do you punch down or deflate the dough after the first rise? I ask bc, in the various rye recipes I've consulted, I've not found that to be a normal part of the process. They generally call for dumping the dough out of the bowl, allowing it to rest a bit, then reshaping it into whatever final form you want before the 2nd rise. Of course, the dough does naturally deflate a bit when handled, but there's no active degassing involved.

Rob's picture

I think the texture is OK but very 'damp'.  I deflate the dough aggressively, because well I don't know any better and I could swear I've seen videos that do that really deflate aggressively (like completely reforming the bread from scratch).  I can certainly try as you say.  Honestly I think my techniques are probably ham fisted and amateur.  I've most or less come to the conclusion I don't really know the proper way to knead bread.   It's very satisfying though, especially with pizza dough...  Something about forming the dough, over and over... 

I may yet try the dutch oven.  I've been holding off reasoning that bakers don't normally do that, but honestly my wall oven is pretty small (I think it's a 27" wall oven with combination microwave...) so maybe there's no practical way to emulate a huge commercial oven with what I have... I may have been able to defeat the over fan with my new bowl I got off Amazon that I drilled some holes in on the sides, near the top.

I'd certainly like a lighter dough ...  I went to try to find my notes from Jan22 and Feb21 but I CAN'T FIND THEM!!!  Yikes.  I have the sinking feeling that I chucked them out as they were on individual pieces of printer paper and weren't in bound notebook, like I'm using now...

Thanks again.  hmmm now if I use a dutch oven is the dutch oven preheated too?  I use parchment paper, very lightly oiled along with course ground corn meal on the 2nd rise.  I put the paper and bread in the oven for the first 8 minute bake but remove the paper before I cover for the longer bake at reduced temp (right now that's 400 degrees).  I'm sure commercial bakers aren't using parchment...but you gotta do what you gotta do.  I'm almost certain they put their bread on large baking boards and transferred the loaves 2 at a time (who knows maybe they did 4 loaves at a time).

I really appreciate the suggestions and apologize for my bad mood when the bread defeats me again...  Such a seemingly simple bread.


squattercity's picture

... through this deceptively simple process, so no apologies or explanations needed. Frustration goes with the territory.

-- yes, the Dutch Oven -- both top & bottom -- is preheated. While it's true that pros don't use them, they also don't bake in home ovens.

-- as I understand it, punching down dough is common in some recipes that only feature all-purpose flour. And, yeah, it is fun and super-satisfying. But rye is a different animal, and when it's present in high enough percentages, the task is to manipulate the rye starches as well as to build a wheat gluten network, so the approach has to be somewhat different.

--for what it's worth, here's my latest bake using Ilya's quick deli rye technique. It's 1/3 rye and the rest is a mix of whole wheat, spelt, bread flour and all purpose (in other words, I was emptying lots of bags of flour.) It's pretty simple, just the flours, salt, starter (all of the rye flour is fermented in a levain), water and caraway seeds. Relatively minimal handling (ten minutes of hand kneading followed by two groups of folds in the bowl while it was fermenting.) After 2 hours, I formed a rough boule on the counter, gave it some rest, then rolled it up into a long loaf shape (spraying it with a bit of water as I rolled to make sure the rye flour I had sprinkled on the counter to prevent sticking absorbed into the loaf), after which it got about a 45 minute proof. I slashed it, sprayed the top with more water & baked it for 40 minutes in a Dutch Oven at 450F (232C), 20 covered, 20 uncovered. After I extracted it from the pan, I gave it an extra two minutes in the oven, still at 450, .


PS: I used to bake exclusively on semolina or cornmeal. But now i use parchment because it makes it easier to load in and out of the Dutch Oven. I didn't detect any big change in quality when I switched to paper -- except that I now have a lot less dust on my floor after baking.'s picture

Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure ... 'we're not worthy, we're not worthy'.  Seriously that looks great.

squattercity's picture

thx, dk!

Tho, tbh, I didn't post my bake for kudos but rather because, in truth, your formula is quite similar ... except that you add IDY and altus (and sometimes gluten) and use white rye. Perhaps you might find it useful to try a different version -- if not Ilya's then Greenstein's sour rye or Hammelman's 40% rye -- and compare the results with your own approach. A mash-up of techniques might lead you to creative ideas regarding how to pursue the Nirvana of a lofty rise, an open crumb, and an appropriately crackly crust.

Rob's picture

Yep, will do!  I'm bewildered with the wide array of variances in my loaves.  I guess I've concentrated nearly exclusively with ingredients, proportions, etc. and it sure seems process/technical is as much or more important than the physical ingredient recipe.  Thanks much to all!  I'm heading out of town for a bit and won't bake or post for while.  Thanks again.'s picture


Here's today's (Feb13th) bake.  It's the same recipe except this time I reduced the water for the altus from 300gr to 275gm.  The results are a bit better but not vastly different.  So my conclusion is that the hydration level didn't have a huge difference. I did apply my 'patented' (yuck) bowl to the bake. It's a stainless steel bowl I got off of Amazon for 20bucks.  I drilled some holes (1/8") on the sides of bowl near the top to allow steam to escape.  I got a slightly darker 'finish'. Everything else is the same.

90gr frozen rye cubes

275 gr water at 139 degrees

mashed up the temp was 101 degrees.


360 gr rye

140 gr first clear

250 gr rye sour at 73 degrees (150% hydration)

10 gr coarse salt

2 tsp IDY

1 tsp ground caraway

2 TBLsp whole caraway

1hr first rise

1hr 2nd rise

425 oven preheat

8 mins uncovered (steam via 1/2 cup very hot water in frying pan for steam)

Remove from oven, brush with corn starch solution (1/2tsp corn starch in 1/2 cu water, cooled in refrigerator)

Docked?sp with 9 - 3" bamboo skewer holes

Oven reduced to 400, returned to oven cover with my magic bowl, baked 40 mins

Set oven to 450 and bake additional 5 minutes

Remove from oven, brush again with corn starch

Cheers!  (next up, same recipe as this but with 2 Tblsp of vital wheat gluten)


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I was trying searches for wrinkled crust and trying to find bakes where they wanted a smoother crust.  This link will show a crackled crust but it contains more wheat.

got a picture of the inside of the oven?  The fan would be most interesting. Perhaps a difuser is needed.'s picture

Yep, yep, yep!!!!    The rectangular loaf, at the top of the loaf (past the watermark), but near the sides.  That's those wrinkles/cracks the rye I used to get, had all over (well except the flat bottom of the loaf).  That's pretty much, 100% it.  The loaf as I remember was darker, but gosh my memory is really fuzzy...  Those are definitely the crinkle/wrinkle, cracks.  The loaf was a darker color and just a tad of a sheen.  Almost makes me cry...  I feel like a lunatic that no one believed!

thanks!'s picture

I'm really sliding backwards (regressing).  My latest loaf is but 3" high...  It's the same recipe for the past 2 loaves but with 2 Tblsp of vital wheat gluten and I was a lot more gentle on the deflate and reshape for the 2nd rise.  To recap..

90 gr frozen rye cubes

275 gram hot water (145 degrees)


 360 gr clear

 140 gr light rye

 250 gr sour @150% hydration (around room temp... I forgot to take the temp)

 10 gr course salt

 2 tsp IDY

 1 tsp ground caraway

 2 Tblsp whole caraway

 2 Tblsp vital wheat gluten


1 hr rise covered with a bowl

light deflate and reshape, then in microwave with 2 cups of hot water in a measuring cup)

1 hr 2nd rise.  (dough was very flat...)

into preheated over 425 degrees for 8 mins (1/2 cup water in frying pan to create steam

Reduce heat to 400 and bake 40 minutes covered with my super special stainless steel bowl with holes drilled in it.

Turn heat up to 450 (after 40 minutes) and back additional 5 minutes.  (I'll send a pic of the loaf cut a bit later..)

So in conclusion, it would seem the vital wheat gluten really didn't help me out very much here.... well drat!  So much for the theory more gluten would create more 'rubber bands' to hold the loaf together.'s picture

That's some pretty drastically different loaves from a recipe that doesn't vary (in my opinion) very much.  The first 2 loaves at the start of this thread were so high, the loaves erupted, even after being docked ?sp.  hmmm...  I won't bake until next week sometime but I'll be going back to 1 Tblsp of IDY.  (I'm on 'parole' right now from the commander and chief after beating the daylights out of a 2nd loaf today in preparation for the 2nd rise.)  I couldn't do a gentle deflate and I kept getting a huge bubble that migrated as I gently tried to deflate the dough.  After a few minutes I just beat the dough savagely, like a raving lunatic, ergo why I'm currently on kitchen 'parole'...   They say you can't really kill yeast by punching, but I think I came close...'s picture

I baked a 2nd loaf today.  Same as above but reduced the sour to 150gr (25% of 600 gr).  Not a whole bunch better.  It was slightly larger and ever so slightly higher...  (If this is of any use....)  This is the loaf I went apoplectic on... I think beating it senseless actually produced a slightly better loaf. 

90gr rye cubes

335 gr hot water


360 gr first clear

180 gr light rye

150 gr sour

10 gr salt

2 Tblsp vital wheat gluten

2 Tblsp whole caraway

2 tsp IDY

(Oven at 435 degrees)

Bake uncovered for 8 minutes

Removed from oven, brush with cold corn starch mixture

Reduce oven to 400, cover bread with magic bowl and bake 40 mins.

Increase oven to 450 for 5 mins

Remove from oven brush again with cold corn starch mixture's picture

Here’s the 2nd loaf crumb...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can you take a picture of the oven setting dails? I would like to see the symbols. Electric oven?'s picture

I’m out of town for a few days but I’ll be glad to take pic when I return.  It’s a combination wall oven microwave and wall oven from Kitchenaide.  Its 2-3 years old...'s picture

here it is...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you tried baking in it? 

Nice...... a "proof" setting.  

I suspect your memory loaf had more wheat flour in it. The rye to wheat may be 30% or lower.   Try mixing up the wheat flour and developing its gluten before adding the sourdough and rye portion of the dough recipe. Several ways to do that but the easiest is just to combine the liquids and toss in the wheat flour giving it a occasional good stir and a half hour to soak up water and develop gluten. Then add the sourdough starter and rye flour and the rest.

I like combining rye with spelt. Spelt does need extra time to hydrate (when comparing it to regular wheat) no matter how it is used in any recipe. Spelt can make up part of the wheat blend where it can boost wheat properties which I think you are after with the crackly or crazed crust. 

I can tell you that once you favor the flavor of high rye % rye breads, there is no turning back. I for one, would rather have the sweet complex high rye flavor over having a specific crust.'s picture

Geez don't I feel rather dumb... I really hadn't noticed my oven has a proof setting... Honestly, I've had this oven/microwave combination for 2+ years and have never noticed I had a Proof setting.  I gotta laugh at that.  I'm sure the Commander and Chief would say she isn't surprised I didn't read any instructions or directions since that's usually the first thing I ignore....  The top is the convention oven/microwave.  I proof in that....  I bake in the lower oven.  It has the fan that is most active in convection mode, but still kicks on (based on what I can tell) in conventional mode when the heating element (upper only) kicks on.  I guess I have to breakdown and actually read the instruction book...

I've taken to proofing (first rise) on my marble prep board and just cover over the dough with a big bowl.  I'm trying to recreate how (based on my understanding) the rye was made.  I'll check again with the current baker when I travel up into my home town in a few weeks, but I'm pretty darn sure the baker said the ingredients were mixed very early in the AM, then dumped out to bulk ferment/proof/rise.  The bakery used 'old'.  The baker said the rye not sold was tossed into a bucket with water... and then added to the flour mixture.

Your guess would be as good as mine as to the designation, 50-50.  I figured 50% first clear, 50% light rye.  But it could also be 50% light right, 50% medium rye (or dark) to some percentage of wheat flour.  I figure first clear only because I've read that's what was used to make NY deli/NY/Jewish rye traditionally.  And to me that makes sense.  First clear is the flour that's left after all the high grade patent flour has been milled out and separated.  What's left is wheat flour, devoid of the bran and germ, high in protein, I'd guess a bit more flavor AND very importantly, a less costly flour.  NY wasn't gentrified into designer shops and multi-million $ apartments back then, when this rye was common for the masses and mainstream.  And so it makes perfect economic sense to use the best high protein wheat you can get at the lowest cost.

What I'm REALLY struggling with is how the bakery baked this light rye, a huge (?10lb) dark rye, and many, many other things.  This wasn't/isn't some state of the art, highly automated, mega bakery with tons of workers.  I figure 2-3 people tops.  Could they, would they autolyze the wheat flour first?  How could they portion out the loaves and knead each one?  COULD they knead each one?  If you need 8-10 minutes to knead to develop high gluten and you are baking 75 loaves of light rye and 10 or 12 or ? other things (dark rye, sticky buns, cakes, etc), how could that be done?  Similar questions we're asking about the pyramids.. how'd they do that???

I watch videos where a baker spends 4-5 hours kneading, poking, prodding, turning, dusting, pinching, folding, resting, degassing, etc, etc. a single loaf.  What turns out is amazing, but how would any bakery be able to spend more than 1-2 minutes on ANY to-be-baked item and stay in business for 80+ years?  All in a coal mining town, not some mid-town/Wall Street bakery...

There HAD to be some economy of time, a set of processes optimized to minimize dough handling.  Mix, rise, bake, sell.  The current baker has said that I've conjured up a mythical loaf of rye that never existed (in a nice way...).  Nope, it wasn't mythical, it was darn near perfect (IMHO). 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Well, mixing and kneading is done once with the bulk of the dough, so it's 10-15 min for all 75 loaves together. Mixed and kneaded by machines, of course. Shaping is done one by one, but I think an experienced baker only needs a few seconds to shape a loaf... So time is really not a problem.'s picture

I guess I'm putting my novice time factor in play as opposed to people who do that for a living.  I was figuring, geez 1-2 mins per loaf, 75 loaves... heck that's 75 - 150 mins...   How do you bake THAT group of bread so that the bread all rises basically the same and goes in the oven (and comes) out such that they all have about the same rise and the same bake time?  I guess with a few people, really good, they get the loaves shaped very quickly.

mwilson's picture

Forgive me I haven't read this thread in detail, but I gather you are after a cracked crust.

For me pretty much all my lean breads have this feature.

Keys: full development of gluten; low acidity; full volume rise; good initial steam and then evacuation;

Again without reading everything here, I think you need to work your dough a lot more...'s picture

i appreciate all suggestions but since this is sour rye, low acidity isn’t possible...  I I don’t have a ph meter but my sour is active so I’m assuming it’s loaded with lactic, acetic, and other organic acids...  the sour rye I bought for years was nicely cracked.

mwilson's picture

You know your formulation is the same as the product you are trying to recreate?

There are limitations to what is possible when the factors are defined. From what I can see, you are making a bread with a gluten structure? The acidity can't be that high then... 

Low acidity doesn't mean no acidity.. TTA describes that more so than pH. Gluten works well within a set pH range.

More so than any factor, very good gluten development is key to a cracked crust and you can't obtain that with very high acidity.'s picture

I don’t know the relationship between acidity and gluten formulation...  or really much of the science of bread baking for that matter... folks here have forgotten more than I’ll ever know...  The recipes I’ve shared are simply those I’ve conjured up (based on what I’ve found) tweaking based on suggestions posted here.  I’ll gladly try suggestions provided.  Right now, for me, it’s basically trial and error - do something and see what the impact is.  It certainly seems like I’m experiencing wide variations in results and some, perhaps most, is process/technique.  And that’s not optimal.  The loaves I’ve baked lately (last week) are similar to when I started 2+ years ago.. dough starts as a nice 5” ball then spreads out and bakes to 3” / 3 1/2” high... thankfully I do have some notes these past few weeks that I’ve posted, so I should be able to figure out cause and affect...

phaz's picture

In time you'll find it. Stick with what you like - always the way to go. Enjoy!'s picture

What the heck is double baked rye bread?   Pioneered in Detroit it became the ‘standard’ for deli rye?...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

got a link to that double baked article?

...found it under double baked rye bread.

Try it and see if that is what you're after but significantly lower the amount of rye in your recipe.

Twice baked bread will give that cracked mud look especially if you give a fully baked loaf a split second douse of water running the loaf under the tap before popping into a hot oven for ten to fifteen minutes to dry out the crust. You could also douse or mist an 80% baked loaf and finish baking it.'s picture

Here's one of the articles I found... about the double bake.  Apparently it's baked 80% in the AM and cooled.  Then in time for lunch (or I guess dinner), it's baked again (the last 20%) so the bread can be cut and served while warm.'s picture

I've tried dunking a loaf right out of the oven into ICE water and didn't get any krinkle or crack... but that was early experimentation ? 1 - 2 years ago.  I've taken to brushing a loaf pulled from the oven with a corn starch mixture that's ice code.  Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero....  <-- that I've done a lot of.

Now what I haven't tried is baking partially (?80%) letting it cool, then spritzing with water, and baking again at a high temp.

The current baker says he remembers the oven being set to one temperature and left that way.  There were cold and hot spots in the oven.  He thought the bread came to a very hot spot in the oven, just prior to be taken out.

I'm really anxious to try fresh yeast instead of IDY.  I'm sure the bakery used a yeast slurry or the fresh cake yeast.  It just doesn't seem to be available to consumers anymore from local grocery stores.  You can get it from bakery supply houses, but the order is bulk and I don't think it can be shipped.  I'm going to ask around at several grocery stores if they'd sell some of their cake yeast...  maybe some bakery manager will pity the fool that's asking...

Did the bakery use other ingredients?  Did they add a bit of barley malt to help the fermentation/rise?  Would they have used diastatic malt powder to help break down the complex carbs?  Or were they simply masters of wheat, rye, salt, water, yeast and caraway.  Was the recipe anything revolutionary or was the magic their process(es)/techniques?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that say a 50/50 rye/wheat loaf will not give the crust you're after.  One major clue is the bakery saying they didn't make a 50/50 or wondered what you were talking about.  Here is a take out from the twice baked bread:

" the years after WWII when the composition of rye bread started including larger portions of cheaper and longer-lasting white flour, where the now-famous Detroit-style rye bread really began."

It might be to your benefit to try a rye/wheat mixture of flour that is low in rye, say 10%, and if it crackles move up to 15% rye and see if that crackles. Increase the rye in each bake until you hit the crackle limit or where cracks don't show up.  Cornstarch glaze only half the surface on the loaves, brush the other half with water to keep the proofing dough from drying out.'s picture

I baked a truly disastrous loaf yesterday, one of my worst.  I think I need to concentrate on crumb, rise, spring and get that consistent, then worry about the unicorn crust.  I restarted baking about 3 weeks ago.  The first few loaves were so lively that even with docking, they erupted and those loaves were 50/50 clear/rye.  The last ? 4-5-6 loaves were much less bloated and round.  They weren't completely flat, but they sure hadn't risen to the point the loaf erupted.  I've come to the conclusion my sour became denatured.  I have no other explanation.  So I threw that sour out and have restarted another sour.  As sad as it sounds I may be been chasing a rye of my youth with mostly in-effective sour for 2+ years, even though it was changed out a few times. 

I won't post pics as it simply is not work the effort.  I did a twice baked loaf without vital wheat gluten but with 7 grams of diastatic malt powder.  I used ice code water for making my altus with room temp rye cubes (90 grams).  I figured do a long slow first rise, so I mixed the loaf and kneaded robustly for 6 minutes.  I let it rise 1 1/2 hours, but noticed it wasn't very high and mostly spread out.  Ops, I used 2 tsp of IDY instead of my normal 1 Tblsp.  The 2nd rise was a VERY gentle deflate and reform, then into my warmed microwave for an hour.  The loaf rose a tiny bit more but wasn't exploding/healthy.  I more or less knew disaster awaited...

I baked 425 for 8 mins uncovered.  The removed and brushed with a barley malt wash.  Returned to oven reduced to 400 and covered with my 'hole' bowl for 30 minutes.  I let the loaf cool for 2 hours, then brushed again with the malt wash and returned (covered) to the oven for 15 minutes.  It didn't spring much, about 9" in diameter and maybe 3" high.  Sad, very sad.  Worst part?  I cut into the loaf 3 hours later only to find a layer of pasty, gummy rye....

First order of business will be to get back to the the first loaf I posted here.  I figure I need a week to get my sour into shape.  It's pretty disheartening to watch Youtubers tell you that you can pretty much leave a sour in your refrigerator for weeks or even months, as long as the temp is below 40 degree Fahrenheit...  I don't think that's the case at all.  Yep, I know people have said sour has been kept on going for decades with regular feedings ...

I don't know when my sour denatured.  It never failed to bubble when warmed, but I did notice there was no longer any odor.  The consistency was like just mixed thin pancake batter, which I've seen my sour migrate to and used dozens and dozens of times when I baked in the past.  I have seen my sour go bad and get a layer of brown, clear water at the top and so I know what truly dead sour is.  So what is the microbial change from a good lactose (lactobacillus bacteria) ferment to something else, before the sour completely denatures?  I don't figure it returned to leuconostoc bacteria in which vegetable fermentation goes through as the 2nd stage to the final lactobacillus ferment.  The sour was a bit bubbly but thin and not goey.

I'm out of sorts, completely.  I think I have to get a Ph meter and not rely on look/smell as obviously that just isn't working for me.  I'll post when I have something to report.  Maybe the very first order of business to select one recipe and simply be able to bake that consistently.   Thanks again to everyone!  (there's just GOT to be a blues song about baking rye bread!)



squattercity's picture

Don't stress, Dave K.

Disasters happen to all of us (well, maybe not to Benny, but he's the exception that proves the rule.)

I think you've identified an excellent plan.

You've basically been beating at your recipe time and again until it produces the crust you want. Which is a version of that famous thing Einstein never said about insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Here's a friendly suggestion (which you should feel free to ignore), give a tried n true recipe a whirl. I mentioned 3 in a prior post ... and you might look at all 3 and choose the one that attracts you the most to start with) See if that one gives you any of the characteristics you like: taste, rise, crumb, crust, etc. Then move on from there to either try the others or adjust that recipe to bring forth the other qualities you are seeking.

I am thinking that this will also take the pressure off. Baking should not be a stress-filled endeavor. You should enjoy yourself -- even when the things you pull from the oven are less than ideal.

Rob's picture

Sound advice, thanks.  I really need to get consistency then worry about variations and finally about the <expletive deleted> crush!  This latest disaster really brings that home loud and clear... well darn, darn, darn!  Memories from our youth dies hard.  (I still think I'm getting a Ph meter).  I don't trust my sense of smell or vision as regards the look of the sour and longer.  I wonder, if it's just mostly bacteria could it be consumed?  hmmm.. you know taste the sour.  But then I think I've read some yeast is still present in a sour and I know that you shouldn't consume yeast.  Maybe a Ph meter is better than a potential malady from tasting a sour.

squattercity's picture

I have never used a pH meter, so have no thoughts on that. I do taste my starter regularly and never considered that it could be bad for me. I look for a reasonably light texture (tho it gets denser the longer it's in the fridge) and a bracingly tart (but not overpowering) flavor and aroma. Essentially, in my baking, I'm pursuing a 'feel' for what's going on -- and, for me, too many tools impede that kind of understanding.'s picture

I wish I had a good set of taste buds, but alas I don't...  I'll give tasting a try.  I know after one disastrous bake a few weeks ago I just cut the loaf into bread cubes.  The loaf was so dense and mushy I figured, just put the bread cubes in the oven at low tem (like 170 or 180) and let them dry out before storing in my freeze.  They were in the oven for ?20 - 30 mins and when I opened the oven door, the odor of acid just about knocked me over.  I was very, very surprised at that.'s picture

I found a number of links to one of the recommended recipes (Greenstein) to try as I've regressed so badly the last 4-5 loaves were 3" high, having spread out and not up and out, despite trying different things.  Reminds me of my start 2+ years ago... flat, dense, low rise.

I found one recipe for the "Greenstein" sour rye for 750 grams of sour but the hydration level of the sour wasn't given.  I know some people use a very thick/dense sour, like the same weight water as rye (100% hydration).  I've settled on 150% because, it's the first sour I made 2 years ago (from the Brown Eyed Baker).  The baker created a sour with that approximate ratio.  Also I wasn't sure what rye to obtain.  I only have light rye on hand now.  I'd like to give that recipe a try and see what results I get.  




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squattercity's picture

my guess would be that whole rye would work better in a sour (more nutrients for the yeast) but it can definitely work with light rye.

I read somewhere (forget where) that, if you're gonna refrigerate your starter, it helps to keep it lean -- meaning less than 100% hydration. I keep mine at 100% because it seems happiest when I do. In my experience, the leaner the starter the more sour it gets.

David Snyder's description of how he preps (or did at the time) his sour for Greenstein's formula -- -- shows that he starts it wet, but in successive feedings makes it lean.

His general formula for the bread is here:

Enjoy the journey!

Rob's picture

I look forward to trying that recipe but I'm out of first clear.  Yep, I know I could probably just use bread flour, so maybe I can do that.  I may not bake for a bit as I have some home improvement (painting) and grandad duties, but I maybe I can squeeze a bake in.... Thanks much!'s picture

On Saturday, in between painting I decided to bake the Greenstein recipe.  I was out of First Clear and so use King Arthur unbleached bread flour.  It has ?12.7% protein so I figured it'll do until my order of first clear arrives.  I made another sour from my light rye sour of 150% hydration for the medium rye I had on hand (I was low on white rye too).  so I started with about 50 grams of my 150% hydration light rye adding 50 gram of medium and 50 gr of water.  I did this several times, several days (alternately putting the sour away for the night and the bringing out for the day.  By Saturday afternoon I have a very active medium rye sour at a bit more than 100% hydration.

I halved the recipe

250 gr KA unbleached bread flour

120 gr water (I'm not sure what "80-199F".  I figured it was a typo for 80-100..

6 gr Himalaya salt (I didn't have sea salt).

3.5 gr IDY SAF Red

1/4 cup altus (I started with 1/2 cup of cubes, but mushed down was about 1/4 cup)

1T caraway (technically I should have used 1/2T per the recipe but I like caraway)

I mixed the ingredients but deviated as I was rushed and didn't dissolve the yeast in the water and sour.  Drat doing 2 jobs at once...  So I put all the ingredients in my KitchenAide and mixed away for (Yikes) 20 minutes.  Let say this, I've NEVER mixed 20 minutes.  Honestly I don't think I've ever mixed more than 5 minutes...  I did have to add a Tblsp of bread flour and medium rye to get the mixture to pull cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

I dumped the dough onto my prep board and it was soft and sticky.  There was no kneading it.  I put into a greased bowl (olive oil) and coated to top.  I let this rise 20 mins.  Then I dumped onto my work surface and more or less formed into a ball.  I let this rise covered for an hour.  it rose a bit  but mostly spread WAY out. (2" high and ? 10" in diameter.

After an hour i brush with corn start and baked it, steaming on entry.  I baked 45 mins, then turned the oven off and let the load in another 10 mins.  I removed and brushed with the corn starch but then decided it wasn't done and so put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes (the heating element kicked back on and so the top carmelized...).

My final product is 2 1/2" high about 11" in diameter.  A little oven spring.  Certainly not like the beautiful pics.  When into the loaf after a few hours my bread knife came out gummy.  However when I cut again for a slice, maybe another hour later, all was fine.  The bread was soft and surprisingly not super moist.  It was surprisingly good! 

So I have lots and lots to think about... (Do I mix relentlessly in my regiment?  Do I reduce the amount of IDY i use (based on the recipe I found online as I use 1Tblsp for 600gr flour).  Do I reduce 1st rise to 20 mins, then form and let rise and hour?  Lots to think about.

I'll post pics separately as my iPad has decided not to send pics to this PC I'm typing on...'s picture's picture

i think I found several posts that indicated a rule of thumb for the amount of sour is 40% total flour weight.  The Greenstein recipe (I think) works out to be 42% sour and it makes up the entire amount of rye in the recipe.  That sour was the basic 100% hydration where the weight of the water was the weight of the flour.  Is the 40% 'rule' for total sour (flour and water)?  What are the considerations for the amount hydration in a sour?  My sour is 150% and so at 40% of total flour I have less rye and more water than a 'traditional' 100% hydration sour.  I'm assuming with more water, that would mean more lactic acid.  So I'm guessing... bread made with 40% sour amount at 150% hydration would BE more sour than a 40% sour amount at 100% hydration.

Thanks much to all. 

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Forty percent refers to the amount of pre-fermented flour, so rye flour represents 40% of the total recipe flour. I don't think it's any kind of rule, but some people seem to prefer that amount for deli-style ryes. Many formulas use less.

Did you refer to dmsnyder's write-up of this bread and his conversions from volume to weight measurements? If not, you might find it helpful. I own Greenstein's book and would be happy to scan the pages and PM them to you (provided I can find it, haha), but I believe today's bakers would find Dr Snyder's version easier to follow. It is faithful to the original. I think you'll find the bread very flavorful when the sour is built in 3 stages as detailed in the formula. The stages are intended to develop the appropriate level of acidity to make an authentic deli rye. (I used to scale the ingredients so as not to end up with a lot of discard.) I think you'll also be happy with the flavor impact of first clear flour. The formula makes delicious bread. Hope this helps!

squattercity's picture

DK --

1. seconding another girl. In this context, 40% = the percentage of total flour that is pre-fermented. It also happens that, since all of the rye flour in the recipe is pre-fermented in the levain, the bread is a 40% rye.

2. in my experience -- and perhaps counter-intuitively -- a wetter sour is a less sour sour. Similarly, using more sour in a levain makes a bread less sour.

3. you could convert a small portion of your 150% hydration sour to 100% hydration for the purposes of trying the Greenstein formula the way it is written simply by feeding it more flour and less water.


squattercity's picture

Ah, sorry! I missed your earlier post: you did adjust your sour to 100% hydration.

I remain nonplussed why your bread spread rather than rose. At 60% bread flour and using a sour and IDY, I would think gluten would develop and the dough would hold together fairly well -- sticky, maybe, but not slack, particularly after 20 min. in the mixer.

R's picture

I would like to try dmsnyder's recipe again.  I'm a bit swamped but it's on my to do list.  I'll look over the 3 stage sour write up too.'s picture

so if I understand ir correctly, if I have 600gr total flour weight (that’s both first clear and rye) the weight of the fermented rye would be 240gr (for a 40% sour).  If my sour is 100% hydration, then my total sour is 480gr.  Right?

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

All good on the math 👍🏻. Your bread looks pretty good, although it did spread a bit. It's a spready dough though, that's the nature of the beast. Some tips and tricks that might help: 1) Reduce the hydration a tiny bit or skip the altus, which adds extra water; 2) Place some rolled up towels or wine bottles (as seen in this post) alongside the loaf during final proof; 3) Transverse scoring will encourage the bread to rise up rather than spread out; 4) Develop gluten in the white/first clear flour before adding the rye sour (helps ensure strong gluten and can also help minimize any issues with pentosans). Hope this helps.'s picture is the recipe I followed as best as I could....halved and with medium rye and KA bread flour.    While my result was pretty bad, it gave me a lot to think about!,,.'s picture

I've been a bit swamped with work and my home project ('remodeling a guest bedroom) so I have been able to log in and thank the many folks who've provided suggestions, guidance, hints, etc.  I have lots of stuff to try for sure.  I finally surrendered to the notion I have to change ONE THING at a time and carefully record what's going on, so I'll be getting to the suggestions but it'll take some time.  Thanks a zillion!  (my next 2 trials are moving to 100% hydration sour and then with 100% hydration sour going to 2/3 clear and 1/3 light rye).

squattercity's picture

have fun with the work and home projects.

It's a great idea to be a bit more systematic in making recipe changes. I look forward to seeing the results of your future deli-rye bakes when you get to them.

Rob's picture

I baked 2 loaves on Friday March 17 for St. Patty's Day corned beef and cabbage.  Both were OK.  My major adjustment was reducing the 1TBL of IDY (about 12 grams) to 6 grams.  Also I switched from a 150% sour hydration to 100% hydration.

100 gr rye cubes (about 40% hydration)

230 gr water for the altus ( the water was warm and so the alus was 86 degrees F


300 gr clear

150 gr rye

12 gr salt

6 gr IDY SAF Red

300 gr sour 100% hydration

Mix in Kitchaide mixer until it pulled cleanly from the sides. Dump out on floured board and knead 50 times.  Shape and rise 1 hour.  After 1 hr deflate  and reshape.  Allow to rise 1 hr 15 mins in warmed/moist microwave  Bake 8 minutes in preheat oven at 425 (steamed the usual way by preheating my cast iron frying pan at the start of the 2nd rise.  So my oven was preheating for 1 hr 15 mins).  I add 1/2 cup water to the frying pan and bake the first 8 minutes uncovered.  After 8 minutes, cover with my special 'holed' salad bowl and bake 50 more minutes. 

Total rye was about 54%.  Pretty good oven spring and good basic rise but wish the loaf wasn't as dense.  See another post for pics.  (My *&^%$% ipad won't send my pics to my PC...)  So I'll cut the pics in from my ipad when I open Safari and go to the forum.  (this here's my PC..)


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have problems as well.  Often I take a photo, make a screen shot and then crop the screen shot so that is isnt tall but a wide strip. Then use the double picture icon to load the photo. Then rotate the iPad so I can tap on the "insert" at the bottom of the page.   So far that works for me but it's limiting. :)'s picture

I baked a 2nd loaf on March 17 using the sour as the basis for the rye.  Total weight was about the same (Loaf 1  1103 gr and loaf 2  1109 gr.

100 gr rye cubes (room temp)

230 gr water (room temp)

450 gr clear flour

12 gr salt

6 gr IDY SAF Red

2 (TBL spoon caraway .  ops forgot loaf 1 also received 2 TBL spoon of caraway)

300 gr sour at 100% hydration (in both cases the sour was very active, nice and spongy)

I mixed until the dough pulled cleanly from the sides of my Kitchenaide classic.  Dumped onto lightly floured board and kneaded 50 times.  Shape and allowed to rise/rest (under covered bowl) 1 hour.  After 1 hour, deflated ...  It was hard to deflate.  The dough was so springy, I'd push in one area and the gas bubble would just migrate to another area.  After reshape i let the dough rise for just 1 hour.  The dough was so soft I felt another 15 mins (like loaf 1) and the bread would shag... so just 1 hour for the 2nd rise.

Overall the loaf rose a bit more than loaf one.  Same bake regiment.  8 minutes uncovered at 425 and steam.  Then 50 minutes but oven turned down to 400 degrees and loaf covered in my 'holed' bowl.  Total rye about 32%. 

At the St. Patty's gathering the group was evenly split between favoring the 54% rye .vs. the 32% rye.  The 54% rye formed a smooth crust.  The 32% rye had a smooth crust at first after taking from the oven, but then wrinkled up (I guess from the escaping steam).

I tasted both myself and tended toward softer (32% rye)...'s picture

9ok here is loaf 1 March 17. 54% rye's picture

here is loaf 2. 32% rye


dmsnyder's picture

I have been making Jewish Sour Rye for years. Everything about the product made with my recipe derived from George Greenstein's is the way I like it, except that I have never been able to achieve the thin, crackly crust that I think is typical. I've tried lots of tweaks but have concluded there is something about the commercial wood or coal-fired ovens that cannot be duplicated in a home oven.

If some one finds the secret to getting this type of crust in a home oven, I would be delighted.

Good luck and Happy Baking!

David's picture

Can you post a recent pic/link of the loaf you make?  It's been a long time ?15+ years? since the bakery I used to go to closed and so I'm trying to chase after a memory.  It sure seemed like the bread would take much longer to toast than plain old commercial white bread, but it would toast nicely to an even golden brown without burning the crust. Putting butter on  it, was pure heaven.

The baker that runs the shop now says I'm chasing an illusion...I guess so.  I do remember one time, just before the bakery closed up, the oven's steamer broke and they baked anyway.  The loaves were grayish with no sheen and they had erupted up through the top in ?I think in a swirl?? if remember.  I asked what happened and the shop said their steamer broke.  I know I bought some loaves to bring back to Maryland and while the taste was similar it wasn't the same.

Like the saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.  (thanks to all for guidance and lots to think about, I'll continue tweaking away).

dmsnyder's picture

I do like this bread darkly toasted, especially with almond butter or sweet butter. It tastes better than the rye I grew up with because I use a high-extraction rye flour rather than white rye.

I get bursting more often than not. Insufficient steam can do this. My problem is usually slight under-proofing.

David's picture

Outstanding, outstanding.  Like Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure ... "We're not worthy" (I'm not worthy).  Very nice indeed. What is a high extraction rye flour?  i can see it does have a bit of color but doesn't seem as dark as the medium rye I tried to bake with. 

alfanso's picture

I'll attest that it can be done at home.  I follow his instructions to a 'T' and get virtually the same results using pre-packaged dark rye flour.   Same shaping, scoring and crumb.  Different set of hands but for the most part, almost interchangeable.  

Now, you are likely to not get those crackles across the top of the loaf, but if you decide to go this route, then you'll also want to apply a cornstarch brushing to the top of the loaves.   And what I found to be quite important for me - to score the dough with a serrated bread knife when shaped this way.

And the morning toast is superb and delicious, not to mention a top notch bread for any type of deli sandwich.  

dmsnyder's picture

High extraction just means some of the bran and germ are left in (Actually, returned to) the flour after milling). In this country, there is no really precise terminology for categorizing flours.The flour in this bread is "Medium White Rye Flour" from Central Milling. It is their clone of German Type 110 rye flour. "Medium Rye" from another mill may be darker or lighter.

I have also made this bread with King Arthur's medium rye flour and others.

David's picture

In the continuing sage of village idiot trying to bake the fictitious bread of his youth here's my latest tweak.  It's a 50/50 loaf.  


 100 gr rye bread cubes (about 40% hydration)

 230 gr water (95 degrees F)  (Mash bread cubes with hand pastry blender).


330 gr first clear (+2 tsp*)

120 gr light rye (New product - Doves farm organic) (+2 tsp*)

12 gr pure salt

9 gr IDY SAF Red

2 Tblsp caraway seeds

300 gr sour (very active. - didn't take the temp but it was probably 90+ degrees F as the jar was warm)

Mixed in my KitchenAide Classic mixer with dough hook. *I added and extra 2 tsp each clear and rye to get the dough to pull cleanly from the sides of the bowl.  Probably 3-4 minute mix.

Dump onto lightly floured board and knead 50X.  I did NOT shape the dough and did a bulk rise for 1 hr. Then I tried to lightly deflate and shape.  2nd rise 1 hr 15 mins, but I think the dough was ready to shag...  I preheated the over to 425 at the start of the 2nd rise, but somehow while setting the timer for the 2nd rise, the rye bread monster turned the oven OFF.  I went to put the loaf in the oven and it was at 230 degrees F ...  *&^% rye bread monster.  So now the dough it at over proof and the oven wasn't near temp...

OK, dust the course corn meal from the bottom, deflate aggressively and re-shape for a 3rd rise (1 hour).  I preheated the oven back to 425 during the 3rd rise.

After 3rd rise, into the oven uncovered with my steam method (1/2 cup water into heated frying pan). Bake 8 mins at 425.  After 8 mins remove the parchment paper and cover the loaf with my holed bowl.  Bake for 45 mins at 425.  After 45 mins, set oven temp UP to 450.  Bake 5 mins.  (note the 5 mins started immediately after the 45 min bake and so the oven took 2-3 mins to get up to temp during the final bake).  After 5 mins I removed the loaf.  The crust was definitely hard but as it cooled it softened up.  I'll post a pic of the whole loaf, which is slightly smaller than most that I've made.  The oven spring was pretty good.  No wash was applied to the loaf.'s picture

here’s the pic's picture

Here's my loaf for March 24th.  It's a 50/50 rye/first clear and I think at this point I'm mostly done with 50/50.  I have a few more things to try, but I think i'm going way down the 'other end' to 25% rye/75 % first clear and work my way up...

100gr rye cube (about 40% hydration)

195 gr water at 75 degrees

300 gr first clear

90 gr light rye

12 gr Morton Kosher salt

6 gr IDY (SAF Red)

2 Tblsp caraway seeds

2 Tblsp Vital Wheat Gluten (about 20 grams)

300 gr sour (active and at 75 degrees)


Mixed in KitchenAide classic with dough hook (?5-6 mins until dough pulled cleanly from the sides of the bowl.)

Dump onto lightly floured surface and knead 100 times, 1046gr total weight, dough temp 75 degrees

1 hour 1st proof  (rolled into ball and placed under a bowl misted with water)

Gentle deflate and reshape

1 1/2 hour 2nd proof (started to preheat oven to 425 degrees at start of 2nd proof)  (Loaf placed on parchment with coarse corn meal).

Into 425 oven, 1/2 cup water into cast iron frying pan, bake uncovered 8 minutes

Removed parchment paper from under load, allow steam to escape

Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and covered with 'holed' stainless steel bowl

Bake additional 50 mins.

Remove for oven and cool on rack.'s picture

I was up visiting the bakery in PA to pick up a bunch of bread and other goodies, along with Kielbasa from a shop operating since 1911 (same family).  Here's one of their deli rye loaves with the cracks and krinkles I started this threat with!  The baker says that when he takes by bread out of the oven there is distinct cracking not unlike a bowl of Rice Krispies!  That's the crack / krinkle that was on the sour rye of my youth.  The loaves were round, had a satin sheen, and were a darker color.  But it was a light rye.

dmsnyder's picture

So, before the baker put the loaf in the oven, he held it in front of a bag of rye flour for 12 seconds.  Right? (Just joking)

Seriously, I wonder what % rye flour is in this loaf.

When I was trying for a crust like this on baguettes, I came to the conclusion I would have to use really low-protein flour. I wonder if you can ever get this type of crust with a 40% or greater rye mix.'s picture

I spoke with the baker (the bakery is now called the Spring Street Bakery, in Frackville, Pa, about my loaf but didn't ask him about the Deli rye he's now making.  I'll try to contact the bakery and see if he'll give the ingredients  & percentage.  (I bought 8 loaves this past Saturday to dole out the family and friends.  As for the wash, he said he remembers (as a kid) the baker would brush the loaves before they went into huge oven, but they were not brushed during or afterwards.

As for the half and half, even the baker said he had a customer come in asking for half and half rye.  He was wondering if maybe the sour was made with a high percentage of wheat flour (and he guessed first clear) and that the remaining rye was 1/2 of one type of rye and 1/2 of another.  He makes a different loaf than the pic I posted and uses a mixture of dark and medium rye, along with wheat flour.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

crust color by putting malt or (any sugar or syrup) into the glaze. Even on a 20% rye loaf. Just a half teaspoon to 200g glaze can make a differenc. So start out with small amounts or risk burning the crust.

I use a thin malt & flour slurry to paint or print decorations on bread surfaces.'s picture

What kind of malt do you use?  I have Barley Malt.  It's a super thick and sticky molasses like syrup.  I tried to make a was and applied after a bake and wound up with a sticky, tacky loaf.  Maybe I can try applying at the beginning.  The one thing though, is my dough seems very delicate right before the bake, so much so that any pressure would deflate the dough. The baker's description of the former baker applying the wash was that the baker was going very, very quickly.  He said, the wash was kept in an old metal bucket and was 'painted' on and then the loaf was docked sp? with a wooden stick with, he said, nails protruding.  The nails were in a circular pattern and so the baker would almost (my words) wack the top of the bread to put 8 or 10 holes at the top.  He also felt the oven was run at 500 degrees and what was for almost everything make at the bakery.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can imagine brushing undiluted malt syrup onto a loaf would turn it into loaf shaped fly paper.  Diluted is key with water or added to your very runny glaze. Try a teaspoon and use a very wide four inch brush, and yes, right after shaping. Thin out the glaze with enough water for easy application. Brush the back of your hand to test, one wet fast sweep. Thin like whole milk.  

Whacking? No. Use a bamboo sckewer or a long toothpick. Wet it first with water and poke to release any large air pockets formed in shaping or grew during the final proof.  Optional but space holes about an inch apart from each other.  After about a minute waiting for gas to release, gently brush to close up the holes if desired.'s picture

when I tried the barley malt it was thinned in water.  I used 1 tsp of malt to 1 cup of boiling water and let the mixture continue to boil for a few minutes.   I let it cool and applied just before going into the oven.  Thus far I haven’t had a need to dock.  In fact when ever I’ve docked my bread all it has done is deflate my loaf so I went from a nice oval shape to a 3” thick pancake.  And so for now, no more docking for me.   

It would be way easier to do the wash after the knead and shape.  I hadn’t thought of that.   I figured the malt might change the rise.  Maybe I’ll try at the start of the second rise after the shape instead of trying to be so delicate at the end of the 2nd rise before the bake.  Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

like they needed docking. :)

i just got my new house door in. There isn't anything that could deflate my exuberance.'s picture

On Monday I did a 25% rye bake with no altus.  Not surprisingly the dough was much softer and I got better oven spring.

450gr first clear

12gr Morton's Kosher coarse salt

5 gr IDY (SAF Red)

15 gr caraway

300 gr sour (100% hydration)  (I forgot to take the temp, but the sour was very active and out of the refrigerator for ?3 hours

235 gr water (at 75 degrees)


Mixed ?4-5 minutes in my KitchenAide classic with dough hook.  The dough was pulled clearly from the bowl sides, but was 'stuck' on the bottom.  So the dough was soft and tacky. 

I dumped onto floured pastry board and kneaded 100 times.

1st rise 1 hr covered with large bowl (the round ball really flattened out and I feared the worst).

I reshaped and allowed the dough a 2nd rise but for 45 mins. (I preheated the oven to 450 degrees at the start of the 2nd rise). The 2nd rise was in my microwave but I didn't warm it with boiled water and so the 2nd rise was most room temp, but since the oven sits on top of oven as a built in, I'm sure it picked up some heat...)

Into oven after 45 mins at 450 for 8 mins, water applied to cast iron dutch oven casserole dish (not as good a steamer as my Lodge frying pan...).  Note the top of the loaf was scorched a bit as the heating element kicked on....

I removed from the oven after 8 mins and brushed with a barley malt wash.  Back into over at 400 for 40 mins.

I got really good oven spring, but alas no singing when I removed the loaf...'s picture

Monday April 3rd bake.  33% rye and it sings!  Snap, crackle, pop!  I didn't dock and the upper crust pulled completely away from bread interior, so I appears I do have to doc.

No altus

400 gr clear

50 gr white rye

300 gr sour (100% hydration)

12 gr salt

5 gr IDY (SAF Red)

2 Tblsp caraway (? I believe 20 gr)

235 gr water

1 hr first rise

Deflate and re-shape

1 hr 2nd rise

On to higher % of rye for Thursday or Friday

squattercity's picture

Fabulous crust!

Big congrats! That's one task achieved!

The crumb looks fine too, except for that air pocket.

Enjoy all the experimentation as you solve that & move forward!

Rob's picture

Thanks very kindly.  I'll dock the next loaf and will be increasing the rye content!'s picture

i was able to get a singing loaf but not as pronounced as early and not much in the way of krinkles.  This loaf is 42% (actually 41.667%) rye.  No altus.


350 gr first clear + 1 tsp

100 gr white rye + 1 tsp

12 gr salt (Morton coarse Kosher salt)

4 gr IDY (SAF red)

20 gr whole caraway (2 Tblsp)

235 water

300 gr sour (100% hydration).


into mixer for about 5 mins with dough hook.  I had to add 1 tsp each first clear and white rye to have dough pull cleanly from sides, but still still on the bottom.  Dumped onto floured surface and kneaded 100 times,

1052 gr total weigh, formed into ball then covered with large SS bowl with the inside misted with water

1 hr first rise

deflate/reshape, dust aluminum foil sheet with coarse corn meal, cover again with SS bowl misted on the inside with water.

55 mins 2nd rise (I would have gone an hour, but I had a Zoom meeting to attend)

Brush with wash

5 mins in oven uncovered and steamed (1/2 cup water in cast iron pan)

Remove the aluminum foil from under the loaf and dock 6 holes about 1/2" deep

35 mins uncovered.

Not quite the leathery, cracked crust I was hoping for but overall one of my best so far.  Had some singing but not as much as the loaf prior.  Good (I think) oven spring (see the first pic below).  Seems like a soft loaf based on cutting to reveal the crumb.  The boss says it's getting hotter these days and so I'm not sure how long I can bake...'s picture

I baked a 50% light rye and it turned out very well.  This loaf was very moist, to the point of being sticky when being mixed and shaped. 300 gr clear + 2tsp150 gr white rye + 2tsp4 gr IDY (SAF Red)12 gr Morton Kosher coarse salt20 gr whole caraway300 gr rye sour @100% hydration 56 degrees235 gr water 74 degrees mix in KitchenAide about 2 mins on speed 1, 4-5 mins speed 2. (had to add a bit of flour to get the dough to pull cleanly from the sides of the bowl, but still stuck on the bottom flat). Knead 50 times, shape and rest 1 hrDeflate, reshape and rest 1 hr & 15 mins (preheat oven to 500 at start of 2nd rise) Into oven 5 mins @ 500, uncovered with steam from cast iron skilletRemove from oven, brush with corn start and barley malt wash, dock 8 holes, 3/4" down *this is a change from that last loaf where I brushed before going into the over for 5 mins at 500.  I also think (for me) docking before the initial 500 degree shock just allows the loaf to deflate).Return to oven, reduce temp to 450 degrees, bake 40 additional minutes coveredThis loaf did not sing when taken from the oven, nor did the wrinkles appear.  This is consistent with what people have said about high percentage ryes not singing.    

Cheers! Dave K.


louiscohen's picture

I've had pretty good luck with a few different rye breads from "The Rye Baker" by Ginsburg.  His blog has several formulas The Rye Baker Blog.  The book, available online, has more detail about the process and mostly different formulas.  I have a few of the formulas from the book in Bread Formulas

I get the cracks and holes he describes for several of the breads; sometimes the bulk fermentation or proofing takes a little longer or a higher temp in the proofer than he suggests (my San Diego starter culture loves 85 F and often lags at 70 F). 

I have never heard the crackling sound coming out of the oven.  Maybe because I bake in a dutch oven.