100% Rye Sourdough Bread + Video Recipe

MY BREAD EATING EVOLUTION

  • Everything and anything in unrestricted quantities.
  • Store-bought’ healthy whole grain’ bread.
  • No bread at all.
  • Occasionally indulge.
  • No, better not.
  • Oh, the misery.
  • That’s it.. I’m making my own and enjoying every bite!

Enjoying every bite of wholesome, homemade, naturally leavened bread is the only stage I want to stay in. It’s good for my soul and my body  — no self-induced deprivation, no indigestion and migraines from commercial hybridized high gluten wheat.

Since I just can’t settle on one thing, I don’t stop experimenting. I make breads with all kinds of grains and seeds – barley, millet, buckwheat, einkorn and spelt, emmer and kamut. When I find a recipe or combination I really enjoy, I record it on this blog and come back to it repeatedly.

RYE IS LOVE ~

Rye is one of my favorite grains. It might be because of my Russian heritage — you know how supposedly our bodies perform at their best on foods of our ancestors? Or maybe because it’s just plain delicious.

Rye breads are moist and sweet, perfect both with salty salmon roe and fruit jams. Whenever I have excess sourdough rye bread, I cut it up into small bites and toast them in the oven.  My kids eat it them as snacks, and I use them for making traditional Russian kvass.

100% RYE SOURDOUGH RECIPE

There is plenty of recipes for sourdough rye bread out there.  A lot of them are a combination of rye and wheat, including one of my own here. The traditional all-rye breads can be quite time consuming taking several days to put together (like Swedish and German breads).

This recipe is very simple and uses 100% rye flour made from whole ground rye berries. I grind my own using this Victorio mill (the motor is sold separately), but you can also buy already made rye flour. If you are familiar with rye flour, it’s darker than wheat but by itself it produces a light gray color, instead of what most people think of as rye color – darker brown.

Traditional pumpernickel breads rely on Maillard reaction – with deep browning occurring during very long (16-24 hours) low temperature baking. To get a pretty brown look, I add a little raw cacao powder. It gives a beautiful color without changing the taste. Plus it kicks in extra nutrients. Extra nutrients is the reason I add sprouted rye flour. I see this brand at some Whole Foods. I make my own following the same steps as in this post. If you cannot source it or make it, just omit it and use more rye flour.

RYE IS A HISTORIC STAPLE IN RUSSIA

In the old Russia (by old I don’t mean Soviet times, but any time between the 11th and 19th century), it was common for peasants and craftsmen to have breakfast of only rye bread and water, and work fatigue-free all day. Folks believed that if you eat wheat before work – you are not much of a worker, you get sleepy and heavy. Wheat breads and pies were for dinners and special occasions — ‘there is food for enjoyment, and there is food for strength’.

HOW TO MAKE 100% RYE SOURDOUGH BREAD

Ingredients
Starter dough (sponge):
2 tablespoons (50g) rye sourdough starter (how to make rye sourdough starter)
1 cup (230g) water
1.5 cups (150g) whole ground rye flour

Main dough:
All starter dough sponge
1.5 cup (350g) water
2 cups (
200g) whole ground rye flour
1 cup (100g) sprouted rye flour (if not available, use rye flour)

2 tablespoons cacao powder (I use raw because it has more nutrients)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)

Instructions
Make starter dough:
In a large glass bowl, whisk rye sourdough starter with water until dissolved and frothy.

all-rye-sourdough-bread-no-wheat Add flour and mix with a spoon until no dry bits remain. The mixture will be sloppy.

all-rye-sourdough-bread-no-wheat Cover tightly, and leave at room temperature until it becomes bubbly and ‘soft’ looking (bubbles are easier to see under the surface, that’s why glass bowl is convenient). This can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature but typically rye ferments faster that wheat because it has more nutrients that fermentative yeast and bacteria like. I often start late in the evening and make the main dough early morning. 

Make main dough:
Mix starter dough with the main dough ingredients until combined and uniform in color.
Cover, and leave at room temperature for 4-10 hours. Here you want to watch the dough more than the time, look for it to soften and puff up (it won’t rise much), then drop slightly. If you don’t have a chance to watch, just go with 6 hours.
With a spoon or a stiff spatula, mix the dough well, and transfer to a bread pan lined with parchment paper (don’t skip the paper even with non-stick pans). I use a deep Pullman loaf pan because I like the straight up sides, but this amount of dough doesn’t fill it all the way even after baking. Regular loaf pan would work just fine. Smooth the top with a wet hand.
Let it rest in the pan no longer than 30 minutes, but no longer than that – if you allow it to rise in the pan too long, it will collapse during baking, which will make the crumb brick-dense and gooey.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 45-50 minutes.
It’s best to wait for 24 hours before cutting into it, I know it’s hard but try to wait for at least 8 or 10 hours.

100%-rye-sourdough-bread

100% Rye Sourdough Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sourdough Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • Starter dough:
  • 2 tablespoons (50g) rye sourdough starter (how to make rye sourdough starter)
  • 1.5 cup (350g) water
  • 1.5 cups (150g) whole ground rye flour
  • Main dough:
  • All starter dough
  • 1 cup (230g) water
  • 2 cups (200g) whole ground rye flour
  • 1 cup (100g) sprouted rye flour (if not available, use rye flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (I use raw because it has more nutrients)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
Instructions
  1. Make starter dough sponge:
  2. In a large glass bowl, whisk rye sourdough starter with water until dissolved and frothy.
  3. Add flour and mix with a spoon until no dry bits remain. The mixture will be sloppy.
  4. Cover tightly, and leave at room temperature until it becomes bubbly and 'soft' looking (bubbles are easier to see under the surface, that's why glass bowl is convenient). This can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature but typically rye ferments faster that wheat because it has more nutrients that fermentative yeast and bacteria like. I often start late in the evening and make the main dough early morning.
  5. Make main dough:
  6. Mix starter dough with the main dough ingredients until combined and uniform in color.
  7. Cover, and leave at room temperature for 4-10 hours. Here you want to watch the dough more than the time, look for it to soften and puff up (it won't rise much), then drop slightly. If you don't have a chance to watch, just go with 6 hours.
  8. With a spoon or a stiff spatula, mix the dough well, and transfer to a bread pan lined with parchment paper (don't skip the paper even with non-stick pans). I use a deep Pullman loaf pan because I like the straight up sides, but this amount of dough doesn't fill it all the way even after baking. Regular loaf pan would work just fine. Smooth the top with a wet hand.
  9. Let it rest in the pan no longer than 30 minutes, if you allow it to rise in the pan too long, it will collapse during baking, which will make the crumb brick-dense and gooey.
  10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 45-50 minutes.
  11. It's best to wait for 24 hours before cutting into it, I know it's hard but try to wait for at least 8 or 10 hours.
Notes
This amount of dough makes a fairly small loaf, about the size of a classic pumpernickel or just slightly bigger. You can increase the amount of dough for a larger, more sandwich-like bread.
Starter dough is the same as what bakers call 'leaven', or 'levain'. The purpose of it (as opposed to mixing a couple of spoonfuls of starter together with all the ingredients is to have a fair amount of very active bread yeast that can be incorporated into the rest of the ingredients evenly. This allows for uniform fermentation to get a nice stable crumb.
You can add any spices you like, and add more cacao powder (I use up to ½ cup sometimes, just for fun). I like adding cardamom. Whole coriander seeds are used in this type of bread in Russia.

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12 Comments

  1. Hi Valeria,

    Thanks for the blog. I recently mixed up some rye meal and water. While that is maturing, I am comparing recipes for 100% rye breads.

    I wonder about the salt level. Why is there salt in the main dough in the first place? Wouldn’t the start dough rise if I chose to make it with little water and no salt?

    secondly, how much salt? I found recipes with 1/2% of meal weight, up to 3% of meal weight; most have 2, or 1.5 downto 1% of meal weight.

    thirdly, do you happen to know what is the active ingredient in te salt? Is it sodium chloride (NaCl) or something else?

    Just waiting for the starter to mature – while looking at gorgeous photo’s of other people’s breads 🙂

    Jurgen,
    Netherlands

     
    • Hey, Jurgen, good luck on the baking adventure!

      The dough will certainly rise without salt, but why would you want to make dough without it? The salt ratio in breads depends completely on the baker’s preference, I happen to like less salty breads as opposed to folks who put in a lot. Realizing what you like comes with a bit of experience, but there is no rule set in stone. I feel that a lot of salt doesn’t work well with the acidic flavor of rye but that’s me. Yep, salt is just your basic sodium chloride.

      I’m sure you’ll be sporting beautiful bread photos soon enough! 🙂

       
      • Thanks Valeria,

        I like my vegetables as straight from the garden as possible, with the taste as is, wihout salt or processing.. And i feel the same for bread. Sure enouh it is processed food, but p;ease as llittle as possible. Good to know I can bake ith little salt.

        How does temperature influence the speed of the starer? If a starter takes a month to mature at 20 Celcius, would it take 4 months at 15 Celcius?

        Thanks,, JUrgen

         
        • Ok, man, believe me you want salt in your bread, you really do. If you skip it or use way too little – you will wind up tossing the bread, just take my word for it. I guess ‘processed food’ is a relative term, technically homemade sourdough is ‘processed’ but I don’t include it into a category of processed foods, per se 🙂

          Higher temperature always speeds up fermentation – but not exponentially, there are too many factors to consider – type of flour, hydration, elevation, etc. My take on it – don’t overthink it, you can have a good strong starter within a week 🙂

           
          • Ha ha, thanks,

            I am not going to toss the bread, but I will try some saltless versions, just to see how that works out.
            Right now, I am bakng cookies from the discarded starter; I bake them with vegetables (one layer cabbages, topped with the starter dough). No salt, but I like the taste.

            I have one starter with whey going, which is rich in sodium chloride. You write somewhere that the sugars in whey require different micro-organisms to be digested. Would that be a disadvantage, or would it just lead to a different bread?
            Sodium chloride in whey is very assimilable for humans, much better then salt.

            Temperature has an effect on frothiness; I have 2 starters at 25 C (about 75 F); they are nicely frothy. 2 others a 15 C (about 60 F) are less so. To have a starter in a week, I think 25 C is required. I keep mine under a halogen lamp.

            And water is important too; i have one starter very wet (2 water: 1 meal) which develops real bread yeast taste; another one is dryer (1 water: 1 meal), it is getting a real sourdough taste. (both at 15 C). The starter with whey is getting the most sour of all.

            Bread is definitely processed food; seeds were designed to be swallowed whole. There is nutrition on the outside of the seed which can be taken off in the bowel and when i empty the bowel in a field, the seeds will sprout. Grinding and baking sort of interferes with that process :). Birds do not even have teeth, yet they have very strong muscles. They do not bake bread, i think.

            I am having fun with the starters so far,

            thanks

            Jurgen

            ps
            thanks for the blog. I only now realize that fermented foods is a real staple … and more varied then sauerkraut.

             
  2. Hi Valaria

    Iam looking at low temperature long bake breads. Do you have a Rusian recipe wthut the colorants I find in many recipes? (Cofe, cocoa, ) Like pumpernickel, but from Rossia

    cheers

    Jurgen

     
    • Hey Jurgen, as far as I know, there isn’t a bread like pumpernickel in Russia, or at least nothing that gets cooked for such a long time at low temps. There is this old school rye bread, called Borodinski, that gets its dark color from adding ‘zavarka’ – toasted sprouted rye flour mixed with hot water (about 65ºC) and kept at that temperature for several hours or overnight. It creates dark and sweet mash, similar to wort in beer brewing, which gives that bread a deep brown color. Not much help here!

       
      • Thanks,

        I found a detailed recipe for a borodinsky bread – with sugar replaced by molasses.
        http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24237/celebrating-rye-breads
        This includes a discussion of the mash.
        This is not a low tech bread. it has: sugar; toasted malt; imported wheat; and requiring a fine grain mill and an oven with fine temperature control.
        I guess borodinsky bread was designed to make the peasants forget their own breads, which are baked at home, possibly caramelized, naturally dark, naturally sweet and 100% rye. All you need for such a bread is a field, a scyth, a stove, a pan, and some course grinding equipment; and you can share the grinder.
        It may have been suppressed for not being very scientific. the name for such a bread is possibly … ´bread´. If only i could find a grandmother of 200+ years old … 🙂

        cheers, Jurgen

         
  3. Valeria, this is a great blog! Question: Can the 100% rye the be made in a Dutch oven, like your old-grain bread, or is the dough too dry? (Love the Dutch oven technique, but just getting started with whole grains.)

     
    • Hi Lalise, thank you! 🙂 You can bake it in a Dutch oven, just will need to have the final rise done in it as well, and I would recommend lining it with parchment paper – otherwise the bread would stick (happened to me too many times!). The dough is actually pretty wet. Hope it helps 🙂

       
  4. What a beautiful loaf! When I think of rye bread, I think of the German, very dense small loaves that crumble almost too much to toast. But heaven to me, is a toasted 100% wholemeal rye slice with loads of butter. JOY