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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sourdough Rye Bread

This recipe makes two large, oblong loaves of rye. It's a multi-step recipe, first creating a rye sourdough starter, and then extending the starter to a sponge, and finally to the dough. I find it best to begin early on day one, in order to bake by late afternoon on day two. The sourdough starter is for flavor more than leaven. Yeast is still used, which insures a good rise to the loaves. If you're buying rye four by the pound, this recipe requires about 1  1/4 to 1  1/2 lbs. (I bought rye flour at WinCo in the bulk bins.)

Day One

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, stir together:
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 cup room temp water
1  1/4 teaspoons yeast

Cover tightly. (I use a sheet of plastic wrap, top with a plate.) Place in a warm location, about 80 degrees F, for 24 hours. In my house, that warm location is the oven, with the door closed, and light on.

Day Two

Early the next morning, stir in:
1 cup of warm water
1 cup of rye flour

Cover tightly, set in warm place for about 4 hours.

First Sponge

Stir in:
3/4 teaspoon yeast

Mix well with:
1  3/4 cups rye flour

Cover tightly, set in warm place for about 2 hours, to ferment.

Second Sponge

Stir into first sponge:
1 cup warm water, then,
1/2 teaspoon yeast, then,
1  3/4 cup rye flour
1  3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cover with a damp towel, set in warm place for another 2 hours.


To the sponge, stir in:
3/4 cup warm water
3 teaspoons salt
1 to  1  1/2 tablespoons caraway seed
1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Allow to rest, covered with a damp towel for about 15 minutes.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface (or into a stand mixer with dough hook). Knead in:
between 1 to 2 cups of all-purpose flour, until you have a stiff dough.

Shape into 2 long loaves and place on a buttered baking sheet. Allow to rise for about an hour, until not quite double in bulk. Don't allow it to rise too much, as it can cause the loaves to flatten.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (non-convection). Bake loaves for 1 hour.

After removing from oven, spread with butter while still warm. Cool on a rack.


Because of the time needed to bake sourdough rye, I prefer to make 2 loaves at a time, and freeze the second loaf. But this recipe can also be halved, and does well.

If you don't like so heavy of a rye flavor, you can also substitute about 1 cup of all-purpose flour for 1 cup of the rye flour called for in the second sponge, and still have a respectable rye loaf.

If you prefer, a salt glaze is more traditional than the buttered top. To salt-glaze the loaves,  combine 1 teaspoon salt with 1/2 cup of water and brush over loaves, after baking, while still warm from the oven.

Depending on how early I get started on Day Two,  I can have this ready for the dinner table (beginning around 6 or 7 AM).

I'll type up the recipe for Sweet Swedish Rye Bread in a couple of days. It calls for fennel seed, anise seed (although I usually just use anise), orange zest and molasses, which go well with the rye flavor.


  1. That looks so good. How about using a regular sourdough starter instead of the rye starter. Maybe just use 3/4 cup starter and begin on Day 2 instructions? I just don't have the time but I do have a starter.

    On a different note, we had sloppy joes last night but no buns. Hubby asked what he could do to get dinner started. I thought he could make some 40 minute hamburger buns and told him where to find the recipe. HE DID IT! He didn't think they were rising enough but I told him to wait until they were baking and watch what happens! He made a dozen buns with the sloppy joes I made when I got home from work and we (3 of us) ate the pot of sloppy joes and buns with enough leftovers for daughters lunch today and a bun each for me and hubby for our lunch today. My sloppy joes were made with less than a pound of ground beef. I buy them in family packs and divide them out for my family of three.

    Next week the college kids are coming home and we're hosting a student for most of the summer so she can take a summer class for two of the three sessions. So we'll have six of us under our tiny roofed home. Both my college kids are also taking a summer course but only session one. Hopefully, they will find time to work also.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I see no reason why regular sourdough starter couldn't be used for stage 1. In fact, that's a great idea. You'd want to get your starter active and going (feed it and allow to sit in a warm spot for a couple of hours), if taking it straight out of the fridge. And if someone wanted to then increase the rye to get back to the recipe amounts, they could then substitute a cup of rye for one of the later cups of wheat.

      Great job to your husband on making the buns for last night. I'm sure he felt really proud of himself. Your encouragement of his work with them was just what he needed. And now you've empowered him in this area. You do something once and you realize that "hey, I can do this again, and probably other like tasks".

      You will have one busy household this summer, that's for sure!

      Have a great day!

    2. I'd be interested in Alice's hamburger bun recipe.

      Lili, your bread is beautiful. I confess, I'm not sure I have the time/patience to deal with all of the steps, at least on a regular basis, but I appreciate the recipe. Thanks!

    3. Hi Kris,
      I understand. You might prefer one of the rye recipes that calls for molasses, and is more like a straight-forward bread recipe. I'm just partial to this particular recipe for its flavor. It's like deli rye, which is my favorite type of bread. I saved the second loaf in the freezer for sandwiches on Mother's Day for lunch after church -- ham on deli rye. I even have a nice packet of sliced ham in the freezer, and now lettuce from the garden! Should be tasty!

      Have a great day, Kris!

      And Alice, if you care to share your hamburger bun recipe, you can either type it into the comments, or email it to me and I can post it. :-)

  2. Hi Lili, I'm late in saying this, but wanted to say I really enjoyed your "Saving is Earning" post from Saturday. On the subject of bread, I have been wanting to bake bread more, but haven't. I make a pizza on Friday evenings, but that is my only regular breadmaking, with the pizza crust. Your rye bread looks tasty!
    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you!
      Making pizza from scratch is nothing to sneeze at. You're saving several dollars over buying a Costco-type pizza, or as much as $20 on a delivery pizza. And you don't have the box to dispose of! I'd say you're doing great.

      If you want to increase your bread-making, maybe add one other day per week of a quick and easy bread like French bread. You can use a French bread recipe for focaccia if you don't have time for it to rise.

      My French bread recipe is the same as my pizza crust recipe. So, I make a quadruple batch of dough at a time, and freeze the dough that I'm not using, right away, in balls wrapped in plastic wrap. Then whenever I need bread, pizza crust, bread sticks or focaccia, I just take a ball of dough out of the freezer and thaw on the counter for a couple of hours. Good luck!

      Have a great day, Mary!

    2. Mary, I have used Lili's recipe for pizza crust and we really like it, for whatever that's worth. :)

    3. Oh yes, Mary. That's a good recipe. It came with my food processor back in the 1980s. here's the link:

      It's pretty basic and very easy to remember. I sub half whole wheat for half of the all-purpose flour. We like the extra texture with some whole wheat flour. It seems to make the pizza crust a bit crispier on the bottom.

    4. I have been making the Cook's Illustrated pizza crust recipe with King Arthur flour and it makes a chewy crust that my family really enjoys. Before that it was a recipe from a Tightwad Gazette book. I will make your recipe sometime. I do tend to be very much a "creature of habit" with the foods I prepare. Lili, your menus are always so varied, and I seem to make the same meals every week. We aren't very picky, luckily :)

    5. Mary, have you ever tried making the CI recipe as a French bread loaf? I was just thinking, if that's the recipe you're comfortable with, it could be an easy segue into making French bread on a semi-regular basis. I know what you mean about being a creature of habit. Sometimes it's good to change things up, but then again, some things are best left as they are. :-)

      Have a great day, Mary!

    6. Thanks, Lili. I have only done the pizza crust. Maybe I'll break out and try something different with it soon :)

  3. It just lovely. I am the only one that likes rye. Maybe
    when we are having company. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Never made sourdough bread or used a starter. Seems so foreign for me to try. But one day I might take an interest. Especially after getting back my A1C test result (6.4), I am counting my carbs religiously. No more rice, sadly, I loved the pesto peas rice so much but that probably did me in. The good thing about watching carbs is I'm losing weight. Since mid April, I lost at least 8 lbs. and I'm eating less overall, so saving on food costs too.

    On another note, I'm inspired by your April savings list of frugal initiatives. I'm paying closer attention to what we do. What I have some difficulty with is remembering to write down what I decide or do since frugality is so second nature lol



    1. Hi YHF,
      Oh, I can imagine. Good for you for being so diligent with this. Your health will thank you. The weight loss along with dietary changes should bring about some good results for you. When do you go back for another blood test?

    2. The doctor didn't say I needed to do another A1C soon, so I am guessing next year's lab checkup. But I understand two confirmed 6.5, and I'm diabetic. Several years ago, he told me to lose 8 lbs and I should see better results, why 8....I guess because I'm on the cusp of obesity. I gained some weight prior to the test, probably adjusting to being home a lot and snacking in between meals.


  5. Something about fresh baked bread, even if it's just a picture, get's my taste buds going. I'm not a fan of rye bread, but I don't know if that's the caraway or anise that usually comes with it or it is also the rye flour. I might give this a try to know once and for all.


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