Sourdough Rye Bread

I grew up eating rye bread, although it was never as good as this recipe.  This is from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz – link below.  It’s an amazing book about everything fermented, from Sauerkraut and veggies to beer, wine, yogurt and more.  I made my sourdough starter from the recipe in the book and then I made this bread.  I’m making it for the third time this week – I’ve been making one batch a week –  and we are not tiring of it yet.  It’s a wonderful whole grain rye bread and I grind the rye berries the day I make the bread so it’s extra fresh.   It takes two days to make and there’s no kneading.

Ingredients, for 2 loaves:

2 large or 4 small organic onions

2 tablespoons organic olive oil

2 cups sourdough starter

3 cups pure water

1 tablespoon organic whole caraway seeds

8 cups rye flour

1 teaspoon celtic sea salt


Chop onions and sauté in olive oil over medium low heat until nicely browned and carmelized, about 20 – 30 minutes.  Cool

Mix a sponge:  Combine the browned onions, sourdough starter, caraway seeds and 4 cups of rye flour in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  Stir well. Cover and leave to ferment in a warm place (I keep it on the kitchen counter), for 8 to 24 hours until it is good and bubbly.  You can stir occasionally but I always forget to stir and it turns out great.

After your 8-24 hour ferment add the salt and the other 4 cups of rye flour.  Add the rye flour a little at a time, until the dough becomes so thick that you cannot effectively stir it with a spoon.  Cover with a moist towel and leave to ferment and rise for 8-12 hours, until it’s bulk has increased noticeable.

Form into loaves:  Rye dough is sticky and nowhere as cohesive and self-contained as wheat dough.  Wetting your hands will make rye dough easier to handle and form. Form loaves with your wet hands and place them in lightly oiled pans; alternatively spoon dough into loaf pans, then smooth the top with your wet hands. Leave loaves for another hour or two, until they rise noticeably.

Preheat over to 350° and bake.  Check loaves after 1 ½ hours. It will probably take 2 hours or even longer, but check earlier. Test doneness by removing a loaf from it’s pan and tapping the bottom. When it’s done it will sound hollow. If it’s not done, return it to the oven quickly and continue baking.

Cool bread on racks.  Most yeasted breads we buy or make are best eaten fresh and dry out quickly. A major advantage of sourdough rye bread is that it retains its moisture and gets better with age, for several weeks (no kidding). The crust can become hard and dry, but slice through it with a sharp serrated knife to find soft, moist, delicious, sour bread. Dense breads like this are best in thin slices, with organic pastured butter.  Enjoy!

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Sandor’s book is wonderful and you can buy it at Amazon, link below.

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