Homemade rye sourdough bread is a glorious choice for sandwiches, or eating on its own. Made with a blend of whole wheat, bread flour, and rye flour, this naturally fermented loaf holds its shape and has a moist, chewy crumb. The rustic crust is deeply colored and boasts beautiful blisters!
New to sourdough baking? You’ll need an active sourdough starter! I ship my well-maintened 13+ year old starter to anyone in the U.S! You can ORDER it here.
A great deli has a great rye bread for sandwiches, am I right?
I certainly love my Everyday Sourdough recipe for toast and dipping in really good olive oil, but I had my heart set on creating a loaf that was the perfect vehicle for my recent craving of EGG SALAD. I’m fully aware how strange this craving is, but let me tell you, when I piled it on this rye sourdough with crisp lettuce and pickled red onions – it was a joyful moment.
This rustic rye sourdough is called such because of its crisp, deeply browned crust and artisan sourdough shape, rather than baking it in a pullman loaf pan to get perfectly square slices for sandwiches. I might invest in one of those in the future, but for now, I wanted to share a sandwich bread recipe that you could make with your regular sourdough baking tools.
It’s hearty. Has substance. A pleasant tang. And freezes like a charm.
What is rye?
Rye is a type of grain, different than wheat, that contains a low amount of gluten. This means it will not create the same gas trapping air pockets that a bread made entirely of bread flour does.
The dough will also feel wetter and stickier compared to working with all purpose and bread flours, known as high gluten flours. Don’t be alarmed – the dough will become less sticky by the end of your stretch and folds. Knowing this before making this recipe is important.
For these reasons, I like to use rye in combination with bread flour, for a balance of high/low gluten percentages. This allows for excellent structure in the loaf, while the rye contributes a complex flavor and wonderful softness.
Why I love using rye flour in sourdough bread
- Complex flavor!
- Rye flour bodes particularly well to sourdough as it’s unique fruity, subtle sourness compliments the traditional notes of fermented bread.
- Less dense than traditional rye bread.
- Because of the chemical reaction that takes places in rye flour during fermentation, your loaf will be airier and fluffier than if you were to use rye flour in a bread made with commercial yeast.
- Bread has a moist, chewy texture that you can’t achieve with whole wheat.
- Because of rye’s ability to absorb and keep much of it’s moisture, the inside of a sourdough loaf made with rye flour will have a more moist texture.
- Your loaf will stay soft for several days after baking!
- Higher nutritional profile that whole wheat.
- Rye contains more nutrition than wheat flour does, and this is especially true when rye flour is added to sourdough bread. The slow fermentation increases the nutrient availability of the flour.
How to make rye sourdough bread that holds its shape
Because rye flour has little to no gluten content, it’s difficult to make a loaf of 100% rye bread. It can be done, but I wanted this to be a hybrid loaf, that would hold it’s shape for you, and still achieve a nice rise.
That’s why I used bread flour in combination with the rye and whole wheat, because it’s higher protein percentage is the key to the loaf holding its shape.
You’ll also notice this is a slightly smaller loaf, which makes the slightly wetter dough more manageable. Yes, you’ll notice the dough is slightly wetter than other sourdough bread you’ve made, and that’s okay! Just keep going with it. It will bake up with great structure if properly fermented.
WATCH this short video to see all the steps of making rye sourdough, so you know what to expect from your dough.
What should I bake an oval loaf in?
I tried using my round dutch oven for baking oval loaves in the past, but without fail the edges of the dough with hit the side of the pot, creating wonky, bulged shapes. I’m newly in love with the Challenger Bread Pan, which has a unique shape that allows you to bake any shape of bread in it! Bâtards, boules, demi-baguettes, and other loaves of almost any size. Because of how it’s made, the perfect amount of steam is created inside the pan. I’ve never had better oven spring or thinner crusts.
This pan is magical. If you love baking sourdough, it is 100% worth having in your kitchen. You can learn more and purchase here.
My favorite things to eat on rye bread:
- egg salad
- smashed avocado + lemon + smoked paprika
- ricotta + rhubarb jam
- salted butter
More sourdough recipes:
- 55 grams active sourdough starter
- 280 grams slightly warmer than room temperature water
- 15 grams honey
- 100 grams fine rye flour
- 260 grams bread flour
- 40 grams whole wheat flour
- 7 grams salt
- Before beginning, it will be helpful to watch this SHORT VIDEO to see me make this bread, noticing that the dough will be stickier than normal because of the rye flour, but it will come together - you just have to trust!
- Add starter, water, and honey to a bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined, with a fork. Add flours, and mix together first with the fork to start to incorporate, then with your hands until a shaggy dough is formed, and the bits of flour left just disappear. Sprinkle the salt on top and do not mix in, just leave it on top. Cover with a damp cloth.
- Autolyse: let dough sit for one hour, covered and undisturbed.
- Bulk ferment: Now you will knead the salt that is sitting on top, into the dough for about 1 min 15 seconds. There is no precise way to do this, just think of working the dough through your hands and up against the bowl, push and pull. You will start to feel the dough relax a bit around 1 minute. Continue for about 15 or 30 seconds more. Then leave the dough alone, covered, for 30 minutes. This counts as what would be your first set of stretch and folds.
- After those 30 minutes pass, perform a set of stretch and folds. Repeat 2 more times.
- Now you will let sit, undisturbed and covered with a damp cloth, for about 7ish hours at 70 degrees F. If the temperature in your home is above 70, this will take less time, vice versa. You will know it is finished with its bulk ferment when the dough has risen about double, is smooth and puffy on top, with a few bubbles. It will not be as jiggly as some sourdough you've made before.
- At this point, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Put dough onto the work surface, and pre-shape. This video will show you what that means. Let sit for 15 minutes on your work surface.
- Then shape your dough, using this method as a guide.
- Place dough into your flour dusted banneton, (or flour dusted linen lined banneton) seam side up. (Optional, you can wait 15 minutes after placing it in banneton, and pinch the perimeters of the dough into the center to hold the shape even more, called stitching.) The dough will now go through its final rise. You can do this on the counter, which will take about 2 hours at 70 degrees F for the dough to puff up and be jiggly. It will not double. OR you can do the final rise overnight in the refrigerator, with the banneton covered in a plastic bag or with a very damp cloth. You need this for holding moisture in.
- Time to bake. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F, with your dutch oven preheating inside the oven. When the oven is preheated, flip your dough out gently onto parchment paper and score your dough. If you did the final rise in the refrigerator, take it straight from fridge to scoring. You should score it cold, and DO NOT need to let it come to room temp.
- Then put dough into the dutch oven on the parchment, and put cover on. Turn oven down to 450 degrees F and slide dutch oven in. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove cover.
- Turn heat down to 430 degrees F, and bake for 25 more minutes, until crust is golden brown and crackly. Remove from oven, and remove bread from dutch oven and place onto a cooling rack.
- Wait AT LEAST one hour to cool otherwise, the interior will be gummy.