The first time I ever tried a sourdough rye bread was during our month-long trip around Scandinavia. For me was love at first bite. I was really happy to see I can find sourdough rye bread on the shelves of almost all German supermarkets. Although I discovered it's not as sour and pungent. It's a lot milder in taste and smell. The best ever sourdough rye bread I had was in Finland, in Helsinki. I'm still daydreaming about it.
Since the recent yeast shortage in the supermarkets, I too decided to go back to the old school method of doing my own sourdough starter. I tried and failed and tried again until I got it right. The more you do it, the more you learn what consistency to expect and how things like the smell of it can tell you a story.
For this recipe, you will need your own sourdough starter. So in a sense, to make sourdough rye bread you need a good 10 days investment for this bread. Once you have your sourdough starter, you can make a sourdough rye bread every single day. But this is more about the labour of love and passion rather than just investing time for the sake of making one loaf of bread.
It's about mixing flour, water and love together to create the most incredible sourdough rye bread. And it's also a fun exercise about learning how to become a better baker. I looked at it as an investment in myself and a joyful experiment of making artisanal bread.
How to make a sourdough starter
It's actually not as scary as it seems. I like to make it in a super-easy way. It works for me and this is how my granny always told me to make the sourdough starter. Mix 100 g of non-bleached flour (you can use 50% whole grain, 50% all-purpose flour) with 100 ml of lukewarm water. Mix them in a jar and leave the jar uncovered, on a countertop for 24 hours.
After 24 hours remove roughly half of your mix and replenish the sourdough started with 100 g flour and 100 ml water. Mix and leave uncovered on the countertop for another 24 hours.
Bake more bread
- Rosemary Sea Salt Spelt Bread
- No knead Crusty Bread
- Herbed Bread
- Tomato Swirl Bread
- Super Simple White Bread
- Japanese Milk Bread (vegan)
Repeat this process for 7 days. On the 7th day, take 150 g (2/3 cups) sourdough starter and set aside to use it for the bread rather than discarding it.
Replenish the starter in the jar with another 100 g flour and 100 ml water, but this time cover it with a loose cap and place in the fridge. The sourdough starter will last forever in the fridge, but once a week you do need to remove half of it and replenish it with another round of flour + water. The good news is that you can use the discards weekly to bake a new loaf.
If you want to make bread every single day, you need to leave the sourdough starter on the countertop instead of the fridge, and "feed" it daily as per the above instructions.
How to make the sourdough rye sponge
Before you can start making your sourdough rye bread, you will need to prepare a "sponge" for it the night before.
In a large bowl combine the sourdough starter with 2 1/2 cups (255g) flour and 275 ml water.
Mix, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight. In the morning it should be clearly fermenting: thick, sticky and bubbly.
You can smell the sponge in the morning. You should smell the fermentation, similar to the smell of when grapes start to ferment.
How to make the sourdough rye bread
In a large bowl, mix the sponge you created overnight with flour, oil and salt and mix to incorporate. Rye bread will resemble a mixture similar to cement. Grey and dull. Don't give up. If it's too firm and dry add a little more warm water. The point is to have a fairly sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and start kneading for around 10 minutes. A fair warning: rye has less gluten than wheat flour which means you will have to work with a sticky dough. So keep kneading it even though it feels like it doesn't become firm and silky. The more I worked it, the stickier it became. I tried this dough in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment and it did not work. so it's all about kneading it by hand.
Pin this now
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn it to coat with the oil. Cover and leave it to rise. Rye is notoriously slow at rising so expect at least 4+ hours to see it doubled in size.
Punch down the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. No need to overwork it or knead it again. Just punch it with your knuckles until fully deflated. Prepare a round proofing basket and dust it with flour. If you don't have a proofing basket, use a medium-sized bowl and dust it liberally with flour. Create a neat, round ball and add the dough to the proofing basket for another 2-3 hours until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 250C/500F.
Place the baking sheet in the oven to warm up. Add a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven.
Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven, dust it with flour and place the rye sourdough bread on to it. You can score the dough if you want on one side or snip it with a pair of sharp scissors. Put the loaf in the oven and pour a cold glass of water in the roasting tin.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 200C/390F and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the rye sourdough is nicely browned. It's ready when you tap its base and can hear a hollow sound.
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.