We Knead to Bake #14-Scandinavian Rye Bread (A Sourdough Bread)

Finally, I have made a sourdough rye bread that I think is pretty near perfect! This crusty loaf’s unique flavor comes from using a simple rye sourdough starter. Nothing difficult about the starter, it just needs to be made several days ahead. Some starters use no yeast and depend upon the natural yeast spores found in many foods around the home-grapes, apples, dairy products as well as many other sources. In fact, bakers have made yeast breads for thousands of years before commercial yeasts were available. With a starter, the finished bread has a longer shelf life than those made with just yeast and have a more complex and interesting taste.

On our We Knead to Bake group on Facebook, we were given the opportunity to choose our own yeast bread recipe for this month. Please check out My Diverse Kitchen for not only Aparna’s lovely ciabatta rolls, but other breads baked by the group.

A few words about making your own rye sourdough starter whose method apply to all good sourdough starters-use organic bread flour and spring water. There are many additives in chemically treated flour and water that retard the growth of yeast spores.  Sometimes, it might not really matter, but if you are having difficulties in getting good results for your starter, using the organic flour and spring water might resolve those problems.

Scandinavian Rye Bread
Recipe adapted from Red Star Yeast


  • 1 spring cup water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1`-1/4 rye sourdough starter (recipe and tips for a successful sourdough starter below)
  • 2-1/2 cups organic bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups organic rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons caraway seed, optional
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Bread Machine Method

  1. Have the liquid ingredients at room temperature. Place the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed or according to the manufacturer’s instruction of your bread machine. Process on the dough cycle, checking consistency of dough after a few minutes. If too dry or too wet, add small amounts of water or flour until dough is a soft, tacky ball. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. When processed, remove to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.
  3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place ball of dough and let rise until indentation remains after touching the raised loaf. With a sharp knife, make an X in the top of the loaf. 
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and instant read temperature is at 190-200°F. Makes one large loaf- a 1-1/2 pound loaf.

Tip- When your dough has processed and before shaping, pull off about 1 cup of the dough and save it for the next loaf of bread. See photo below. The “old dough” will improve the taste of your next loaf of bread. Continue this for each loaf of bread you process and you will find that your bread has better keeping qualities by having done this simple task. Store the old dough covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Warm to room temperature before using. When incorporating into a new batch of dough, just tear the old dough into small pieces and add to the other ingredients, adjusting the flour as necessary.

Rye Sourdough Starter

Make at least 3 days ahead of making the dough.

Recipe From-Rustic European Breads

  • 2/3 cup room temperature spring water
  • 1 cup organic rye flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon bread machine yeast
  1. Stir the water, flour and bread machine yeast together in a clear glass or plastic container. Cover with a tight lid and set aside in a warm kitchen for 24 hours. Next day, add another 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Mix well to aerate the mixture. Cover and set aside as before for another 24 hours. On the third day, repeat the flour and water addition. Mix well again and let stand for about 8 hours. The mixture should double in bulk and be bubbly and lively and the taste and smell should be tangy and sour. Refrigerate or use it in bread dough.
  2. If refrigerating for later use, bring the starter back to room temperature, then add a cup of it to any rye bread recipe. Feed the starter by adding equal parts four and water (1/2 cup) every few days. Store in a clean, covered jar in the refrigerator after the first 3 or 4 days. Use or feed frequently.

Important-it is normal for a starter to separate with a liquid on top. Just stir in back in. The starter should smell pleasantly sour, but never should smell rotten. If the liquid is pinkish in color, throw it away and start again. You have unwanted yeast spores in it. I don’t think you can use a starter forever-if it begins to look unhealthy, dump it and start over.

Rye Sourdough Starter and a Ball of Finished Dough


Please do not use images or text without my permission. 


  1. sunita rohira
    February 25, 2014 / 4:51 pm

    Very informative post. I have been looking for a good recipe for rye bread and I think I have found it. Your bread looks great.

  2. Rosita Vargas
    March 7, 2014 / 3:21 am

    Se ve muy rico es irresistible y bien hecho,abrazos.

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