Rye Sourdough and Smørrebrød

It’s been cold here in New Mexico, like really, really cold. When it’s ten degrees Fahrenheit outside you only want to do one of a few things: 1) have a cup of hot coffee and light the fireplace, 2) make a big bowl of homemade minestrone with a nice crunchy slice of sourdough bread, or 3) go outside for approximately 2 minutes while the dog runs through the snow, be thankful for a warm home, and promptly return indoors. Don’t get me wrong, I love snowboarding (and we have excellent snowboarding nearby), snowshoeing, and dog walks with 3-plus jackets on, but a day inside with hot coffee and comfort food is a wonderful thing.

The cold weather had me motivated to look at traditional foods made in colder regions, and thus my recent acquisition of The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson (in case you’re wondering, yes, I have more baking and cookbooks than I know what to do with. There’s something amazing about cookbooks: they instantly transport you to the kitchen of another cook and are filled with endless potential for exquisite new food). When they say it’s a tome they are not exaggerating. Upon opening I immediately paged to the section titled smørrebrød, which literally translates to “butter and bread”, but represents the daily ritual of “open sandwiches” in Nordic cultures. Placed on a slice of rugbrød, or sourdough rye bread, these open sandwiches are miniature works of art with delicately placed meats, cheeses, butter, vegetables, pickles and greens. One can easily get lost in the research of smörgås, as the Swedish call them, there are endless variations with a myriad of delicious ingredients.rye sourdough and smorrebrodRye bread is a foreign thing to me. I didn’t grow up eating it, and my parents, being Italian, surely didn’t eat it often or bake it at home. I equate it with a bitter, strong taste that can be overwhelming and yet I find it strangely appealing. While I baked a few of these in the past, they largely went uneaten here in my house — as I read through The Nordic Cookbook I was inspired and wanted to give them another try.

When I think of rye bread I think of hearty slices of dense bread with a dark, almost black, color to the crust and crumb. In my mind I had visions of lightening this bread a little, not so much as to completely obscure the purity of traditional rye but enough to bridge the gap. I was determined to tone down the sour notes and intense rye flavor, to try and transform this bread from something that will keep you alive through Nordic winters to a bread that might get you through a couple light winter days here in the Southwest. I think my results accomplished that — it’s a tasty bread that I’m sure you’ll enjoy on those cold, winter days.rye and the nordic cookbook

In this post I’ve included my rye sourdough recipe, quick pickled red onions, and a couple smørrebrød that were inspired by some I found online, and some found in The Nordic Cookbook.

Flour Selection

In the past my rye bread was composed of 100% dark whole grain rye. The flavor of these loaves were quite intense and, as I mentioned earlier, this go-around I wanted to tone down those flavors and make a more balanced bread. My plan was to mix part dark rye, part medium (or white) rye, and part something else, in this case fresh milled spelt. You could modify this recipe to change the percentages as you see fit, however, know that the more spelt or traditional wheat you add the more rise your bread will have. A traditional rye bread should be a rather dense thing, with a hearty flavor, especially if you want them to stand up to some of the smørrebrød I outline below.central milling rye flourI tacked on a few test bags of Central Milling Dark Rye and Medium Rye to my last bulk order and I’ve found the flour to be really great (big surprise). It’s milled super fine and has a fluffy, smooth texture to it. Any rye flour will work well here, though, and I’ve frequently used Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye with great success in the past. I’ve been playing with fresh milled spelt for a while now and just love the results when mixed with traditional wheat (I’ll have a future writeup on this) and it works equally well here in this bread while keeping the whole grain percentage rather high.

“Medium Rye” can be made by sifting any dark rye you purchase. I’ve done this previously using a #50 sifting screen to sift out some of the larger particles from dark rye. Alternatively you could just use all dark rye flour with the expectation that your bread will have a slightly more intense rye flavor.

Rye Sourdough Recipe


Yield: 1 x loaf to fit a 9” x 4” x 4″ Pullman pan

I used my 9” x 4” x 4″ Pullman Pan for this bread. It has a nice lid you slide on to create that flat top and you’d be hard-pressed to get anything to stick to the sides of this thing. If you have a 9×4 pan that doesn’t have a lid I’m sure that will work just as well, you’ll end up with a domed top which would be just fine.rye sourdough

Levain Build

The night before you plan to bake, prepare the levain and soaker (directions to follow). We will let the levain ferment for 12 hours at a cooler temperature, about 70-72ºF, to develop a bit more of a sour flavor.

I used medium rye to build my levain, but you could substitute this for whole dark rye.

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
50g Mature liquid starter (100% hydration) 50%
100g Central Milling Medium Rye 100%
100g H2O @ room temperature 100%


Prepare this soaker at the same time you prepare your levain — the night before you plan to bake. Soaking the seeds softens them and helps to bring out their oils, which later wonderfully infuses the mixed dough.seedssoaker

Weight Ingredient
80g Sunflower Seeds (unsalted)
80g Pumpkin Seeds (hulled & unsalted)
40g Flaxseeds (raw)

Spread the seed mixture out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (save this when done toasting the seeds to use it later when you bake the bread) or silicone mat and toast at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Toss around once midway through and keep an eye on them towards the end, seeds can go from toasted to burned rather quickly.

Place toasted seeds in a glass bowl, pour enough hot water over them (I used hot water from the tap) to cover. Wait until the mixture cools a bit and then loosely cover the bowl with a lid to rest.

Dough Formula

Note that the baker’s percentages listed below are with respect to the final dough ingredients and do not take into account the levain.

Target final dough temperature (FDT) is 78ºF.

Due to feedback from readers (thank you!) I’ve reduced the hydration of this recipe from 105% water to 90% water to help avoid an overly gummy interior and potential separation at the top between the crust and the crumb. 90% hydration (not including the beer) will alleviate all these issues! 
Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
192g Central Milling Medium Rye 40.00%
144g Central Milling Dark Rye 30.00%
144g Fresh Milled Whole Grain Spelt 30.00%
7g Diastatic malt (could use barley malt syrup) 1.50%
432g H2O @ room temp (see note about hydration, above) 90.00%
72g Dark beer (stout, black lager, etc.) 15.00%
17g Fine sea salt 3.50%
200g Mature, liquid levain (100% hydration, created above) 60.00%

unitas dark lager beerrye sourdough mixing


The nice thing about rye bread is there’s no pre-shape or shape steps: you just mix, ferment, place into a pan and then bake.

1. Levain & Soaker – 10:00 p.m. (day before baking)

Mix the ingredients for your levain and set somewhere to ferment for 10-12 hours at around 72ºF to 74ºF.

At the same time, toast your seeds and soak them in hot water for the same duration as your levain.

2. Mix – 10:00 a.m. (the next day)

Drain the seed mixture using a fine mesh sieve and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Add the levain to a mixing bowl along with the beer and the room temperature water and stir around to dissolve the levain. Add in all the dry ingredients plus the drained seed mixture. Mix really well with wet hands or a spatula. Make sure you mix thoroughly so there are are no dry bits of flour remaining and the seeds are incorporated well.

5. Bulk Fermentation – 10:10 a.m.

Cover the bowl and let bulk ferment for 1.5 hours at around 74ºF ambient temperature.

No stretch and folds are necessary.

6. Proof – 11:40 a.m.

Lightly grease your Pullman pan (I used a light coating of butter) and scoop out the dough, a.k.a. “wet concrete”, from the bulk container into your greased Pullman pan. Smooth the top with wet hands or a spatula. Let proof, covered with reusable plastic, for 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on ambient temperature. Mine went for 1 hour and 50 minutes at around 75ºF ambient.

The dough should rise to about 1” below the top rim of your pan.

7. Bake – Same Day: Preheat oven at 12:30 p.m., Bake at 1:30 p.m.

Preheat oven for 1 hour at 400ºF.

I baked this bread the entire time with the lid on. Place the Pullman pan on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat (or the recycled parchment paper when you toasted your seeds) and bake for 35 minutes at 400ºF. Turn the heat down to 350ºF and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 208-210ºF. Check the loaf occasionally in the last 20 minutes to check for doneness.

When I baked this bread it rose high enough in the pan to slightly spill out the top of my Pullman, thankfully I had the thought to bake this on a baking sheet. I reduced the ingredients in this to hopefully prevent that from happening to you, but if it does it’s not a big deal just continue with the bake. The spillage will be caught by the baking sheet without any issues.

I think I could have baked the loaf pictured in this post an additional 10-15 minutes or so. The internal temperature read 208ºF, and while it was definitely baked, I would have like a bit more crunch on that crust. Be flexible with your baking duration and check the loaf periodically towards the end.

There is no need to steam your oven for this bread.

8. Rest

You must let this bread rest for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours, after baking to let the interior set. If you slice too soon you’ll end up with a gummy loaf that won’t taste all that great.

Once your bread has finished baking, let sit on a wire rack until cool to the touch. Gently remove the bread from the pan, wrap in a kitchen or tea towel and place in a sealed bag to rest for 48 hours.

Smørrebrød Recipes

The possibilities here are endless. Below are two recipes I found and slightly modified to suit the ingredients I had on hand and found at the market — they both turned out to be so delicious I made another pair the next day for lunch.smorrebrod, smorgas

While these look like two puny pieces of meticulously decorated toast, don’t for a second think they are not filling. I ate two, I mean just two, and I was stuffed for hours. The hearty rye bread, healthy fats, and protein from the salmon will keep you satiated for longer than you might think.

According to Magnus in his cookbook, open-faced sandwiches should be piled high with ingredients, enough to completely cover the rye sourdough below. I came close, but next time I’ll definitely be piling more on top.

… for most Danish open-faced sandwiches there should be enough toppings to completely obscure the bread…Magnus Nilsson

Avocado, Potato and Homemade Pickled Red Onion with Watercress

Avocado and mayonnaise go really well together, so I knew this would be a hit. The hearty rye bread holds up to the fatty, sweet ingredients and the pickled red onion give this a wonderful acid punch. Avocado probably isn’t a traditional ingredient in Scandinavian countries, but out here good quality ones are just about everywhere.avocado smorrebrodMakes two slices.


  • 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
  • Handful small potatoes (I used a mix of colored potatoes, but new potatoes would work well here), boiled in salted water for about 15-20 minutes until tender but not mushy, sliced thin
  • A few thin slices of pickled red onion (see recipe below)
  • A few French style gherkin baby pickles
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • Watercress to top
  • Small pinch flaky sea salt


  1. Place sliced avocado flat on top of toasted rye sourdough
  2. Scatter sliced potatoes on top of avocados
  3. Make a thick line of mayonnaise down the middle
  4. Top mayonnaise with small watercress
  5. Scatter a few thinly sliced gherkins, pickled red onions and a small pinch of sea salt on top of all

Smoked Norwegian Salmon with Asparagus Spears and Mayonnaise

Smoked salmon isn’t something I eat often. I think the last time I had salmon this way (sushi doesn’t count) was a bagel & lox breakfast in New York City almost 10 years ago (I know, lox is not smoked salmon, but it’s the closest thing I’ve had!). The smoked salmon, mayonnaise and fresh dill all work well together — a natural combination. I boiled the asparagus spears for about 8 minutes, until they were just starting to wilt. While they have no seasoning directly, they impart a subtle, balanced flavor to the rest of the ingredients. And again, the hearty rye bread carries this whole thing wonderfully.rye sourdough and salmon smorrebrodMakes two slices.


  • Smoked Norwegian Salmon (you can find this in vacuum packs at the market)
  • 6 small asparagus spears — tops left whole, hard bottoms discarded and middle discarded save for a few shavings with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • Handful fresh dill
  • Small pinch flaky sea salt


  1. Boil, or steam, the asparagus spears for 8 minutes until they just start to wilt, don’t overcook. Cut off the bottom half and use a vegetable peeler to make a few thin strands
  2. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on a slice of toasted rye sourdough
  3. Place a layer of smoked salmon on top of the mayonnaise
  4. Place asparagus tips and asparagus shavings on top of salmon
  5. Top with scattered fresh dill and a tiny pinch of flaky sea salt

Homemade Quick-Pickled Red Onion

quick pickled red onionsFor the sandwiches above you could get away with half a red onion, but I used a full onion and saved the rest in the fridge for more sandwiches or potatoes later in the week. The pickled onions will keep refrigerated for about a week covered in the brine.

You could use any combination of vinegar you’d like, I used mostly white vinegar with some red vinegar to give them a bright pink color.


  • 1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
  • 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 2-4 sprigs of thyme
  • very small pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp raw sugar
  • small pinch of salt


  1. Place all the ingredients except the onion in a small saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Once boiling, pour the hot brine over the red onions in a small bowl, or alternatively, directly in their final glass storage jar (make sure the onions are completely submerged)
  3. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using, preferably 1 hour or more


rye sourdough crumbAlthough rye isn’t something I’ve had much experience eating, baking this hybrid rye and using it for smørrebrød has opened my eyes to an endless universe of open sandwiches. A deliberate selection of fresh and pickled ingredients coupled with meticulous placement and design, make them something I wouldn’t mind preparing for an occasional lunch and possibly a weekly winter ritual. Since rye sourdough has excellent keeping qualities, it’s great to have hearty bread like this on hand through the winter when you need something especially nourishing and hefty.


Provided you let the rye bread rest, wrapped and sealed as I instructed above, the crust will stay moist and cuts very easily. It does not have a detectable crunch to it like most other sourdough I bake, but it’s not needed here.rye sourdough crust


The small percentage of fresh milled spelt and medium rye, helped to open up the interior of this bread compared to traditional rye bread I’ve baked in the past or have seen online. I like that. Even though this bread is definitely rugbrød, it has a light texture that I enjoy.rye sourdough and smørrebrød


Given the high amount of rye flour and somewhat long fermentation time (for this much rye and whole grain), it is expected that this bread has a definite sour note to it, but it’s not overwhelming and probably less than “traditional” rye bread. For me this has the perfect amount of tang and heartiness to balance out whatever ingredients it might provide a vehicle for.rye sourdough and smørrebrød

I hope you enjoy this rye sourdough and smørrebrød recipe set as much as I do! And please, do as Magnus says: “enjoy them for lunch with a beer on the side and a glass of Aquavit!”

Velbekomme! (Buon appetito!)

P.S. Huge thanks go out to Bas in Helsinki whose input helped to guide me in creating and assessing this rye sourdough recipe!

  • talka

    Wow! Another beauty post! I could eat the pics as well as the bread! I’ve also had an aversion to rye bread, but I’m keen to trying it again.
    Quick tip for ya (if you don’t already know): You may want to add salt to your seed soaker water because it acts to remove or neutralize the phytase in seeds/nuts (which blocks mineral absorption). Our ancestors always soaked and pre-digested their grains and seeds, but with the industrial revolution we lost this knowledge. Anyhow, not that you need another cookbook, but it’s all explained in the book ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon – which is the main reason I got into sourdough to begin with 🙂
    Thanks for your hard, and I’m sure rewarding work Maurizio. Ciao!

    • Thank you! Just like you I’ve been put off by rye in the past, but I really like my recipe above and it tastes extremely good with these little sandwiches. I suggest if you try the bread use one of the sandwich recipes above, or do a search online for others, you’ll see they pair perfectly! This has me wanting to make rye bread more often, especially in the winter.

      It’s funny you should mention phytase and salt, I’ve just started reading At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen by Amy Chaplin and she goes into phytase, phytic acid, etc. into great detail. Safe to say I now soak all my grains / seeds overnight to help remove these compounds. I’ll have to add salt to the soaking mixture next time! When researching rye for this post I did come across some recipes that added salt to the soaker, now I know why 🙂

      Thanks so much for the comments!

  • Sashineb

    Thank you for such a thorough, well-written recipe, and excellent photographs. I have nowhere near your level of skill, but this bread recipe does not sound intimidating. I wonder if you can tell me why recipes often call for the weighing of the water. Why not say say 500ml or 2 cups? Thank you for such interesting postings.

    • Thank you so much! I think this recipe is very approachable for any home baker! Giving volume measurements for the water in a recipe can surely be done, but I think it’s easier to give a weight for them as bakers typically work with just a scale on their bench. I have one scale that reads grams and I can do everything I need there: weigh water, flour, seeds, etc. Additionally, it’s convenient to have the weight of water so you can easily see how it relates to the flour, for calculating “bakers percentages” (as I list in my tables above).

      Thanks for the comments!

  • Fantastic recipe, Maurizio! I found your site a few weeks ago and already baked two of y our breads, in fact one of them will be on my blog (with all the proper credit of course) in a couple of days. This past weekend I made your cranberry-walnut sourdough and WOW! amazing bread…. I also did not grow up enjoying dark rye bread but definitely developed a taste for it, so I’m saving this to bake soon – plus, it gives me an excuse to use my Pullman baking dish, which is feeling neglected….. Nice to “meet”you.

    • Great to meet you as well, Sally! Glad to hear my recipes are working out and happy to hear you sharing your results on your blog, I think that’s awesome. That cranberry/walnut loaf is still one of my favorites after all these years, and one of my most popular here to boot. It tastes incredible! Have fun with the rye bread, it’s really not a hard one to bake and making these little sandwiches is a lot of fun, and they are deceptively filling! Two slices for lunch and you are set 🙂 Thanks for the comments and glad to have you along!

  • Julie

    What a great post! This makes my Swedish heritage very happy (and hungry). I am intent on learning how to grow a starter and start baking a perfect a loaf. What do you recommend for a bread for beginners?

    • Thank you! Glad I struck a chord with your Swedish heritage, it means I’m on to something here! I’d first recommend checking out my post on creating a sourdough starter (which you might have already done), and then I’d start with this sourdough recipe, it’s a good starting point. Let me know how it goes — happy baking Julie!

  • jinal contractor

    Perfect bake Maurizio. Rye brod is like the last step on the ladder in SD baking, in my humble view and you seems to have achieved it to your liking ? The crumb is absolutely gorgeous ? and the topless ? sandwiches are just delicious.

    • Thanks I appreciate that! Rye can definitely be tricky, but I think my recipe and approach here turn out one darn tasty loaf 🙂 I do like the crumb to be a bit open as shown here, don’t get me wrong there is a place for a super dense hearty rye loaf, and I’ll tackle one of those in the future, but for me this is a great recipe. I’m now fully hooked on smørrebrød! There are SO many endless possibilities… Thanks again!

  • Suzanne

    Really spectacular loaf. The sandwiches are wonderful and perfect on that gorgeous bread.

    • Thank you so much Suzanne, I appreciate that! I hope you give it a try 🙂

  • Linda Theung

    Ahhh! I was in Copenhagen last summer and have been wanting to make smørrebrød since and have been on the hunt for a dependable recipe. I’m definitely giving this a go!

    • Copenhagen is on my list of places to visit, in fact I’ve almost gone out there a few times (when I was traveling through Holland) and am sad I never made it. I’m sure their bread and smørrebrød are out of this world!

      Thanks for the comments, let me know how the bake goes. I really like this bread with these sandwich recipes!

  • quitecurious

    These photos are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. This takes me back to Denmark.

    • Have you traveled out there? REALLY jealous. It’s on my must-travel-to list, that’s for sure 🙂 Thanks for the comments!

      • quitecurious

        Copenhagen is amazing! It reminds me a bit of San Francisco in some parts. By the way, I just got that same loaf pan last week and I’m a huge fan of it.

        • Sounds like I’d love it there, then! Might need to bump that up a few spots on my to-travel list. Yes, it’s a fantastic pan! I’ve even made some pretty killer spelt-banana bread in there 🙂

  • Sharon Bennett

    Looks fabulous. I’m actually working on a rye sourdough starter now as well as my other one. But I want to try yours soon. I have a question. I’ve read that grains can be kept up until 8 years so long as they are in an airtight container in a cool place. Do you know if this is too long? I have a 20 pound bucket of 4 year old rye kernels and have a grinder. Do you think this will still be young enough to use?

    • Thanks, Sharon! I’ve never used whole grain that old before, but honestly I think it would still be fine. Just inspect them to see if there are any unwanted critters in there first, and give it a shot. As long as the grain isn’t milled it should still be fine.

  • Thank you, Francesca! Yes, you can definitely use medium rye for the entire loaf, you’ll still get a great rye flavor in there just the same. I still have quite a bit of medium rye myself and I can’t wait to experiment with it some more.

    Those pickles are really proving to be quite versatile! I’ve been using them on top of boiled or baked potatoes, inside of roast beef sandwiches… all over the place. Thanks for the comments!

  • Sharon Bennett

    Thankyou so much Maurizio. I will soon try your recipe here and let you know my results.
    P.S. I finally had success with my starter and levain. My first ball of dough has come out of the fridge from being in there over night. Just waiting for it to rise so I can bake my first loaf of sourdough bread.

    • That’s fantastic! Looking forward to your results, happy baking!

  • Ciao Maurizio. A great read! Have you any other recipes with beer in them? Would you put it in a ‘normal’ sourdough loaf? Really enjoying that tin by the way – does in not give you the urge to make lots and build a really sturdy bread wall? 🙂 a presto. Cristiano

    • Thanks! Yes, I have a recipe for my stout sourdough that uses stout beer as a portion of the hydration — really tasty bread. In fact I mean to revisit that with some new additions I’ve been thinking up. I also have a recipe that uses spent beer grains if you have access to those!

      The tin is really well made and works beautifully! Could definitely construct the Great Wall of Rye with that… and a lot of time 🙂 Ciao!

  • Amazing Post! I wish to know many more recipes related to cakes so that I can prepare them and add it to my website..

    Thanks for sharing..


  • jonno_r

    Thanks – look forward to trying this when I’ve got some rye in. Beautiful photographs too mate – a real talent with the camera! Best wishes Jon

    • Jon — thanks! Looking forward to your thoughts on the taste, I’m finding I really, really enjoy this bread. As someone who has not had much rye in the past, and when I have was kind of turned off, it’s a revelation for me. These open-faced sandwiches are an awesome discovery.

      Thanks for the comments about the photography! Sure is fun for me 🙂

  • Adam Tenner

    I had a similar experience this winter. In the fall I wasa in SF for work and I went to Tartine on a break fbefore flying home to DC. All they had at the time was their sprouted rye bread so I bought a loaf and carried it home on the plane. It was fantastic. Luckily the recipe for the bread was in the Tartine #3 cookbook. At Tartine they sprout the rye first but otherwise, it’s a similar recipe to what you have here.

    The recipe is also here: http://blogs.kcrw.com/goodfood/2014/08/tartine-recipe-renes-rye/

    My first try (for Thanksgiving) came out a little too cooked on the sides and top. My second try (for New Year’s trip with friends) I reduced the oven temp a little and it came out beautifully. I made about 4 different breads for our trip and they were all consumed, but the sprouted Danish rye was a hands-down favorite. I used a Porter for the dark beer and the sweetness of the beer definitely helped to balance out the bread.

    Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the great blog.

    • Adam, thanks for the comments! I’ve not had Tartine’s Rene’s Rye, but that recipe has always caught my eye in Tartine No. 3 — I’d love to make it sometime soon. I bet the taste was quite intense, in a good way. It looks packed to the brim with hearty ingredients and quite a dense crumb.

      I had some porter on hand for this recipe and decided to go with the dark lager. Next time I’ll try out the porter! You’ve now got me wanting to bake this recipe next…

      Thanks again!

  • Cecilia

    Your pictures look great! This recipe reminds me of Swedish (Christmas) dark rye bread and I have been wanting to try to make it. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Cecilia! I’d love to hear how this loaf turns out for you 🙂

  • Thanks for that info Loretta! The mill was probably just trying to be overly cautious… It’s easier to say “use within a year” than “it depends”. I’ve had grain now for 6 months and am still using it just fine.

  • Sharon Bennett

    I’m glad they worked for you. Whole grain is known to survive a very long time so I decided to risk using the rye kernels myself. Its doing great as a starter and over the weekend I’m attempting to make Maurizio’s Rye bread.

  • B Buza

    Thank you for another amazing recipe. I love the photos as well. What are you shooting with? A fixed

  • Sharon Bennett

    Im not sure if this will reach you in time but here is my question. I do not have any spelt and want to do a complete rye bread. I see your 100% rye had too strong a flavor for your liking. Is it possible for me to add a small amount of wheat instead of the spelt and if so how much do you recommend?Or should I do straight rye? My rye is dark rye with a bit of light added. Its 9pm here and my levain has started and I plan to make this first thing in the morning. Thankyou

    • Sharon, so sorry for the extremely late reply to this! By now you’ve probably already baked this bread (if so what did you end up doing?). I’d suggest go with wheat instead of spelt, it will still turn out great. If you’re ever adventurous you can certainly go with 100% rye flour, even though it has a stronger taste, it’s really great bread! Many people prefer it this way in fact. Hope this recipe works out for you with wheat (I know it will)!

  • Mike Smedes

    I’ve tried this recipe twice now and both times the loaf has collapsed in the center, earthquake/fault zone style. Any idea why this would happen?

    • Wow, very interesting — this hasn’t happened to me. My first guess here will be that your dough has overproofed and thus the collapse in the middle. Of course there are other reasons this could happen, this is generally the cause for something like this. You could try cutting your bulk fermentation by 30 minutes or an hour, use cooler water during your mix, or cut your proof time back by 2 hours or so. Rye flour ferments at a rapid pace and it sounds like your dough probably went over.

      I want to also say this behavior can happen if your dough is over-hydrated. I don’t think this is the case, but it’s possible. If none of the suggestions above work I’d recommend reducing hydration by 10% and see how things perform.

      Let me know how it works out, sorry for the failures (they probably still tasted good)!

      • Mike Smedes

        Unfortunately the first loaf was very gummy and was more like a pate or something, so we just tossed it 🙁 During the 35 minute bake at 400 the loaf rose really well (we removed the lid for this one because the first time it overflowed and I couldn’t get the lid off without a lot of force), above the pan a bit, but when it went I turned it down to 350 for the second part it collapsed, and then continued to shrink a bit, kinda raisin like. I’m guessing that the flour is over hydrated, as there was nothing alarming during bulk or proof, and both times it has risen as expected.

        Thanks for the insight!

        • Sounds like the first was under baked some? This will also happen if you slice into it too soon, 48 hours really is a good time to let it rest!

          Please keep me posted on how this works out for you with reduced hydration!

        • Mike, did you try this one again with any changes? Curious if anything helped prevent the center from collapsing.

          • Mike Smedes

            I tried this out one more time with a 10% decrease in hydration and it helped quite a bit. There was still some fault-lining but it was a great improvement over the other two loaves, as we actually ate the thing instead of just tossing it. I’m sure another decrease of 5 -10% would probably work out well, or I could just stop being lazy/cheap and get some proper rye instead of using the bob’s dark rye which just sits on a shelf in a clear bag for who knows how long before finding its way to me.

            The weather in NYC hasn’t been particularly Nordic the past month so this recipe never really crossed my mind, but apparently yet another polar vortex is headed our way this weekend so maybe it’s time I take another crack(or not! ba-dum-tss) at it.

            • Thanks for getting back to me! I’m continuing to “debug” this loaf a bit because a few others have reported the same type of collapse. I really believe it’s the hydration, as you pointed out, but some others might have issue with overproofing. I’m going to try this recipe again with standard whole wheat instead of fresh milled spelt — what type of flour did you use besides the rye?

              I’d be happy to hear if it works out better or not with another drop in hydration! One other thought is the seed soaker might be adding a lot more water from an unexpected source (even if they are drained).

              It sounds like the upcoming polar vortex is the perfect impetus for you to get that Nordic bake on! Sans cracks 🙂 Please keep me posted if you try again!

  • Max

    Hi! I sometimes like to bake my normal sourdough in a loaf tin and I have been using the ‘foil tent’ method to steam the bread but I’ve always felt like that’s really wasteful. Do you think the lid on the Pullman tin is tight enough to trap the steam to get a nice result for a normal wheat/spelt loaf?

    • For this type of rye bread you don’t need much steam (if any) as there isn’t a whole lot of rise. For spelt/wheat loaves then I think the lid should work well enough. You might want to spritz the top of the dough with a water spray bottle, put on the Pullman lid, and then bake. I think it’d work just fine!

  • Jason Martens

    This inspired me to do a loaf in a pan. I’ve got 20% t-85, 40# spelt, 40% rye, about 500g soaked seeds going in too.
    My loaf pans are open, not Pullmans, I’m expecting some rise but dough is well over 100% hydration. Do you think I should steam for that top crust?

    • You’ll definitely get some rise with that flour combination. I would definitely steam the top, you can do either or both of the following: before you load your tin spritz the top of the loaf with water (just a light coating to help it expand in the oven). Make a tinfoil “tent” that lightly drapes over the top of your pan — this will help trap some of the escaping steam and also stand up a bit so the top of your bread doesnt touch the foil. Remove the tent after about 20 minutes or so.
      Hope that helps!

      • Nathan

        FWIW, I have a large metal mixing bowl that I invert and place over a loaf for the first 20 minutes of baking time. I find that it works well for steaming, and don’t need to throw away foil afterward.

        Also, this is my first visit to your blog, and I wanted to say thanks for sharing, this is terrific!

        • Yes, a large metal bowl works wonderfully and no waste! Definitely a good option.

          Thanks for the kind words, Nathan — happy baking!

  • Federica Norreri

    Mine was a total failure … collapsed in the center and when I cut it, 36h later, was still very wet and doughy. I have pictures, but I don’t know how to lead them: it may be easier to show the results than to explain them.

    I also have a question: I added the beer to the water in step 2: was that the correct thing to do? The resulting dough was very wet.

    • Oh no! Sorry to hear that, let’s see if we can figure out what is happening. Feel free to email me the pictures: maurizio (at) theperfectloaf.com

      Yes, mix the beer in Step 2 (I failed to mention that above, will add that in now, thanks). A collapsed top like this, plus the fact that you say your dough is very wet and doughy means it’s probably too much hydration for your flour to take on. Let’s try dropping your hydration and see if that helps. It might be worth going down all the way to 95% water during the mix, almost a 10% drop, and see how the dough feels. This would mean instead of 504g water in Step 2 you’d add 460g water.

      The dough should feel wet, kind of like “wet concrete” and it’s not really shapeable in any way except for mixing in a bowl. But the top should not collapse, a little indentation is fine, but not a total collapse. Usually that’s a sign of over-hydration (which is probably your case) or over-proof.

      Let’s try that and let me know how it goes. Sorry about that!

      • Federica Norreri

        I tried again this weekend and still nothing 🙁 I decreased the hydration level by 15% and while it did not collapsed as bad as the last time, it still did and it was still very wet inside. I’m going to try one more time, reducing by 25% and let’s see what happened. Even in this occasion I used freshly milled rye flour, without sifting part of it, so I guess it would be all dark rye.

        • Ugh! Sorry, really sad to hear this. Is there any chance you could use store-bought rye flour just as a test? I’m wondering if it’s the fresh milled flour you’re using that just can’t take the hydration. Or alternatively, lower the hydration even further. I’m frankly quite surprised the rye flour isn’t able to handle this.

          Also please make sure you bake the bread out fully, to around 210ºF!

          • Federica Norreri

            This recipe is really not working out for me. It’s the 4th time I make it and still a failure. This time I bought the flours, i checked the internal temperature when taken out of the oven, and I peaked inside the closed pan and when I took it out, it was looking good. While I let it cool down before taking it out of the pan, it collapsed. I’m supposed to leave it covered while baking, right? And when it cools down, it is still covered, right? Is there a video of you making this recipe? Thanks again.

            • Yes, definitely leave it covered while baking. If you are still up for trying again, I think I have another idea that will help. It’s very possible the amount of leaven in the recipe is too much, and it’s fermenting too fast before you get it into the oven. You could try reducing the leaven from 60% to 30%, so instead of mixing in 200g leaven into the dough mix use 100g. This will not only reduce the hydration more but also slow fermentation.

              I’m going to try this recipe yet again today (I’ve made it several times now) and ensure I don’t get a collapsed top. You can see in my photos the top (it was the top but when I turned the bread out I turned it over so now it’s on the bottom) is slightly dipped downward as well, but definitely not a full collapse.

              Also, once the bread is done baking let it cool uncovered in the pan on a wire rack, just until it’s cool to handle. Then take it out of the pan gently, wrap it in a towel and let it rest in a sealed bag for 24-48 hours to set.

              Really sorry about the issues with this recipe! It’s definitely more complex (at least I think so) than my normal hearth loaves. If you want to try again I’d love to hear how it works out!

              • Federica Norreri

                I will try again! I want the same bread as you have in your pic 😉

                • Awesome! I haven’t had any issues with this recipe, but I’m going to try it a few more times to make sure. I might use wheat instead of spelt if I can’t get any milled in time. A few others have said they have had a collapse also so I want to get to the bottom of this!

                  Please let me know how it goes!

                • Federica Norreri

                  Can you take a few more pic of what it supposed to look like while proofing? Right after allthe ingredients are mixed in and before you put it in the oven? thanks!

  • Muna Saif

    Hi Maurizio , love your site 🙂 I am looking to make this formula but need to substitute 2 ingerients: spelt flour and beer. What can I use instead please?

    • Hello! You could use traditional wheat instead of flour, or more rye as well. Instead of beer you could use more water, or leave it out entirely.

  • Bartolo

    Hi Maurizio, congratulations for this fantastic bread.
    I replaced medium rye with dark rye and used a pan with no lid; otherwise I followed the recipe very closely and, as you anticipated, got a moderately domed loaf. The crust was thin but crisp and the crumb as airy as expected, but the domed top had separated from the crumb. It tasted really great. Any hint to prevent disruptive doming? Autolyse? Water roux? Thanks!


    • Bartolo — thanks! I’ve never had this happen but there are several reasons why it could occur, but most notably: 1) the dough is too wet (too high of a hydration), and 2) the dough overproofed.

      1) Was the rest of the crumb of good texture? Was it overly gummy or really wet? If so you could try reducing your hydration 5-10% next attempt and see if that solves the issue.

      2) If the dough overproofs the top crust will rise up but the interior will lack the strength to follow suit. You could try reducing your bulk and/or proof times a little bit to solve this issue.

      I hope that helps — it’s hard to diagnose but those are the first places I’d start (maybe try #1 first, then #2).

      Happy baking, Bartolo!

      • Bartolo

        Thanks Maurizio for your suggestions. I will tell you why I will try a different course before reducing hydration and/or fermentation times.

        1. Texture was airy and would have much resembled that of your own bread had a fair amount of gas been evenly distributed instead of being trapped right under the dome. Having done rye breads with 85-90% hydration before, the humidity and stickiness I was so familiar with were
        notably absent. That was probably due to the longer oven (2 hrs) and bench resting (40 hrs) times. And despite 117% hydration, all ingredients considered but the seeds: having been drained as carefully as possible they increased their dry weight by 70 g, bringing hydration to 129%.

        2. Bulk fermentation and proofing times were 1.5 hrs each. Growth was so limited I thought I might have waited a bit longer.

        3. Therefore I hope to improve extensibility by autolyse and by adding the water roux (done only once before, dubious effect). Also, I will mix by hand. And wonder about reducing oven temperature to 350°C throughout: my loaf reached 216°F following your protocol 35’+90’. Might I have overcooked? Actually, doming occurred early but it is impossible to say when dome separation occurred.

        Thanks a lot for sharing your “secrets”!

        • Bartolo — thanks for all the information.

          Have you tried this bread again? I’m wondering how it turned out. Good point on the hydration, it is definitely higher due to the seed soaker.

  • Runnerfemme

    Hi, Maurizio – what would you think of millet in this bread as a seed (not milled)? And – unrelated – have you ever baked with farro flour? Thanks so much!

    • Runnerfemme
      • I recently bought a bag of whole emmer (farro) berries recently from my local co-op. I’m planning on experimenting with them very, very soon! I’m not sure why Bob’s Red Mill thinks farro = spelt but that’s absolutely wrong.

        I think millet would be an ok addition to this bread if you’re looking to add some, but for some reason it’s not something I’d jump to add in myself. I don’t think it’ll detract from the bread, but I feel like it may not add much either. I’d be curious what you think, though, if you end up adding it!

  • Chloé Cherubini

    Hello! I’m a SD bread baking novice. Did you use a rye starter? Can you use a regular wheat starter to make the levain? I am so excited to try this recipe, I’ve been looking for one just like it for a while.

    • Hi there! I used my general wheat starter for this recipe, as I do for all of mine here at my site. You can certainly use a 100% rye starter if you’d like but I find that the small amount of seed starter used to create my levain is such a small percentage it doesn’t get noticed in the final product at all.

      Hope you have fun with this recipe, I just love it! Happy baking 🙂

      • Chloé Cherubini

        Great! Thank You!

  • Susan Trosper

    Hi, Maurizio. I’ve recently become obsessed with all things Smorrebrod, so I was thrilled to find your blog. I have been baking with sourdough for many years, most recently working my way through the Tartine books with pretty decent results. I made a couple of loaves of the Tartine Renee’s Rye with sprouted rye berries, then found your recipe and have made it twice. I had the same impression as some of your commenters with finding the dough too wet with some separation of the crust. I now have a dough fermenting that I made with less liquid. I am going to use a 9 x 5 Pullman today. I think the compression effect of the lid will help because it seemed difficult to pack the dough evenly into the standard pan.

    Also, I was wondering what would happen if one were to use the water drained from the seeds as the h2o in the recipe. Due to time restraints today I may put the panned dough in the refrigerator overnight and bake it tomorrow morning. That worked well for the Renee’s Rye so I’ll let you know what happens. I know it adds another factor into the consideration of the final loaf but that’s what makes baking interesting for me. Thank you!

    • Glad to have you along, Susan! Yes, the hydration here requires some tweaking, especially if you’re not using fresh milled spelt as I did (it can take on more water than normal). Additionally, my climate here is very, very dry and most of my recipes here do require a little extra water on my part (I try to indicate this where I can!).

      I’ve never used the soaker water, actually. There may be more residual sugars in the liquid which would increase fermentation (more available “food” for yeast/bacteria to metabolize) but I’m not entirely sure of the sugar content in the liquid.

      Placing into the fridge should be just fine with this bread, especially if the temp is sufficiently low like 37ºF.

      I’ll reply to your other comment, above regarding your updates!

  • Susan Trosper

    I’m writing again to let you know that decreasing hydration and using the Pullman loaf pan yielded a perfect loaf. It looks just like yours and is delicious. This recipe is wonderful and it’s totally worth the effort to persevere and get that great authentic load of bread. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much for the update! How much of a hydration reduction worked for you? That fresh milled spelt I use really absorbs the water and I was estimating maybe a 10% reduction would work well.

      SO glad to hear it worked out for you! This really is one of my favorite breads, I just need to try it soon with some aged flour and play a bit more with the hydration.

      Time to get those toppings ready 🙂

      • Susan Trosper

        I reduced the h2o 10% and it worked quite well. I used a mix of flours based on your recipe including BEAUTIFUL whole rye from Carolina Ground. I think this will be my everyday bread for a while! One question – I also have some cracked rye from CG and wonder if I need to do anything special to add some into my mix for this recipe – or do I just add it in? I havent worked with cracked grain flours before. Perhaps I can use it for the Levain? Thanks for your great knowledge and congrats on your Saveur award!!!!

        • Perfect, super, super glad to hear this. I figured 10% would be just about right… I updated this post I hope others take heed. I’ll be returning to this recipe soon, actually, and will have a new spin on it in the new year 🙂

          I’ve not worked with cracked grain but I do know some bakers will soak it in boiled water for some time to soften it, I’m not sure it’s necessary but that’s what I would probably do. You could put it in the levain but I’d rather use it directly in the dough!

          Thanks so much Susan, I appreciate the comments and the updates! Happy baking 🙂

  • Denise Meyer

    Thanks for sharing that great recipe. Since I cannot get a hold of spelt flower here I used whole wheat and less water, about 95% hydration, but the results were great anyways. It looked almost as nice as your bread, which made me very proud. The crumb was moist, but not soggy and very delicious. I put the panned dough in the refrigerator overnight since I started making it a bit late at night, but it worked fine. The only problem I had was that the bread got slightly stuck to the pan. Next time I’ll use some parchment paper.

    • That’s fantastic to hear! Whole wheat would be a perfect substitution here, good idea. Parchment paper will work very well to line your pan, I do this with other types of bread all the time. Thank so much for sharing and I hope you try out some of these smørrebrød!

  • Quinny

    I would love to try making this rye bread, it looks very delicious and I love rye! However, I have one question, I can’t digest the sugar in the beer. I once tried eating beer bread, and it sent me to the washroom right after. So, my question is what could be a good idea to replace the stout? I think I probably can simply use water, but is there anything else I can use to add flavor?

    • The beer brings a nice malty flavor to this bread but honestly I think there would be plenty of flavor here without it entirely — I’d try just using water and see how it turns out. The rye and add-ins to this bread are so flavorful they really are great on their own!

      • Quinny

        After I asked the question, I realized it’s only 72g of beer. So, I will use water instead. Thanks Maurizio!

  • Kim

    I am about to make this bread, tomorrow in fact! I am having a hard time finding dark rye. Could I substitute medium rye (Bob’s) or pumpernickel? If I did so would I have to change anything in the manner of hydration. I will use the previously milled spelt with a 10% decrease in hydration for the recipe. Thanks for your help!

    • Awesome! I think either rye flours will work well. The medium rye will have a less hearty flavor but will still be really nice. Pumpernickel is actually whole grain rye (which is what dark rye is) and sometimes, usually, it will also have whole rye berries ground up and added to the flour. I’d say go with either! I am guessing pumpernickel will be able to absorb more water but the 10% reduction is probably a safe bet for both flour types.

      Happy baking Kim!

  • Kim Donovan

    My first attempt at this bread didn’t workout so great. The pan I used was only 4×8 and it was going to over spill so I split in to two loaves. The top separated a bit from the loaf. It tastes ok, but a lot of the loaf just falls apart. I have now purchased the pullman you use in this recipe. I am determined to get this bread right! I am a huge fan of dark rye and I hope to make it my everyday bread . I have a couple more questions though. I did not use the diastolic malt powder because I didn’t have any, but I just discovered that I do have barley malt syrup in my pantry. Do I use the same amount of syrup as the malt powder, 7 g? Also, I used Guinness. I am not sure if that is considered a stout? Is just any dark beer ok to use here? I did end up with the dark rye, so I used the correct amounts of dark and medium rye. The other thing is I had absolutely no rise. I am wondering if that is because I used an all rye starter.

    • Did you happen to see my note about the hydration for this dough above? Some people have ran into this same issue and it was because their flour wasn’t able to take on the same water as what I used. Maybe I should just reduce the hydration of this recipe in the writeup 🙂

      I would try this again with the water reduced by 10% to see if that helps prevent the separation (I’m confident it will). Using Guinness is just fine, that will be tasty! I’m not very familiar with barley malt syrup so I can’t say what the conversion would be. I would guess using the same amount here would work well, it shouldn’t be any stronger.

      Using an all-rye starter will work just fine, in fact when bakers make rye breads that’s typically what they’ll use. You won’t see much rise with this bread if any at all.

      I hope this helps, Kim! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Kim Donovan

    Success! My 2nd loaf of rye came out pretty good. There were a couple of bumps in the road. The first bump was the critical timeline which didn’t work with my day. I ended up letting it proof for 5 hours. When I got home it was spilling over the pullman. (It rose over an inch with my all rye started) I cleaned off around the pan and gave it one light drop on the counter. That let it settle a bit. It took forever to cook. I baked it for 2 hours and then I checked it every 20 minutes for 40 minutes. The bread temp was 202 at the 2 hour 40 minute mark. It just didn’t seem right to bake it anymore. I just had my first slice at about 36 hours form completion and it was quite good. The bottom is too dark and a bit hard. It’s a tiny bit gummy on the inside, but perfect as toast and it might be better tomorrow. The taste is fabulous, if you like dark rye! I also use 10g of barley malt syrup instead of the diastolic malt powder and I also followed the suggestion to use 10% less water, but I am wondering if it should be even a little more that 10%. Any thoughts, Maurizio?

    • That’s great! I think perhaps let’s try reducing the water even further, maybe another 10%. I’ve decided I’m going to update this recipe with a 10% reduction in overall hydration so others (especially those not using fresh flour) don’t run into the same hydration issues. So yeah, another small drop in water and I think you’ll be spot on!

  • Quinny

    Hi Maurizio, I’m hoping that you could give me some insight. I baked my 1st loaf. The middle part of the loaf sank and became very gummy and dense. I baked the loaf for 2 hrs and 5 minutes, and the internal temperature was 210F. I used both freshly milled rye (sifted part of it and used it as medium rye in the recipe) & freshly milled spelt. Because of that, I increase the hydration to 110%. Maybe not wise to do so, but I didn’t see your updated recipe until now. Is it still ok to reduce the hydration if I use freshly milled flour for my 2nd try? What percentage would be good?
    I was wondering if I over-proofed the loaf during bulk ferment as well. Is there any way to tell?
    Also, because I used a 9 x 4 loaf pan, so I put a foil tent on top. But I took it off 15 minutes before finish baking. And, it’s during that time, the loaf started to sank. It’s very difficult to put i back on, but not sure if this caused the middle to drop. Any thought?
    Sorry, more questions. Because this bread doesn’t need to be divided and shaped, can the bulk ferment be done in the baking pan? What is the reason to pour the dough from the glass bowl to the baking pan? So it doesn’t retain all the air bubbles? This is the first time, I bake this kind of loaf. Sorry for all the questions.

    • Hi! I’ve since updated this post to reduce the overall hydration quite a bit. I think most of the gummy interior and sagging top will go away with a lower hydration overall — check out my recipe above for some updated numbers.

      It’s kind of hard to tell with this dough when it’s close to over proofing, and that could have definitely happened to you. Keep in mind rye flour has lots of nutrients for our sourdough starter and thus the increased fermentation rate. If in doubt I’d back off on the bulk/proof some just to be sure.

      The middle most likely dropped due to over hydration, I think if you drop your water down this issue will go away. It’s incredibly hard to get that tent back on once you take it off!

      You could probably do bulk right in the pan, I don’t see an issue with that since, like you said, there’s no division or shape step. Go for it!

      Good luck on the next go!

      • Quinny

        Thank you so much for the respond, Maurizio! I will definitely try again!

        • Quinny

          Hi Maurizio, I’ve finally had time to give this a 2nd try. With your suggestion, the 2nd one turned out much better than the first one. I’m very happy for that.

          A few minor issues are still present. I’m hoping that you could help me figure out what can be improved. The loaf seems to have very few holes around the edges, but the center part of the crumb looks fine. Do you think it might need a little more proofing this time?

          The top still caved in a little bit but not too serious. It sank when I took the pan out of the oven to check the international temperature at the 1hr and 30 minutes mark. What can I do to avoid this from happening?

          And, the crumb turned out a bit too wet after 30 hrs’ aging process. I guess I cut it open too soon, I’m letting it sit and will see if the texture improve tomorrow.

          Thank you!

          • That’s great, glad to hear that! I see this type of thing with rye all the time, the outside edges are a little compact and cramped whereas the middle is more open. It could be a proof time issue but I also see this (within reason) pretty commonly in rye bread so it may not be an issue at all.

            The top usually caves if the hydration is still a bit high — you might want to try reduce the hydration just a touch more and see if that helps. This should also improve the “gummy/wet” interior!

  • Lisa Anderson

    Does it rest 24-48 hours, kitchen counter, or fridge? I can’t wait to see how it slices….

    • Lisa, 24-48 hour rest on the counter. Good point on the 9×4 spec, will adjust that! Definitely use a Pullman for this, or like you said, split it out into multiple pans.

      Thanks for the comments and please let me know how it turns out, I love this bread!

      • Lisa Anderson

        This turned out great! I wouldn’t mind a bit more tang, I’m a beginner, so what would I do to get more of that sourdough bite? And will try again with all dark rye, and maybe will purchase a covered pullman to bake next time, just to see the difference. Actually just slicing into it today. It sat wrapped in cloth and plastic bag abt. 36 hours, then has been in the fridge. Has just the right amount of chew.
        My new favorite bread.

        • Awesome, really great to hear that! Using more dark rye flour should help add acidity/tang to the end result. This should be a pretty hearty tasting bread! I love my covered Pullman pan, I use it for not only this type of rye bread but even regular sandwich bread (recipes for this are on my Recipes page up top)!

          Again, glad to hear this worked out well for you!!

  • Daniel M

    Hi Maurizio,

    I’ve never baked rye bread (I mostly bake country wheat loaves) but I recently bought a small bag of Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye flour, just to try it out, and am thinking about making this one. I am just curious about the baking temperatures and times. Have you ever tried baking at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a shorter time? If not, what do you would happen? How long would it take to bake this loaf in a pan, no lid on but in a Dutch oven, for 1 or 1.5 hours total? Would it do the trick? I often find myself short on time because of my workweek schedule. Your thoughts on this issue will be much appreciated.



    • You could try to shorten the bake time for this bread but you run the risk of the interior not being fully baked off before the exterior colored fully. I would say play with the times for you, your environment and your oven. I live at high altitude so things do take longer to bake usually.

      I can’t really say how long it would take to bake in a Dutch oven but it should be somewhat similar — I’d have to test this out to say for sure.

      Again, give it a go and see how it turns out! You can always test the interior temperature of your dough as it’s baking to see how things are progressing. If it’s coloring too quickly on the outside turn the oven down and cover it if necessary.

      Hope this helps!

  • CorteForte

    Hi Maurizio,
    As St. Patty’s day is fast approaching, and I’ll be making corned beef, I was wondering if you had a recipe for a sourdough Jewish rye like I find at the delis here in NYC? It’s lighter in color than the rye above and often comes perfumed with the caraway seeds used in it. I’m sure there are plenty of recipes out there, but your site hasn’t steered me wrong yet so was hoping you have a recipe of your own, or at least a recipe you think I should turn to. Thanks!

    • Hey! I have not tried making a rye bread like this… I will probably get there at some point, though (not before St. Patty’s though!). Sorry about that. Thanks so much for the kind words, I hope you stumble on a great recipe until mine is up 🙂

    • Caleb Serret

      Hi, the bread you are talking about is most likely New York Deli Rye. There is a good recipe on the King Arthur Flour website but if you want a professional recipe, consider purchasing a book called the Bread Bakers Apprentice. Its a beautiful book written by Peter Reinhart and contains all you need to know as a home baker about sourdough and pre-fermented breads. The Deli Rye recipe in it is un-paralelled. Happy Baking!

      • Thanks for the info! I’m going to look into this as well 🙂

  • Jedediah

    Hi there – just tried the Rye Sourdough recipe, with pretty good results. I had an issue with volume, tho – I simply ended up with too much mix after the Bulk Fermentation stage, I had enough extra to fill a second, smaller bread pan – one of those disposable foil #1. Then during proofing, both rose over the top of the pans, and I had to spoon more of the mix out and let it proof a little while again. The finished breads were very moist in the middle, and the larger one fell a bit in the center, but so what.
    This may have something to do with my location (warm Hawaii) and an extremely vigorous sourdough starter. After
    No stretch and folds are necessary.

    6. Proof – 11:40 a.m.

    • Glad to hear the bake went pretty well! That’s interesting about having too much dough, it could very well be due to your warmer climate. I wouldn’t expect the dough to rise super high, but it’s possible. It’s ok if your levain rises quite high, just make sure to use it before it becomes overly acidic or it falls and stays at that fallen point for too long — this is a good indicator it’s overripe.

      I think reducing water 10% would be a great idea. Usually that gummy interior is due to over-hydration and perhaps again your location played a role here (much more humid than my desert climate!).

      Thanks so much for the kind words and I’m glad my site has helped so much! Keep me posted on how your bakes go 🙂

  • Gina Wallace

    May I ask, why do you soak the seeds? I am going to bake an old favorite of mine and my daughter’s from her childhood that my husband and her brother always hated. My husband is going to be out of town for a week, so I thought it was the perfect time to pull out the Flax Seed Rye recipe I have from I don’t even remember where…the book it came from fell apart and I typed up this recipe and one other then threw it away. It’s going to be quite the treat for myself! LOL

    • There are a few reasons you typically soak seeds before mixing them into a dough: first, it helps soften them so they’re not quite so hard. Sometimes if the seeds are not soaked you’ll end up with a mouth full of hard seeds when you bite into the bread — not desirable! Additionally, soaking helps ensure they don’t pull out water from the dough later in the mix. While this may not be as important with this bake in other bakes the seeds can draw water out from the dough making it stiffer than intended.


  • Yonatan Englender

    Hi, thank you for this wonderful recipe. Question: the baker’s percentage for levain (60%) gives me more than 200 grams (closer to 280). What am I calculating incorrectly? I would like to increase the amount for a larger pan but can’t do it if my measurements are wrong.

    • This formula only calls for 200g of levain, if there is extra after you build your levain use only 200g in the final dough mix. Sometimes I like to make just a little extra when making the levain just in case it comes up short.

      You’re welcome and I hope this helps!

  • Nicolas Ghantous

    Hello Maurizio and everybody, I baked this bread yesterday and used whole grain rye and the rye without the beer. the crumb looks kind of nice yet feels little dense and moist although evenly distributed…is it normal? cause I think yours looks little dryer than mine when cut..Oh and I left it settle for 24 hours…I took a couple of pictures not sure how to attach them..thanks in advance

    • It shouldn’t be overly gummy inside, it sounds like the dough might have been over hydrated. I’d suggest next go at this reducing hydration 5% or more and see if that helps. When I originally created this recipe I had even higher hydration than listed (my fresh milled spelt used can take on a lot of water!), after some feedback I decided to reduce the hydration as some were experiencing either a gummy interior or the dreaded “flying crust” where the interior separates from the top crust.

      I’d say go with a reduced hydration next time and that should help!

      • Nicolas Ghantous

        thx for your reply…I used only the water in the recipe without the beer…next time will reduce the water a little..lets see..

  • saross

    I would very much like to make this style of rye *without* seeds (for a brother who just doesn’t like seedy bread). I can see a couple of options: (a) just omit, and (b) replace with soaked groats. Thoughts and/or guidance? Option “c”?

    • Both options would work really well! Soaked groats would lend a really great flavor to this bread — I love that idea!

      • saross

        Excellent. And now I have my project for the weekend…

  • Andy

    I followed the recipe as currently written, and I ended up with some of the gummy concerns others have expressed…but it tastes great! The wetness of the final bread, though, has made it a little more likely to crumble when topped with smorrebrod toppings. At the 90-minute mark, the interior was registering 210F. But maybe on my next go, I should reduce the hydration and let bake a while longer still? I used Arrowhead Mills rye flour for all of the rye–perhaps that brand absorbs water less efficiently than Central Milling? Or maybe using all whole rye flour (and not sifting any to get to “medium”) inhibited some of the absorption?

    • Andy, thanks for the feedback! it definitely sounds like an over hydration issue. It’s a common thing for rye bread, unfortunately, and probably made a little worse here since I used fresh milled spelt as an addition which I’ve found to take on a lot of water (and thus why I haven’t had issues with the recipe). I would have guessed that using whole rye would have helped in your case, it should absorb more water… but hydration really is a relative thing, and it always requires adjustment when baking (especially in two different locations and with different flour). So yeah, I’d say reduce that hydro and give it another go! Sorry for the “gummy” bread, I am confident it’ll work out next time.

      Happy baking!

  • Nicolás Bottaro

    Hi Maurizio, first congrats on the website, is by far one of the most complete sites i’ve visited.
    Second, maybe im lost in translation, and since i usually use a sourdough that i had for the last 8 months, what is it that you mean in the levain part, by ” 50g Mature liquid starter (100% hydration) ” ?


    keep posting.

    • Thanks so much, I really appreciate that! That 50g “mature liquid starter” is just your sourdough starter (chef, mother, etc.) you keep and feed each day. Use this mature starter to make a levain (or leaven) which is a small build just for this bake.

      Hope that helps!

  • Oleh Kyriyenko

    Hello, very excited about all the recipes you share on your website! I was wondering whether you are planning to show us how to bake a proper sourdough whole grain barley loaf? would have been fantastic!

    • Thank you! I actually haven’t had too much experience in baking with barley, I’ll have to give it a go here again soon, and yes, a recipe sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kim Donovan

    Hi! I have to share my experience with making this rye loaf. I have had several less than successful attempts, but because I love rye bread I persevered and finally had a success. After reading a lot of the responses I tried a few new things. I have always used a starter that is half rye half white flour “Dolene”. I instead used my all white flour starter, otherwise known as “Dorothy”. I used 144 g blue mountain sprouted rye, 192 g Bob’s RM dark rye, 144 g One Degree sprouted spelt, no malt, 72 g Night Shift “Awake” dark beer, 17g salt and the seeds in the amount suggested. I also used 20 g less water. so 422g of H2O. I live in the northeast and our weather can often edge towards higher humidity. After reading previous entries, many saying they had dough overflow, I decided to take 1 c out of the dough out and discard it. I then baked the loaf. I too felt like it was going to overflow. After an hour of proof it had not risen. After 2 hours it had risen about 1/2″. I had left 1-1/2′ of space in the pan. I baked the bread for 2 hours per the instructions . I let it sit for 48 hours before cutting it open. The crumb was gorgeous and the taste was wonderful! It was nutty with a good sour to it, not mild but not over powering! One difference I noticed between Maurizio’s loaf and mine is his was flat with the ridges and mine was more rounded. Perhaps if I had not extracted the 1 cup of dough the loaf would have cooked up to the cover and created that flat surface with the ridges in it. Perhaps I will have the courage to use all of the dough next time.

    • Hey, Kim! Thanks so much for sharing your bakes. From all the comments I’ve received about hydration I did go back and modify the recipe to have a lower amount of water — it sounds like perhaps it should be decreased even further for a higher chance of success. I plan to revisit this recipe, and even a 100% rye, here very soon. I’ll post any updates here.

      Thanks again for sharing what worked for you. I’m happy the end result turned out so well, sometimes it just takes a few trials and I feel like rye can be a bit challenging!

      Happy baking 🙂