Sourdough Rye Bread

I’ve always been spoiled with good, homemade bread. My grandma, an avid lover of the antiquated bread machine, would have a loaf of fluffy white bread cut in half in ziplock bags ready for my sister and I when she picked us up from school on the occasional Friday. We’d spend the weekend with her smothering slices with strawberry jam and making butter sandwiches.

When I was 18, I moved out to Portland for baking school and was met with a city full of amazing bakeries. French baguettes from Little T, small rolls of orange and anise studded gibbasier from Pearl. I started working at a German bakery called Fressen for my internship and ended up spending 3 years there making Bavarian croissants, chewy soft pretzels and the hearty sourdough ryes that region is known for. This recipe is my simplified nod to their vollkornbrot loaf- an old world whole grain rye made with various soaked seeds and the occasional day old loaf broken up and thrown into the soak too. If you’re in the NE Portland area, go pick up a half loaf of vollkorn, a Bavarian croissant and a bag full of pretzels at Fressen. You won’t be sorry.


Sourdough Rye Bread

Yield: 1 9x4x4” loaf


400g water, lukewarm

100g active sourdough starter

Pinch of instant yeast, optional

100g white bread flour

200g whole wheat flour

200g whole dark rye flour

10g salt

1 cup of seeds soaked in water overnight, I used pepitas

1 cup of rolled oats, for rolling- optional


Measure the water into a mixer bowl and add the starter and pinch of yeast if using. Swish around with your fingers or a fork until the starter is broken up. Add the flours and mix on low with a dough hook until fully combined about 1 minute. Let rest for 40 minutes. This allows the flours to hydrate which means less mixing for you later on. The dough will be sticky, it’s the low gluten nature of rye.

After 40 minutes, mix in the salt. 1 more minute on low speed. Salt inhibits gluten formation so this is why its added after the initial mix. Rest 40 more minutes. Fold the dough. Rest 40 minutes then squeeze in the drained seed mix. It’s easier if you use your hands for this part. Rest 40 minutes then fold. After this fold the dough can be left alone until the final shape and pan. This could take anywhere from 1-4 more hours depending on how warm your kitchen is and whether or not you added the instant yeast. Sourdough like all fermentation takes time!

When the dough seems pillowy and soft and has risen slightly oil or flour your counter and dump the oats onto a large plate. Scrape the dough onto the prepared counter and pat into a rectangle about as long your pan. Roll the dough up like you would for cinnamon rolls and roll around in the oats until its entirely coated. Place dough into an oiled loaf pan and pat down gently to even it out. I use this one but any metal pan of comparable size will work. Cover with a linen tea towel or plastic and refrigerate overnight. While you sleep the sourdough magic happens!

Take the loaf out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400°. Once heated score the dough along its length and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. I’ve found that a thermometer is pretty necessary for this bread and you want the loaf at 190-200° internal temp. Unpan and cool on a towel or cooling rack until completely cool. Slice thin and enjoy!!!

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