Sourdough bread, 50% rye


To make a pumpernickel-like sourdough bread with rye flour.



  • Starter
  • Bread flour
  • Rye flour
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • Anise seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Caraway seed


  • Kitchen scale
  • 2-4 C container with lid for maintaining starter
  • Stiff spatula or mixer with dough hook
  • 1 Dutch oven, or heavy pot with lid that is safe to 500 F
  • Proofing basket or towel-lined mixing bowl
  • Counter top or pastry mat
  • Good bread knife
  • Optional: bench scraper/pastry cutter


This protocol was adapted from Breadtopia’s Sourdough Rye Bread. Please refer to this source for technical details, including a nice video on shaping loaves.

  1. Starting Tues or Wed, discard all but a tablespoon of starter every 24 h in the evening. Add 25 g bread flour, 25 g whole wheat flour, and 50 g water. Stir to combine, and let sit at room temperature in a loosely capped storage container (ours is a 2C gladware).
  2. Friday evening, make the leaven: mix 1 Tbsp starter with 25 g bread flour, 25 g rye flour, and 50 g water. Mix and let sit, loosely covered, overnight (8-12 h).
  3. To 70 g leaven, add and stir in 350 g water and 2 Tbsp molasses, making sure leaven is well dispersed.
  4. Use a stiff spatula to stir in 245 g bread flour and 245 g wheat flour until no more flour is visible. (I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook.)
  5. Autolyse – wait 30 m with dough loosely covered. Meanwhile, dissolve 1.5 tsp salt in 50 g warm water.
  6. Add the salt water, squeezing the dough with your hands to mix it in.
  7. Let sit loosely covered for ~6 h, folding/stirring every 1-2 h. During the first fold/stir, add 1 Tbsp fennel seed, 1 tsp anise seed, and 1 tsp caraway seed.
  8. Shape the dough into a boule or batard and rest 20 m.
  9. Place into a floured proofing basket with the seams from shaping up. (My “proofing baskets” are mixing bowls lined with thin dishtowels that I’ve rubbed flour into.) Loosely cover.
  10. Let rise 1-2 h at room temperature.
  11. Heat oven to 475 F with Dutch oven or covered clay baker inside for 30 m. (I didn’t have a Dutch oven, so I used a pizza stone covered with an inverted pot.)
  12. Dump the dough into the Dutch oven, score the loaf, cover, and bake 30 m.
  13. Remove lids and bake 15-25 m further, to 200 F internal temperature.
  14. Cool completely on racks before cutting.


This rye dough is quite wet. Avoid adding extra flour.

Results and observations:

Coming out of the oven


I ended up taking this loaf out of the oven after only 30 m, because it was already at internal temperature and looked done. It smelled AMAZING. This loaf was actually shaped and proofed as a boule, but when I put it onto the pizza stone it spread out into a batard.


The crumb


I was pleasantly surprised by how open and uniform the crumb was. The bottom left crust was a little dark/burned for my taste. The bread was slightly sweet from the molasses and aromatic from the seeds and had a very slight sourdough tang.

An unexpected observation after eating the bread for a couple of days was the route of the word “pumpernickel” – it means gassy sprite.


Wet doughs like this one are indeed easier to manage with a mixer than by hand. The day long fermentation gave a sufficiently open crumb. The pizza stone worked better than a thin pot, but doesn’t do anything to retain the shape of the loaf and is not very good for retaining steam. That Dutch oven is still on my Christmas list, and might also help with the burned bottom crust. I did a little bit better job with the flour in the proofing basket and with the scoring this time. Next time, I might try an even darker pumpernickel-type bread, like a Russian black bread. The recipe source rightly calls this aromatherapy bread!