70% rye sourdough

I remember the first time I made sourdough at home. It was nerve-wrecking and intimidating: I had at least 10 alarms ringing at very specific time intervals, one for each stretch and fold, shape, pre-shape, resting period… argh. The stress kept following me around for the next couple of months until one day when I got all mixed up in work and forgot all about my bread for about… four hours. When I realised what had happened I was terrified to go to the kitchen: every wild yeast enthusiast knows how much of a planning process it all is and knows how disheartening it is to ruin it all. To my greatest surprise, my bread was doing very well: it had proofed and seemed to be doing just fine without all the extra-attention.

And then I remembered. I remembered my grandmother making bread. She died when I was 3 and I never had a chance to see her cook, but I DID see her a million times with my mind’s eyes, through my mother’s stories. I saw her in our little old country cottage, surrounded by her five children, working the dough with her floured, wrinkly hands, washed out by so many years of hard labor and necessities. I saw her precise movements, the confidence in her gestures, I saw her bringing everything together without flinching. I saw an obedient, unpretentious dough that would later transform into a sturdy, large loaf meant to feed everyone around the table. No stretch and folds, no precise scoring, no time for inner dough temperature, just pure energy, pure connection. And always, absolutely always the mark of the cross made with her hands on top of the dough: the bread was sacred to her and it has become sacred to me.

So I started to relax and I simplified my bread-making process. I no longer watch the clock, I prefer to feel the dough, to look at it, to listen to it. We’re friends now :) I’ve also been exploring easier recipes, with shorter periods of proofing and possibly even less work: this is how I came across this recipe developed by none other than my usual inspiring friend Codruta, who’s got it from a TFL member, Hansjoakim. It’s 70% rye, 30% whole wheat, so yeah, no white flour, perfect if you’re not into that.

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70% rye sourdough 30% whole wheat


  • For the levain:
  • - mature white starter (100% hydration): 18 g
  • - water: 350 g
  • - rye flour: 350 g
  • For the final dough:
  • - whole wheat flour: 300 g
  • - rye flour: 350 g
  • - water: 430 g
  • - levain: 700 g (all of the above)
  • - fennel seeds: 10 g
  • - salt: 20 g


  1. Start off by preparing the levain, 12 hours in advance: simply mix the mature starter with the water and flour, cover with a lid and let stand at room temp for 12h until all bubbly.
  2. After 12h, take a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and gently mix the whole wheat flour with 350 ml water; cover and let rest for 20 minutes (autolyse). Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Rye does not have so much gluten, so expect no such thing; also, the dough will be sticky so a stand mixer will come in handy. Cover and let rest for one hour.
  3. After an hour, flour your banneton (be generous) or proofing basket and keep close. Flour your working bench and turn out the dough. Start forming a round shape by bringing all corners of the dough to the centre and sealing them with firm pushes. Turn the ball seam-side down and shape into a round ball: make sure not to overwork it. During this shaping stage it is essential not to incorporate too much flour into the dough, so use a brush to scrape it off if needed.
  4. Place dough into floured banneton seam-side down, cover with a kitchen towel and let proof for about 1 1/2 hours. Half an hour before baking time preheat the oven at 240C/460F with an empty, shallow metal tray on the bottom rack. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  5. Turn out the boule (round ball of dough) onto the baking sheet, seam-side up. Put your oven gloves on and with one hand put your bread into the oven and with the other hand pour the hot water in the hot metal tray underneath the baking sheet. This will create a lot of steam, make sure not to burn yourselves. Close the oven door quickly and bake for about an hour. After 20 minutes make sure to take out the steam source (metal tray) from the oven.
  6. After baking, let cool completely and do not slice in the first 24 hours.

I love this bread for so many reasons: it requires no stretch and folds, no scoring, and is ready in under four hours, which is very quick for a sourdough bread. The only bad part is that I have to wait for so long to cut it, it drives me mad, the curiosity eats at me relentlessly. This is a very solid bread, it’s a large boule that will last a lot because it’s very satiating: the rye takes a lot to digest, so eat diligently. The best part about it comes from the fennel seeds though, or so I think; this gives the bread such a distinct, yet discrete perfume, almost like a very experienced lady that’s been through a lot and knows her way through the games of seduction…

Oh, and there’s nothing fluffy about it, mind you.

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Love and rye!

2 thoughts on “70% rye sourdough

  1. Valentina @Hortus

    Love this! Great job! I can totally relate to that feeling…the first time making sourdough is definitely a nerve-wrecking experience!
    But once you learn to relax, it really pays off and even becomes a great way to relax and take things easy.

    I love rye bread and make it every now and then. I’d love to try your method.


    1. andie

      Thank you Valentina! I saw you comment with such delay! Do let me know if you do try this bread, I’d love to know about the results :)


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