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Rye Sourdough Bread – Variations on a Theme

Rye Sourdough Bread with Seeds & Vegan Mushroom Pate

Bread & Buns | 30th April 2019 | By

Sourdough bread has been made for thousands of years. It’s a much easier process than you might think. A rye starter is a particularly good one to have as it’s robust and will sit happily neglected at the back of the fridge for a while. Read on for a simple and full-proof recipe for making my version of rye sourdough bread. You’ll also find a number of variations as well as a method for making your own starter.

Rye Sourdough Bread

I rarely make the same rye sourdough bread twice, but I do generally use the basic method and quantities given here. It’s a recipe I’ve developed over the course of ten years. As yet, I’ve only had very positive comments from anyone who’s tried my bread.

My homemade loaf needs to be something I can fit easily into a busy life. So, once the starter is out of the way, this rye sourdough bread is incredibly easy to make. I pretty much just throw everything into a bowl and let my stand mixer do the hard work. I do no hand kneading at all. This not only saves me time, but creates a lot less mess in the kitchen too. But, if hand kneading is your thing, please don’t let me stop you.

Loaf of Rye Sourdough Bread

As I inferred above, I tend to use different flours when I bake this bread. It’s a very forgiving recipe. Sometimes, I add in other ingredients too, as I did for this apple and hazelnut spelt rye sourdough bread loaf. Mostly, I add a mix of seeds as I like to get a few added nutrients along with the beneficial compounds I already get from a well fermented sourdough loaf made with wholegrain flour. Scroll down the post to get some variations on the recipe.

Loaf of Latvian Rye Sourdough sliced with a jar of carrot jam.

The finished rye sourdough loaf is my kind of bread. It’s sturdy enough for sandwiches, great for toast and it makes perfect croutons to top the lettuce & pea soup I posted last week.

Top Tip

Rye sourdough bread tends to be better the day after baking. As soon as mine has properly cooled down, I wrap it up and leave it for the following day. This has the added benefit of softening the crust.

Best Flours to Use

I like my bread to be as healthy as possible so I buy stoneground organic wholemeal flours. I’ve tried a few over the years, but the ones I keep coming back to are those from Bacheldre Mill. They are relatively easy to get hold of and perform well. I get mine from Waitrose, but they’re also available online.

Rye Sourdough Starter

I’ve had my rye sourdough starter for nigh on ten years now. It was almost the first thing I ensured I had with me when I moved to our new home ahead of CT. My sourdough has a history, which makes it even more exciting. Nearly ten years ago, I attended a three day bread course at Schumacher College with Andrew Whitley. It was fantastic and I loved every minute of it. Andrew quickly became my new hero. His rye sourdough was one he’d picked up in Russia in 1990. It was already at least thirty years old then. He gave us all some of it to take home.

Loaf of Rye Sourdough Bread on bread board with knife.

One of the best things about a rye sourdough is that it’s particularly robust and you can use whatever type of flour you like with it. As long as you only ever refresh the starter with rye flour, it’s good to go. Mine keeps well in the fridge for three weeks and I’ve been known to keep it for four without any problems.

The easiest way to start off with sourdough is to get a rye sourdough starter from someone who’s already got one. If you don’t have friends or family who make rye sourdough, you can buy one online. Bread Matters sell a dried version of the one I was originally given by Andrew. If, however, you’re determined to have a go at making your own, here’s how to do it.

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

I’m not an expert on making sourdough starters from scratch, but I have done it successfully in the past. Here’s a basic guide on how to do it.

Day 1 to Day 4

In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix 30g (1oz) of wholemeal rye flour with 30ml water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. The next day mix in the same quantities. Repeat until you get to Day 5. Don’t worry if the mixture smells odd or even unpleasant to start with, it will take time to get going.

Day 5

By this time your starter should be bubbling and smelling slightly sour, yeasty and possibly fruity. It’s now ready to use. If it’s not quite there, just stir and leave it for another 24 hours. If the mixture isn’t fermenting and bubbly by then, you may need to start again.

Rye Sourdough Bread Variations

Wholemeal Spelt

Replace all flour with 500g wholemeal spelt flour and omit the seeds. Produces a delicious soft loaf.

Latvian Bread

To the starter add half rye flour and half strong wholemeal flour. Also, 1 tbsp molasses and 1 tbsp caraway seeds.

Loaf of Latvian Rye Sourdough

Pure Rye

Use 100% wholemeal rye flour, with the caraway seeds. Produces a dense but sturdy loaf which works particularly well with bold flavours.

Seeded Bread

Add 100g mixed seeds when you add the flour and salt. I usually use a mix of linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Yummy Things to Spread on Sourdough Bread

My favourite thing to have on bread or toast is probably Marmite, but I do ring the changes from time to time. Here are a few of the things I spread on my rye sourdough bread.

Show Me

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make my rye sourdough bread or one of its variations, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Rye Sourdough. PIN IT.

Three slices of rye sourdough bread with seeds.

Rye Sourdough Bread – The Basic Recipe

Rye Sourdough Bread with Seeds & Vegan Mushroom Pate
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5 from 17 votes

Malted Wholemeal & Rye Sourdough Bread

This simple and full-proof rye sourdough bread recipe produces a robust loaf which is great for sandwiches or toast. Can easily be adapted to use whatever flours you like.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Overnight Fermentation + Proving Time12 hrs 40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: bread, rye bread, rye flour, sourdough, wholemeal flour
Servings: 1 loaf


  • 75 g rye sourdough starter
  • 225 g wholemeal rye flour
  • 250 g strong wholemeal flour
  • 250 g malted flour
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt I use Cornish sea salt
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)


  • The night before baking the bread, mix the rye flour with 450ml of warm water in a large bowl. Add the sourdough starter and stir well. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave to ferment overnight.
  • In the morning remove 75g of the ferment into a covered glass jar and place in the fridge until the next time a sourdough starter is needed.
  • To the remaining ferment, add the wholemeal & malted flours, salt & seeds, if using. Knead in a stand mixer for ten minutes. The mixture is quite wet, so it's a bit more difficult to do by hand, but entirely possible.
  • Dust a proving basket with flour, then press the dough into it. Alternatively, form the dough into a freestyle loaf and place on a greased or lined baking tray. As the dough is quite a soft one, a free style loaf will flatten out. For a uniform loaf, place the dough into a 1 kg/2lb loaf tin.
  • Cover loosely with a plastic bag, ensuring it doesn't touch the dough and leave to prove until the loaf has risen by about ⅓. This could be anything from 2 to 6 hours depending on the temperature of the room and the liveliness of the starter.
  • Turn the loaf out of the proving basket, if using, onto a greased baking tray. Otherwise, dust with a little spelt flour and slash the top 2-4 times with a sharp knife if liked.
  • When, or just before, you think the loaf is ready for baking, turn the oven on to 220℃ (425℉, Gas 7).
  • Place the bread in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200℃ (400℉, Gas 6). Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when the base is tapped. Allow a further 10 minutes or so if baking in a tin. Place on a wire rack to cool.


Rye sourdough bread tends to be better the day after baking. As soon as it's properly cooled down, wrap it up and leave for the following day. This has the added benefit of softening the crust.



I’m sharing this recipe for rye sourdough bread with Easy Peasy Foodie for #CookBlogShare. It also goes to Jo’s Kitchen Larder for #BakingCrumbs, and Casa Costello for #BakeOfTheWeek.

This post contains affiliate links to. Links are marked with an *. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging. 


  1. angiesrecipes

    1st May 2019 at 6:46 am

    I love rye :-)) and your sourdough loaf looks wholesome. Would be perfect to spread some homemade pate over !!

    • Choclette

      1st May 2019 at 7:42 pm

      It’s such an easy loaf to make and as long as you use the rye starter, you can use whatever flour you like.

  2. Nickki

    2nd May 2019 at 5:06 pm

    I love reading about the history of sourdough bread. I really need to try growing a starter again – I was given some by James Morton (he was in GBBO season 3 if I remember correctly) and I think it lasted for about 10 months. I stupidly threw it out after going on holiday – it went black and I (wrongly) assumed it had gone bad so I threw it out. Your bread looks fantastic!

    • Choclette

      2nd May 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Ooh James Morton. I remember him well. What fun to have some of his sourdough – or should I say had? 🙁 Black sourdough can be a leap of faith sometimes, but it’s amazing how it can survive.

  3. Heidi Roberts

    2nd May 2019 at 5:24 pm

    My two favourite breads in one – rye bread and sourdough bread! I had a starter for ages but the it died and I never got back to making another one – need to re-think!

    • Choclette

      2nd May 2019 at 6:46 pm

      Rye is so full of flavour and I like it’s robust texture too. Good luck with your next starter 😀

  4. Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    3rd May 2019 at 9:10 am

    I’d love to have time to make more bread, this sourdough looks delicious!

    • Choclette

      3rd May 2019 at 4:44 pm

      I don’t know how you have the time to make all those cakes Kat. You must be run off your feet. Hopefully enjoying it all though.

  5. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    3rd May 2019 at 6:52 pm

    I got so excited when I saw your post! I absolutely adore sourdough. Few years back I got some sourdough starter from Ebay and managed to look after it successfully and baked quite a few loaves with it. Then I fell pregnant with my now 5 year old and couldn’t stand the smell of the starter and it went in the bin. I have never got back to sourdough baking and we now buy lovely organic loaf almost every week but it’s so not the same. I really enjoyed reading the story behind your starter and will definitely look into the dried one you’ve mentioned. Your rye loaf looks fantastic and I cannot wait to give it a go! Thank you for sharing with #BakingCrumbs 🙂

    • Choclette

      4th May 2019 at 7:35 pm

      Oh no, what a shame Jo. It’s funny the things one takes against when pregnant. It always seems so random. I tend to bake a loaf every three weeks and buy an organic one for the other two weeks. But I much prefer my own bread. I’ve just got the starter going now ready for baking a loaf tomorrow.

  6. Camilla Hawkins

    4th May 2019 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve never made sourdough but I love eating it and rye bread is a particular favourite so I really should try and make this fab looking bread!

    • Choclette

      4th May 2019 at 7:36 pm

      Well, you don’t have to make sourdough to bake rye bread, but it does make a good loaf.

  7. Sylvie

    6th May 2019 at 4:02 am

    I have tried to make rye sourdough a few times but always end up with a hard, flat mess – so I cannot wait to try your recipe and finger cross, get the same result as yours!

    • Choclette

      7th May 2019 at 5:29 pm

      Oh no Sylvie, how very disappointing. Just baked another loaf yesterday for friends who are staying. They had it for breakfast and loved it. Good luck and let me know if it works.

  8. Kavita Favelle

    6th May 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I love sourdough and I love a good dense rye loaf, and this looks like the perfect combination of both. Thanks, going to bookmark this to try soon.

    • Choclette

      7th May 2019 at 5:30 pm

      It’s a great bake Kavey. So good to eat but also really easy to make.

  9. Anna | Serving Dumplings

    6th May 2019 at 10:02 pm

    My favorite flavors, rye and sourdough. Looks perfect!

    • Choclette

      7th May 2019 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you. Rye sourdough is just fabulous stuff.

  10. Sisley White

    6th May 2019 at 11:54 pm

    Sourdough has such a great flavour but I’ve never tried it with rye before so will have to give it a go.

    • Choclette

      7th May 2019 at 5:33 pm

      Rye makes quite a dense loaf, but I like dense bread and it tastes really good.

  11. Mayuri Patel

    7th May 2019 at 10:29 am

    I love sourdough breads, and if its rye then so much better. I love all the tips you’ve given on what to enjoy the bread with. And also the variations. A very helpful post.

    • Choclette

      7th May 2019 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks Mayuri, that’s lovely of you to say. Isn’t it fantastic how sourdough is so widely available now?

  12. Shams

    7th May 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Choclette,

    This sounds like it doesn’t take long to make. Definitely going to try this weekend for my kiddos! I think, my family would love it. What happens if i leave out caraway seeds?

    • Choclette

      8th May 2019 at 8:15 am

      Making this bread is almost a two day process, so it’s not quick. It is easy though. If you don’t like caraway seeds, just leave them out.

  13. Jere Cassidy

    8th May 2019 at 2:50 am

    I love rye bread and we always have a sourdough in the drawer. I need to try this.

    • Choclette

      8th May 2019 at 8:16 am

      I like the idea of sourdough in the drawer Jere. Sounds intriguing.

  14. Jenny Walters

    8th May 2019 at 9:10 am

    Gosh this does sound incredibly good. I just love sourdough and would eat eat it everyday if my hips would allow. I too had a sourdough starter but I forgot it one too many times and it passed away! One day when I get my act together I would love to do it again. I love the idea that you can buy dry versions from the internet. Thank you so much for sharing with #BakingCrumbs

    • Choclette

      8th May 2019 at 2:54 pm

      It’s so easy to forget about these things when life is so busy. That’s why I like my rye sourdough, because it’s a bit more forgiving than a wheat one.

  15. Jacqueline Meldrum

    9th May 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Well done for keeping that starter going all that time. I really don’t think I could be bothered. Funnily enough I just posted a light rye bloomer recipe, but mine just had some light rye added for flavour, it wasn’t all rye.

    • Choclette

      9th May 2019 at 7:54 pm

      A bloomer with a bit of rye in it sounds delicious Jac. I love rye flour for flavour, but I rarely make a 100% rye loaf these days.

  16. Amy

    13th May 2019 at 8:09 pm

    This looks amazing! I think I could practically live off of sourdough bread.

    • Choclette

      14th May 2019 at 9:43 am

      Oh you and me both Amy. I’m totally in love with sourdough – especially mine 😀

  17. Jo

    14th May 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Sour dough is my favourite type of bread but I’ve never made it before. I’d like to try this recipe out now 🙂

    • Choclette

      15th May 2019 at 10:16 am

      Once you get the hang of sourdough, it can be a really easy bread to make. Mine has to be easy or I wouldn’t make it as regularly as I do.

  18. Jenny Paulin

    27th May 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing another recipe with #Bakeoftheweek Choclette. I love all of the tips you have given here with regards to making your own starter for sour dough bread. I really must give this a try myself . the bread looks so yummy too. xx

    • Choclette

      1st June 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Jenny. We’re just back from a few days away. The bread bin is empty and I need to get baking.

  19. Eli

    19th October 2019 at 8:27 am

    Thank you,I love it!
    Just got the loaf out of the oven.
    Do you have a tip on how get the bread crust soft?
    I usually tend to get hard and thick crust when making sourdough breads.
    Thank you!

    • Choclette

      19th October 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Eli. Yay, glad you’ve given it a go and thanks for letting me know. I’ve just finished off our last loaf, so need to get another one going. I agree the crusts can be tough. I tend to leave the loaf to cool off on a wire rack, but not let it cool completely. Whilst it’s still warm I put it into a plastic bag and leave it for 12 hours or so. This creates a bit of steam and the moisture softens the crust. The loaf is also easier to cut when it’s a bit older. Hope that helps.


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