Fool Proof Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

I have said it before, and I will say it again – rye bread is one of the easiest breads to make of all.

But just because it is easy does not mean that it is bad. Quite the opposite – this is one of the best breads ever. The rich flavour that it has and all the seeds in it just make it something special. It is also very customisable as you can replace the black treacle with malt syrup, honey or any other sweet syrupy substance. The seeds can also be mixed and matched, and you can use nuts too.

I also have a regular yeasted rye bread recipe. You can check it out here.


For the levain:

250g (8.8oz) whole rye flour

250g (8.8oz) room temperature water around 20-22C (68-72F)

50g (1.75oz) sourdough starter


For the main dough:

250g (8.8oz) whole rye flour

200g (7oz) room temperature water around 20-22C (68-72F)

100g (3.5oz) sunflower seeds

20g (0.7oz) caraway seeds

1 large tablespoon of black treacle (can be replaced with syrup or honey)

12g (0.4oz) salt

To learn more about dough temperature control when using a preferment click here.


  1. Make the levain by mixing the water, starter, and rye flour. Leave out for 12 – 16 hours or until it has risen and started to collapse back in on itself.
  2. Add the water, salt, seeds, and treacle to the levain and give it a good mix until everything is combined (You can see me dissolving the salt flakes first in the water. It is a good idea if using sea salt). It is important to disperse all the ingredients evenly before adding the flour as this is the only chance to do it. As soon as you add the flour, the dough will turn into a sticky glue.
  3. Add the rest of the flour and mix until no more dry flour left.
  4. Sprinkle your table generously with flour and prepare your bread basket by sprinkling it with flour generously. Alternatively you could use a large loaf tin and ferment the dough in that, and then bake it.
  5. Tip the dough out on the table, add more flour and shape it into an even ball.
  6. Place in the basket and check the temperature (23 – 24C or 73 – 75F would be optimal for it to rise in around 3 – 4 hours. If it is cooler or warmer, then adjust the proofing time).
  7. Ferment for 3 – 4h. During the final hour of fermentation pre-heat your oven and your baking vessel to 200C (390F) fan off.
  8. Score the dough and bake it with the lid on for 30 minutes. Alternatively you can bake the dough without scoring. That way it will crack and open up naturally which does create an interesting surface.
  9. Remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes. If you are ever unsure of the doneness of your rye bread, then take its temperature. If it reads above 94C (200F), then it is fully baked. This works for all breads.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.

Ideally you should leave this bread for 24 hours before cutting into it, but if you cannot control yourself (like me), then you can tuck in after a couple of hours!

Watch the video here

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