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Rye and Spelt Sourdough bread

traditional sourdough bread made in a bread maker

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Great in a Breadmaker

Essential ingredients:

  • Rye and Spelt flours, though you can substitute other flour if you don't have those
  • water
  • salt
  • sourdough (rye flour and water, see below)

Optional ingredients:

nuts or seeds, raisins, other fresh or dried fruit, chocolate pieces, sugar, honey or for a nice dark colour: treacle , cooked squash, dried tomatoes, bacon cubes, fried onions, cooked rice, mashed potatoes (you may have to adjust the amount of liquid or add a bit more flour to get the right consistency),  ...  - though not all of those at once please

You need live sourdough for this. If you don’t have any you can make it this way:

add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of ryeflour to a bowl, cover it with a teatowel and leave it at room temperature. Add another ½ cup each of rye-flour and water every day until it starts frothing and smelling sour, when it is ready to use. This will take perhaps 3-5 days and it will get better and better every time you feed it when you are making bread – we kept ours alive for at least 5 years or so before we had to start again, because we accidentally added whey to the starter instead of water.

Mix the sourdough

add to the bread maker:

  • 1 ⅓  cups sourdough
  • 1 cup water (or sour milk or whey)
  • 1 cup rye flour

and mix it briefly (lumps don’t matter at this stage)

add to the remaining sourdough starter

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rye flour

and mix it briefly

wait for some time (anything between about 3 hrs and a day depending on your other plans) before adding the remaining ingredients


  • 3 ½ cups of spelt flour (you can substitute other flour, but at least 2 cups should be wheat or closely related grains such as spelt, to ensure there is enough gluten, the rest can be anything you like including things you wouldn’t strictly call flour such as porridge oats)
  • 1 ½  teaspoons salt
  • anything else you fancy or happen to find lying about (suggestions: see above)

knead well (bread machine program : dough)

wait for “some time” again (see above)

bake 1 hour (bread machine program :  extrabake)

If you are in a hurry: add all the ingredients at once along with 1 ½  -2  teaspoons fast action dried yeast and put it on a whole wheat  program

If you make bread more than once or twice a week, keep the sourdough starter at room temperature, otherwise it can be kept in the fridge where it will only need feeding every two weeks.

If you’re not making sourdough bread for more than two weeks, you need to replace some sourdough starter with water and flour as above every two weeks.

by : Monika Jürgens


Added by: mdjuergens

Tags: Rye Sourdough Spelt

Add comment
Cooking time

Hello Monica, my first attempt was not very successful , never mind I will persevere! If I'm not using a bread maker how long should the bread cook for and on what temperature? I'm using a mixture of rye35% and spelt75% This loaf came out like a brick!!

Noelle 07 May 2017

RE: Cooking time

I'm sorry if you were dissappointed. However, you need to remember that a pure sourdough bread without added yeast or sugar will always be much denser than what you may be used to. The secret is to slice it thinly since you won't be eating mostly air as with most bread nowadays. Don't bake it until it has visibly increased in size - doubled would be great, but if it has gone up by at least a third it's acceptable. Baking time is about one hour in a hot oven 200°C or so. Give it a tap and if it sounds quite hollow it is done. If in doubt leave it a bit longer as it's better to be a little dark than sticky in the middle. I once left a loaf in the oven all night by accident. While there was a risk of breaking my teeth on the crust it actually turned out very tasty.

Dr Monika Juergens 08 May 2017

Thank you!

Noelle 07 May 2017


Thank you! Yes I realised that when ithe starter suddenly became a bit watery, I could have fed the starter with more flour. Lesson learnt! Just one other question, well, two really........ How do you know the starter is ready to use? If I use a le creuset pan with lid, does it have to be non stick or can I just dust the bottom with flour? Thank you so much for your help. Noelle

Noelle 03 May 2017

RE: starter ready?

If it smells and tastes sour and goes bubbly after you feed it (or stage 1 of making bread), it should be ready. As for the pan: Make sure you dust it with plenty of flour all round and you should be OK

Dr Monika Juergens 04 May 2017

Sour dough spelt and rye bread

I am making sour dough spelt and rye bread for the first time and wanted to know your views on baking the bread in a le creuset pan with lid for first 20 minutes then take lid off? I was told this acts like a Dutch oven? Or do I get same result if I bake it in a floured non stick loaf tin? The first batch of my sour dough starter collapsed this morning. I wonder if I waited too long, 4 days next to the aga, maybe to warm? When I measured the mixture the temp read 31 to 33 Celsius. Sorry to ask so many questions. There seem to be so many methods. Thanks Noelle

Noelle 03 May 2017

RE: Sour dough spelt and rye bread

Hello Noelle I'm not sure I can answer all your question, but I'll try. Firstly when you say the starter "collapsed" what exactly do you mean by that? It is quite normal for it to bubble a lot at the beginning but it runs out of steam if it hasn't been fed. I would say, unless it smells bad - that is if it smells of poo rather than smelling sour - you can keep using it. Just give it a portion of roughly equal volumes of rye flour and water and it should recover. If you fail to feed it for even longer the surface turns grey or green with spores. This looks alarming but even that is just a symptom of not feeding it enough. I skim off the "mouldy" surface and give it flour and water and by the next day you wouldn't know that there has ever been a problem. I can't say whether the temperature may have been too warm. I don't have anywhere that warm. It may select for different yeasts and bacteria, which may be good or bad. You could do a trial and split your starter into two, then always keep one batch by the Aga and the other somewhere with a more normal room temperature. See which one does better after a while. The Creuset pan sounds like a good idea, but I haven't tried it and if you use a non-stick tin you shouldn't need to flour it. Before I had a breadmaker I used to bake my bread in the oven in a large and deep frying pan with a glass lid. Unfortunately that must have weakened the plastic handle and it broke off after I had done this several times, but the bread always turned out very nice.. Monika

Dr Monika Juergens 03 May 2017

Cooking method

Kia ora...this will be my first attempt at making bread...will this recipe work if not using a bread machine?

Diarna 19 December 2016

RE: Cooking method

Absolutely. With rye and spelt you'll need to do a lot of kneading in order to release the gluten, keep at it until the dough becomes elastic and holds together well. I would bake it in a loaf tin - non stick and floured - at least the first few times before experimenting. This will ensure the bread holds its shape. Enjoy!

Ginger&Bread 19 December 2016


Thanks for your no-frills recipe - I'm trying to get into using spelt flour so I found this very interesting. I agree with you regarding the 'exact' measurements: it depends very much on which brand of flour you use and the required amounts of water vary widely (British bread flour in general needs much more water than the German equivalent (550 or 1050 I seem to recall). US flours are different again...

Ginger&Bread 02 September 2015

RE: Measurements

Thanks. I think a lot of people are scared by the supposedly necessary accuracy when baking. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not trying to win a competition for best loaf or best cake every time I make something. Being sloppy with the measuring cup (if used at all) perhaps means that the results are a bit more variable, but I don't mind that. I only recall very few occasions (maybe 1 in a 100) when the result turned out inedible and even then I found that birds would eat it even if I don't.

Ms Monika Juergens 02 September 2015

could you please provide the recipe in grams? I havent a clue what a cup is. Thanks

- beaudelicious 29 March 2010

RE: Measurements
So long as you use the SAME SIZE cup THROUGHOUT it doesn't matter at all how big it is, but the standard American cup I have at home is 240 ml for the liquids and 150 g flour according to Delia and she should know(http://www.deliaonline.com/home/conversion-tables.html). While on that topic: we actually used a soupladle for a long time - I think it was 3 ladles instead of one cup - it is less messy with the sourdough and easier if you have a large bag of flour. I almost never weigh anything - that takes too much time and washing up! , but I was eventually persuaded to measure the volumes when my flatmates complained that the instruction: "add flour until the consistency feels right" was not detailed enough

Monika Juergens - mdj@ceh.ac.uk 31 March 2010

RE: Measurements
Hi most master bakers recommend measuring everything by weight. What feels the 'right consistency' may not be the same for someone else - in particular a novice baker just starting out. I would therefore like to request when you make the bread next time, to record the weights in grams and re-issue the recipe.

- beaudelicious 31 March 2010

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