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Classic German Rye/Wheat Sourdough

You can either:

  • create 1kg of sourdough by mixing 100g of Light or Dark Rye with 100g of lukewarm water, fermenting in a warm place (21 - 24 degrees) for 24 hours (stirring after 12) and then stirring in another 100g of flour and 100g of water for each of the next 4 days, fermenting of course for 24 hours each time until you have a nice-smelling sourdough made of a total of 500g of flour and 500g of water, or
  • take 30g of your pre-existing sourdough starter and use that, together with 235g of rye flour and 235g of lukewarm water to seed a new 500g sourdough, leaving it between 12 and 15 hours in your favourite warm place to ferment before using.


  • 500g sourdough
  • 100g to 200g rye flour
  • 400g to 300g strong white bread flour
  • 250g water, +/- 20g
  • 15g fresh yeast, or 5g dry yeast (optional)
  • 2tsp salt
  • 100ml water, for steam-shot in oven

The ratio of rye to white flour is a matter of taste. 100:400 tastes great but may be a bit soft for rye bread fans; 200:300 maybe a bit heavy or dense for some, so experiment with whatever ratio you want. You could go 0:500 or 500:0 or anything in between, as long as together you have 500g.

The recipe I followed also suggested that while your sourdough is young, adding a little fresh or dry yeast may just lend it a helping hand. After a few refreshes the sourdough starter should be stronger and more mature, so drop the yeast. Again, experiment but if using Shipton Mill flour I imagine your starter will be mature in no time as creating my fisrt sourdough certainly went at a heck of a pace!


  1. Bring your sourdough to room temperature - do not use straight from the fridge as it will still be "sleeping"
  2. Add the sourdough, flours and yeast to the food processor mixing bowl. No need to activate the yeast, whether fresh or dry.
  3. Add about 230g of the water (hold some back to ensure the dough it not too wet – you can always add more water) and mix with the kneading hook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and more water if needed (the dough should be moist and may stick to the bottom of the bowl – it should not be too dry). Knead for another 8 minutes (or 5 minutes if using 100% rye). Do not over-knead as the dough will loose structure and strength.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, cover and leave for 1½ hours in your warm place (21 to 24 decgrees) until it has doubled in size.
  6. Tip onto a well-floured surface and with well-floured hands (rye is very sticky) form your bread into a ball or oval shape by repeatedly pulling, folding and rotating, so that a seam is created on the underside.
  7. Place the dough ball in a proving basket (seam-side up), cover and leave for another hour in your warm place.
  8. During this hour, preheat the oven to 240°C top/bottom heat (not fan). It takes most of this hour for the oven to reach that temperature in a stable manner, no matter what the temperature indicator tells you.
  9. Apparently, you’ll get better results if you use a bread baking stone or a cast iron roaster with lid (I am yet to buy one but it tastes great if just baked on a tray) because the bread gets more heat from below at the beginning which helps it rise. Whatever you use, make sure it is pre-heated in the oven.
  10. Tip your formed loaf onto your baking surface, score the top of the dough with a sharp knife and put into the oven on the lowest shelf. Immediately pour the 100ml of water onto a hot tray in the oven and quickly close the oven door. This "steaming" provides for a particularly good crust. Important: It is better to use a baking tray for this rather than the bottom of the over as it could cause the enamel to crack in some ovens.
  11. After 10 minutes, turn down to 190°C and open the oven door for 10 seconds to let out any steam, then bake for another 55 minutes or so until the underside is cooked and the bread rings hollow when tapped. Allow to cool on a cake rack.

And that's it - enjoy!