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Rye Sourdough Three Ways

Makes three loaves


150g rye mother

300g rye flour

300g water


600g active starter

400g rye flour (I use light rye), or wholemeal

800g strong white flour

780g warm water

25-30g salt mixed with 45g warm water


45g Sliced pitted black olives + 1 1/2 tbsp Herbs de Provence

30g chopped ready to eat figs + 2 tsp hot cross bun spice mix (I use Honey & Co’s sweet spice mix but you can use a mix of ground ginger & cinnamon, with a pinch of ground cardamom, cloves & fennel seeds)

1 chopped roasted red pepper (from a jar is fine) + 20g finely diced feta cheese + 1/2 tsp harrisa paste (I use Sainsbury’s)


Make up the starter in the morning and leave it at room temperature until around 5pm. Then mix 600g of the now active starter with 780g of the warm water, then all the flour and knead until mixed. After 10 mins add the extra 45g of water and salt and knead again briefly to incorporate. After a further 10 mins, split the dough into three (roughly 3 x 880g) and add the flavors of your choice to each. Knead again briefly then leave to rest, covered, at room temperature for a further 30 mins.

For the next 3 hours, stretch and fold each loaf roughly every half an hour. Complete the bulk prove with a pre-shape and then final shape, before turning into bannetons to prove overnight in the fridge. (For more details on the folding and shaping techniques, see my previous recipe for fig and walnut dutch oven sourdough). Rye does tend to make a stickier dough than white or wholemeal, so always wet your hands before you handle it, right until the pre-shape, from which point you’ll need to make sure your hands are well dusted with flour instead. Try to avoid getting more flour into the dough itself however, as the wetter the dough, the better the rise.

In the morning place a Dutch oven (or a heavy casserole dish with a lid) on a baking tray in the oven and preheat at 230 fan for 30 mins. (If you don’t have a suitable dish just use the baking tray but put a tray of water below this when you come to bake). Tip the chilled dough out onto a large square of baking parchment, slash the top of the loaf and lift carefully into the hot Dutch oven by the corners and cover. Bake each loaf at 230 fan for 15 mins with the lid on, 15 mins at 190 with the lid off, then 20 mins at 190 out of the Dutch oven and directly onto the baking tray. Using a large sheet of baking parchment helps you lift the loaves in and out without burning your fingers!

Let each loaf cool completely before eating. These loaves keep well out of the fridge in a cool kitchen for up to a week but I like to slice and freeze any extra and defrost them as I need them (the toaster works perfectly for this!). That way you can enjoy spiced cinnamon toast for breakfast, olive and herb bread sandwiches for lunch and smoked pepper and cheese croutons with your soup for supper...