How to bake rye bread at home

“My classic rye bread. I eat it for breakfast and lunch, and use any leftovers for cakes, croûtons or a crispy crumble to sprinkle over vegetable dishes or salads.”

Extracted from Copenhagen Food by Trine Hahnemann (£25, Quadrille) Photography ©Columbus Leth

Ingredients for the rye sourdough starter

Day 1

Day 2

  • 500g cracked rye
  • 250ml cold water
  • A little flavourless vegetable oil, for the tin

How to make rye bread

  1. For the rye sourdough starter, mix the buttermilk and rye flour well in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 3 days, ideally at 23–25°C (73–77°F). It is important that it doesn’t develop mould, but it should start bubbling.
  2. Day 1: If you’re making your first loaf from the starter, dissolve all the starter in the lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl (for subsequent loaves use just 3 Tbsp of the starter; see Day 2, below). Stir in the salt and rye flour, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 12–24 hours.
  3. Day 2: Add the cracked rye and cold water to the dough and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth (it will be too runny to knead). Remove 3 tbsp of the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate; this will become your sourdough starter for the next loaf you make. It will not need taking care of, but it will need to rest for at least 3 days before you use it again. It will last up to 8 weeks.
  4. Lightly oil a large loaf tin, about 30 x 10cm [12 x 4in], and 10cm [4in] deep. Pour in the dough, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature for 3–6 hours, or until the dough has almost reached the top of the tin.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/Gas 4. Bake the loaf for 1 hour 45 minutes, then immediately turn the loaf out of the tin on to a wire rack to cool. This is great to eat just out of the oven, though it is difficult to cut, so wait until the next day… if you can!
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  • This recipe needs checking. As the above stated, when you mix 300g of flour with 300mls of buttermilk, the flour just disks up all the buttermilk- there is no way that this would ever bubble! It was an expensive mistake, at a time when everything has gone up and people need to save money. Please try this method yourselves and then rectify the instructions for the starter before anyone else wastes money.

    Elizabeth on

  • Thanks for your message Rebecca, we’ve been in touch with the author and she says you process with the same amount of water and flour, it is only the first time you use your starter – you use that big amount, from then on it will be the 3 tbsp. Thanks again!

    Ellie @ Sous Chef on

  • I’ve been wanting to make this but I am a little confused on how to go about making subsequent loaves from the 3 Tbsp of the starter that was put in the fridge. Do you take the 3 Tbsp and proceed from the Day 1 instructions again? With the same amount of water and flour? Or do you use less water since you have less starter? And then save 3 Tbsp again in Day 2?

    Rebecca on

  • Thanks for your message Roselka, we’ve been in touch with the author and she’s said that it really depends a lot on the rye flour. Try adding 150 ml more buttermilk, then leave at room temperature for 2 – 3 days lightly covered – and then it should starts to smell a little sour and form small bobbles. If not it’s worth starting again, it could be that the environment is too cold. Hope this helps!

    Ellie at Sous Chef on

  • I have tried to make the rye bread but when you mix 300 gr of rye flour and 300 ml of buttermilk it goes in a stiff dough and after 3 days nothing happens , it stays exactly the same , no bubbling … So should I proceed to day 2 or throw it away?

    ROselka on

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