100% Rye Sourdough Bread

A few months ago I tasted my first bite of a super dense and dark 100% rye sourdough bread and fell totally in love. For very many years, including all the ones I have lived in Germany, a place that certainly has a culture for dark bread, I have refused to even have a taste of these “carboard-lookalikes”, to quote my old self: the kid in me was was sure I would have hated them, and that my carbs allowance for the day would have been better spent on a crunchy baguette or a salty pretzel.
All of a sudden, though, I was converted. How, you might wonder. Ironically, it happened in a place where I would normally only go hunting for pita and challah bread, Tel Aviv. My discovery of rye bread happened at Lehamim Bakery, founded by Uri Scheft (author of the impossibly beautiful book “Breaking breads“, which comes with my highest praise and recommendation).

100% rye sourdough bread

All of a sudden, I craved this bread. After a week spent eating it at every lunch break, I felt I would not want to eat any alternative: all the white flour stuff tasted unhealthy, sugary, and somehow artificial.
Unfortunately, though, the holidays were over and I found myself back home, burning with desire for this bread that was on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.
So I started researching how I could produce a 100% rye sourdough bread myself and stumbled across the recipe I’m sharing with you today. This is the bread that motivated me to maintain a (rye) sourdough starter again and got me super excited about it. Now I proudly bake my 100% rye sourdough bread once a week and – confession – even take it with me when I’m traveling: I seriously can’t do without it!

100% rye sourdough bread

So, the closest thing to what I tried in Tel Aviv turned out to be Swedish Rågsurdegsbröd; after a bit of googling, I found the excellent, simple recipe published by SweedishFood.com and stuck to it ever since.

I was a bit skeptical that anything good could come out of rye flour only, but surprisingly, a simple, all-rye bread can easily be made using a sourdough starter; it will not rise as high as a loaf of wheat bread, but it will be more moist and have a substantially longer keeping time (I bake it once a week and eat it all week long).
The recipe is particularly simple because rye is so low in gluten that it doesn’t require kneading: all you need to do before baking the loaf is to mix the ingredients thoroughly, toss the dough in a pan, and give it a single, long rise.

100% rye sourdough bread

Please note that this type of rye bread is not what people in the US generally expect when thinking about rye bread. Not everyone is aware of it, but the regular deli rye bread which is common in America, used for example in the classic pastrami or Reuben sandwiches,  is usually made with mostly white flour and just a tiny part of rye flour for flavor, so it’s a lot fluffier and less dense than 100% rye.

100% rye sourdough bread

100% rye sourdough bread

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Pane
Cuisine Ebraica
Servings 1 tin loaf


  • 75 g rye starter for day 1
  • 140 g tap water at room temperature for day 1
  • 100 g rye flour for day 1
  • 175 g rye flour for day 2
  • 7 g sea salt for day 2
  • 125 g tap water at room temperature for day 2
  • 1 tsp of molasses or honey if you like for day 2
  • seeds to taste also in no way necessary for day 2
  • oil for coating the tin


  • In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients for day 1 with a spoon until the mixture looks like porridge. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature for 12 hrs, until it doubles in volume. I do the mixing in the evening around 8 p.m. so the next morning I can proceed with the next steps.
    75 g rye starter for day 1, 100 g rye flour for day 1, 140 g tap water at room temperature for day 1
  • Once the 12 hours have passed, add to the bowl all the ingredients for day two and mix everything for a good 5 minutes. Forget about the normal consistency of bread dough, this will look like a muddy mess, and that's ok.
    175 g rye flour for day 2, 7 g sea salt for day 2, 125 g tap water at room temperature for day 2, 1 tsp of molasses or honey, seeds to taste
  • Lightly oil a 500 g loaf tin, transfer the dough inside it, and smooth the surface. Sprinkle a little flour or oatmeal (I love the way the bread looks with a bit of oatmeal to coat it!) onto the top of the loaf.
    oil for coating the tin
  • Leave to rise again, but this time uncovered, until nearly doubled in size: it will take more or less 5 hours at room temperature, or if you prefer slow rising, 8 hours in the fridge: the time will depend on the strength of your starter and the temperature, so try and see how it works for you.
  • Preheat your oven to 450º F.
  • Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes; when you are roughly halfway through, open the oven to turn the loaf around and let the steam escape, which will benefit the crust.
  • Once the bread is perfectly cooked, let it come back to room temperature and - if you can resist - allow it to sit for 12 hours, wrapped in parchment paper, before you slice it.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Got some leftover rye flour? You can also try my rye flour brownies… I’m just putting the idea out there in case you needed an excuse to bake a little treat.

100% rye sourdough bread

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Rating della ricetta

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    We love this bread! Thank you for a good easy recipe! It has turned out every time.