☞ Learn More, Read: How to Dry Sourdough Starter 

A loaf of Galician rye bread with a slice cut off to show the airy texture.

Sourdough Rye Bread

4.82 / 11 votes
Sourdough rye bread is essentially a rustic rye sourdough bread made from a starter that’s subtler and lovelier and more approachable in flavor than most deli rye breads.
David Leite
Servings16 servings
Calories121 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time12 hours 15 minutes
Total Time13 hours


For the rye bread sponge

For the rye bread dough

  • 10 ounces water, at room temperature
  • 10.6 ounces bread flour
  • 1 recipe rye bread sponge (see above)
  • 2.3 ounces medium rye flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon instant yeast
  • Flour, for the work surface


Make the rye bread sponge

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sponge ingredients by hand until incorporated. Cover and let ferment at room temperature (68 to 72°F or 20 to 22°C) overnight or for 10 to 12 hours. The sponge will be very bubbly, have a clean sour smell, and will have doubled in volume.

Make the rye bread dough

  • Add the water and 1.8 ounces (50 grams) bread flour to the sponge and mix by hand until it forms a slurry, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add 8.8 ounces (250 grams) bread flour and the rye flour and use the paddle to mix at low speed until the dough is evenly hydrated, 2 to 4 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the salt and yeast to the bowl with the dough and mix with the dough hook of your stand mixer on low speed until the gluten is very well developed, 30 to 35 minutes. The dough should be sticky and very stretchy. Cover and let ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) with an oven rack adjusted to the middle position and a second rack in the lower position with a steam pan on it. [Editor’s Note: A steam pan is simply a pan filled with some water. You’ll want to use a pan with relatively high sides and only fill it partway with water as you’ll need to remove the pan from the oven when the water is very hot and you don’t want it sloshing all over you or your oven.] If using a baking stone, place it on the middle rack.
  • Turn the dough onto a generously floured work surface and gently form it into a ball by folding it toward you, rotating 90 degrees, and repeating until the bottom surface is smooth. Flip the dough. If a traditional Galician rye bread shape is desired, pinch a golf ball-size piece of dough from the center of the loaf and carefully stretch it upward without separating it from the loaf, then form a depression in the dough and nestle the ball of dough inside the depression. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet or, if using a baking stone, on a well-floured peel. Cover and proof at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Bake the rye bread

  • Bake the rye bread for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the steam pan from the oven, quickly shut the oven door, and lower the temperature to 390°F (200°C). Continue to bake the bread until the crust is golden brown, the loaf thumps when tapped with a finger, and the internal temperature is at least 198°F (92°C), 15 to 25 minutes more.
  • Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.
The Rye Baker Cookbook

Adapted From

The Rye Baker

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 121 kcalCarbohydrates: 25 gProtein: 4 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 221 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Stanley Ginsberg. Photo © 2016 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Loved, loved, loved this sourdough rye bread recipe! It was perfect! This is an excellent recipe for those who love their classic sourdough rye bread. It turned out absolutely beautiful with a nice golden brown crust and a complex sourdough flavor. I am very, very pleased with this loaf and will definitely be making it again!

My crust wasn’t like some of the other rye bread recipes that I’ve made—it was a little softer and didn’t break your teeth.

My sponge started to really grow at around 6 hours and doubled at about 10 hours. The description was very good—it was indeed bubbly with a clean sour smell. If you’ve never made a rye sourdough like this before, it might be a little bit tricky since the dough is so wet, but you’re doing it right. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter. And be very careful to not punch it down at any point once you’ve kneaded it with the dough hook for 30 minutes as this will help create an airy bread with an open crumb.

My loaf was beautiful!

This sourdough rye bread is a higher hydration dough, which was supposed to give it a nice open crumb. I didn’t achieve that, but it still had a nice flavor. It was a very mild sourdough rye bread and could go with many different foods.

I would be curious to try this recipe with less mixer time and some folds incorporated into the bulk fermentation. It was a difficult dough to work with. It will take practice for anyone to get the hang of but it was a fun challenge.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’m with Hillary – I have been mixing dough for many years and I won’t be going for that long of a mixing time. I will be increasing hydration if necessary but will not mix past 15 minutes. When you over mix (knead) the dough this long it becomes tough and difficult as well as less responsive in the “rising” sequence and will or should have required a dough conditioner of some sort, which I don’t like you use.

  2. I’m having trouble converting both 1/3 teaspoon to grams and 0.6 to ounces to grams.
    Can you advise?
    Secondly, you mix on slow for 35 minutes????? Never heard of that before. Why does it take 35 minutes. I understand the gluten development but sounds extremely long. Can you explain?

    1. Karen, if you click on the metric toggle switch at the top of the ingredients, the metric weights are provided, but for your reference, 0.6 ounces is 17 grams. 1/3 teaspoon of yeast weighs 1 gram. Yes, the long slow mix is intended to develop the gluten and allow for an open airy crumb. You might achieve a sticky stretchy dough before that, but our timing is based on the feedback from our testers, and what worked for them.

  3. I have been baking a few different rye breads for about a year, but I am not using yeast, only sourdough. Do you think this recipe can be modified to omit yeast?

    1. FL, we haven’t tried it without the yeast, but I do think it is possible. You’d need to experiment a bit with replacing the yeast with some additional starter.