Galician Rye Bread

Galician 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.

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

Galician rye bread, otherwise known as pan Gallego de centeno, takes many forms, each with a somewhat unique shape and composition. This particular version originates in Ourense, in south central Galicia, not far from the Portuguese border, explains cookbook author and rye bread authority Stanley Ginsberg. It’s “a crusty, rustic loaf with a surprisingly open crumb,” he continues. “Bright sour dominates supported by the spicy sweetness of wheat and rye.” Given how difficult it is to find a decent loaf of bakery rye bread, if you like sourdough rye bread, you simply gotta try this recipe.–Renee Schettler

Galician Rye Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (5)
  • 45 M
  • 13 H
  • Makes 1 loaf
4.8/5 - 5 reviews
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  • For the rye bread sponge
  • For the rye bread dough


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. Originally published January 21, 2017.

Print RecipeBuy the The Rye Baker cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Loved, loved, loved this Galician 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 Galician 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.


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  1. This is the first sour dough bread that I have ever made and the first rye bread that I have ever made. I followed this recipe twice last week with so-so results. Today’s loaf, which is my third attempt, worked well for me. To make this loaf successful, I added 2 oz of bread flour and 2 oz of rye flour to make the dough less runny. I also increased the amount of yeast to 1 tsp. Additionally, I let the starter sit for almost 48 hours after its last feeding, and the sour dough taste is stronger than before.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Leslie. Every bread recipe (and bread baker!) is a little different, so it always takes a little time to figure out how to make it work best for you. We’re delighted you kept at it until you were happy with your loaf.

  2. A better attempt than my last. Similar process to my previous. Slightly less bulk fermentation as i could see it was running away with itself. It seemed scarily slack, so I did the pre-bake rest in a floured cloth lined bannetone

    More gentle with the handling and a spritz or two of water before it went under the cloche. 30 mins at 240c fan on, covered. 20 mins or at 240c fan off uncovered (until the colour I wanted.

    Inside is still not as airy and I think I need more strength in the dough. But I’m loving working with this recipe and refining it for my own kitchen

      1. That is one gorgeous loaf of bread, Aiden! I love that you are perfecting it to make it work so well for you.

  3. Hi David,

    My first couple of attempts at making this were great. I baked seam side up under a cloche and got a really nice burst through the top and lovely crust. My last two have gone a bit awry with the crust and I can’t work out what has changed.

    It doesn’t appear to be underproofing (I think), as there are no blowouts. Inside is fine, but the crust seems to be brittle and is cracking all over during the spring.

    Is it a proofing issue? Shaping, too much tension, too much flour? An oven temp issue? Needs to sit a bit longer before the bake?

    any help greatly appreciated.



    1. Aiden, rye is known to crack a lot, as the loaf isn’t scored. And a crackly crust is often prized–at least to me. You may have overtightened the loaf in shaping. Try a little less shaping and really, really getting as much moisture in there are possible. But, honestly, there is no such thing as an ugly loaf of bread!

      1. Awesome, thanks David. That’s good to know and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it.

        I’ll try less shaping. I forgot to add a picture but this is how it turned out.

          1. Thanks David!

            I’m not massively experienced with Rye yet and it looked so different to the headline pic. I wasn’t sure what to expect and this one so was very different to my earlier efforts. However, I’m definitely going to keep baking this one and embrace the cracks!

            But my oh my its absolutely delicious; an amazing bread!

            Thank you for the recipe and the feedback!

            1. Aidan, you’re more than welcome. The loaf in the top image looks like the top knot (my term) spread a bit and cause that wonderful craggy surface. Did you try the top knot? That kind of pre-creates weakness in the doughs cloak so it can spread a bit.

              1. Hi David, On this one I did. It’s the clump on top. I think I’d overtightened by that point. And gave an extra bit after the knot so probably piled on some extra weakness. I know I haven’t mastered the knot. I think I’ll try another with the knot, then one scored then another seam side up for a natural ‘burst’. I’ll report back in due course!

  4. Hi David. Eric again. Can you help with step 5? The dough is so wet after the 2 hour proof. My dough rose nicely, so I think the yeasts were working fine, but I had trouble with the wetness. I used a dough scraper to lift the dough and fold it, as directed, but I don’t think the dough was stiff enough to hold its shape. I was scrupulous in my weighing and measuring, so I think I did that correctly. How many times do you turn the dough in step 5? What dough texture should I aim for? Thanks

    1. Eric, the dough texture won’t really change much. By folding, you’re creating a tighter skin. Take a look at this video. Starting at the 3-minute mark–that’s what you want to do. You can do it as many times as you need to shape the loaf. Also, try lightly sprinkling flour as you fold. That may help.

      This issue with bread is that it’s alive and is different every time. Wetter, drier, springer, denser, etc.

  5. Hi David. Very excited to make this happen. I have only dark rye, how would you suggest I adjust the recipe? I have noticed I need more water when feeding the dark rye starter (as opposed to my APF starter). Thanks for any guidance.

    1. Hey, Christopher. A dark-rye bread will definitely need more liquid. How much, I honestly can’t say. I’ve never made a 100% dark rye loaf; it’s not my favorite. The dough will tell you what it needs, as they say. Keep adding water bit by bit until the dough approaches the stage in the recipe. I wish I could be more precise, but I can’t. 😞

      1. Hi again, Great recipe! I cut the dark rye with KA white bread flour, and added a little extra moisture to the sponge, which really came to life at the 11th and 12th hours. The added moisture made the dough super sticky and I left the folds on top to get extra crispy crannies. Good sour taste and fragrance. I was surprised by the more than adequate crumb given the small amount of starter and yeast. Definite repeat! Thanks sooo much…

  6. Made this yesterday and is delicious. Nice rye flavour, dense enough (as it should be). I will have to be careful as I could eat this all in one day. With good butter…nothing else!

  7. I don’t have a standing mixer. Any chance that this bread can be mixed/kneaded by hand? I don’t mind the time, I’ve been kneading dough for over 25 years and am used to the effort. Thanks.

    1. @Frances, This is what I came here to ask today! But I am not an experienced bread maker so I’m unsure of what the equivalent hand kneading time would be to replace the 2-4 mins and 30-35 mins in the instructions. Anyone have any pointers? Thanks!

      1. Sherry, it depends entirely on how vigorous your kneading is. Between us? I wouldn’t attempt hand kneading to equal 30 to 35 minutes in the mixer. I don’t have that kind of endurance! If you want to hand knead, keep going “until the gluten is very well developed…The dough should be sticky and very stretchy.” It could be anywhere between 35 to 60 minutes–and I’m guessing here.

        1. Okay, thanks! I’m a massage therapist, and since COVID’s isolation, I haven’t given a massage but, hopefully, those muscles are still there! ;) I’ll definitely report back and let you know how it goes. I’m so excited to finally be trying this recipe. My great-grandparents were from Galicia and they really do have delicious bread! The starter’s looking great (used the recipe on your site) and I’ve already made a bunch of tasty things with the part I discarded daily. Thanks so much for your site here; it’s been so helpful!

            1. And it’s done! I kneaded by hand for about an hour and then I had to do a work Zoom so I had to stop. I don’t think it was quite ready, but oh well. I only kept it in the oven 10 or 15 minutes after taking out the water pan because it seemed like the crust was going to burn; the inside seems a little undercooked, but it tastes good! My first try – good enough. A question I had – how long about are you supposed to work the dough to get it in a ball for step 5? I had no idea what I was doing! Thanks so much for all your help.

              1. Sherry! What a handsome loaf! Congratulations. Are your muscles aching? As far as step 5, all you need to do is pull/stretch the dough 4 times–N, S, E, W–if you will. Again, congrats.

  8. Hello, I’ve never made sourdough before and I found your recipe a while ago and am excited to try. Most sourdough recipes I’ve seen don’t require yeast (as the starter leavens the bread). Is it correct that this recipe calls for both?

  9. This is either missing flour or has too much water. I’ve worked with slack sticky rye doughs before, but I’ve never encountered anything like this. Slightly stickier and much more glutinous than pancake batter. There’s no way to form a boule, though it made a pretty tasty puddle. I might try it again, but will add another 50-100 grams strong flour.

    1. Andy, sorry you had a problem with the recipe. Clearly you used a scale, so we can rule out incorrect weighing. None of our testers had that problem. Did you use both bread and rye flour? And it was medium rye?

  10. I love the deep rye flavor of this bread and the interesting process to shape the dough. I baked mine in a Dutch oven, just like most of my breads, and it worked great, giving me a perfect crust with no need for water pans or additional steam. I enjoyed most of it with Irish Cheddar cheese. What an excellent combination!

    A fresh loaf of Galician rye bread on parchment paper

    1. Lovely to hear that you found the flavor and texture to be quite nice, Elie! And it’s always a good thing when you can omit a little extra work, like the extra water pans, with no remorse! We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know!

  11. Hello, What a great recipe! We tried it last week and it was very good. If I want to double the recipe, would I double the sponge?
    Many thanks!

  12. Curious about the sponge. In many of the recipes, the author calls for water at a temp of 105 degrees F (“warm”) when making the sponge, but here there is no guidance. I used tap water and 10 hours later my sponge doesn’t appear active (no bubbling or strong smell). ? His other recipes all specify water added to the sponge must be “warm”. I’m not sure whether this is an error in the book?

    Also, is there an optimal time to pull from my sponge? Should I wait a certain number of hours after I last fed it (like I would with a sourdough starter)?

    I started my sponge a week ago, in the evening and fed it every evening for a week. It appears healthy and active, and smells great. I fed it, then a couple of hours later pulled some to start the I sponge for this recipe. This is my first attempt at a rye starter so I’m in New and unfamiliar territory.

    Any guidance to offer on what’s gone wrong? Thanks for your help.

    1. Shanna, you’re correct, “warm” in terms of bread baking typically does refer to 105°F, and Ginsberg does specify that temperature for several recipes in this book, however, for this recipe, he didn’t specify any temperature for the sponge and for the bread dough he specifically states that the water ought to be at room temperature. As for being in New and Unfamiliar Territory, I’m right there with you when it comes to baking rye bread, so I’ve posed your question to a couple experienced rye bread bakers and asked them to respond to your sponge query. Thanks for your patience, we’ll be back with a response soon!

      1. Curious if you ever got a response on this. I’m trying this recipe again and this time I’m going to use warm water. I don’t link my sponge was well enough developed last time, as I ended up with a doughy middle.

  13. Hi Renee, never heard back from Mr. Ginsberg so just ‘went with the recipe’ (which is always against my nature and why I could never be a recipe tester!) This was delicious bread. So much more subtle than a deli rye!

    1. Lyn, I’m sorry to hear that you never received a response but I am thrilled that you like this bread as much as we do! Thank you so much for your patience and your perseverence! And I really appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well the bread worked out for you.

  14. I’ve just fed my rye starter so I can make this – sounds delicious. Once the loaf is formed, it only gets a 10 minute rest before baking? Seems short. Is that because this is such a wet dough?

    1. Lyn, wonderful that you’re making this! And yes, I believe that’s the reason, but for more information, you can turn to the author, Stanley Ginsberg, and his website, where he goes into the whys behind some of his recipes.

      1. Thanks, Renee. I just searched around at his blog and couldn’t find any additional information – even under the French/Spanish/Portuguese category. If I find the answer, I’ll post it here. Appreciate your quick response.

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