Wild Caraway Rye Bread (BBD#03)

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Just under the wire! This is my post for

Bread Baking Day #03 – bread with rye sourdough

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

wild rye bread I was very excited when I saw this month’s BBD theme of sourdough! I am quite keen to use my newly captured wild yeast! And being a big fan of jumping into the deep end before I even know how to put my water wings on, I wanted to adapt our recipe for caraway rye to use my starter instead of yeast.

First, I looked in my cookbooks. Carol Field (The Italian Baker) doesn’t really touch on natural starters at all. Maggie Glezer (Artisan Baking Across America) has a section on how to convert sourdough recipes into ones using yeast and the equivalents for various yeasts. (read more about converting a recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast here) Nothing in Joy of Cooking… I couldn’t find anything in McKenna Grant’s book either. So I moved onto the internet.

Richard Packham wrote the following on his webpage “Sourdough and Sourdough Starter”:

The general rule for substituting sourdough starter for yeast is to use one cup of starter for each one-ounce yeast cake, and then reduce the amounts of flour and liquid each by about one cup.

And at allrecipes.com, I saw the following:

The night before you want to bake the bread, feed the starter with 1 cup rye flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, and 2/3 cup water. Cover, and let stand at room temperature overnight.

And then after I did this research, we packed our bags and headed to the west coast to visit family and celebrate several birthdays. We took two loaves of wild bread and the starter with us. (Remind me to post about travelling with a wild yeast starter!) And I used the starter to make two more loaves of wild bread as well as throwing caution to the wind and making naan with the natural starter and zero commercial yeast. Of course, I COMPLETELY forgot about any of the research I had done already and just winged it to make a double recipe of naan, using half the amount of yoghurt (because my brother-in-law and sister-in-law had almost run out of yoghurt) and the amount of starter I would use to make two loaves of wildbread. Amazingly, the naan turned out fabulously.

On the flight home, I read the section in Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the la Brea Bakery about converting a white flour starter, and when we got home a couple of days ago and I immediately started feeding some of my starter with rye flour, building it up to make caraway rye.

I really should have taken pictures of the rye starter!! By the time it was ready to be used, it looked like the most beautiful chocolate mousse!

wild rye bread I did manage to find the camera to take pictures of the finished loaves just after they came out of the oven. And I was thrilled! Look how much they rose!

Because this rye bread is quite dense in comparison to most of the other bread I make, we decided to slice it all before freezing it. We almost always use it to make sandwiches anyway. And this way, it will be easy to pull out a couple of slices as we need them, leaving the rest of the loaf in the freezer.

Here is what I did to make the bread:

Wild Caraway Rye Bread
vaguely based on the recipe for rye sourdough in Joy of Cooking by Irma Bombauer

wild yeast starter . wild yeast rye starter . bread

wild yeast rye starter

  • 2 Tbsp wild yeast white flour starter
  • rye flour
  • water*


  1. Two nights before baking In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tbsp wild yeast white flour starter, 3 Tbsp rye flour. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm draftfree spot (counter in summer, oven with only light turned on in winter) overnight
  2. Day before baking – Morning Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp rye flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  3. Day before baking – Midday The mixture should have doubled. Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp rye flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  4. Day before baking – Evening Stir in ¼ c water and ½ c rye flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  5. Baking Day Morning The starter should have doubled and will look like chocolate mousse. Unless you are baking rye bread all the time, you should use all of this built up starter because apparently rye starter can go bad easily – at least that’s what Nancy Silverton says. How would I know? This is all new to me still…

*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.


  • all of the rye starter from above
  • 2 c (500ml) water
  • 2 c (480ml) **rye flour
  • 3½ c (840ml)** unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c (240ml) ** wholewheat flour
  • 2 tsp honey
  1. baking day morning Put all the above ingredients into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to double. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the flour is encorporated. It will look a bit like slightly stiff oatmeal porridge. Cover with a clean damp tea towel (or use one of those elasticized reusable plastic covers that look like shower hats) and allow to rise in a draftfree area of the counter til it has doubled.


  • 1 c (250ml) milk (or milk powder and water)
  • 4 tsp (20ml) seasalt
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) caraway seeds
  • all of the dough from above
  • 1¾ c (420ml) ** unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c (360ml) ** unbleached all-purpose flour, additional
  1. baking day midday Stir together the milk, salt and caraway seeds in a bowl that is large enough for the completed dough to triple. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1¾ c unbleached all-purpose flour and dough from the morning. Cover and allow to rest about 20 minutes.
  2. Pour the rest of the flour onto your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl onto it.
  3. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
  4. Kneading: Without adding extra flour, knead the dough until all the flour is encorporated and the dough is smooth and silky (5 to 10 minutes). Let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend if the dough starts sticking to the board. One hand scrapes the dough and the other kneads. Under no circumstances should you add more flour. If you find your kneading hand is sticking to much, just scrape off the excess with the scraper and continue. This dough is quite stiff. If you find that your hands are getting tired, lift the dough up in the air and drop it down onto the work surface. This is a particular fun way to knead, especially if you have some agression to work out…
  5. Shaping: Unlike other bread, this dough is shaped immediately after kneading. Scatter a little bit of flour on the work surface. Divide the dough into two and shape into logs (pat down into a rectangle, fold in three like a letter and tightly roll towards you). Place the shaped loaves on parchment papered cookie sheet or peel. Cover with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for an hour or more – until the dough is about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
  6. Baking: Thirty minutes before you are going to bake, if using, put the baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and turn it to 500F.
  7. At the time of baking, spray the top of each loaf liberally with water. Put the bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake the bread for a total of 50 to 60 minutes. Half way through the baking, turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the oven.
  8. Remove to cool on a rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. It is still continuing to bake inside! If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely.

To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

** Please note that even though a Canadian cup holds 250ml, I always measure flour with my half cup measure, which hold 120ml. (Why is the half cup not exactly half of a cup?? I have NO idea. Maybe the Canadians who were setting the measuring cup standards had difficulty with fractions in school…)

This bread turned out wonderfully! It was great in ham sandwiches yesterday. And today, we’re going to go and get some sauerkraut and Swiss cheese so we can make faux Reuben Sandwiches – because of course, that’s where caraway rye bread really stands out!

One of the things I really love about this bread is that it isn’t overly sour. I’ve never been a big fan of really sour sourdough or rye breads and this recipe is perfect for my taste. I’m so glad that Ulrike thought of the rye sourdough theme for Bread Baking Day #03!

Bread Baking Day #03


Ulrike (Küchenlatein) is hosting the third round of Zorra’s (Kochtopf) event Bread Baking Day. She has chosen “bread with fruit” as the theme; she wrote:

Bake a bread only leavened with sourdough, preferably from rye, take pictures (if possible) and blog about it between now and Saturday, 1st of September 2007.

For complete details on how to participate in BBD#3, please go to:

Please also read about previous BBDs:

edit 4 September 2007: Ulrike has posted the roundup. Take a look at the many delicious entries. Also, Zorra has posted the announcement about World Bread Day 2007:


This entry was posted in baking, BBD, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, crossblogging, food & drink, posts with recipes, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

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5 responses to “Wild Caraway Rye Bread (BBD#03)

  1. ejm Post author

    Thank you, Ulrike and Zorra! I must say that we are pretty pleased. We just had the most delicious faux Reuben sandwiches (ham instead of beef) for breakfast. I think they were the best ever because of the bread. So thanks again to you, Ulrike, for deciding on the theme so that we would have real sourdough rye in the house.


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