I’ve been on the hunt to create the perfect recipe for sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds. I finally figured it out!!! Light and fluffy, but full of rye flavor!

I love rye bread! Every time I go out for breakfast, I ask for rye toast. I love rubens. I love everything about a great rye bread. Unfortunately, my family is not a huge fan…except on St. Patrick’s day! Any time I can put this delicious corned beef on rye, they will gobble it up!

I went on a quest to develop the most delicious, fluffy, soft sourdough rye bread recipe without commercial yeast. I think I figured out the perfect formula, so I wanted to share it with you today – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! So join me for this step-by-step tutorial on how to make this rye sourdough bread with complex flavor and simple ingredients. You will be adding it to your favorite sourdough recipes in no time!

How to make sourdough bread with caraway seeds

Once you’ve learned how to make basic sourdough bread, it’s pretty easy to play around with the recipe and adapt it. One thing I’ve tried to stick to is never adding more than 30% of my total flour weight as flour made from whole grains.

I’ve tried it with 100% whole grain flour and it was….well….not great. It was SO dense and not really enjoyable. So stick to 30% whole grain flour and 70% bread flour or all purpose flour, you can’t go wrong.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

What ingredients will I need for my sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds?

Regular Flour or Bread Flour

As I mentioned earlier, 70% of the total flour weight will be made up of a regular type flour that has had the bran sifted out in order to give it a lighter, fluffier texture. You can use regular flour, also called all purpose flour. Most people keep it on hand and it works well for this.

However, if you have bread flour, that ramps up the fluffiness. Regular flour has less gluten in it, and gluten is what you work when you knead the dough, or do your stretch and folds. More gluten = more dough rise = fluffier bread.

Dark Rye Flour or Light Rye Flour

Obviously, the rye flour is the star of sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds! Whether you find a dark rye flour, or a light rye flour, it probably won’t make a huge difference in the overall look of the bread. Because you are only using 30% rye flour, you won’t end up with a dark rye bread just because you used a dark rye flour. You would have to be using much more to make that kind of impact.

Filtered Water

I usually use filtered cold water for my sourdough rye bread. When making bread with commercial yeast, the water needs to be warm to jump start the yeast activation. However, with the long fermentation process of sourdough, the water temperature doesn’t really make a big difference.

With all that being said, you do not have to use filtered water for this portion. Unlike when you’re feeding the starter, when you make bread it’s ok to use warm water from the tap or filtered water. Either is fine.

Salt

You’re only adding a little bit of salt to this recipe, so it doesn’t matter much what type of salt you use. I tend to always use Himalayan sea salt in my cooking and baking, so that’s what I use here. I also find a great place to get mine in bulk is Costco!

Active Sourdough Starter

You’ll use a freshly fed, active and bubbly sourdough starter for this recipe. No instant yeast needed! Sourdough starter contains wild yeast, so you won’t need to add any active yeast in to the dough.

Most often, I use my white sourdough starter. It’s easy for me because I keep my unbleached regular flour on the counter, so I can feed it easily.

However, starting and feeding your starter with dark rye flour will give you a wonderful rye starter. If you want to know more about what flour is best for sourdough starter, you can read all about it in my blog post where I tested white flour, whole rye flour and whole wheat flour.

Who knows, you might be a convert and only keep a rye sourdough starter around!

Optional: Rice Flour

Many people dust their proofing basket with rice flour for the second rise. You can absolutely do that! I’m a pretty simple person, so the easier it is for me, the more likely I am to make it. Because of that, I almost always use regular flour to dust my bannetons. However, I have used rice flour and it has a more granular texture which gives it a really pretty look and doesn’t cake up like traditional flour can. Whether you use regular flour or rice flour, it won’t make a difference, and as long as you have a floured banneton, you’re good!

Step 1 Weigh and combine sourdough rye bread ingredients

Just like regular sourdough bread, this recipe takes almost no ingredients! Add flour, salt, rye flour, water, and caraway seeds to the bowl, along with freshly fed and bubbly sourdough starter. (Learn how to make your own sourdough starter with my sourdough starter checklist! )

You can mix it with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer dough hook for about 5-10 minutes on the lowest setting. I usually end up around 8 minutes. Alternately, stir it with a wooden spoon and then finish by working all the dry flour in with your hands, kind of kneading and working it until it’s all combined. This will not be a super wet dough because it’s a lower hydration sourdough.

Cover the large bowl with either plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm place.

Step 2 Stretch and folds

Every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours, do a series of stretch and folds on the dough. Because you don’t knead sourdough, you have to develop the gluten some way in order to give the bread structure. You do that through stretch and folds. This doesn’t take much time to do – maybe 30 seconds each time you do them.

Simply stretch the dough, and then fold it over. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat. Do this 4-8 times until the dough is tight and will not allow you to do it any more. You can also watch this short video to show you how. Repeat that process every 30 minutes.

sourdough rye bread rising

Step 3 Bulk Fermentation

You’ll want to allow the dough to rise for a long time – about 8-12 hours. This long fermentation process is what gives sourdough so many of its health benefits. Sourdough is not an exact science, so the rise time is based on the ambient room temperature. The length of time it takes for your dough to get a nice rise will vary based on if your home is warm or cool.

In the wintertime, my home is very cool. We live in a farmhouse that’s almost 100 years old, so it doesn’t keep in the heat well! Often, I will set my dough in a warm place to rise, like by the radiator. I also figured this little trick out and learned how to make an inexpensive dough proofing box for the cold months!

I often make this dough about 2 hours before bedtime and then let it rise all night long and cook it the next day. You could also mix it up as soon as you wake up in the morning and then let it rise until bedtime. Either one will work well!

Make sure you keep the dough covered with plastic wrap or a very damp towel to keep in the moisture while it rises.

Step 4 Shape into loaves

After you’ve let the dough rest and ferment for a long time, now is the fun part! I use this dough scraper to get the dough out of the bowl. Divide the dough in half (or thirds if you are using loaf pans) with a bench knife. Learn how to shape a loaf in this short video. Some people use a lightly floured surface to shape their loaves, but I tend to like a dry counter top because it allows the loaf to stick to it and cause a little resistance during the shaping process. A floured work surface is just a little too slippery for me.

There’s a couple ways you can shape these loaves. I like to use my hands to pull the dough toward myself, turn it a quarter turn and pull it toward me again. I do this until the top is nice and tight. Some people also use a bench scraper instead of their hands. I included pictures of a round shape loaf as well as a long loaf and they were from the same batch. I have a round banneton and a long banneton, so I used those.

I’ve also used a medium bowl with a floured tea towel to line it. That works just fine! You could also shape the loaves and put them into greased loaf pans. That way they are super easy to cut into sandwich slices! I put the loaves in a cast iron loaf pan and then put a second one on top. It acts like a little dutch oven! Even if you don’t have cast iron loaf pans, you can use regular metal loaf pans the same way.

Step 5 Put in fridge or allow to rise

At this point, you can allow it to rise for around 2 hours and then bake it, or you can pop them in the fridge and then bake them the next morning or sometime in the next 2-3 days. I love the long extra rise in the refrigerator. Some people in my sourdough Facebook community say it’s not actually real sourdough without the long cool rise in the refrigerator. It develops the flavor more, and also allows that sourdough culture to keep eating up the carbs and gluten! But I often just cook it right away too!

Step 6 Bake your sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds

Cast Iron Dutch Oven Method

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your cast iron dutch oven and lid inside the oven. It’s a good idea to make sure it has preheated for about an hour. Once it’s preheated, turn the first sourdough loaf over onto parchment paper. Score the top and then slide the parchment paper and loaf into the cast iron pot and put the lid on. Cook 20 min, remove lid and cook for another 10-20 min (depending on how dark you’d like it).

Recently, I’ve been cooking mine for the first 5 minutes with the lid on and then doing a score again with the lame, then putting the lid back on. It allows for the dough to continue to stretch and rise without blowing out the side. It tends to make for a really voluminous loaf.

Take the loaf out of the oven and slide the next loaf in, repeating the process.

Metal Loaf Pan Method

Set oven temperature to 450 degrees. Score your loaves with a sharp knife or a lame. Cover the loaf pan with another loaf pan. You can set the loaf pan on top, or secure the loaf pans together with metal binder clips to keep the steam trapped inside. Bake for 20 min, remove top pan and cook for another 10-20 min (depending on how dark you’d like it).

sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds

How to store your sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds

Just like all sourdough bread, you’ll want to store it in an airtight container. The only bad thing about that is that the exterior that started kind of hard and crackly gets a bit soft when stored this way. But it does keep it super fresh!

If you have a big enough glass or plastic container, you could use that. Because I make a couple loaves at a time, I mostly store my sourdough in a large plastic bag – like this 2 gallon zip top bag.

When I put it in, I kind of roll it to make sure all the air is out of the bag and then seal it. The air is actually what causes it to get stale, so I try to keep as much of that out as I can!

You can also make a few loaves at a time and wrap them in plastic wrap and then store in an airtight container or zip top bag in the freezer. When you pull it out and slice it, you’ll think it was made fresh that day!

sliced bread from above

How long will the sourdough rye bread last?

I find that with most of my sourdough, it lasts well for about 3-5 days. With three big kids, plus my hubby and I, it doesn’t usually last that long around here! But unlike store bought bread that has preservatives in it, sourdough bread will begin to mold after about 5 days (quicker in a humid environment).

Can I grind my own rye berries?

Absolutely! I often use my Vitamix dry container to grind grain. This whole-grain rye flour will be perfect if you use it for the 30% rye flour in the bread.

Where to get the unusual ingredients

I searched and searched for caraway seeds in so many stores around me and just struck out. Since I couldn’t find caraway seeds locally, I picked them up on Amazon. They came quickly and tasted great. I wish I had done that to begin with!

My brother in law owns a sourdough bakery in Michigan, so he passed along the light rye to me, but here’s the kind I will probably buy in the future once I run out.

So that’s it. I hope you love this bread with the chewy texture on the outside and the soft fluffy interior. It’s my favorite.

Do you love rye bread? If you do, I hope you’ll try this recipe!

Sourdough Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds

I’ve been on the hunt to create the perfect recipe for sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds. I finally figured it out!!! Light and fluffy, but full of rye flavor!

  • 180 grams freshly fed sourdough starter
  • 650 grams all purpose OR bread flour
  • 400 grams light rye flour
  • 760 grams water
  • 25 grams salt
  • 20 grams caraway seeds

Mix ingredients

  1. Just like regular sourdough bread, this recipe takes almost no ingredients! Add freshly fed sourdough starter, regular flour, rye flour, salt, water, and caraway seeds to the bowl. You can mix it with a Kitchen Aid dough hook for about 5 minutes.

    Alternately, stir it with a wooden spoon and then finish by working all the dry flour in with your hands, kind of kneading and working it until it’s all combined. 

Stretch and folds

  1. Every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours, do a series of stretch and folds on the dough. Because you don’t knead sourdough, you still have to develop the gluten to give the bread structure. You do that through stretch and folds.

    Simply stretch the dough, and then fold it over. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat. Do this 4-8 times until the dough is tight and will not allow you to do it any more. Repeat that process every 30 min.

Long rise

  1. You’ll want to allow the dough to rise for 8-12 hours. Sourdough is not an exact science, so the rise time really depends on the temperature of your home. 

    I often make this dough about 2 hours before bedtime and then let it rise all night long. You could also make it as soon as you wake up in the morning and then let it rise until bedtime. Either one will work well!

Shape into loaves

  1. Divide the dough in half (or thirds if you are using loaf pans).  This video shows how to shape a loaf.

    There’s a couple ways you can shape these loaves. I included pictures of a round loaf as well as a long loaf and they were from the same batch. I have a round banneton and a long banneton, so I used those. 

    I’ve also used a small mixing bowl with a floured tea towel to line it. That works just fine! You could also shape the loaves and put them into loaf pans. That way they are super easy to cut into sandwich slices!

2nd rise

  1. At this point, you can allow it to rise for around 2 hours and then bake it, or you can pop them in the fridge and then bake them sometime in the next 2-3 days. I love the long extra rise in the refrigerator. It develops the flavor more, and also allows that sourdough culture to keep eating up the carbs and gluten!

Bake

  1. Cast Iron Method:

    Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your cast iron pan and lid inside the oven. After it has preheated for about an hour, turn the sourdough loaf over onto parchment paper. Score the top and then slide the parchment paper and loaf into the cast iron pot and put the lid on. Cook 20 min, remove lid and cook for another 10-20 min (depending on how dark you’d like it).

    Loaf Pan Method:

    Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Score your loaves. Cover the loaf pan with another loaf pan. Secure the loaf pans together with metal binder clips to keep the steam trapped inside. Bake for 20 min, remove top pan and cook for another 10-20 min (depending on how dark you’d like it).Metal Loaf Pan Method

Pin for Later!

pin for pinterest

12 Replies to “How to Make Sourdough Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds”

  1. Thank you for the recipe. I’m planning to make those tomorrow. I’m a little confused though. You had mentioned that you only use 30% of total flour in the form of whole grain flour. If there is 90 g of flour in your 180 g of starter, 650g of bf or apf, and 400g rye flour,
    the total flour would equal 1140g. That would mean that the 400g of rye flour is a little over 35% of the total flour. I’m still learning, so am I missing something? Is your intention to use 35% whole grain/rye flour in this recipe? Thank you

    1. No you’re totally right! When I’m developing recipes, I usually start with ratios, but then round up or down to get even numbers. I must have rounded up on this one! I would use the gram weight I listed – that’s what I used in the photos on the post. I hope it works well for you! We loved it so much!

      1. Thank you! That makes sense. It’s nice to know that it came out beautifully even at 35%. I got a little behind so I have not had the opportunity to make this recipe, but it’s 100% on the agenda tomorrow. I will post back with the results. Thanks again!

  2. I am getting ready to make this Wednesday. I was u
    Only able to find dark rye flour. My starter is King Arthur bread flour and was planning to few tonight and again tomorrow. Having a crew for St Patrick’s day. Do I need to change the ratios of flour since it is a dark rye?

    1. I think it will actually work perfectly! I thought I had used light rye flour because it looked so pale, but when I pulled it out of the freezer to make this recipe a couple weeks ago, it was labeled dark rye, so that was really what I used in this blog post! I hope it turns out well for you! Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!

  3. The dough seemed really sticky as I also only had dark rye on hand. Was yours really still might as well and formed up nicely with stretch and folds? I’m hoping it does otherwise this will be a lot of wasted flour and starter 🙁 I should say I measured everything out like it was listed but I used a sourdough starter that had been fed with rye flour.
    I should have looked ahead and divided the recipe into 2 before making it! Hahah!!

    1. If it seems too sticky to work with, you can always add a little more flour. But I’ve worked with very sticky doughs before when using high hydration and it still cooks up beautifully!

  4. I popped my dough in the oven 8 hours ago. Can I bake it cold now or does it need to sit out and rise? Recipe looks great! Thank you!

    1. Thank you!!! You take it directly from the fridge and into the oven. It’s actually SO much easier to score when it’s cold!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *