Sourdough rye bread is a fantastic addition to any baker’s repertoire, boasting complex flavors and textures that are hard to beat. The sourdough process gives it a soft, moist crumb and rich texture that’s ideal for savory or sweet applications.
A sourdough starter is an extremely easy and rewarding way to make a variety of different kinds of bread. It’s a living culture of bacteria and yeast that relies on food to survive and multiply, making it perfect for artisan bakers!
It’s very important to make sure you feed your sourdough starter regularly. If you do not, your starter will become dormant and will require refreshing to reactivate.
The best thing to do is to keep your starter at room temperature and feed it every 12 hours or so. If you don’t bake very often with your sourdough, then you may want to store it in the fridge for a few days or weeks, then pull it out to make sourdough when you do need some.
Once your starter has been refreshed, you can begin feeding it with a mix of flour and water. The amount of water you add to the mix depends on how much moisture your starter needs in order to activate. You can use as much or as little water as you like, but the key is to get the ratio right and follow my instructions below for storing your sourdough starter properly.
How to refresh a starter
To refresh your starter, simply pour off half of it and replace it with new flour and water. This will give it a fresh start and will also ensure that all the new yeast and bacteria can reactivate.
It will take a few days or even weeks for the rye starter to reactivate after you refresh it, so be patient!
After the rye starter has been refreshed, it’s time to make the dough. This can be done by combining your starter, flour, and water in a large bowl and mixing thoroughly. Then leave it to rest for 30 minutes to autolyse. This is a process that allows the water to hydrate the flour and make the dough less sticky.
Unlike white flour, rye flour contains a higher level of pentosans, a complex sugar that soaks up huge amounts of water. This means that the inside of a 100% rye sourdough loaf will have a slightly more moist texture than a sourdough made from wheat flour, which helps to keep the crumb soft and chewy for longer after baking.
You can also add a small amount of a salty, dark ingredient to the dough such as salt, sunflower seeds or even chopped nuts for extra flavor. This helps to boost the fermentation process and gives the bread a richer flavor.
Once the dough is ready, it’s time to shape it. This can be done by hand or with a stand mixer and is usually performed using a stretch and fold technique. This allows the dough to stretch and deflate without tearing or losing too much air.
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