Rustic Light Rye Sour Dough Bread (No-Knead)

I have been baking this bread each week for about two years.  It’s a rustic, everyday bread that has a great crust, a great crumb, and a great taste.  This is the family’s go-to bread for sandwiches.  Notice that the holes in the bread are not too large so we experience little-to-no seepage problems when slathering the bread with mayo, mustard, or just plain butter for our sandwiches.  We’ve also made great bread crumbs from it.

When the bread comes fresh out of the oven, we love to cut off a piece (or two, or three), spread some butter on it and eat away.  Add to it a little honey or jam, and it’s a simple, down-to-earth sweet snack.

To start with, you need an active sour dough starter.  Since I usually only bake bread once a week, I keep my starter in a large canning jar (e.g., Ball wide mouth jar) in the refrigerator until I need it.  To get the starter ready for breadmaking, I take the starter out of the fridge the night before bed.  I stir it up, put half of it in a 4 cup measuring cup and refresh it with about 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup rye flour.  I want this mixture to have a little more water than the starter that I keep in the fridge.  As for the remaining starter in the jar, I refresh it with 1/2 cup rye flour and about 1/3 cup (or slightly more) water, cover it with plastic wrap, and put the jar back in the fridge.  I cover the 4 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature overnight to get the starter active and ready to use for breadmaking the next day.

Here is a photo of the sour dough starter ready to go–it’s around 9 in the morning on Day 2.  The starter appears to be at the 2 cup mark, but, actually, after stirring, it will be about one cup.

Here is a view from the top.

You actually do not have to be exact with the measurements.  I stopped measuring a long time ago and simply eye-ball it.  The more starter you use, the faster the dough will rise.  The shorter the rise, the less of a sour taste you’ll get in the bread.  In this photo, I’m in the middle of mixing the water/sour dough starter into the dry ingredients to form the bread dough.

Here is the ball of dough in the next two stages of kneading.  I do not knead all that long.  You’ll feel that the dough becomes smooth and only slightly sticky (if at all) when it is ready.  After this stage, I leave the ball of dough in a large glass bowl to rise.

I recommend covering the bowl with plastic wrap when leaving it to rise.  Covering with a kitchen towel just don’t seem to do the trick for me.  A crust usually forms, preventing the dough from rising nicely.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for several hours, until it reaches or almost reaches the top of the bowl.  So, if I prepare my dough at 10:00 in the morning, the dough should be ready for the next step between 5:00 and 7:00 in the evening.

After the dough has risen, you need to turn it out onto a floured board or countertop.  I use a short, stiff spatula to do this.  Then you need to fold over the dough while turning it.  I try to deflate air bubbles that I catch.  If I don’t do this step, then my baked bread will be full of large holes.

Reform another ball, turn it twice to flatten the bottom, make sure the dough round is dusted with flour all around, and put it in a medium-size bowl, or, preferably, a proofing basket like this one, flat side down.

The dough somehow does not stick to the proofing basket, except I find there can be a problem on humid days or when I have too much water in the dough.

After the ball of dough is transferred to the proofing basket, cover the basket with plastic wrap again and let it rise 2 hours.  Any longer than that risks over-proving, and the bead might deflate when you transfer the bread from the proofing basket.  You’ll still have OK bread, but the texture will likely be too dense, as has happened to me on several occasions!

About half an hour before the two-hour, second rise is up, I preheat my oven along with an empty casserole pot.  I put the pot in the upper half of the oven, which helps prevent the bottom of the bread from getting too browned (read:  burned).  Here is the dough ready to go into the oven.  In this case, I made two batches of the recipe to make two loaves at once.  (I keep two jars of starter in my fridge!)

To get the dough into the casserole, I slowly turn the basket over the casserole so that the bread slowly falls into the pot.  I quickly re-cover the pot and let the bread bake for 30 minutes.  Then I take the cover off and continue baking the bread, uncovered for another 7 minutes.  Here are the loaves fresh out of the oven.

One word about the cracked top of the bread.  I happen to like this kind of cracked top, but because it’s so deep, it usually means that the top of the dough was too dry when I popped it in the pot.  A spritz of water from a water bottle can help remedy the situation.  Slashing the dough with a sharp razor blade is what I could have done to get a more beautiful crust.  But given that I did not have a razor blade handy, I was left with this naturally cracked masterpiece of a loaf.

The crust was crisp, and the crumb was pretty good.

I do not have enough good words to say about sour-dough starters.  They are much more forgiving than baker’s yeast.  The dough seems to rise no matter what is going on around it.  At times when I’ve neglected feeding my sour dough starter for too long (over a week), and it looks like it has reached the end of its days, I’ve still managed to produce great loaves of bread.  Sour dough starters are the BEST!

Print Recipe
Rustic Light Rye Sour-Dough Bread (No-Knead)
Copyright © 2017 HollyTrail.com
Servings
3 pound boule (round loaf)
Ingredients
  • 4 heaping cups bread or high-gluten flour (all-purpose flour can also be used)
  • 1 cup active, rye sour dough starter (at room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups water (approximately)
Servings
3 pound boule (round loaf)
Ingredients
  • 4 heaping cups bread or high-gluten flour (all-purpose flour can also be used)
  • 1 cup active, rye sour dough starter (at room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups water (approximately)
Instructions
  1. You will need a 4-5 quart heavy, enameled cast-iron, oven-proof casserole/dutch oven pot with an oven-proof lid that can withstand temperatures of up to 500⁰F. See note below if dutch oven can only withstand temperature of up to 450⁰F.
  2. Whisk together flour and salt in a large, 4.5 quart glass or plastic bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pour the water into the sour dough starter and mix well.
  4. Pour starter mixture into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Mix with a large spoon until the flour has moistened. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about 5 minutes. If the dough is too dry, add some more water (1/4 cup at a time). The dough will be slightly sticky. If the dough is too loose and wet, knead in some more flour (around 1/4 cup).
  5. Form the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 7-9 hours, or until the dough rises to the top of the bowl or just below. (Dough will rise faster in warmer temperature.)
  6. After the long rise, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Fold the dough over a few times and press down to get the air bubbles out. Form into a ball and turn a few times on a flat surface to flatten the bottom. Dust dough with flour all around so there are no sticky areas. Transfer to a medium-size bowl or proofing basket, flat side down. Cover bowl/basket with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
  7. Prior to the end of the 2 hour rise, place the empty cast-iron pot on a rack situated in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven with the empty pot to 500⁰F.
  8. After the end of the second rise, remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover. Working quickly, carefully turn over the bowl /basket so that the dough falls into the preheated pot. (The bottom of the dough round will now be on top.) Place the lid back on and return the pot to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Take the cover off and continue baking for another 7 minutes or until the crust is brown. Remove the pot from the oven and flip the bread onto a rack to cool completely.
Recipe Notes

If the pot only withstands temperatures of up to 450⁰F, bake for 40 minutes and take the lid off for 7-10 minutes to finish browning.

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Print Recipe
Sour Dough Starter
Copyright © 2017 HollyTrail.com
Course Basics
Servings
cup
Ingredients
  • rye flour (approximately two 5 pound bags)
  • wheat flour (approximately one 5 pound bag)
  • all-purpose flour (approximately 4 cups)
  • water (preferably bottled, filtered, or chlorine-free)
Course Basics
Servings
cup
Ingredients
  • rye flour (approximately two 5 pound bags)
  • wheat flour (approximately one 5 pound bag)
  • all-purpose flour (approximately 4 cups)
  • water (preferably bottled, filtered, or chlorine-free)
Instructions
Step 1
  1. Ingredients ½ cup rye flour slightly less than 1/3 cup water Directions In a 24 oz. wide-mouthed canning jar (3 cups), pour in flour and then thoroughly mix in water. Mixture will look like thick mush. If it is too difficult to stir, add a little bit of water. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
Step 2
  1. Uncover jar and mix briefly. Discard half of the mixture. Refresh the remaining mixture by mixing in slightly less than ½ cup water and ½ cup rye flour. Cover jar with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours. [During the 12 hour interval, the mixture will start to bubble on top and air bubbles will appear throughout. This means that the yeast cultures are present in the mixture.]
  2. Repeat Step 2 for 5 days, discarding and refreshing mixture every 12 hours.
Step 3
  1. By this time, the mixture should have risen when it is time to refresh and should smell better. Uncover jar and mix briefly. Discard half of the mixture. Add to the remaining mixture ½ cup whole wheat flour and slightly less than ½ cup water. Mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Repeat Step 3 for 2 days, discarding and refreshing mixture every 12 hours.
Step 4
  1. Uncover jar and mix briefly. Discard half of the mixture. Add to the remaining mixture ½ cup all-purpose flour and slightly less than ½ cup water. Mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Repeat Step 4 for 2 days, discarding and refreshing mixture every 12 hours. Mixture will not rise as well during this period.
Step 5
  1. Uncover jar and mix briefly. Discard half of the mixture. Mixture should smell fruity. Add to the remaining mixture, ½ cup of the flour of your choice (rye, whole wheat, or all-purpose) and slightly less than ½ cup water. Mix thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature for 10-12 hours. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10-12 hours. (Best to do this in the morning.)
Step 6
  1. To prepare starter for breadmaking and to store remainder: Uncover jar and mix briefly. Transfer half of the mixture (about one cup) to a 4 cup glass measuring cup or glass bowl. Refresh the mixture remaining in the jar by mixing in ½ cup flour (rye or whole wheat recommended, or all-purpose flour) with slightly less than ½ cup filtered water. Cover with plastic wrap. If using within 2 days, let stand at room temperature. Otherwise, place in the refrigerator for future use.
  2. For the mixture in the 4 cup glass container, this will be the starter for making bread. Mix in ½ cup flour of your choice (rye, whole wheat, or all-purpose) with ½ cup water. This mixture should be slightly thinner than the previous mixtures and should amount to about 1 cup. If too thick, mix in a small amount of water.
  3. Let stand at room temperature overnight for 10-12 hours to double in bulk. Starter is ready to incorporate into dough.
  4. This starter is sufficient to make one large loaf.
Recipe Notes

It takes about 8-14 days to develop a good starter.  You’ll know when it’s ready when the starter doubles in size and has lots of air bubbles in it over a 12 hour period and smells fruity.

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