Philip Brown’s Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

This bread first came about 15 years ago because my wife Dana doesn’t eat Wheat. I wanted an everyday loaf that was not heavy like most rye breads commercially available. This bread is especially good with Smoked salmon, cheese, toasted with marmite peanut butter or Marmalade. 

Use heavy aluminium Bread pans. I leave a pizza stone or bricks in the oven to create more latent heat. Weigh all ingredients whether they are wet or dry.

Makes four loaves


Starter refresh:

100g sourdough starter

300g whole rye Flour

600g Warm water (no more than 40.c – I just put my hand in and if its the same temp or just warm that’s fine. Enough water to make it sloppy wet.)

Mix and leave for a day

(If I am busy this is often left for  several days between the refresh and the production with no ill effect  – just better flavour The mix can look and smell pretty unpleasant but don’t worry)

Put about 10%  of the above back in the starter and mix before returning to the fridge.

After 12-24 hours, the mixture will start to bubble up

Production dough

Mix the rest of the refresh  mixture with:

1100g flour

200g  Olive oil (I currently use Cretian organic extra virgin oil from the master of olives Phil in Newbury saturday market, Phil is the one I trust with olives and olive oil. Usually we use (also from Phil) an oil called Dana – which is also good but also because it has the same name as my wife!)

Linseed freshly ground. Just put it in a pepper pot.(not sure if the omega oils survive baking)

Seeds of choice: I use Chia, sunflower, walnuts, and some, but not too many pumpkin seeds. 

800 grams warm water  

15 grams of salt (this is 5g low by most bakers standards. I have tried no salt, some salt, but I reckon you need a good amount…) put rough salt into the water first  and let it dissolve before adding to the mix

The mixture should be wet enough to glisten


(See extra photos below)

Grease the pans with butter, coconut fat or oil and sprinkle sunflower seeds in the base.

Blob this heavy wet cake mix into the bread pans, about 2/3rds full – really don’t worry about the quantity or leveling it out.

Get polythene bags and fill them with air and pop them over the pans. Go to bed!

If you did this say at 11pm then next morning it would be ready to go into a preheated very hot oven, ideally with a pizza stone or bricks in it to create more latent heat. If, like me you are using two shelves, on the lower one put an iron sheet to even out the disparity of the hot top shelf. 

In the morning bake hard and hot for 30 mins in a really hot oven. Then turn it down to 180 degrees. (oven controls have no relation to temperature in the oven buy a thermometer and measure your oven in various places) then leave for another 10 to 20 mins..

Bring one pan out up turn it and the bread should be golden-grey, if there’s no golden colour put it back for 10 mins.

Turn out the loaves onto a cake grid, DO NOT let them sit in the pans… the bread will sweat and be soggy.

This bread needs to sit all day- its has a lot of water in it.  At the end of the day you can freeze 3 of the loaves. The remaining loaf is to be eaten and strangely is at its best on day 2-4 but can last 6 days really well . I cut the bread with a super sharp Japanese knife which I sharpen with a cheap diamond encrusted steel – but a good bread knife works too. Ask me about this.  The bread can be crumbly so getting the water content right is quite important and this is done by the look of the production dough, it should just glisten…

The big thing about this kind of bread making is that it is  flexible A rye starter will almost always refresh regardless of how badly you treat it. Only once did I lose the starter but I had a back up in the freezer.. I can leave the refresh or the starter in the fridge  lying around for ages. And its hard to kill off..unlike wheat starters. The other thing that makes it so brilliant is that you can use the rye starter to make some impressive French country style wheat loaves.


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