sourdough rye bread
Sourdough rye bread

Rye flour is popular in certain types of bread and in sourdough bread baking due to its contributions to fermentation (if used in the starter) and its influence on the bread’s flavor and freshness. The natural sugars in rye will caramelize irresistible in the bread’s crust, which also takes on a browner color. However, the added rye flour may make the dough a bit more sticky to work with during shaping.

Rye can be used in various quantities, perhaps as much as 5-15% of the flour, to contribute to the overall flavor of the bread without affecting the crumb structure too much. Of course, delicious breads are also baked with 100% rye flour. These breads are popular in Northern and Eastern Europe as rye grows better in those cooler climates.

Could I use rye’s presumed anti-staling properties to bake sourdough bread that lasts even better than regular sourdough bread? I gave it a try once.

I made three loaves of my whole-wheat bread:

  • one according to a recipe that called for 240g of bread flour and 340g of whole-wheat flour,
  • one in which I replaced 25% of the whole-wheat flour with rye flour and
  • one in which I substituted 50% of rye flour for whole-wheat flour.

After storing the bread for five days in a linen bag at room temperature, I compared the loaves:

  • the bread flour / whole wheat flour loaf, without rye flour, tasted unsurprisingly way over the hill; five days is a long time for most bread to last without the addition of preservatives,
  • the 25% rye loaf had fared just slightly better,
  • the loaf made with half rye and half whole wheat flour was still remarkably soft and moist and stayed that way for a couple more days.

I could definitely taste rye’s characteristic flavor in the end, but rye didn’t seem to alter the loaves’ texture too much. If you like the distinctive flavor of rye, swapping half of the whole-wheat flour in a sourdough bread recipe with rye flour seems to make it shelf-stable for up to a week.


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