Rye, Molasses and Orange Sourdough

rye sourdough
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This sourdough has 40% Gazelle Rye. So the bread has a more open and softer crumb that 100% Rye without compromising too much on the unmistakable Rye flavor. This is a good bread if you like Rye but still love a softer, chewy crumb.

It is common to see molasses, dry malt, dark malt extract in Rye breads and in this case, I am going in with molasses. Molasses gives the bread a nice dark color and a subtle caramel note. This bread is closer to Nordic Rye breads with the addition of Orange zest. Rye bread usually reminds me of the many various bread I tasted while working briefly in Sweden.

rye sourdough

A bit about Rye:
Rye is a grass that is closely related to wheat and barley. Rye is high in fiber, copper, magnesium, and several other essential nutrients. Rye flour is higher in gliadin but low in glutenin, the two proteins that bind together to form “gluten“. Hence, even though the flour is not considerably lower in total protein content, it is significantly lower in gluten which is the protein responsible for strengthening a dough. Due to this reason, bread made with 100% Rye tend to be denser with a close crumb. But nonetheless, the bread tastes very good and is super nutritious. So if you wan to make much softer bread with a fairly open crumb, you will have to mix regular bread flour ( white wheat flour) with Rye.
Rye is not only for bread, you can use it in cookies, biscuits, pancakes and in pretty much anything that you make with flour. The % of Rye you use in a recipe will affect the texture,color and taste in the end product. A good one to experiment with.
Apart from baked goodies, Rye is also used in making alcohol. A part of the wheat/barley is replaced with Rye to give the beer or the whiskey a spicy, nutty tone.
The whole grain Gazelle Rye I am using today for this recipe is a spring verity, meaning it is planted in the spring and then harvested in the summer and fall.

rye sourdough
Crumb of the rye bread

Other than the use of different ingredients, the process of making this bread is very similar to any other sourdough. But I will go through each and every step with pictures as usual, so even if this is the only bread you bake out of my blog, you’ll still be taken care of 🙂


Refresh and feed your starter and have it ready. To know more about feeding your starter follow this link. If you are new to bread making or sourdough, then this post will save you from a lot of trouble.

four mix

Place the flour in a big bowl and add the grated Orange zest.

wet ingredients

Weigh the water, molasses and starter in another bowl. Give this a good mix before adding to the flour mix

mixed dough

Mix the flour and the water from above, until everything is hydrated. Close and leave this to autolyse for an hour

add salt

After a autolyse, add the salt. (dissolving it in 1-2 tbsp of water is fine) Mix and knead the dough lightly until it comes together to a smooth dough ball, like shown in the next picture. This won’t take longer than a minute

mixed dough

This dough is now ready for the bulk. Place it in the same bowl cover and set aside in a warm place.

We give 3 folds at 45 minute intervals during this bulk.

first 45 minutes

This is the dough after the first 45 minutes. Give this dough a fold. We usually call it a coil fold. This action will cause the gluten to stretch and further strengthen the dough.

after the coil fold

The dough after the coil fold will look much stronger and smoother.

Perform this twice more. The total bulk is 135 minutes after the three folds are done.

After the 3rd fold let the dough rest for an hour or longer if room temperature is below 72°F/25°C and pre-shape. Let the pre-shaped dough rest a further 30 minutes to relax gluten.

After the three folds, 1 hour rest and the 30 minutes after the pre-shape, the dough is ready for the final shaping.

Place the dough on a floured surface and shape into a boule or a battard. Check this shaping video to see how I do it.

shaped dough in basket

Once shaped, place the dough in a floured proofing basket. If you don’t have a basket, use a glass pyrex bowl or a bread pan lined with a floured tea towel. In this video I have used a regular 9 by 5 loaf pan to proof my bread.

Cover this and place in the refrigerator for the retardation/long slow proof. 18-20 hours will usually get this loaf fully proofed for baking.

fully proofed bread

Preheat the oven before you bring the bread out!
This is the fully proofed bread straight from the fridge. If your bread doesn’t look proofed, then you can always let it sit outside (at room temp) until it is ready and preheat the oven while you wait.

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slashed bread

When the oven is ready, bring the dough out and invert the bread on to a parchment paper.
(I cut my parchment to match the shape of the bread to stop over crowding the Dutch Oven)
Slash the bread and place it in the pre-heated oven/ Dutch Oven (or however you usually bake your bread).

20 minutes at 500 °F and another 20 at 450 °F. If using a dutch oven, take the lid off for the second 20 minutes.

baked bread

As usual, leave the bread to cool slightly before cutting into it. Cool completely before storing.

Rye sourdough

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  1. What a fantastic recipe, thank you so much. It meets all my taste buds requirements and texture desiresCrumb was perfect,oven proof perfect, everything you want in a tasty fall bread.
    My mother made it the day before, and knowing my love for orange, recommended the zest of 2 large oranges instead of one, and oh my so yummy. I will be making this for my family gatherings if possible.
    Thank you so very much for this delicious recipe

    1. I am so glad you loved this bread so much! 😀
      Yes!! to 2 Oranges (I might do that too…next time). Thank you for taking the time to let me know.
      Happy Baking!!

  2. Good morning, what a beautiful recepie, one question though…can I cold retard for 40 hours instead of 20. I have to work tomorrow and won’t be able to bake till the following morning. Cheers

    1. Yes all sourdough can be retarded for up to 48 hours. Ideally you should cut down on room temperature bulk if you want retard for longer.
      You might get more sour flavor from the long retardation. If that’s okay, then definitely yes.

      Hope this helps

  3. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I am new to sourdough baking and this turned out as such a tasteful treat. Just curious, are the pictures that you have provided for the same amount of flour as in your recipe? Mine was significantly smaller at each stage and I was wondering if there is a way to correct that.
    Thanks again for the great resources that you provide.

    1. That’s wonderful.
      Photos are for the same recipe, using same amount of flour. Dough may seem smaller or bigger depending on the container it is in.
      Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you very much for this great recipe!
    I did a longer autolyse for the flours, then only mixed in the sourdough starter and molasses. Although it’s not so open crumb (maybe due to less kneading), but the bread is soft and tasty. I like the fresh orange zest and molasses combination in bread.. it’s a nice breakfast!

  5. Excellent recipe!Great place to start. Followed your proportions, though my starter is 100% dark rye, and my technique more closely adhered to what the young British baker, Jack Sturgess shows on bakingwithjack.com. Jack autolysis for an hour, does 12 stretch and folds, waits two hours, then 8 stretch and folds, another 2hr wait, then another 8 S&Fs, waits an hour, shapes, bench rests 1hr,, final shape and then a stint in the proofing basket, refrigerated (mine was about 16hrs.). I preheated to 500°, reduced the heat to 450° and baked 25min, covered, then another 20, uncovered. Came out bien cuit, nice and dark. The aromas are sensational, bread looks fantastic (great oven spring).This is an excellent website, a great springboard. Thank you for all the effort and generousity

  6. Hello Vindi! Thanks for sharing it. THE BEST RYE BREAD EVER!!!! My husband craved Montreal smoke meat sandwiches. With your recipe, we ate it at comfort of our home and we were very happy This recipe will be “a go to” from now on… Thanks again!

    1. Thank you for your lovely feedback. It is my pleasure to hear someone is enjoying my recipes.

  7. I love this bread. It’s been awhile since I made it, but when I did a couple years ago it was the best ear I’ve ever had. Also, the roasted grapes with mascarpone? Sheer brilliance. Thanks to you. Cheers

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