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Seeded rye sourdough

Updated: Thu, 11 February, 2021

My number one among rye breads: packed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds and it's a sourdough on rye starter.

blonde pumpernickel

Tip to start with: make two loaves with double the amounts of ingredients. This is so incredibly tasty you’ll wish it hadn’t gone quite so quickly if you bake just one small loaf.

Blonde Pumpernickel, only better

This is a blonde Pumpernickel without the Pumpernickely crumbliness. As all rye breads it is best after a couple of days’ rest, sliced thinly, not toasted (though some will argue).

The seed content will satisfy the harshest fibre-obsessed nutritionist and the small addition of white flour makes it less stodgy.

seeded rye sourdough

Is it gluten free?

It isn't. Rye isn’t the holy grain (haha) for gluten free diet, this little I know, but it is more digestible for those lighter affected with intolerance.

You can replace the white wheat flour addition with spelt and that way you can probably feed a sensitive stomach.

german style rye bread

Borodinsky, eat your heart out!

I was making this alongside the Borodinsky, the true blue (black) rye because I didn’t want to waste my rye starter. We sliced both loaves in turn over a few days and the prize actually went to this seeded number: a third of Borodinsky loaf was still left after the seedy one was long gone.

rye sourdough with seeds

Rye sourdough bread on rye starter

If you'd like to get a rye starter running, see the recipe for basic rye sourdough, it explains step by step how to go about it. There are two types of rye flour: dark and light; similarly to white and wholemeal wheat flours.

The dark rye is very heavy indeed but good to start and maintain your sour. Light rye flour is better used in the actual bread dough.

Once you have a lively starter, bubbling away in your airing cupboard or the warmest spot of the kitchen, making the bread is a two-stage process. The ferment, which is the first or initial dough, will need twelve to eighteen hours to mature.

seeded rye sourdough

But then the dough proper does not have to rise in bulk, unlike wheat dough. It is shaped immediately - as much as you can shape the gloopy muddy mass - and sets for a long rise. Oh yes, rye is a slow and serious affair.

When it's risen to the top of the tin, it can be baked. Don't expect any oven rise: what you see after the proof is what you will take out of the oven.

And like all rye breads, you have to be patient with it. Let it rest overnight, wrapped in linen or parchment. The next day you'll be able to slice it thinly and marvel how wonderfully delicious it is.

Seeded rye sourdough

Servings: 1 small loafTime: 5 hours plus overnight fermentation
Rating: (1 reviews)


  • For the ferment:
  • 50g rye sourdough starter at 200% hydration
  • 150g wholemeal rye flour
  • 300g warm water (at about 40C)
  • For the main dough:
  • 160g ferment, from above
  • 200g light rye flour
  • 40g strong white bread flour
  • 5g sea salt
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 140g warm water
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds, for dipping the loaf


1. If you have a rye starter in the fridge, refresh 50g of it with 50g wholemeal flour and 100g very warm water. Leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours to bubble up.

rye starter

2. Mix the ferment 12-18 hours before making the bread. Disperse the sourdough starter in warm water and stir in the flour. Cover the container with cling film and keep in a warm place. It should bubble and foam vigorously.

3. For the main dough, add 160g of the ferment to a bowl with all the other ingredients (the rest can be used to bake another loaf and/or become your rye sourdough starter to be stored for another occasion) and mix well. It won’t be anything like wheat dough, not stretchy or elastic, rather resembling a brownish concrete mix or mud!

rye bread dough

4. Turn it out onto wet worktop, wet your hands too and form a rough shape of a loaf. Spread the sunflower seeds on a plate and roll the loaf in them to coat it completely.

rye loaf

5. Drop it carefully into a buttered loaf tin. Cover it with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove and rise up to the top of the tin. It will take between 2 and 4 hours depending on temperature and liveliness of your starter.

risen rye loaf

6. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Bake the loaf in the lower half of the oven for 40 minutes, turning the heat down to 190C/375/gas 5 after the first 10 minutes. Ideally, the sunflower seeds should colour only very lightly; if they are browning too much, cover the top loosely with aluminium foil.

7. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Wrap in foil and, for best results, leave it until the next day before slicing thinly.

Originally published: Fri, 1 February, 2019

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Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Brad - the amounts are correct but the hydration figure should indeed be 200%. I've now corrected it, thanks for pointing it out. The starter is indeed very sloppy, made from scratch with 100g flour and 200g water (step by step in my Borodinsky Bread recipe). The ferment continues at 200% and then together with all the flour and water for the main dough it comes to about 85% which is not unusual for rye. Would you agree?
4 years ago
The recipe sounds delicious but I'm very confused reading it. It says the starter should be refreshed at 50% hydration, which would be stuff, but the directions for 50g old start, 50 g flour, and 100 g water is 166%, more than I've ever seen before. Is that correct? And then for the ferment, the 166% hydration starter is getting mixed with 200% hydrated the flour. That almost double anything I've tried.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Eva - thank you! And by posting your comment you've reminded me that I must bake it again very soon!
4 years ago
wonderful! my new go-to recipe. It's so easy and the result was amazing. I accidentally didn't read that the starter would be enough for two loaves so I made one really big one but it's delicious and nothing went to waste! I used a combination of flaxseeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I can easily see this tasting great with fennel seeds as well but I'm not a fan personally. There's no kneading, nothing complicated, it's the most straight forward recipe and simply can't go wrong. Thanks for sharing - I love it.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Klaus - isn't it gorgeous? Sorry if recipe confused you: description measures refer to refreshing the starter if it was dormant in the fridge; also in that case it will need 12-24 hours to wake up depending on ambient temperature. The proportions for the ferment make a large quantity of it but the rest will be your rye sourdough starter to be stored for another occasion (I've updated to clarify). If you're making just one loaf, of course you can scale it down as you did. Thanks for the comment!
5 years ago
I LOVE THIS BREAD!!! The start of the recipe is a bit confusing. It gives different measures of ferment mix in the ingredients list compared to the measures in the description. And my fermentation mix bubbled up within just 3-4 hours and then went back to what it was before. I followed the measures in the description and used the fermentation mix earlier, at the time when I realised it had gone back to its former size. Everything else was perfectly described and very easy. Most importantly, the result was excellent! Definitely make two loaves (or one big one). I love this bread!!! Thanks a lot! This is fantastic!
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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