Overnight 100% Rye Sourdough

This bread was made using a combination of Dan Lepard’s recipe for 100% Sour Rye, and methods from Ken Forkish and Peter Reinhart.

The temperature is still up, and the best time to bake is early in the morning. Early morning baking calls for a bit of a manipulation of the proofing time of bread, and so overnight retarding in the fridge is ideal. Since it is hot in the kitchen by the afternoon, it is also a bonus to have a recipe that does not call for much hard work, and this no-knead rye bread from Dan Lepard is the perfect loaf for the situation.

Despite originating in colder climates – Scandinavia, Russia, Eastern Europe for example – a rye flour sourdough works well here because it does not need a great deal of handling and only requires a single proof; no bulk fermentation is needed. This is partly because the gluten in rye flour is extremely weak, and does not benefit from the extra developing time. Also, rye flour, when mixed with water, becomes extremely sticky. Kneading only exacerbates the problem, quickly turning the dough into an unworkable mess.

The cracks along the bottom are from the loaf’s expansion whilst proofing; rye flour is much less elastic than wheat flour.

Another bonus of this recipe was the opportunity to try something I had never used before – a rye scald. Lepard’s “hot gelatinous rye mix” is 4 parts boiling water to 1 part rye flour, which is mixed an hour prior to beginning the bread and used both in the dough and as a wash before the bread goes into the oven. The scalded rye mix adds an elasticity to the loaf which would otherwise be absent.

The recipe is from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf and I highly recommend buying it if you’re into a little bit of experimentation with traditional loaves. For the ingredients to this bread, go and buy a copy!

For the method, I followed my own instructions to suit the overnight retardation. It is a mix of Ken Forkish’s method for an overnight sourdough from Flour Water Salt Yeast, and a few techniques I picked up from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

The sliced loaf – the crumb is slightly more open than in a regular rye bread, due to the inclusion of the scalded rye mix


  1. 8pm, 2 days before baking: Refresh 2 tbsp rye starter with 100g rye flour and 150g lukewarm water.
  2. 9am, 1 day before baking: Refresh starter with 100g rye flour and 150g lukewarm water.
  3. 3pm, 1 day before baking: Mix boiling water and rye flour, stand.
  4. 4pm, 1 day before baking: Combine remaining ingredients, reserving 1 tbsp of the rye mix for glazing. Shape the dough as per instructions in the recipe and place into a floured banneton.
  5. Proof for 4 hours.
  6. 8pm, 1 day before baking: Place banneton into a clean plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
  7. 6:30am, day of baking: Preheat oven to 210°C
  8. 7:10am, day of baking: Bake at 210°C for 50 minutes.
  9. Cool on a wire rack, then wrap in baking paper and store for one day before eating.
    The finished rye loaf. The rye flour gives an amazing colour, texture, and flavour to the sourdough.



Baking skills pt. 4: Divide and Shape

This is the fourth in a series of posts intended to make some of the more complex parts of bread making simpler for the home baker. The previous posts were on the autolyse stage, kneading, and bulk fermentation.

After the bulk ferment the dough must be divided into the necessary portions. Of you have made enough for one loaf then obviously this step can be skipped. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and using a dough cutter or large kitchen knife cut the dough into the required amounts. If you were planning on selling the bread then you would have to scale (weigh) the dough to ensure even portions, but at home I usually just judge this by eye.

A dough cutter is more versatile than a knife for dividing dough.

After dividing, shape each portion into a round and rest for 5 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and makes the next stage of shaping easier, with less chance of the dough springing back out of shape.

Shaping is crucial to the final loaf, having an enormous impact on the texture, size, uniformity, and look of the finished bread.

An exploded loaf, due partly to poor shaping: the bread will rise most at its weakest point, in this case the seam.

It can be simple, such as adding the final couple of folds to a ciabatta, or much more complex like the round couronne,  or a plaited or braided loaf. For this lesson, I have stuck to the shapes I use most often: the round, the bâtard, the loaf, the baton and the stick or baguette. All of these shapes begin with the round formed after division.

Instructions on shaping at the back of my recipe book.


  1. Using the blades of both hands, lightly cup the dough on an unfloured work surface.
  2. Stretching the dough downwards evenly, gently begin rotating the dough.
  3. Perform this motion several times until the surface tension of the dough is even and the dough is round.
  4. Place seam side up into an oiled bowl or floured banneton, or seam side down on a floured baking tray for free form baking.


  1. Start as for round. Whilst stretching the dough, gently ease it into an oval shape like a rugby ball.
  2. Rock the dough back, exposing the seam. Using the side of one hand pinch the seam closed.
  3. Place seam side up into a bâtard shaped banneton or seam side down on a floured baking tray for free form baking.


  1. Gently stretch the round into a rectangle, being careful not to squash all of the air out of the dough.
  2. Roll the rectangle like a swiss roll, maintaining an even pressure.
  3. Pinch the seams together and place seam side down into a floured out oiled loaf tin.

Baton (Dan Lepard’s method)

  1. Gently press the dough into a flattened oval, seam side up.
  2. Take the top two “corners” of the oval and fold in towards the centre.
  3. Take the new point of the top of the dough and fold that in towards the centre.
  4. Rotate the dough 180 degrees and repeat.
  5. Fold the dough in half towards you, and seal the seam with the side of your hand.
  6. Place the dough, seam side down, onto a floured baking tray.


  1. Begin with as shaping for a bâtard, up to step 2.
  2. Rest the dough for 5 minutes. This helps to further relax the dough which is necessary for stretching.
  3. Gently stretch the dough from each end, pulling it into a stick or baguette shape.
  4. Roll the dough back and forth to create an even surface tension