Bread Ahead Rye Sourdough

Follow this foolproof recipe from the Bread Ahead bakery for a rich, moist rye loaf that will keep for weeks.

From the book

Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook by , &
Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook
A masterclass in baking from Bread Ahead
Inspiring recipes for sweet and savoury bakes
Bread-making made simple


Does exactly what it says on the tin! This thick-crusted loaf with a moist crumb will sit happily in your bread tin for 2–3 weeks (if it lasts that long). It’s one of our favourite loaves and is perfect for making open-faced sandwiches. It also makes delicious, crunchy and interesting croutons.

Makes 1 large loaf


For day 1 (the pre-ferment):
110g rye starter (see recipe instructions for further details)
220g cold water
160g rye flour
For day 2:
200g cold water
12g fine sea salt
300g rye flour, plus extra for dusting

Essential kit

You will need: a baking stone, a water spray, a baker’s peel or a wooden board.


For instructions on making your own rye starter, see here.You will need to start this five days in advance.

Feed your starter a good 8 hours before you make the preferment, so it is nice and lively.

On day 1, mix the starter and water together in a bowl, then combine until all lumps are broken up (a whisk is handy for this). Add the flour and bring together to form a nice loose mixture. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12–24 hours.

Next day (day 2), uncover your pre-ferment. It should have lots of air bubbles in it and have a pleasant, slightly alcoholic aroma.

Add the water to the pre-ferment and again mix until all the lumps are broken up. Mix in the salt, followed by the flour, then, with one hand shaped like a fork, bring the mixture together and continue mixing for a good 2 minutes until fully combined.

Pat down the dough with a floured hand to smooth the top, then sprinkle with flour. Cover and leave for 1 hour to ferment and rest.

Fold a clean tea towel in half and lay it in your proving basket. Heavily sprinkle the tea towel with flour. Uncover your dough and sprinkle it with a little more flour. Using a scraper, scoop/ scrape the dough into the lined basket, then sprinkle it with a little more flour and press down fairly firmly to smooth the top. This is the only shaping you will need for this loaf – easy peasy!

You can use a loaf tin to make this loaf, as follows: heavily dust your work surface with flour, then tip your dough on to it. Roll the dough in the flour, then place it in a 28cm x 12cm x 10cm loaf tin, sprinkle it with a little more flour and press down fairly firmly to smooth the top.

Leave to rise for 2 hours (the flour on the surface of the bread will start to crack when it’s ready).

Preheat the oven to 250°C/fan 230°C/gas 10, or as hot as it will go, and put a baking stone in to heat up. Get your water spray ready.

Now gently and slowly turn out your loaf on to a baker’s peel or a wooden board. Slide it off the peel on to the baking stone in the oven, then heavily spray inside the oven with your water spray and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn the loaf round and bake for a further 30 minutes – we love a really good singe on this bread, so don’t be scared to leave it in for a bit longer.

When it’s ready, tip it out of the tin and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for at least 4 hours before you slice and eat, and ideally overnight.

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