Sourdough Rye-only Bread

I was introduced to this amazing Finnish Rye bread, Hapanleipä, by my good friend, Niina. Ever since I was exposed to this, I yearned to try my hands at it. After several failed attempts– it finally came together by using a “proofer” for the starter. I gleefully write this blog as I chomp on the fully homemade ruis bread. Just a word of caution: the process takes more than a week; yet, the only ingredient is rye. This also no doubt appeals to the minimalist in you. Enjoy!!


Scale, processor with dough blade, parchment paper, silicone spatula, Proofer.


  • approx 1 kg Rye flour (for the sour culture, sponge and bread)
  • salt, water


Rye sour culture (7 days). Start with 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F in airtight jar overnight.
Repeat the following for the next six days (or more days):
Take 30 gm of culture the previous day (discard the remainder) + 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F overnight.

Rye sponge (proof covered overnight at 86 F):  55gm  rye flour + 140 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 5 gm rye sour culture.

Rye bread dough (proofed for 3 hours at 86 F) : approx 200 gm rye sponge + 450 gm rye flour + 330 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 1 tsp salt.
Make the dough in processor with bread blade. The dough is very very sticky, but not to be alarmed. It is resilient enough. Divide the dough into two, place them on parchment; flatten roughly and proof at 86F for 3 hrs.

After proofing the dough is a little easier to handle. Using the silicone spatula (you may have to dip it in cold water) shape the tow disks; make a hole in the center, use that dough in the remainder of the disk. Dock (or make holes) with a wooden chopstick. Place the two disks (each about 6 inches in diameter) along with the parchment on a baking tray.

Bake at 425 F for 25 mins. Cool on tray. Rest the bread for 2-3 days to bring out the deep flavor.


  1. The recipe was adapted from The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America, by Stanley Ginsberg.
  2. The proofer is Brod & Taylor’s Folding Proofer.
  3. Perhaps a stand mixer is more appropriate to make the dough. But I don’t have one –nor do I plan to have one— I use the processor with the dough blade instead. I think I got a “starch attack” with the blade speed, but the dough was tamed by the time it proofed for 3 hours.
  4. Note that the very first step of making the sour culture consumes a lot of flour. Also, you discard a large portion of the culture everyday as you feed it with fresh rye flour. I worked out various algorithms in my mind, like doubling the feed every day instead of discarding- but if you know your arithmetic, you will realize the volume explodes in seven days (not to speak of the the culture’s natural increase in volume) 🙂 .
  5. I placed the two disks on a “dhokla” two tiered rack, lined with parchment and placed the rack in the proofer (for 3 hrs).
  6. In the pictures below, the rye sour culture is in the lidded jar and the sponge in the open-face bowl (that was covered while proofing)

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