BBD #17 – Sourdough Rye Bread

This month’s Bread Baking Day #17 was hosted by Lien from Notitie van Lien.  She has a wonderful blog/website.  The theme Lien chose was “Bread and Potatoes.”  Potatoes had to be an integral ingredient of the bread.  I thumbed through my cookbook, The Bread Book:  A Baker’s Almanac, for ideas.  I found a recipe for a potato water sourdough starter and decided to start my recipe idea with sourdough.  I’ve wanted to make a sourdough starter for a while and thought what the heck…now’s as good a time as any to make one!  It was a lot of fun getting the starter going.  I’ve already made several other breads with it, all of which will end up here on the blog as well :).  Here’s a picture of the starter:


It’s separated because I just pulled it out of the fridge.  I have it stored in this Mason jar with a piece of plastic wrap between the cap and the jar so the metal doesn’t touch the starter. 

Potato Water Starter  (Courtesy of The Bread Book:  A Baker’s Almanac)


  • 1 T dry yeast
  • 2 t sugar
  • 2 c warm water in which potatoes have been cooked
  • 2 additional cups water
  • 2 c unbleached white flour, or other flour of your choice (I used 1 c unbleached white flour and 1 c  Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Graham Flour)


1.  Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm potato water.  Put in a glass, plastic, or crockery bowl; cover with towel and let it sit in a warm place for about 48 hours. 

2.  At the end of this time, stir in 2 more cups warm water and two cups flour.  Cover.  Let stand overnight or longer, until the whole mixture is frothy and smells sour.  Make sure your bowl is large enough to allow for expansion. 

3.  Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator (Note – Don’t use metal bowls or utensils or store your starter in a metal container).  

4.  You’ll need to feed your starter about once a week.  Remove ½ to 1 c of starter (either discard or use in a recipe or use what the recipe directs).  Add equal parts water/flour (½ c water and ½ flour, for example, if you remove ½ c starter) and stir well.  Let it sit at room temperature for several hours, stir, and return to the fridge.

For the bread, I decided on a sourdough rye.  Rye bread is one of my favorites, and I liked this recipe because of the orange peel and seeds it contained.  It was rather dense but good.


Sourdough Rye Bread (Courtesy of The Bread Book:  A Baker’s Almanac)


  • 1 c sourdough starter
  • 3½ c rye flour, preferably stone-ground (I used Hodgson Mill brand)
  • 3½ to 4½ c unbleached white flour
  • ½ c warm water
  • 1 T dry yeast
  • ½ c warm water
  • 2 T honey or maple syrup
  • ½ c mashed potatoes
  • 2 T light oil
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t fennel seeds
  • 1 t caraway seeds
  • ½ t grated orange peel
  • ¼ c unsulphured molasses

1.  In a large plastic, glass, or crockery bowl, mix together the starter, ½ c each of the rye and white flours, and ½ warm water.  If the batter seems too stiff, add a little more water.  Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let sit 6 hours or overnight.
2.  Add to the bowl the yeast, ½ c warm water, honey or maple syrup, mashed potatoes, and 1 c each of rye and white flours.  Mix and let stand again, covered, at least 6 hours or until the next day.
3.  Add the oil, salt, fennel, and caraway seeds, orange peel, molasses, and 2 c each of rye flour and white flour, stirring until the dough is too stiff to mix further by hand.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, adding a little more white flour if the dough remains sticky but don’t add too much otherwise the dough will be too dry.  Put the dough in a buttered or oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk.
4.  Punch the dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few times to press out the air bubbles, and divide in half; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
5.  Grease a cookie sheet and dust with cornmeal.  Shape the dough into two ovals or rounds, place on the sheet, and slash the top with a sharp knife if desired.  Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled.
6.  Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Bake for 15 minutes.  During this time you can mist or brush the loaves with cold water two or three times for a hard crust.  Reduce the heat to 350° F and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottoms sound hollow when tapped.  Brush the loaves with melted butter.  Cool on a rack.
Makes 2 loaves

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm  Comments (21)  

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21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You made a whole project out of it, making your own potatowater starter, Wonderful! Your bread looks too, with a hint of orange from the zest yummy!
    Did you know that you can also use potato water outside. After cooking you poor it over pavement, scrub it in and it keep them from getting green for a while… at least so I’ve heard, never tried it myself 😉
    Anyway, thanks a lot for participating this months BBD#17!!

    • Thank you so much, Lien! Coming from you I’m very flattered given the awesome bread you make! I hadn’t heard of using the potato water to keep the concrete/pavement from turning green. I might need to conduct an experiment this spring 🙂

  2. … yes.. I blab on and then forgetting words!
    I meant to write: …your bread looks great too…

  3. Your chocolate chip cookies look so wonderful that I can bite into them through the monitor! mmmmmmm

    I love using The best part are the reviews. I’m also starting to get into But nowadays, there are so many wonderful sites that you can find delicious recipes.

    Looking forward to visiting your blog again!


    I tried posting this on your chocolate chip post but it kicked me out … so here it is.

    • Thanks Rosa! I usually go to or Recipezaar, but I’ve never heard of Key Ingredient. I just checked out the website and signed up. Looks pretty cool! I’m sorry you couldn’t comment on the cookie post. That’s weird. I’ll have to check into it. I think I’ll have to make your amaretti next weekend. I’ve been thinking about them since seeing them on your blog! Thanks for visiting, and I look forward to your future posts!

  4. Wow, I have never tried anything like that. I am going to have to try that this weekend.

    • It’s really easy, Shelly! Plus, you can use the starter for many other recipes.

  5. Great idea to make the starter with “potato water”.

    • Thanks, Zorra! I thought it would be fun to do given the theme Lien chose.

  6. Shelley, I love it, I love it, I love it!! Sourdough rye with potatoes. Yummy! I love going around seeing all the people that participated in the Bread Baking Days. Wonderful job!

    • Thank you so much, Chuck! I love seeing the breads everyone makes as well. It’s fun to see how creative everyone is with the theme the host chooses.

  7. Enjoyed your recipe, it is fun to make different starters. Your bread looks good. (down in Wichita)

    • Thanks, Glenda! I forgot you were in Wichita….I just spied that when I was checking out everyone’s bread this Roundup. Heck, we’re practically neighbors :). That’s pretty cool!

  8. A great project, start to finish.
    Your really honoured the potato with both the starter and the loaf, and ended up with great looking bread with good, deep scoring. Congrats!

    • That’s a wonderful complement coming from someone like you who makes such great things, Natashya! Thanks! I really enjoy your blog and frequent it often 🙂

  9. Yeah for Kansas bloggers!!! Thanks so much! I’ve got you on my RSS feed now, so I’ll be able to see what’s being made in Manhattan! 🙂

    • Cool! I’ve got you in my Google Reader as well and look forward to your newest creations! Glad to have “met” you!

  10. i haven’t tried rye flour with my sourdough yet–it sure made a great-looking loaf! and your suggestion to use plastic wrap to keep the metal away is brilliant, thanks!

    • Thank you, Grace! It turned out pretty tasty. I’d been reading you shouldn’t use metal utensils when working with sourdough starter, so I added the wrap as a safety precaution :). BTW, I’m going to be trying your “Cownies” later…you have some great sourdough recipes!

  11. A sour dough rye bread sounds really good!

    • It turned out pretty good, Kevin. Love your blog…you make such great stuff!

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