August 25, 2007

Rye Sour

I am planning to enter Bread Baking Day #3, hosted by Küchenlatein, and is themed Sourdough Rye Bread. I know making sourdough bread needs so much patience, so much devotion, and so much time but the finish products seems endlessly lovely and tastes wonderful. I am still keeping the sourdough starter I have started a few months ago and always since then bake sourdough bread, sourdough sticky buns or sourdough English muffins for breakfast once or twice a week. Especially when we invite friends for lunch or dinner, I can just scoop out the fresh yeast out of the jug. I always love the fragrant steam escaping from the oven. It's something I can't explain. It has all the freshness you can't smell from packaged breads in stores. Perhaps, the joy to get from the scratch gives more appreciative satisfaction towards the crafted hands.

Anyway, I adapt this rye sour as the starter to make sourdough rye starter from the bible-thick baking book The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. It is slightly different from the plain-flour sourdough starter I have made before as the starter tends to be much thicker, but the humble sour smell remains the same.

Rye Sour

Make sure to prepare the starter 4-5 days before the baking of the bread, as the starter needs time to develop.

1 Tbs or packet active dry yeast,
2 cups warm water,
3 cups medium rye flour,
a thick slice of raw onion

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the water and blend in 1 ½ cup of the rye flour. Stir in the onion, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. Let the sour rise and fall back. After this point, stir the sour twice a day for three days.

Remove the onion and add the second cup of warm water. Blend in the remaining 1 ½ cups of rye flour, cover and set aside again. When the sour has risen and fallen once more, it is ready to use. This will take another day or so.


zlamushka said...


I just ran into your blog and it seems you love bread and baking. I love the way you describe making the starter. It looks wuite easy then. I ve been trying to make my own, but I never somehow found time. Here is a question, though. I have never heard of adding a raw onion to the starter. Any idea why ???

Arfi Binsted said...

zlamushka, i have no idea why they put raw onions in it. i just followed the recipe. i just could smell the difference, though to compare with the plain sourdough starter i made last time. i think putting the raw onions would make something different in the odour.

Anonymous said...

They add the onions to speed up the sour process and to add flavor.

Anonymous said...

Hi Arfi,
i guess you need to refresh the sour, every how many days would you do that?

Arfi Binsted said...

I usually do it every week. But I just don't do it more than a month, I will start a new starter again.

Alex said...

you shouldn't put dried yeast in - sourdough is meant to ferment naturally from airborne yeasts. what you are making isn't really a sourdough starter at all but a pre-ferment (also called a poolish or biga). these are wonderful things, often used for cibatta, baguettes, etc. but it's not a sourdough.

check out this recipe for a simple authentic sourdough starter: