Rye Flour vs White Starter / Rye Flour in Dough


gday all,

first time poster, long time reader, 6 month baker...


re my starter:

ive been baking with a rye starter that i was given by a friend, I feed it daily at the moment with an occasional weekend holiday in the fridge.

when outside the fridge i feed it daily 1/4 cup ryeflour/water (approximately 45g flour / 70g water)

when in the fridge for a weekend i usually give it a cup flour 1/2 cup water.

when a white starter is asked for i tend to add a couple tablespoons of the starter to white flour & water (usually 100g:100g when playing with a white starter)



i've been baking bread that's mixed wholemeal (from a local organic farmer - stoneground) / rye (Kialla or FourLeaf mainly) / unbleached (Eden Valley mainly but other organic & stoneground)

and while baking the mix (250gwhite 100gwmeal 50grye 150gwhitestarter 150g water) i've noticed that it seems to:

a) suck up a lot more water than the recipie asks for

b) be a lot dryer mix and harder to get a "windowpane" from while kneading

i understand that rye tends to take up a lot more water than others but i was wondering

a) if anyone has experimented between using a rye starter vs white and how different the mix turns out

b) if anyone had a description on how a mixed flour dough (or rye dough) would feel to the fingers, and if increasing water level would assist in the breadmaking/kneading/folding

I'm asking because the "almost" white doughs I make tend to be quite wet (and nowdays I'm getting a fairly good rise) while the doughs when i throw rye into the mix tend to be a lot dryer and the resulting rise is less than astounding (although I'm getting a decent rise, just expecting more) and the bread a lot denser (but with a decent crumb) 


I'll post some more in a month or so (after work gets a little less busy) on cooking in a Weber Kettle BBQ (which I've done a couple of times now) and kneading experiments, but for now i think this post is more than long enough.

a gallery of some of my bread baking is below, nothing extra special to see there atm though




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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 September 10

Hello digitalorthodoxy,

You are right on a number of counts.  Rye does absorb a lot more water than wheat and wholemeal wheat soaks up a lot more than white wheat.  So, basically, add some more water to your recipe.  If your recipe is any way near what you do, your hydration is only 47% so it is no wonder that your dough is stiff.  You should be aiming for at least 70% hydration and with that quantity of 100% starter and flour you should be adding about 260g water.

The effect of wholemeal flour also is that the bran and germ interfere with the continuity of the gluten strands so it is possible that the window breaks more easily but I think your main problem is hydration and if you go to the higher level and develop your dough properly you will get a mighty fine window and loaf of bread.

Keep on bakin'


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