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Best Russian Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

Best Russian Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe

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This scrumptious sourdough Russian black bread recipe produces a hearty bread that is perfect for eating with soups, salads, or sandwiches. 

  • Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x



For the Rye Starter

  • 2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups of medium rye flour
  • 1 thick slice of raw onion

For the dough

  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1/2 cup of pumpernickel or coarse rye meal
  • 1/4 cup of cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 4 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 ounce of unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups of medium rye flour


  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and blend this in 3/4 cup of rye flour. Stir in the onion, cover with plastic wrap, and set this aside to rest at room temperature. Let this rise and fall. Stir the mixture twice a day for 3 days. Remove the onion and add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the remaining 3/4 cup of rye flour. Cover and set this aside. When the mixture has risen and fallen once again, it’s ready to use.
  2. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of warm water, yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Cover this and set this aside for 15 minutes until it’s bubbly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the boiling water, pumpernickel, oil, salt, molasses, instant coffee, and chocolate. Once the mixture has cooled down, add the rye starter and the remaining 4 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix this until the dough starts to separate from the sides of the bowl. Then knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap for 5 minutes, then knead for another 5. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and lower the dough into it. Cover and let this rise until it has doubled in size.
  5. Punch the dough down, and divide it in half. Shape each piece of dough into a round or oblong loaf. Place the shaped load onto a parchment-lined baking sheet sprinkled with oatmeal. Cover and let this rise until it has doubled.
  6. 20 minutes before baking, place a cast iron skillet on the lowest rack of the oven for water to be added to generate steam. Place another oven rack above it for the bread. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. When you’re ready to bake, score your loaves with a razor blade or bread lame, and brush the tops with cold, beaten egg whites.
  8. Pour 2-3 cups of water into the skillet to create steam. Place your loaves on the oven rack directly above the skillet. Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. Do not slice while hot as this will only give your bread a gummy texture. Give the Rye bread at least 2 hours to cool completely before slicing.


  • This is a high-hydration dough, so try not to add too much flour to eliminate the stickiness. Instead, chill your dough in the refrigerator, and that should make it easier to manage.
  • Author: Natasha Krajnc
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: bread
  • Cuisine: Russian


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 224 kcal
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41 g
  • Protein: 6 g