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The word “companion” comes from the Latin “cum pane” or “with bread” – in other words, a companion is someone with whom we share our bread!

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Bohemian Rye Bread

Sometimes it's called Deli Rye, sometimes it's called Bohemian Rye, but Peter Pan All Purpose flour Bohemian Rye Breadeither way it's a light grey rye bread filled with sourness, caraway seeds, and Peter Pan AP Bohemian Rye - slicedflavor. Hickory Farm stores and deli's everywhere sell this bread. It's a rye bread so good it will make your toes curl. Slice it thick, slice it thin, cover it with meat and cheese, cover it with lox, it will be a delight. I've heard reports that some people even eat Nutella on it. (Actually, I've been known to do that. It's a lot better than it sounds. In fact, I do like it.)

This recipe is from Beatrice Ojakangas's Great Whole Grain Breads, modified to use sourdough starter.

Since I posted this recipe, it has become very difficult to get medium rye flour. If you can't find medium rye flour, you have a problem. Light rye doesn't deliver the flavor we are looking for. Dark or whole rye flours handle very differently. As a result, I've reworked this recipe to use whole rye flour and posted it as New Bohemian Rye Bread. If you want to make this bread but don't have medium rye flour, I strongly suggest trying the New Bohemian Rye Bread recipe.

This recipe is for two 1 3/4 pound loaves. Please be aware that the cups and gram measurements are approximations of one another. Most people who measure in grams do not want to weigh out 1,234 grams. 1,230 is close enough. Nor do people using cups want strange cup measurements like 3/16 cup. So, please don't think that, for example, 90 grams of flour is 1/2 cup.


Volumetric MeasureIngredientGramsBaker's Percentage
1 3/4 CupsActive Sourdough Starter (1)420 Grams47%
2 CupsWater470 Grams53%
2 2/3 TBSPButter (Softened but still solid)38 Grams4.3%
3 3/4 CupsUnbleached All-Purpose flour470 Grams53%
4 1/8 Cups (2)Medium Rye Flour420 Grams47%
1 TBSPSalt17.8 Grams2%
1 TBSPCaraway Seeds (3)7 Grams.75%

  1. I use a white flour starter for this bread. You may use a rye starter and adjust the amounts of rye flour and white flour called for to compensate for the difference.
  2. This isn't a typo. A cup of sifted wheat flour weighs about 125 grams, a cup of sifted rye flour about 102 grams.
  3. Use more, or less, caraway seeds.  Some people love them, some hate them, so do what makes you happy here.

If you are weighing your ingredients, put all the ingredients in your mixing bowl,Bohemian rye bread nutritional analysis stir until the mixture is too thick to comfortably stir, and then skip to the paragraph that starts, "Next, pour out..."

If you are measuring by volume, put the starter, all-purpose flour, water, caraway seeds, salt and softened butter into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the rye flour a half cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to mix.

Next, pour out the dough onto a kneading board, cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will let the flour absorb moisture, and will make kneading easier. You should let the dough rest, even if you are kneading with a machine.

Next knead for 10 minutes or so, until the bread is smooth and satiny. Try not to add very much additional flour, but you may need to adjust the liquid/flour mix.

Form the dough into a ball, wash the mixing bowl, oil it lightly, put the ball of dough in the bowl, and turn the dough over to make sure it's covered evenly with oil.

Cover the mixing bowl, and place the loaf in a warm place (80 - 90F) to rise until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down, knead it a few times, and cut it into two rough loaf shapes.

Let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes or so.

Complete the loaf forming. You may want to put this bread into a banneton or brotform although a bread pan works well also.

Cover the loaf and let rise until almost doubled.

Preheat your oven to 450F. Once it's at temperature, put the bread in the oven, put a cup of water into a pan on the bottom of the oven, and bake 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F. Bake another 45 minutes or so.

As with most rye breads, this is better, and easier to slice, the second day than the first.

14 thoughts on “Bohemian Rye Bread”

  1. This bread was wonderful even though I messed up the baking routine. I baked one in dutch oven and one in the cast iron frying pan both with covers initially. Flavor is great. Beautiful texture.

    1. Hi Karen,
      That is great to hear! That is one of my favorite breads. If you have pictures, I’d love to see them! Until we find a way to let site visitors upload pictures, you could email them to me. If you’d like, I could share them on the website – or not, as you prefer. Either way, I’d love to see them.

    1. Hi Victoria,
      Your question is a very reasonable one. And yet, a very difficult one to answer.

      Baker’s yeast is very predictable. and even there predicting rise time is tricky. I made a recipe in one of Julia Child’s cookbooks for a brioche. I was going to make the dough in Galveston and bake in Austin after a 5 or 6 hour drive. From what Julia said, that should be OK. However, my unairconditioned car in Texas was considerably hotter than her Massachusetts kitchen. An hour into the drive I had to pull over and knead the dough – it was overflowing the mixing bowl! That happened two more times in the trip.

      Sourdough adds SO many more variables. How healthy and rapid is your starter? How warm, or cool, is your kitchen? Do you have Solar Hands?

      A new wrinkle has been popping up of late. Historically people let the dough rise until it was doubled in size. Now, more bakers are only looking for a 25 to 50% rise in the bulk, or first, rise. This changes timings considerably. Doing this give the bread a much more dramatic oven spring and I am playing with this approach.

      Due to all the uncertainty, I just don’t talk about rise time. Normally the second rise takes about half the time of the first, assuming the first and second rise are at the same temperature – many people like to have the second rise in a refrigerator, wine cooler, a cool basement or other cool area – which changes the timing considerably.

      So…. keep an eye on the dough and watch it. It will let you know what to do.

  2. I made this today and it looks and tastes wonderful. I used high gluten bread flour (14%) and whole grain rye. Followed all the weights in the recipe and baked it in a dutch oven. My starter was mostly white at 100% hydration. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. Patricia Swanson

      Hello Chris. I just have read this recipe and the comments. Did you bake the entire recipe of dough in one Dutch oven all at one time? I have a 7 quart Dutch oven which I use for larger loaves. But, this recipe is for over 8 cups of flour and he starter. Thinking I should break it up into two pots. I also have a four quart Dutch oven that I use for 4-5 cup recipes. Or, maybe the larger pot with five cups of finished dough and the rest in a loaf pan. I would value your opinion. Thank you.

      1. Hi Patricia,
        I don’t usually use a dutch oven. All I can suggest is that you try it out and let us know how it works.

        That said, I’ve tried to scale the recipes on sourdoughhome to make two 1.5 lb loaves. It seems I mis-fired. At this writing (1/27/2012) the recipe shoudl somewhat more than two 2lb loaves. I’ll update that. Remember, using the bakers percentages and a spreadsheet, you can easily scale the recipes to the size you want.

        Best wishes,

  3. Hello! Please, could you clarify for me what do you mean by: I use a white flour starter for this bread. You may use a rye starter and adjust the amounts of rye flour and white flour called for to compensate for the difference.

    I have both… wheat flour sourdough and rye sourdough.

    Also, in bakers % I learned that flour in a recipe makes 100% and the rest of ingredients are in flour %. Plese, explain to me your bakers % table. Thank you.

    1. Hello Adrian,
      By a white flour starter, I mean a starter made with a refined wheat flour, such as all-purpose or bread flour. If you use a rye based starter, you should reduce the amount of rye flour in the recipe by the amount in the starter, and increase the amount of wheat flour. The idea is to keep the ratio between wheat and rye flour constant.

      With regards to the baker’s percentage, you are correct, the flour is defined to be 100% and everything else is expressed as a percentage of the flour. However, that 100% is the sum of all the flour in the formula, with the exception of the flour in pre-ferments and starters. In this case, the wheat flour is 53% and the rye flour is 47%, for a sum of 100%

      Best wishes,

  4. Hi Mike,
    Is cross contamination of starters a problem? If it is what tips can you offer to avoid it?
    Dark rye crackers are a favorite of mine. Where can I find a recipe?


    1. Hi Tony,
      Thanks for a good question. It’s one that has a lot of depth behind it, and you can lose yourself going down the rabbit hole.

      A related question often is, has my starter changed? And we talk about that a good bit on the page about Sourdough Myths and Folklore. Spoiler alert – usually not.

      Another side trip is the question, “How many starters do I need anyway?” Spoiler alert – for most of us, one is enough.]

      And now, enough dodging an weaving – you’d think I was a politician in a debate or on a Sunday news show! As you can see from the article above, I once had a refrigerator full of starters. And I was concerned about making sure cross contamination didn’t occur. If any microbiologists want to chime in here, please do, however from theperspective of a home baker, it isn’t that hard to keep them pure. My procedure is to keep a dense starter (about 60% hydration) in the fridge. I use a bit of the starter and feed it up until it is vital, active and alive. I don’t open more than one jar of starter at time. When I feed a starter – whether to revive the starter in the fridge or to prepare for a bake – I keep the starter covered at all times. My main concern is the purity of the starters in the fridge.

      If I have an active starter I am baking with and want to start another starter, it’s not an issue. Just keep the starters covered and you should be good. A corollary here is that I don’t use the same utensils on more than one starter in a session. If I am working on two starters, I have two sets of spoons, spatulas, mixing bowls and so on.

      And then again… on the other hand, you have more fingers. A while back I took a class at Central Baking in Petuluma California given by Guy Frenkel under the auspices of MockMill. Guy had been to a seminar in Belgium put on by Puratos where sourdough heavyweights from around the world gathers. Guy had a brainstorm – why don’t we mix all our starters and see what happens? He called the resulting starter the “Hooligan” and gave out samples of it. I still have it in a jar in the fridge and still use it from time to time. I have no idea what devil’s brew is in the starter, but it works well. For most of us, all that matters at the end of the bake is that we made the bread we want, no matter what is in the starter.

      Good luck,

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