German Rye Bread Recipe

If you are you looking for a traditional German rye bread recipe made with a sourdough starter, you might like to try this one.

The love for a heavy dark rye bread recipe has never left me, as growing up in Germany it was our staple bread, and here we are over sixty years later, and it is still my most favorite kind of bread.

Different rye bread recipes are much lighter and might use molasses, coffee, oil, and caraway seeds, etc.

This German rye bread recipe only uses dark rye flour, water, salt and a starter you make the night before. I like to think it makes a very healthy, great tasting rye bread and I bake it a lot, with good results every time.

Using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour is more accurate than measuring the flour, as the volume to weight differs with different flours, and sometimes I also like to alter this German Rye Bread recipe and substitute some multigrain flour for part of the rye flour which then produces somewhat grainier, coarser loaves of bread.

The weight is in metric, but I have also given the measures by cup (if a weigh scale is not available). I have made this rye bread both ways and the results are always very good.

As rye flour is very sticky, it is easiest to knead this bread dough using the dough hook in a standup kitchen machine, and leaving it in that bowl until doubled, then transfer it onto a well floured work surface for the second kneading.

This German rye bread recipe will make 2 loaves.


  • Starter Dough
  • 400 gr dark rye flour (3 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 l lukewarm water (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. instant dry yeast
  • Main Dough
  • 1200 gr dark rye flour (9 3/4 cups)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 l lukewarm water (3 cups)
  • about 1 cup of flour sprinkled on work surface for kneading

  • Alternate Main Dough
  • 900 gr dark rye flour (6 1/2 cups)
  • 300 gr multigrain flour (2 cups, scant)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 l lukewarm water (3 cups)


  • Starter Dough
  • Mix starter ingredients well in a 6-8 cup bowl.
  • Cover with cloth and let stand over night at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
  • Next Day
  • Add starter dough and rest of flour, salt, water to bowl of stand up mixer. Using the dough hook mix for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cover with cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 3 hours.
  • Turn out on well floured surface (dough will be sticky), knead a few times, keeping dough well floured.
  • Divide dough in half and place into bread loaf pans lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover and let rise about another hour.
  • Preheat oven to 480F (250C)
  • Place an extra bread pan filled 2/3 with water on bottom of oven.
  • When bread is ready for oven, lightly brush tops of loaves with tap water.
  • Bake at 480F for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperatur to 350F and bake for 1 hour more.
  • Turn off oven heat, let bread sit in oven another 10 minutes, then remove from pans to wire rack, and brush again with water.
  • Totally cool bread, then place in plastic bags for a day or so to cure before slicing.
  • Note: I then slice the loaves and freeze in smaller plastic packages, as this bread freezes well.

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