Jewish Sourdough Rye Recipe – The wonderful bread known from NYC

Jewish Rye Bread is famous all over the world. Nowhere in the world does it have the same iconic status as in New York City. Every delicatessen and sandwich shop serves its delicious sandwiches on Jewish rye bread. While these loaves of bread are delicious, they often miss the mark in terms of the depth of flavor that you get from a long fermentation. I created my version of this iconic bread, using a sourdough starter as leavening, with a long cold fermentation to tease out all those delicious tastes hidden in the grains. This is my recipe for Jewish sourdough rye.

A cousin of the Jewish rye bread is the Swedish limpa, which is a sweeter type of bread. They do love their syrup in Sweden.

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The history of jewish rye bread

Rye was one of the first cultivated grains. It is believed that it was domesticated around 1,000 BCE. It wasn’t necessarily considered the best food, and it was mainly consumed by the “large, unwashed masses”. The first written records on rye cultivation were by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder around 77 BCE. He noted that it was “very poor food and good only to avert starvation.”.

The rye flour itself has a pretty mild flavor. Pairing it with a sourdough starter brings out more of the sour notes that people crave. The Jewish bakers would often add caraway seeds or nigella seeds to the rye bread, which is what Americans often associate with the taste of rye bread.

The two types of rye bread that were prominent in Europe were the kornbrot (Korn being the Yiddish word for rye) and the schwartzbrot (the black bread).

sourdough rye bread on a board

The difference was in how much wheat was mixed into the bread. The kornbrot is made with more wheat flour mixed in. The schwartzbrot is made with mainly rye flour. The schwartzbrot is the type of rye bread that we eat here in Denmark.

The kornbrot was brought to the States by Jewish immigrants and is close to what is being baked in Jewish bakeries in the States now. The big difference is that those loaves of bread are usually baked using commercial yeast and fermented much faster.

With this bread recipe, we’re going back to the roots and fermenting the bread with a sourdough starter. Using a rye starter will make for an even tastier bread. You can use any starter, though.

caraway seeds on the crust of a jewish rye bread

The dough in this Jewish sourdough rye recipe


Total weight1542 grams
Pre-fermented flour9.1%
Yield2 small loaves

The dough

The flour choices for this bread are as follows: 65% bread flour for structure and gluten power, since there’s a significant amount of rye in this bread, you should use very strong bread flour. 25% light or white rye for wonderful rye taste, but still a tender crumb. 10% whole grain rye flour for a boost to the rye flavor and also a bit of texture.

The inoculation is 20% and the salt content is 2%, which is very common.

The amount of barley malt syrup is 2.5% for some wonderful malted notes, which works well with the rye taste.

We add 1.3% caraway seeds to the dough. If you really like the taste of caraway seeds you can easily double this.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
520gbread flour65%
200glight rye flour25%
80gwhole-grain rye flour10%
160gstarter (100% hydration)20%
20gmalt syrup2.5%
10gcaraway seeds1.3%

If you want to play around with the formula, change quantity, hydration, and inoculation, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

a jewish sourdough rye bread boule on a board

I don’t have/can’t get barley malt syrup. What I can substitute with?

If you are not able to get barley malt syrup, you can create a pretty good taste substitute.

Combine 125g/1 cup of dark ale and 125g/1 scant cup of dark brown sugar in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer uncovered until you have a very thick syrup. This can be used in place of barley malt syrup.

Stored in the fridge, it stays good indefinitely.

The conclusion of this Jewish sourdough rye recipe

If you mostly eat wheat-based sourdough loaves of bread, you are in for a treat. This bread has a wonderful flavor profile. Wonderful rye taste, a distinct sourness, the mild anise notes and earthy notes from the caraways seeds, and the malted notes from the barley syrup.

It’s just the perfect storm of flavors coming together to create something larger than the sum of the parts.

The crust is super crunchy and the crumb is soft and moist.

The flavor pairs well with meats and cheeses, but is also perfect all by itself or just accompanied by a wonderfully thick layer of butter.

If you’re into awesome tasty artisanal sandwiches, this is the bread for you.

the crunchy crust of this jewish sourdough bread

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This is my recipe for Jewish sourdough rye. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! Links for equipment and ingredients in this recipe are affiliate links, which means I will get a commission if you purchase the product!

Jewish Sourdough Rye

Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American, Jewish
Keyword: jewish rye bread, jewish sourdough rye bread, rye bread, sourdough rye bread
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Proofing: 11 hours
Total: 13 hours
Servings: 2 small loaves
Calories: 1199kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Jewish Sourdough Rye
Amount Per Serving (1 small loaf)
Calories 1199 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 3122mg136%
Carbohydrates 244g81%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 39g78%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
You've probably heard of Jewish rye bread from the delicatessen and sandwich shops in New York City. Make a sourdough version of this beautiful bread that blows the rest of them out of the water.
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  • caraway seeds as needed


Mix dough

  • To a medium bowl add: 520 grams of bread flour, 200 grams of light or white rye flour, 80 grams of whole-grain rye flour, 16 grams of salt, and 10 grams of caraway seeds.
    520 g bread flour, 200 g light or white rye flour, 80 g dark rye flour, 16 g salt, 10 g caraway seeds
  • Mix it so that everything is well distributed.
  • Then add: 160 grams of sourdough starter, 20 grams of barley malt syrup, and 536 grams of water.
    160 g sourdough starter, 20 g barley malt syrup, 536 g water
  • You may want to reserve 50 grams of water if your bread flour isn’t very absorbent.
  • For the right consistency, watch the video. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover the bowl.
  • Leave the dough to rest for an hour to develop the gluten.

Bulk fermentation

  • Do three sets of stretch and fold spaced out by 30 minutes.
  • Check the gluten development by pulling a windowpane. If it fails, rest for another 30 minutes, perform a fold, and then go on.
  • Put it in a see-through bulking container with straight sides, and level the top of the dough.
  • Mark the top of the dough on the container and where it will have grown 25%.
  • Put the dough in your proofer or somewhere warm until it’s grown 25%.

Dividing and shaping

  • Drop the dough out onto the kitchen counter and divide the dough into two equally sized pieces.
  • Shape each piece into a ball, and let them rest on the kitchen counter for 20 minutes to relax the gluten.
  • Final-shape into your prefered shape and sprinkle the top with caraway seeds.
    caraway seeds
  • Put the shaped doughs into bannetons and put them in the fridge. For at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours.


  • An hour before you want to bake, load a baking steel or baking stone into your oven. Add a dutch oven and heat the oven to 260°C/500°F.
  • When the oven is heated for an hour, grab the dough from the fridge.
  • Dust it with rice flour to help it slide off the peel easily, and flip it onto the peel.
  • Score the dough using a lame, then add the dough to the dutch oven.
  • Put the lid on top, and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Then take off the lid, lower the temperature to 230°C/450°F, and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Then take out the bread, and put it on a wire rack to cool off completely.
  • Bake the other bread the same way.


Skriv et svar

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  1. Marti Reply

    Where did you find barley malt syrup? I’m in Sweden. I have made a comparable recipe but used Brödsirap. Bought wheat malt powder and used that also, good flavor with that as well.

  2. Chris Reply

    I love the flavour of rye; I started to make sourdough bread (Jan 2020) so that I could make rye loaves. I am using @elainefoodbod ‘s process (overnight fermentation), so I’ll attempt this recipe (downsized using your excellent calculator), reducing the inoculation to 10%. Malt syrup is easy to find in UK.


  3. Cecilia Reply

    Can I bake this bread in a loaf pan ( with a cover) but not preheated? Thanks for all the great info and instructive videos.

    • I’m sure it’d be fine, but I wouldn’t know how long you should bake it 🙂

  4. Mary Ann Boehm Reply

    I’m just wondering why there isn’t a second proof when it comes out of the fridge? Wouldn’t that help it to be a lighter crumb?

  5. jayne DOUGHERTY Reply

    Is the malt syrup necessary as I can’t find it

    • You can certainly make the bread without it, but it will miss that “certain something” 🙂

  6. Rose Almeida Reply

    Hello and good night!
    My name is Rose, I’m Brazilian and I love making sourdough bread.
    Today I discovered your youtube channel and your website, I confess that I was delighted with the content and I wrote down several recipes that I want to make.
    I could see that in several recipes, at least the ones I saw, you put the baker percentage, but in some of them the quantities don’t match, such as the Jewish Sourdough Rye Recipe, the quantities don’t match the percentages, sorry me for sending this kind of message around here.
    I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your Youtube channel and the website, they are wonderful and with spectacular recipes.
    Have a nice week.
    Hugs from Brazil.

    • Hello Rose,

      Sorry for the late reply. For some reason your message ended in a spam box.

      Thank you for you kind words. Can you please point out where the percentages don’t match? I’ve checked it through and as far as I can tell it’s correct.



  7. Chris Sheridan Reply

    Wait, where is the starter recipe?

  8. Stefanos Bert Reply

    This has been a great experience – first time I baked this bread and it was superb! Thanks, for the recipe and your guide thru. I will share the pic to FB at ANK mixer fans group.