Sourdough rye flour help!

AVBAVB Posts: 24 Ooni Team Member
This might be a stupid question, but even googling doesn't come up with anything helpful...

What is rye flour and where can I find it in the UK? I want to feed my sourdough starter with it as advised by most recipes - it's been dining out on Caputo 00 for months now, which is not only expensive, but producing flat pizzas with poor structural integrity.

And what difference does rye make to the starter / final pizzas?


  • mozzafellamozzafella Posts: 115 ✭✭✭
    The issues might be to do with your proofing and mixing process rather than the starter
  • AVBAVB Posts: 24 Ooni Team Member
    Perhaps... I followed this guide:

    What difference do you think using rye flour would make? Or does that not really contribute to the structure of the dough?
  • mozzafellamozzafella Posts: 115 ✭✭✭
    Not sure on that one to be honest. If you were in Italy you'd be more than Likely using a starter made of the same flour as your Dough.

  • dopiazadopiaza Posts: 7
    People often use rye for sourdough starters because they are easier to maintain. As I understand it, rye flour tends to have more of the natural yeasts and lactobacillus in it that other processed flours, and so you wind up with a stronger, vigorous starter, much more quickly. Rye is also low in gluten, so the starter is usually softer and easier to handle than some others.

    When I've made starters, I've typically started them off with some rye to help kick start them, and then fed them with regular white bread flour. I haven't done any serious sourdough making for a little while now though - I really should get back into that!
  • abscamabscam Posts: 16
    Rye flour is used in Rye bread. I would look in a natural foods store or online. It isn't necessary for a starter. Sourdough takes awhile to develop and does need to be fed regularly to get it active.  An alternative is to try a poolish.
  • Dres_DEDres_DE Posts: 86 ✭✭
    AVB said:
    What is rye flour and where can I find it in the UK? I want to feed my sourdough starter with it as advised by most recipes - it's been dining out on Caputo 00 for months now, which is not only expensive, but producing flat pizzas with poor structural integrity.


    full grain rye is full of natural yeast cultures (on its shells). This is a good start for your own sourdough.
    But - if you make pizza dough, you normally use wheat based flour. So what to do is to "train" the rye yeast cultures into a wheat based sourdough.

    50% rye flour / 50% water - 2 days at room temperature of 24 - 28 degrees C better give a great zoo of cultures.
    Then mix 50% water with 50% caputo 00 and 1 tablespoon of your mix - let it sit for two days and do it again. After some days you will discover the bubbles. Now you have a wheat based sourdough.

    I use poolish - as also recommended with great success. Poolish is basically a wheat based sourdough with added yeast. The page you shared your link from is also using a poolish ( The poolish can be kept alive if you feed on a regular basis. Here 50/50 + 1 tbls old culture. 

    As for your "flat pizzas" missing structural integrity: How do you blend?

    Blending always depends on your flour and machine! I blend all ingredients together and let my dough rest (covered) for 1 hour. After that I mix again until the following:
    Take a chunk of dough, size of a cherry, and try to pull it into a piece of paper. This paper should now have a structure (while looking through it into the light) like a "post it" - no big flour spots, it should not break, it should look smooth and it should have a nice texture. Now your dough is ready. This can take something between 10 to 25 minutes (30 even if you do it by hand).

    Then form your portions and let it cold rise (fridge) for 1 to 3 days. 3 is recommended.

    The above could result in a nice dough.

    To your "flat" things - how do you "cook" your pizza? I guess in an uuni!

  • AVBAVB Posts: 24 Ooni Team Member
    Thanks all - this is really helpful. Through a process of elimination...

    1) Yes, I'm using an Ooni, so that shouldn't be a factor in the flat pizzas!

    2) My starter has definitely been active with just the Caputo. It's been bubbling up and doubling in size whenever I activate it. So if the rye is really just for a kick to start it then I suspect it's not required.

    3) First couple of times I tried a room temp proof overnight, which I think may have broken down the dough too much and left it tearing really easily.

    4) I'll get it started up again and try the 3 day cold proof as suggested by Dres_DE.

    Another factor might just be the Scottish winter. It's hard to keep anything up at around 24C right now!

    I'll be back with results...!
  • mozzafellamozzafella Posts: 115 ✭✭✭
    edited February 13
    You'll find that although Caputo is the biggest producer of pizza flour, it's probably the least consistent, which is why a lot of people are moving away from it. Could be a factor, compare a dry or fresh yeast dough
  • Dres_DEDres_DE Posts: 86 ✭✭
    Another thing I do is to feed my yeast cultures with some sugar. Since I have an issue with using honey (sweet and pizza dough just sounds wrong) I use malt sirup. This is pure energy and gives a good taste which supports the final pizza taste pretty good. 

    The dough is than kept 6 to 8 hours at room temp (to activate the sourdough cultures and yeast) before it goes into the fridge. 

    Also find your preferred cold fermentation time... Maybe check out this resource for that:

    Do you also add yeast to your dough? Which form, is it dry or fresh? I recommend dry, since the fresh can be pretty tricky to handle correctly.

    I still experiment a lot with my dough. For this I made an Excel sheet where I track the different recipes and results. Jeff Varasano's pizza guide was a nice inspiration for that file:

    In the end all you need to learn is which change will lead to which result... 

    While I had a too firm pizza, I changed hydration from 60% to 65%. More water, more steam - which resulted in a very nice final structure. 

    Good luck. I will make a new dough tomorrow for our pizza party on Sunday.

    I managed to get rye wholemeal flour from Tesco, I used it along with caputo blue pizza flour 
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