Every time I make a 100% rye sourdough, it sticks to the knife when I cut it even after letting it sit for a day before cutting. Is this normal? I have tried to vary the hydration ratio a bit, but it still behaves the same way. Is there some "additive" to make it less sticky? Is it a must to add wheat for that?

The sourdough starter I maintain is simple: 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water.

I dissolve malt syrup, molasses, salt, and spices in a warm .5-1 cup of water. Then I add starter, 4 cups of flour, mix it and transfer right away into loaf pan. AFAIK there is no need to fold 100% rye bread and it raises fast. I bake it at 350˚F for slightly over an hour. I sometimes use Nu Wave infrared oven (40 min), but the very bottom is not quite crispy.

The final bread looks and tastes good. But that stickiness on the knife and rolled "crumbs" are driving me crazy. Is there something I can do to minimize it?

I heard that an over-proofed starter can help lower pH; helping pentosans keep bread structure and making them absorb less water. I tried making the bread with a well proofed starter, but it made no difference. Do I have not enough starter for that amount of flour? Shall I move some flour there to prevent pH from raising much?

Here is the pic to get an idea. It is not the best one to show the issue. The bread is almost a week old and the issue is not as acute. For 1 day old bread, it sticks incredibly. almost 1 week old bread crumb sticks to knife

  • 2
    Tried kneading a bit of flour into the dough just prior to loaf formation? The less hydrated flour may be able to pick up some of the moisture that the other starches haven't completely locked in yet. An other option may be changing the amount or type of sugar you're using to prime the yeast in the levain. Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 16:16
  • 5
    Normally this happens to me with breads that I haven't left finishing baking or cooling all the way. Are you sure you're not pulling the loaf out too early?
    – rfusca
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 19:16
  • If it's not an issue of doneness, you might see if slashing the loaf helps. (it might let more moisture escape in the time it takes to bake)
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 20:19
  • 1
    Baking for longer can help. If your outside is getting to be overdone and the inside is still not cooked it is usually one of two things. Excessive hydration or the loaf is too large.
    – Derpy
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 1:03

6 Answers 6


One cause of gumminess in 100% rye breads is excessive starch degradation related to amylase enzyme actions. Amylase action is slowed down by increasing acidity. You can increase the acidity by adding a small amount of lemon juice or cream of tartar to your dough as described here.

In his books "Whole Grain Breads" and "Crust and Crumb", Peter Reinhart comments that you can use ascorbic acid (1/8 tsp / 125 mg per loaf) to increase acidity and inhibit both amylase and protease activity.

Since rye bread doesn't have significant gluten for structure, but instead relies completely on starches and pentosans, it is imperative to let the loaf cool completely before cutting it so that the starches crystallize and the gums solidify.

  • I've had this problem as well and also read the same information you present. My sourdough ryes are usually very sour but it takes a while for the dough to acidify during which, the enzyme is active. Should the dough be acidified early before the dough ferments? Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:22
  • @Sobachatina I don't know what kind of starter you're using, but you can try doing an all-rye starter and making your final dough with a large percentage of the starter. That way you'd be adding a lot more acid and already-acidified rye.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 15:03

Bake longer.

If the outside is getting overdone when you bake longer, bake longer at a lower temperature (usually first 10-15 minutes hottest for maximum spring, then turn down as needed so the inside is done without the outside being burnt.)

Perhaps 350F for 15 min and then 325 for an additional hour and 15 (90 total), if the top is as black as it seems to be in the picture from an hour at 350F (sugars in there, so that makes sense - can't be too hot for too long with molasses, malt, etc. in the dough.) That's a starting guess, adjust as needed depending on results.


There's no need to add malt, especially not diastatic malt. No molasses or any other sugar either. Because proper rye has an enormous amount of starch attacking enzymes, needs enough sourdough to inactivate them and sets free an abundance of sugar for the yeasts. So there's more than enough nutrition and yeast activity is higher than in wheat, the capability of holding trapped gas bubbles is lower. Any surplus of sugar leads to that gumminess! In a 100 % rye you should give in 35 % of all the flour into the levain build. If you are able to do a well made 3-stage sourdough it will be very mild and you can increase the amount of pre-fermented flour to 45 %. Another point: mixing! It's an old opinion to give the dough only a short mix. Recent developments in breadmaking showed only a long slow mixing will fully develop the doughs structure. If you have a machine give it a slow 35 minutes. If you do it by hand give it three times a good mixing, with a few minutes break in between. Good luck! (further reading: Hamelman, "Bread" and Kräling, "Brot")

  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice. Try using formatting to break up monolithic answers like this. Multiple paragraphs and other tools like bullets will draw more readers to your answers. Also, link your references to outside sources (your books). Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 20:35

Your bread looks good in the photo. Rye is notoriously sticky, and when cut goes gummy if not completely cool, but two things I find very helpful are:

  • After turning off the heat, and removing it from the tin, leave it in the still warm oven to dry out for at least 12 hours, with the door open slightly so moisture can escape.
  • Dip the knife into a jug of water between each slicing.

Preheat your oven Along with a covered Dutch oven, then bake in the covered Dutch oven for half of the recommended time and uncover for the latter half to crisp and color your bread.


Try steaming it instead of baking.

  • 5
    Without any instructions, I'm not seeing this answer as very helpful. Can you flesh it out?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 4:55

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