The biggest issue with make good rye bread is to make the starter since it needs to rise in a very controlled temperature for some time. What are good and reliable ways to achieve this?
I've had good results with the procedure from 'Secrets of a Jewish Baker' (page 163). I don't think it's appropriate to type in copyrighted recipes here, so I'll leave you with the reference.
I've received some portions from friends and family, which have always worked well. :-)
When I'm creating it from scratch, I mix 200g of rye flour, a little bit of yeast (which you can leave out), 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of honey, 1 dl of organic yogurt and 2 dl of water. I leave this mixture out on the kitchen table (at around 20C) for a day with a piece of wet cloth on top. After that I add 2 dl of rye flour and enough water to make the dough soft. This sits on the kitchen table for yet another day, after which is should look like a pool of lava and smell a bit acidic.
The honey and the yogurt is the magic touch that makes this starter work, according to my books and research. I've never done anything special to control the temperature or anything else.
I usually maintain 1 cup of flour vs 1/2 cup of water.
As a side effect, you first few batches will have a nice light hint of grape flavor :-) The key is not to add regular yeasts in it unless you want to grow that strain.
What I had done to start mine was to start with regular wheat starter and just start feeding it rye flour.