One of things that I miss the most about living in Germany is the incredible variety of breads that just aren’t available in the United States.
During Covid-19, I’ve been making weekly loaves of Jim Lahey’s No Knead bread, and thought my next bread should be one that I am unable to find in the United States.
After doing a little hunting on the internet I stumbled across Plötzblog: an incredible bread baking site with many of the German bread recipes I missed with recipes to bake at home. The baker, Lutz Geißler, has an incredible collection of home baking recipes. Many of the recipes are I think a bit beyond the reach of a novice baker, so I went with this Mischbrot recipe from the Süddeutsche Zeitung… and I was pretty disappointed with the recipe, which could be my US ingredients failing me… but it really seemed that the ratios were off from what other bakers suggest…
I was ready to give up on rye bread until I could find a recipe that would use the readily available Dark Rye Flour I can get from my local bulk foods seller (in Germany : Roggenvollkornmehl, the hearty stuff used for Pumpernickel)
Then I stumbled upon this video from ChefKoch with Lutz! Let’s see how it goes.
Roggen-Sauerteig (sometimes called a sponge)
175 g Dark Rye Flour (Roggenvollkornmehl)
230g water (115 F)
35g Sourdough starter (Anstellgut)
If the sourdough starter smells sweet and sour and foams visibly, mix 195g warm water, 175g dark rye flour, 4g salt and 35g activated starter (put remaining starter in the refrigerator.) After thorough mixing the Sauerteig should be like paste. (I have had to add more water using the flour i have access to… Mostly think… Pasty)
Cover the Sauerteig with plastic wrap and let it mature in a warm place. About 12-16 hours at 70-80 degrees.
When the dough is ripe it will be foamy.. too dense to pour, but too thin to knead. (Hence why it is often called sponge in US recipes)
Dinkelmehl-Vorteig (like a biga)
140g White Spelt Flour (Dinkelmehl)
1/4tsp dry active yeast.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add water. Let sit overnight in a room from 55-65 degrees. Again water may very based on spelt. Cover with plastic wrap.
Hauptteig (the main dough)
270g water (115 degrees)
350g Dark rye (Roggenvollkorn)
Combine the Sauerteig and Vorteig in a larger bowl with the 290g of warm water. The dough will be soft and sticky; consider gradually working in the full amount gradually.
Then add 350g of Dark Rye Flour and 11g salt. (Adjust water and flour to get a typical dough-like consistency) Mix together by hand or with a wood spoon.
Also consider adding Brotgewürz (bread seasoning) to dial in the flavor of rye bread you are looking to bake. Common spices used in rye bread include Caraway, Anise, Fennel, and Coriander. Recipes online suggest a variety of ratios; I recommend baking the bread first without spice, and then playing with your ratios after you feel confident making a solid rye bread.
Let the dough rest for 1 hour in a 70-80 degree room. Then shape into a round loaf on a board dusted with flour, dusting the dough and your hands with plenty of flour as well. Fold gently from the sides and do not knead the dough.
Line a shallow bowl with a cloth and dust with flour or use a proofing bowl dusted with flour, place the loaf in the bowl rough side down. Do not pack the bread into the bowl.
Let it rise to 1.5 times its size at warm room temperature (70-80 degrees), this will take 1-2 hours. Do not cover.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. While doing so place a baking stone or pizza steel on the lowest shelf of your oven.
Turn bread out on to parchment paper on a sheet or peel, then shake bread onto pizza steel or baking stone.
Bake for 55 minutes. Open the oven door every 10 minutes or so (3-4 times during the bake) to let out moisture. This allows the crust to form and seal in moisture.
Let the bread sit for 1-4 days before cutting to allow the flavors to mature.