Monday, September 9, 2013

The BEST German Rye Bread

My husband is very proud of his German heritage. In fact, he is so proud of it that you would think he was fresh off the boat at Ellis Island with fond memories of the motherland dancing through his homesick mind. As much as I love to tease him, I think it is wonderful that he has such an interest in his family origins and support his desire to learn more about his genealogy. Paul can't wait to travel to Europe again sometime soon and explore the area of Germany from which his family hails. Until that time comes, he has been slowly preparing for the trip by practicing his German using the Rosetta Stone software. Let me tell you...his progress is very slow. Sometimes, judging by the sounds I hear coming from the office, I am unsure whether he is speaking some very garbled German or choking on his snack.

Meine beiden kleinen Deutschen jungens!

One thing my German hubby loves is rye bread. Rye bread particularly made with lots of molasses and no caraway seeds. I have made many versions of rye over the years and normally the process is a bit time consuming because rye flour has very little gluten in comparison to wheat and requires a lot of time to ferment in order to build a structure so you are not left with a homemade brick by the end of the baking process. In the past, I have added some vital wheat gluten to the dough in order to speed up the process and that has worked well. However, the crumb on the bread was still a bit heavier than I would have liked. Some recipes for "rye bread" call for a high amount of white flour with a small addition of rye, but I wanted the rye flavor to be highlighted.

Then I stumbled upon this recipe. It is quick, straightforward, and results in a chewy crusted bread with a soft interior crumb. The molasses flavor is a delicious complement to the rye flour, the true hero of this loaf. Paul took a bite and declared this a "perfect" loaf. It's a keeper.

As a side note, this pairs wonderfully with slices of Kerrygold Swiss, our new favorite cheese!

The Best German Rye Bread
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups of warm water
2/3 cup molasses
5 cups bread flour
2 cups rye flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the molasses and stir to combine. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes or until very foamy.

Add the salt, oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups of rye flour, and 2 cups of bread flour. Mix well using the paddle attachment. Switch to the dough hook, add in another cup of flour, and begin kneading the dough. Gradually add in up to 2 more cups of flour until the mixture is no longer sticky but still a bit tacky. Knead until smooth and elastic. I actually ended up finishing the kneading process by hand.

Coat a large bowl with a bit of oil. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl, turning once to coat with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 90 minutes).

Punch the dough down and remove from the bowl. Knead a few times on the countertop. Divide the dough evenly in half and form into batards, rounds, or loaf shapes. Place in either a greased 9x5" loaf pan (if making loaves) or onto cornmeal dusted sheets of parchment paper (if forming into batards or rounds). Cover with plastic and allow to rise once more for about 45-60 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Place a pizza stone on the center rack to preheat with the rest of the oven if you would like to bake your batards or rounds on a stone.

When ready to bake, use a very sharp knife to make several slits across the top of the loaves before immediately placing the bread in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the bread reads above 195 degrees.

Let the loaves cool completely on a wire rack (if the bread was baked in a loaf pan, let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before turning out of pans).


  1. My husband is the same way about his Irish heritage! Even though he's only a fraction Irish, and has only been to Ireland once for less than 24 hours, you would think he was fresh off a boat from Ireland the way he talks about it. Too funny. I think it's pretty endearing—you probably think the same about Paul's love for Germany!

  2. I have a rye bread recipe that is very labor intensive. I've been looking for another, easier recipe. I will definitely try this as my husband loves rye bread too.

  3. My German husband loves his RYE Bread too, so I will definitely try this recipe next, the German Bakery in Calgary closed because the owner retired.

  4. I will definitely try this recipe too.