Monday, March 19, 2012

Rheinisches Schwarzbrot (Rhineland Black Bread)

Really more of a very dark brown, a "black" bread in German is one that is made with 100% (or nearly 100%) rye. I saw this bread in a local bakery, and because the loaf was pretty, searched for a recipe. I found one that looked very good on Bäcker Süpke's blog. Besides being pretty, the bread also turned out delicious--very rye-y, sour, and slightly sweet. Bäcker Süpke's recipe makes two free-standing 1kg loafs. I cut the recipe in half and made a single 1kg pan loaf 1. because that's what I saw in the local bakery and 2. because I didn't know what to do with two 1 kg loaves.

  • 250g coarsely ground rye meal (or chopped rye--Roggenschrot)
  • 250g water
  • 25g sourdough starter
Sourdough should (optimally) have a temperature of 28C. Mine started at 28C and cooled to room temp overnight. Let stand 20 hours.
Old bread soaker
  • 50g old bread, toasted and ground
  • 100g hot water (80C)
Pour water over bread and let stand at least 1 hour. I let mine stand overnight. Because I also couldn't find a good way to grind the bread, I smashed it with a fork after soaking. The soaker serves to make the bread moister. A whole-grain bread (preferably rye) is recommended. If this isn't available, bread crumbs serve as another alternative.
  • Sourdough and old-bread soaker
  • 250 g moderately or finely ground rye meal
  • 25g sugar beet syrup
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 6g sugar
  • millet or rolled oats or rye for decoration (optional)
Dissolve the yeast in a bit (~50g) of warm water and add to other ingredients. Add enough water to make a smooth, sticky dough with the consistency of very dense mashed potatoes. The dough should be very warm--about 30C. Then, knead for 12 minutes slowly and a further 6 minutes quickly (because I don't have a mixer and only limited arm strength, I just folded the dough for ~5-6 minutes). Do this a total of four times with 20 minute breaks between kneads. This process apparently gives the bread its characteristic consistency.

After the last knead, form the dough into a ball (easiest with wet hands), and roll out into a bread pan shaped log in a 1:1 mixture of cornstarch and medium rye flour. Lay into a baking-paper-lined bread pan and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place (ideally ~30C). (If you double the recipe and make two free-standing loaves, make two rolls, place them next to one another so that they're touching, and boarder them with cutting boards so that they rise up rather than out.) Before baking, spray the loaf with plenty of water and rub the surface of the loaf with your hand. Through this process, the cornstarch mixture will seal the cracks that opened up during the second rise. It will also create a pretty surface on the loaf. Sprinkle with millet or rolled grains.

The baking instruction given were pretty cryptic, but this is what I did: bake in an oven with lots of steam (I stand a bowl of water in the bottom of my oven). Bake for 10 minutes at 240C, then reduce heat to 190C for a further 60 minutes. As instructed, I released the steam in the oven after 1-2 minutes at 240C, but with the bowl of water in the bottom, the steam was replenished quickly. After baking, spray the loaf once more with water, remove from the pan (I did this right away and sprayed the sides of the loaf, too), and let cool on a wire rack.
Makes: 1 x 1kg loaf

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