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Mar 24, 2009 02:45 PM

Darkest, Densest Rye!

ISO breadmaker-less recipe for that ineluctably satisfying whole-rye bread one finds in Germany (Vollkornbrot) or sometimes Scandinavian countries -- with much moistness retained in the chewy whole-rye kernels baked into the dough. This bread turns out quite dark but is a shade paler than American pumpernickel, lacks the caraway fragrance thereof, and looks more beautifully dappled in texture. It is also chewier -- that is, whole-grainier -- than Jewish rye. An accessible version of it I'd be thrilled to replicate is the pre-packaged 'Whole Rye Bread' by Mestemacher: .

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  1. My request at NYC's Fairway bread counter (whose selection seems pretty respectable) for their darkest rye produced a somewhat porous, sandy colored loaf, though it was labeled 'whole rye (traditional)' -- so I'd also be grateful for some clarification as to nomenclature. The Wikipedia entries on rye bread and pumpernickel haven't helped a whole lot....

    3 Replies
    1. re: sequins

      Are you in NYC? If so, try Brighton Beach (or any Russian bakeries) and ask for black bread (chorniy chleb). You can usually get it without any caraway or coriander seeds on top.

      1. re: sfumato

        Thanks, sfumato. I am in NYC, and the 'chorniye chleb' I've had to date is indeed dense and flavorful but comes without the intact whole-rye kernels that make Vollkornbrot still more moist and chewy. Are there Russian versions you know of that don't use just rye flour but also those kernels aplenty?

        1. re: sequins

          Hmmm, I have to think about this. I've seen black bread with and without the kernels. I wonder if it's just up to the bakery in question? If I come up with anything I will let you know!

    2. Here's the Schwartzbrot recipe I use (translated from German):

      Mix 100g cracked wheat, 300g cracked rye, 125g sunflower seeds, 250g wheat flour, 100g rye flour and a tablespoon of salt. Mix a packet of dried yeast (or a piece of fresh yeast, which is what I actually use) with 500 mL of buttermilk and 200g of syrup (*). Mix this all together well, and pour into an oiled, lightly floured bread pan. Place the pan in the middle of an unheated oven, and bake at 170 C (abt 340 F) for two hours. Cover the pan, with parchment or a lid, and bake another hour. Turn the oven off, and leave the bread to cool in the hot oven for at least another hour.

      It rises (such as it does) in the oven, which is why you cook it so low, so long. You can of course mess with the composition of the seeds and things in it -- I like to replace some of the wheat and rye with flax, for example. You asked for the breadmachine-free variation, so there you go! I tend to actually make it in a breadmachine, though, since that makes it super easy.

      (*) syrup here means dark beet syrup or dark glucose syrup. You could probably substitute dark corn syrup or a mix of that and molasses. And rather than converting the weights above into US measurements, it'd be easier to just pick up a cheap scale at Ikea.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tmso

        Thanks, tmso! I will try your recipe within the week and post back when the loaf emerges. By the way: do you think dramatically upping the rye flour component while reducing the wheat flour -- say, 250g rye flour + 100g wheat flour -- would work as well? One of the reasons I'm looking to make this bread myself is that most purchasable rye breads seem to contain more wheat than rye, and while I'm not wheat-allergic, I'm particularly rye-enamored. As a breadmaking novice, though, I think it best to double-check with you. Perhaps insufficient wheat risks a flakier, less intact loaf??

        1. re: sequins

          Although this recipe has more wheat flour than rye flour, the total composition is 400g rye to 350g wheat. But I really don't know if the wheat flour is needed for structural integrity. Since the 4+ hours in the oven is the only difficult part of this bread, why not make two loaves: one with the recipe as given, and another with the proportions of wheat and rye flour reversed. You can see which version you prefer, and tell us if the texture suffers in the higher-rye one. When I make this bread, I always cut it into thirds, and tightly wrap and freeze two portions to save for later (it's really a huge amount of bread). So I can vouch for the fact that it freezes and thaws gracefully without losing anything.

          Another alternative for upping the rye would of course be to not use any cracked wheat or sunflower seeds and instead use all cracked rye. I enjoy the flavor and textural variety, but if you want to go rye-crazy, that would do it.