Last updated on October 23rd, 2019 at 10:45 pm
Bauernbrot – this farmer style German bread is dense, crusty and delicious. This hearty rye bread with caraway seeds is wonderful served right out of the oven with a little butter or cheese.
This authentic tasting German bread is a family favorite! My grandpa’s family is from Germany and this amazing bread was often served for dinner with a big bowl of soup or beef stew.
Making Bauernbrot at home is simple and easy although the process takes a few hours from start to finish. But don’t worry, most of this time is inactive and only needed for the dough to rest and rise.
What Are German Breads?
Germans love bread. German bakeries produce hundreds of different varieties of breads using different grains and different methods. A German baker is one dedicated to their craft. Unlike other countries in Europe, German breads are more rustic, they have a denser texture due to their use of different grains and seed. This is one of the reasons why German breads are some of the best in the world.
Some of the most popular ingredients to make German bread are rye, whole wheat, spelt, oats and seeds like anise seeds, caraway and sesame seeds. Popular German breads are pumpernickel, pretzels (Brezeln), whole rye bread (Vollkornbrot), seeded bread (Fünfkornbrot), sourdough rye bread (Roggenbrot), bread rolls like Brötchen and of course this hearty, dense and crusty Farmer’s loaf – Bauernbrot.
Bauernbrot – farmer’s bread is most commonly found in the south of Germany and of course in farms. This bread is heartier than their country style bread -landbrot, as it contains a high percentage of rye flour. Bauerbrot is made with a sourdough starter, which gives this rye bread a very light sour taste. This bread recipe also includes caraway seeds, a typical ingredient found in German breads.
How To Make Bauernbrot
Making this German bread is simple but it requires we follow a few simple steps. All the equipment needed is a couple of mixing bowls, a wooden spoon and a baking sheet. You can use a baking stone if you have one at home.
- First you need to make “the starter” which sounds complicated but is actually just the mixture of a few ingredients. Bread flour, rye flour, water, yeast and honey.
- In a separate bowl mix “the flour mixture” consisting of bread flour, yeast, caraway seeds and flour.
- Pour the flour mixture over the starter but don’t stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.
- After the resting time, add oil to the mixture and stir. The starter and flour mixture now become one dough.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minute. The dough should be smooth and elastic, however if its a bit sticky, you can add additional flour.
- Place the dough on a oiled bowl. Cover it and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes and return to the bowl. Let the dough rest for about 45 minutes.
- To make a proper chewy texture and nice crust, bakeries use steam ovens. To create a steam oven at home, all you have to do is pour water in a shallow pan and place it in the oven. While your bread bakes, the heat evaporates the water creating steam.
- Form dough into a ball and oil the top. Cover and let the dough rest for about an hour. With a knife slash the top of the dough a few times. With a spray bottle mist the bread with water and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature and bake for about 35 minutes or until the middle of the loaf registers 190°F when checked with an instant read thermometer.
German Rye Bread Tips and Notes
- You can vary the proportions of rye flour to bread flour to your liking. Even though this bread doesn’t have a super strong rye flavor, if you are not into rye at all, just adjust the proportions.
- You can also adjust the amount of caraway seeds or omit them if you prefer.
- You can also make a whole wheat loaf by replacing about 1/2 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. You will need to add a little more water if you decide to do that.
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Recipe adapted from whats4eats
Bauernbrot - Farmer-Style German Bread
For the Dough Starter
- ¾ cup of Bread flour
- ¾ cup Rye flour
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 ½ cup lukewarm water
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
For the Flour Mixture
- 2 ½ cups of Bread flour
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus more to grease the bowl
- Cornmeal – for the baking tray
- Add the ingredients for the starter to a large bowl and mix together until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
- While the starter is resting, mix together the flour mixture – bread flour, caraway seed, salt and instant yeast.
- Pour the flour mixture over the starter but do not stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set aside for at least two hours and up to five hours.
- The starter will bubble up a bit through the flour mixture. This long rest will give your loaf a boost of flavor.
- Add the oil to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the starter. As the mixture comes together, remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. The dough might be a little sticky. Knead in just enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
- Set the dough aside to rest for about 10 minutes, then knead for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set in a draft-free area of the kitchen to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and lightly knead it 3 or 4 times. Form into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes or so.
- Preheat oven to 450°F and set the shelf at the lowest level. Put a small metal pan in the oven (you will use this later). Lightly press down on the dough and form it into a ball. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet and set the dough onto the baking sheet, with any seams on the bottom. Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for another hour.
- Use a sharp knife or razor blade to slash the top of the dough in 3 parallel lines, each about 1/4-inch deep. Then slash with another set of 3 lines perpendicular to the first set. Use a spray bottle to mist the dough with water.
- Set the baking sheet in the oven and pour about 1 cup of water into the small pan to create steam. Shut the door immediately and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. (An insta-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf should register 190°F.)
- Set the loaf on a cooling rack and let cool.
- Use a spray bottle with room temperature water to mist the bread.
- Nutrition facts are an estimate and may vary depending on brand of ingredients used.
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