A friend of mine recently returned from a Zen Retreat at a German monastery, and told me about a delicious German whole-wheat rye bread he had enjoyed there. Now on quirky little Vashon, no one would bat an eye at that sentence, albeit some would be disappointed there was no mention of a unicorn.
Chris also produced a photo for me to drool over. Bread never looked so good. The rounded little sandwich bread revealed seeds, and nuts as if stones, pebbles, and boulders on a rough mountain road; and a dense constitution that provided nary a space for errant air bubbles or problematic holes so common with other breads. (Are you listening sourdough?)
I listened intently as my pal (a man of thoughtful and artistic ways) shared his fascinating journey of retreat and discovery, from slices of life and to slices of bread–and both sounded delicious.
Now back to the bread. I love the few German breads I’ve tasted. They had a weight, texture, and density that made tongue, tooth, and tastebud sing. After a little research, I read that Germany is considered the bread capital of Europe. Apparently, there are more than 3,200 officially recognized types of bread in Germany according to the “German Institute of Bread.” (Check out the related reading at the end of the post.)
Thanks to a continuing stream of dreamy bread photos dancing in my head, I was bent on making the seeded whole-wheat rye bread my friend had extolled the virtues of on his recent pilgrimage. So my recipe search began and eventually led me to the All Tastes German website to a bread called “Körnerbrot.”
I thought this was a great recipe (linked in title), and I also made a couple changes based on my baking and eating preferences. They are as follows:
- I still used two cups rye, but I added one more cup of the whole wheat flour for a total of four cups, for a less sticky dough.
- I made and kneaded the bread only using a stand mixer with a dough hook. I only kneaded the bread briefly to shape into a large loaf. Another time I made two loaves from the same recipe using bread pans.
- I added more nuts/seeds: 1/2 Cup walnuts, 1/2 Cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds.
- I baked the loaf in a large covered casserole dish and removed the lid once it had fully risen and was firm in the oven.
- I used a cooking thermometer to test the bread doneness. When 190° F was reached, I removed the loaf.
- I did not add any water to the oven.
Discovering the culinary gifts of other cultures through cooking and baking will always yield delicious results both on the palate and in the experience. So bake on my friends and don’t forget the olive oil and the butter.
What’s your favorite bread to bake?