Vollkornbrot - German Rye Bread

I was thinking about what recipe to post and as it just got a bit cooler here in Brisbane, I started to feel like soup. And what is the most important aspect of soup? The bread, of course. 

I fell in love with this bread while spending some time up in Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Every time I visited, would pop into the Baked Poetry Bakery and order this loaf. To me, rye bread is the epitome of winter. Dense, hearty and full of grains, vollkhornbrot is just like a warm hug. Every time I bite into a slice, the dopamine spikes and I just feel good all over. Traditionally, vollkhornbrot has any number of grains mixed in, einkorn, emmer, wheat; even oats. I thought I would keep this to a 100% rye (with just a few seeds in it), just coz I felt like it.

This loaf is fantastic with cheese, eggs, chutney, or just slathered with butter. I could go on, but if you are anything like me, you don't go to recipe pages to read the author's thoughts. There are other pages you go to for that, so I am just going to get into it. The one thing I will say before I give you the recipe is that you do want to plan this the day before you are going to bake it and a couple of days before you want to eat it. You want to make sure you feed your starter in the morning so it is nice, ripe and ready for the nighttime and the loaf gets better if you can leave it unsliced for another day or so after you bake it.

For this recipe, you will need 600g of whole rye flour (plus some extra for dusting), 280g of rye grain for cracking, happy sourdough culture and some yeast.

Optional extras: Sunflower kernels (I used some in this loaf), Pumpkin Seeds, and Rye Flakes for the top of the loaf, and if you are feeling adventurous; throughout.


3 ¾ cups (400g) Whole Rye Flour

1 ¾ cups (400g) lukewarm water (around 35ºC)

2 tablespoons (20g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter; or ¼ teaspoon instant yeast


2 ⅓ cups (280g) cracked rye grain (rye grain cracked in your food processor)*

1 ¼ cups (280g) water, lukewarm

*or substitute steel-cut oats (you will lose a bit of the depth of flavour) or rye flakes


2 cups (200g) Whole Rye Flour

¼ cup (60g) water, lukewarm

1 tablespoon (20g) salt

½ cup (70g) sunflower kernels

2 teaspoons instant yeast

The day before the bake - feed your culture:

Feed your culture so it is ripe, happy, and ready for the starter that night.

The night before the bake - make the starter: 

Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix all the ingredients until smooth. Cover and rest at room temperature overnight.

The night before the bake- make the soaker: 

Combine the cracked rye grain and water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Early morning - make the dough: 

In a large mixing bowl, add the starter and soaker and mix then combine dough ingredients. Mix the dough, by hand or using a stand mixer, until it becomes dense and sticky, but still loose; it won't require a lot of mixing.

* You aren't looking for gluten structure with this loaf *

Lightly grease the inside of a 30cm bread pan (or 2 small pans), then dust with rye flour.

Transfer the dough directly to a lightly greased work surface and form it into a log a little bit smaller than your pan(s).

Place the log(s) in the prepared pan.

Sprinkle a thin layer of whole rye flour over the surface of the dough, cover with a damp tea towel or your favourite reusable cover, and allow the dough to sit for 60 minutes until slightly risen.

You'll see cracks in the flour on top as the dough expands. 

Mid morning - baking:

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 250ºC.

Uncover the bread and bake the loaf (without the lid on the pan) for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 220ºC and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes, until the surface is cracked and dark brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, take the bread from the pan, and transfer it to a baking tray. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the loaf's internal temperature reaches at least 95ºC on a digital thermometer inserted into the centre of the loaf.

Remove the loaf from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool completely (this will take a while as it’s a dense loaf). 

If you can last, wrap the cooled bread in a towel, or place it in a paper bag and let it rest for at least 24 to 48 hours before slicing. The first few hours after it comes out of the oven the inside of the loaf will continue to cook, after that the loaf to ripen and get a stronger flavour.