German Seed Bread (Dreikernebrot)

German Seed Bread
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Prep: 50 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Fermentation and Rise Time: 16 hrs
Total: 17 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Using only whole wheat and dark rye flour, this bread is thick with seeds and whole-grain goodness, and will satisfy your craving for dense, chewy, hearty German bread. It makes use of overnight soaking and fermentation to unlock as much flavor from the flours as possible.

Two doughs are prepared the night before (so make sure to plan ahead) and then combined the next day with three types of seeds. This recipe is for a free-form loaf, but you can use a bread pan if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • For Dough 1: 
  • 1 1/4 cup/145 grams whole wheat flour
  • Scant 1/2 cup/50 grams dark rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5/8 cup water
  • For Dough 2: 
  • 1 5/8 cup/193 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • For Finishing Dough: 
  • 6 tablespoons/46 grams whole wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 5 tablespoons sunflower seeds (toasted)
  • 5 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds, toasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Steps to Make It

Make Doughs 1 and 2

  1. The evening before you want to bake the bread, bring the ingredients to room temperature.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for Dough 1 together until a soft ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature overnight.

  3. In a second bowl, make Dough 2: Mix the ingredients together until a dough ball can be formed.

  4. Knead for 2 minutes; let it rest and knead it again with wet hands. The dough should be tacky.

  5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out, and refrigerate overnight. This "sponge" will rise slightly before morning.

Make the Finishing Dough

  1. In the morning, remove Dough 2 from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before using it.

  2. Cut or pinch Doughs 1 and 2 into several pieces and place them together in a bowl.

  3. Sprinkle with the whole wheat flour. Add the sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds, along with the salt, yeast, and honey and knead together for about 5 minutes (this may be done with ​a stand mixer and dough hook). You should have a homogeneous dough; if it is too sticky (not coming off your hands or spoon), you may add a small amount of flour, but since whole wheat flour soaks up a lot of water, try to add as little as possible.

  4. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 3 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes. ​The dough should be firm but slightly tacky (sticks to hands slightly).

  5. After 5 minutes, knead again for 1 minute, form into a ball, and place in a clean container; cover with a dishtowel.

  6. Let rise at room temperature 1 to 2 hours, or until well risen (almost doubled).

  7. For a free-standing hearth loaf, form into a round shape or oval: Draw the surface of the dough from top to bottom and pinch the dough closed on the bottom (do not knead again or you will remove air). Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise until the loaf is not quite doubled in size. This will take 60 minutes to 2 hours.

  8. About 20 minutes before it is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500 F. For a free-standing loaf, place an old aluminum pan on the bottom rack; arrange a second oven rack on the next level up.

  9. Slash the surface of the bread with a sharp razor blade or a very sharp knife about 1/4 inch deep.

  10. Place the bread on the cookie sheet in ​the oven. Pour about 2 cups of water into the aluminum pan and quickly close the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water, open the oven after 3 and 6 minutes and give 10 quick squirts onto the walls of the oven.

  11. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 450 F and bake the bread for 30 to 40 more minutes, or until ​the internal temperature reaches 200 F.

  12. Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing or it will still be wet on the inside.

  13. Serve and enjoy.

Tips

  • If you don't have instant yeast, you can use active yeast that has been softened in 1 tablespoon water.
  • If your kitchen is cold, it can take up to 4 hours for the dough to rise (instead of 1 or 2 hours).

Recipe Variation

You can decorate the top of the bread if you like; wet with water and stick poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or cracked wheat to the loaf.