Bauernbrot: German Farmer's Bread

German farmer's bread recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Proof and Rest : 5 hrs
Total: 7 hrs
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
470 Calories
6g Fat
90g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 470
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 756mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 90g 33%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 158mg 12%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 443mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Germany loves its bread. Thousands of varieties of carefully crafted bread are baked daily to fulfill the country's love for this nutritious and wholesome dish. Far from the store-bought loaves of bread that convenience has made us accustomed to, German farmer's bread is hearty, dense, crusty, and simply delicious. Eaten as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes, from stews and soups to meat-heavy meals, this bread is a treat when simply eaten with fresh butter or cheese.

Our recipe is one of the easiest German breads to reproduce at home, and although it requires some time commitment, most of it is used up by resting the dough and allowing the chemistry of proofing to do its magic. This hearty bread requires a mix of half white and half whole-wheat flours, some sourdough starter for taste and texture, and the classic German addition of caraway seeds. Two rises make this bread light and easy to slice, perfect for serving with soup or to prepare an Abendbrot, or the "evening bread," in which a spread of sandwich fixings is laid out for the family to enjoy. This recipe makes one large bauernbrot laib, or loaf, and freezes well. Thaw at room temperature before toasting or warming up.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour, or all-purpose or bread flour

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/4 cup sourdough starter

  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, for greasing the bowl

For Baking:

  • 2 cups boiling water

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this German farmer's bread is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    German Farmers Bread Dough Ingredients
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Mix the flours, oats, salt, caraway seed, and instant yeast together in a large bowl.

    German dough dry ingredients
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar to create a sour milk.

    German Bread Sour Milk
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​
  4. Add the sour milk, yogurt, and sourdough starter to the dry ingredients and begin to mix with a large spoon. If you have access to a standing mixer, put in all ingredients and mix at low speed with the help of the hook attachment.

    German Farmers Bread Dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​
  5. Mix all ingredients until the dough forms a ball, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed. The dough should be slightly sticky.

    German Farmers Bread Dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​ 
  6. Continue kneading either with the mixer or on a lightly floured board for 5 to 7 minutes.

    Kneading German Farmers Bread Dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​
  7. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for 1 minute.

    German Farmers Dough Resting
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska​
  8. Form into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the top.

    Roll ball
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

    Cover with towel
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Shape the Dough

  1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and pat it into a rectangle. Indent with fingertips down the middle.

    Shape dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Fold a third of the dough to the middle, lengthwise, pulling dough taut on the bottom. Press the seam a little to seal.

    Roll dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Fold the other third to the middle, pulling the dough taut, and pinch the seam closed.

    Fold over
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Roll over, the dough seam-side down, and rock gently while rounding the ends to make the loaf either longer or fatter, whichever you prefer.

    Roll over
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet or silicone mat, dust the top with flour, and let it rise until doubled.

    Shape dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Heat the oven to 500 F for one hour prior to baking. About 30 minutes before you plan on baking, slash the top with a sharp razor blade or lame at least 1/4-inch deep.

    Score dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Bake the Bread

  1. Place a baking stone inside of the oven while it preheats, following the manufacturer's instructions. Place an old pan on the bottom rack and set the second rack in the middle.

    Oven
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Once the oven is hot, place the bread on the middle rack, still on the parchment or floured baking pan, or transfer onto the baking stone. Immediately, pour 2 cups of boiling water into the bottom pan, and close the door.

    Bake bread
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  3. Using a spray bottle filled with water, spray the sides of the oven after 2, 5, and 7 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 450 F and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down again to 350 F and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer measures 190 F to 200 F or the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when firmly tapped on the bottom.

    Spray bread
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Remove and let cool 2 hours before slicing.

    Remove bread
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Enjoy!

    Serve
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

What Is a Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter is a medium to cultivate wild yeast. As opposed to domesticated and commercially available dry or fresh yeast, wild yeast lives all around us on all surfaces like our skin, kitchen counter, or our house walls, and we can cultivate it with the help of a sourdough starter. Although making a starter requires time and patience, as it likes certain environments better than others to develop, making one is how we can make and use wild yeast to make delicious loaves of bread and other bakery items. You can make a sourdough starter at home, buy it, or if you're lucky perhaps a friend is already cultivating one.