German Rye Bread

The Bread That Almost Wasn't
by Autumn

It seems that I have a tendency to make bread quite late at night. For those of you out there who have made bread the old fashioned way before, you're probably shaking your head in amusement. Yes, I know bread making takes a long time! Hours and hours and...hours. Which makes you wonder why I would choose to start making bread at 8:00pm especially when the sponge needs to sit for four hours. But those late night/early morning bread endeavors have proven worthwhile. And they're strangely therapeutic.

This last excursion into the world of bread baking was an interesting one to say the least. It is the bread that almost didn't happen. Almost. Everything started out fine. I got my sponge going, draped a towel over it and tucked it away somewhere safe. I checked on it about half an hour later only to discover that it had risen monstrously and was plastered all over the back side of my tea towel. Oops. Thankfully, the doughy mush was in a casserole dish, so the fix was easy - remove towel and replace with casserole dish lid. A small hiccup, but what's a hiccup. Things were going well! Bada bing. Bada boom.

Assured that no one would toss my baby bread brown goo into the trash while I was away, Rita and I went off to see Appaloosa for comic relief. Now, I've got a soft spot for westerns. My grand-daddy is a mid-westerner with a fondness for westerns. Growing up, my family's television was always stuck on the western channel whenever he'd come to visit. And although I would have much preferred the television had been stuck on the Disney Channel, a somewhat older me can look back on those days of westerns turned up for my fabulous and slightly hard of hearing grandfather with pleasant nostalgia. Appaloosa was not what I was hoping for. But, as this is not a movie blog, I will leave Appaloosa to the critics scattered around the worldwide web. I have bread to get back to!

The night was not a loss, however, and I began to get a bit bubbly as we got closer to home. What can I say? I knew there was bread to be made, and I was looking forward to another late night spent with a ball of dough and that fresh, wonderful baking bread smell. Besides, I'd just purchased two bread pans, and I wanted to give them a try. New toys and all.

It was at this point that things started to go a bit...a-rye (get it?). I dumped the starter into my pile of flour and started to squish it together. There seemed to be an awfully large amount of excess flour, so I moved the dough, now a pretty nice albeit slightly dry doughy lump, to another bowl. It was about this time that I noticed the measuring jug. Oh. Shoot. Forgot to add the extra water.

Without thinking - remember I'm new at this - I dumped the doughy lump in with the rest of the flour and then unceremoniously added the extra water. I squished around in that mess a bit, but it was quite clear that something was wrong. As my partner in crime and I are nice, thoughtful people, we decided it was best to spare you photos of a mess that can only be described as a cross between over cooked porridge and baby puke. Yuck! But as animators we are somewhat prone to creative masochism which tends to bleed over into our kitchen endeavors. We would persevere! Besides, it would be better than admitting that we'd been defeated by a concoction of flour and water. Table spoon by tablespoon extra flour was added to the mess. And slowly but surely the chum-bucket muck began to look like dough!

This was left to rise in the dough pans, tossed in the oven, and half an hour later there was beautiful German Rye Bread! It was so tempting to dig in right there, but practice had taught us to resist cutting into a freshly baked loaf. Sigh...

However, in the morning, the bread was fair game, and we dug in with delight. Rita and I usually share one of two loaves with friends and colleagues of ours. We were initially prepared to do the same with the rye bread. But this bread was so sweet and delicious with the occasional crunch of caraway that we opted to keep both loafs. It didn't help that the first loaf was gone by the end of the day. That happens when you live in a house filled with hungry artists.

This recipe for German Rye Bread comes from AllRecipes.com

German Rye Bread
by Mary Ann Bonk



  • 7 g active dry yeast
  • 950 ml warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees F), divided
  • 205 g rye flour
  • 75 g sugar
  • 15 g caraway seeds
  • 10 g salt
  • 875 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g cornmeal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 g caraway seed


  1. In a 4-qt. glass bowl, dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm water; whisk in rye flour until smooth. Cover loosely w ith a clean kitchen towel. Let stand in a warm place for about 4 hours or until batter falls about 1 in. and surface bubble activity is reduced. Stir in the sugar, caraway seeds, salt, 5 cups all-purpose flour and remaining water; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Divide dough into four portions. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Shape into four round loaves, about 6 in. each. Coat two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray; sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon cornmeal. Place loaves on pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  3. With a sharp knife, make several slashes across the top of each loaf. Brush with egg. Sprinkle each loa f with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, rotating pans after 15 minutes, or until browned. Cool on wire racks.

The bread is ready to go into the oven.
I forgot to slash the tops, but that doesn't
seem to have been a problem

Here is our lovely finished bread. The tops were a little
lumpy. But we were going for flavor not beauty. I figure
beauty will come with practice.

Photos by Rita

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