I got a bread recipe book from my brother as a birthday present – in German. I do know German, but still, I’ve never followed a German recipe. The pictures are amazing though, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Germany, but they seriously make the best bread in Europe. And luckily after flipping through the pages, I realized that there were only a few words that I didn’t know (neither did my dictionary).
After dillydallying a bit, I set my mind on a gorgeous, dark, compact loaf: Vollkornbrot mit Sonnenblumenkernen (the book is called Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen). I’ve been wanting to make healthier bread, and this loaf fit that category perfectly. If only I hadn’t read the instructions wrong.
Healthy addition to any meal.
What could have gone so terribly wrong? Well, tell you what. It had nothing to do with my German skills (bet you didn’t expect that one). No, this is much more crucial than grammatical trifles. Because you might see the digits that indicates how much of each ingredient you should mix together, but if you don’t read the last part, the part that indicates if they’re talking about grams, milliliters, ounces or cups – then baking bread is much like playing Russian roulette.
Cream cheese, arugula, avocado and black pepper. A perfect combination.
I have seldom felt so stupid like when I realized that I had measured my water in grams, while the book called for milliliters. I just wanted to make one, healthy loaf. That’s not asking too much, is it? So I started my very advanced calculations, to see how much water – or flour – I would need to add in order to get it all right again.
Cottage cheese, tomato and black pepper. Another great addition to this dark rye loaf.
Then it came – the enlightenment. Which made me feel even more stupid. Because when you grew up with the metric system, you should know that 1 liter (1 000 ml) weighs as much as 1 kilogram (1 000 g). And I knew. I just forgot.
Had the bread been even just a little bit terrible, I would have thrown it out. But it was awesome. Really. I think it’s my new favorite. From now on, I’ll make sure to always have one of these in the freezer.
The loaf stays fresh for a really long time. Just keep it wrapped in a kitchen towel.
Dark rye bread with sunflower seeds
Total time: 16 hours to let the soaker and the sourdough get active. Then another 3-4 hours to let the dough rise and baking the loaf. Makes 1 loaf.
- 20 g (0.7 oz) rye starter
- 160 g (5.6 oz, not fluid!) filtered water
- 160 g (5.6 oz) dark rye flour
- 100 g (3.5 oz) sunflower seeds
- 0.5 tbsp sea salt
- 100 g (3.5 oz, not fluid!) boiling water
- 232 g (8.2 oz) dark rye flour
- 0.5 tbsp sea salt
- 232 g (8.2 oz, not fluid!) boiling water
- Soaker 1
- Soaker 2
- 166 g (5.9 oz) bread flour
- 1.5 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp honey
Sprinkle the sunflower seeds in the pan before you pour in the dough. Then sprinkle the top of the loaf with some extra seeds.
Mix starter, water and dark rye flour in a bowl. Wrap with cling wrap. Roast the sunflower seeds in the oven on broil (keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn!). Mix the roasted sunflower seeds with the boiling water and salt for the Soaker 1 and wrap the bowl with cling wrap. Prepare Soaker 2 by mixing dark rye flour, boiling water and salt in a third bowl. Wrap with cling wrap. Let all three bowls stand in room temperature for 16 hours.
Active the dry yeast in 1 tbsp of warm water. Mix together the two soakers and the pre-dough with the yeast, honey and bread flour. Let a stand mixer work the dough for 7 minutes. If you do this by hand, work the dough for at least 15-20 minutes. It will be really sticky. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it rest 30 minutes.
This is my favorite thing to eat when I get home from a day at work.
Butter a loaf pan and sprinkle some sunflower seeds on the bottom and the sides. Let the stand mixer work the dough again for 7 minutes, then put the dough in the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours in room temperature, until it reaches the top of the loaf.
Preheat the oven to 485F. Put the loaf in on the lower rack. Spray some water on the bottom of the oven and bake the loaf 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, open the oven to let out some steam. Lower the temperature to 350F and bake another 45 minutes. Then tip out the loaf on an oven tray, and bake another 20 minutes, to get a nice crust all around.
Let cool on a rack.
It keeps you full for longer, too. Only good things about this bread!