Polish Rye with Brotgewürz


Rye, Rye, Rye. Rye not?

I really like rye bread. I don’t mean the commercial rye you buy in the supermarket. I mean the real deal you can bake at home. The flavor is full and intense and it goes with anything. You don’t need a spread but go ahead and try it with just about anything. The flavor comes through. Good rye bread also has a much longer shelf life than wheat.

Now rye is a challenge and you will get frustrated. I know I did. And I still do because they don’t all turn out wonderful. Did I mention door-stop? Boat anchor? Some of my loaves took more salesmanship than I have to convince my family to even try it.

Brotgewürz makes it even better. Brotgewürz is a European spice mixture that is popular in many countries. There’s no set recipe but I like to use a combination of fennel, anise, and caraway for a loaf with about 500 grams flour. I also add 44 grams molasses when I use the spices. (Grandma’s Molasses) And sometimes zest of one orange.

 If you want a small quantity to try, find an Indian market. Check out Amazon for larger quantities that are very inexpensive. For milder flavor, crush or grind the seeds  I prefer whole. Counter-intuitive, I know, but true.

Good rye bread is dense. Don’t expect light and fluffy. But it doesn’t have to be 100% rye flour to be rye bread. The tasteless stuff sold in supermarkets has a very low proportion of rye so you don’t want to go that low because you’ll lose the taste. I like to make a loaf in the 75% area of rye flour.  I also like to slice it thinly and toast. To make a taller and lighter rye substitute some whole wheat or bread flour, or even vital wheat gluten. Combining flours is allowed in my kitchen, anyway.

Some rye recipes will produce a boule or oval loaf, such as the OMG Rye you’ll find in other posts on this blog. But this recipe (and most other rye recipes) works best in a loaf pan. Rye recipes tend to the more hydrated doughs and they just don’t hold up without a pan. This 82% hydration recipe is just about the easiest I have tried, so it is definitely a print-it-out-and-put-it-on-the-fridge recipe.


330g water, 95-100 F.
370g recently fed starter (I use 100% hydration, 100% rye starter)
15g salt
350g rye flour (I use home sprouted and milled)
60g bread flour
40g vital wheat gluten
1 T. whole fennel seeds
1 t. whole anise seeds
1 t. whole caraway seeds
44g molasses


Mix all ingredients. A dough whisk works well but you could also use a HD stand mixer or your hands. It is a heavy, wet and sticky dough. Don’t over mix and be gentle but make sure all the flour gets incorporated.

Bulk Proof: Cover bowl and let it proof for 60-90 minutes.

Press or spoon the dough into a greased loaf pan. Mine is 9×5.

Final Proof: Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap or bag for 60-90 minutes. It won’t rise very much.

Bake in preheated 475F. oven for 15 minutes. Steam is good during the first 15. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 425F. and bake for about 45 minutes. Check at 40 minutes. I failed to check at 40 minutes and the crust was a little dark. See above photo. It is also good to give the pan a 180 degree turn half way through baking. I sprinkled oatmeal on the above shown loaf.

Remove from pan and cool on rack for at least six hours. Wrap in towel if you run out of day.

This recipe can be done easily in one day. I use a mother from which I make a levain so I have to start early but it is still done by 20:00 hours. I cover with a dish towel and wait until morning to slice. My starter maintenance can be found at No More Starter Discard on this blog.

Recipe adapted from recipe by Marta Chrzanowska








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