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Rye Vollkornbrot

This bread is the real deal: a German style rye bread made with whole grain and no wheat. The dough is quite wet, almost like a cake mixture, and doesn't require any kneading. The method uses both a sourdough starter and regular dried yeast. I keep my starter in the fridge and after using it I replenish by adding 50g of dark rye and 50ml of cold water and give it a good mix. Wholegrain rye is not easy to get hold of in the UK so you can try pearled spelt as an alternative. I leave the dough to ferment in a cool room and to prove in a warm room. This allows all of the wild yeast in the sourdough to play a role in developing flavour. Although this bread takes two days to make most of the steps are quick and easy. The long soaking and fermenting stages give you plenty of opportunity to multi-task especially on the first day.


a) Sponge

300g dark rye

150g chopped rye

1 large ladel full (~100g) of sourdough starter

400ml warm water

b) Grain soaker

150g whole grain rye or pearled spelt

juice of 1/2 a lemon

100ml water

c) Final dough

10g dried yeast

150ml warm water

malt extract

glug of hemp oil (optional)

20g salt

300g dark rye

100g sunflower seeds

sunflower oil for the baking tin

some pumpkin seeds to decorate if required.


Day 1

amIn the morning remove your sourdough starter from the fridge to get it active. Make the grain soaker by firstly grinding the rye or spelt grains in a pestle and mortar for a few minutes. Place into a small pot with 100ml cold water and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Mix, cover up and leave.


Make the sponge by mixing 300g dark rye with 150g chopped rye and adding 400ml of warm water and a ladel full (~100ml) of sourdough starter. Place the bowl in a plastic bag and leave overnight.

Day 2


Now to make the final dough! Activate the 10g of dried yeast by placing in a jug with 150ml of warm water with a teaspoon full of malt extract. Mix well with a small whisk and leave for 5 minutes. To your bowl with the sponge add the grain soaker, 20g salt, 100g sunflower seeds, 300g of dark rye and a dessert spoon of malt extract. If you wish add a glug of hemp oil to add to the flavour. Once the yeast is ready add it to the bowl and mix all of the ingredients well with a wooden spoon. Now place the bowl in a plastic bag and leave in a cool place, for example a garage, for at least 4 hours.


In the afternoon split the dough into two halves. It will be quite wet so you will need some rye flour on your hands and some quick actions. Roughly shape the halves and place into greased loaf tins. Place each loaf tin in a plastic bag and leave in a warm room for several hours. You should find that they rise nicely but will not quite double in size. Once they are ready to bake decorate with pumpkin seeds if you wish. Place the loaves in a pre-heated oven at 250C for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 170C and bake for a further 40minutes. Remove from the oven and their tins and leave to cool for several hours. These loaves are best eaten the following day once they have thoroughly dried and matured. Your gut flora will rejoice at all of the goodness reaching them and you will feel great. Very tasty too!