The Vegan Kitchen: German Wheat and Rye Bread with Flaxseed
Leavened breads (yeast or sourdough) are one of the staples of traditional cooking, and often there is no need to make them vegan: they already are! They do not need eggs to give them lift and texture, and no need for fats, sugars, or other flavorings to make them taste good. Like many German expatriates, I miss the great variety of whole grain breads that you can find in bakeries in Germany. Crunchy crust, airy inside, flavorful and slightly sour, wholesome, and they keep for a few days. Here is a recipe that I adapted from a website about eating German in the USA. German rye breads do not have caraway seeds in them. This recipe is simple and nutritious:
- It uses a small amount of yeast in a slow fermenting process
- You need no electric equipment for mixing
- The dough requires no kneading, only mixing
- It develops volume and flavor by resting for 16-20 hours at room temperature
- It is baked in a covered Dutch oven at high heat. I repurposed my old, pre-vegan turkey roaster: with a cookie sheet under it, it is the perfect “oven” for baking bread.
- White whole-wheat flour, common in Europe, is milled from hard white spring wheat, rather than traditional red wheat. It’s lighter and less bitter, and it has a similar nutritional profile as red whole wheat. It’s sold at Trader Joe’s, as well as many health food stores.
The recipe makes one loaf of bread.
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup rye flour
- ⅓ cup flax seed)
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon yeast
- 2 ¼ cups warm water (if the dough is too dry, you can add another tablespoon of water)
- ¼ cup semolina to sprinkle into the Dutch oven before baking
n.b. instead of the flax seed and ½ of the rye flour, other grains or oats or wheat bran/germ (or combinations) can be used. I like pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl.
- Add warm water and mix until everything is combined into a sticky dough. The dough needs only to be well mixed, not kneaded. Long kneading actually makes this bread tough.
- Cover the bowl with foil.
- Let rise for 16-20 hours at room temperature – this gives the yeast time to rise and sour the dough. (If you start it at 6pm on Friday, the dough is ready to be baked early afternoon on Saturday).
- Place Dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 500°F (or turkey roaster with lid with a cookie sheet under it – it has a thin bottom, and the cookie sheet helps diffuse the heat better). This can take up to 20 minutes – the Dutch oven needs to be very hot.
- When the rising time is over and the dough has doubled its volume, scrape it out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface – the dough is very sticky!
- Knead the dough for a few seconds with floured hands and shape into a round or oval loaf
- Slash the top of the bread with a sharp knife or scissors.
- When the (ungreased) Dutch oven is hot, sprinkle some semolina on the bottom and carefully drop the loaf into it
- Cover with the lid and return to the oven.
- Bake the bread at 500°F for 30 minutes.
- Take off the lid and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Take the bread out of the oven and cool for about 1 hour on a wire rack.
Watch how all your housemates follow the scent of freshly baked bread and end up in the kitchen!
Copyright 2016 Eva-Maria Simms