Here is a great recipe for authentic German Sourdough Bread. This bread tastes almost exactly like the bread we buy back home in Bavaria, Germany. There, to this day, they bake their bread in a very old stone oven in the middle of a small village, once every 2 weeks. They bake a whole bunch at once, and then you can buy it and freeze extras until the next baking day. It's the best German bread I know!

Petra
Advertisement

Ingredients

20
Original recipe yields 20 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • First, make the sourdough starter. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Whisk in 1 quart of warm water and 2 tablespoons of sugar until dissolved. The water should be just slightly warmer than body temperature. Gradually whisk in 4 cups of flour, continuing to mix until all lumps are gone. Cover with a dish towel, and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

    Advertisement
  • After 24 hours, stir well, cover, and let stand another 24 hours. It will be a thin, light-colored sourdough which is then ready to use.

  • In a large bowl, stir together the rye flour, 4 cups of all-purpose flour, salt and sugar. Mix in the sourdough starter using a wooden spoon, then stir in 2 cups of warm water. I transfer the dough to a heavy duty stand mixer to mix the first couple of minutes, then it can't handle the heavy dough and I start using my hands by turning the dough out onto a floured surface. A clean countertop works best. Knead the dough, adding a few tablespoons of water at a time if it is too stiff. Fold the dough over, pull it apart, whatever you can do to get it kneaded up good. Total kneading time should be 15 to 20 minutes to get a smooth dough. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

  • When the dough has risen, scrape it out of the bowl and back onto a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. This is important to activate the gluten. Shape into 1 or 2 long loaves. Place on baking sheets, and let rise for about 1 hour, or until your finger leaves an impression when you poke the bread gently.

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Bake the bread for about 45 minutes for 2 loaves, 1 1/2 hours if you made one big loaf. Don't worry if the crust is dark. The bread will be delicious and so will the crust. Cool completely before cutting. I always freeze half.

Notes

If you want to make extra starter for the next time, simply add 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups water to the sourdough starter on the second day, and whisk smooth. Then let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before next use. Use half, and save the other half for the next time. Let stand for 24 hours, stirring once before using. If freezing, use within 2 weeks.

Humidity and heat play a big role in making this bread. It may not work well if it is to humid and hot outside. In this case I recommend that you make the bread starting at 5am.

Nutrition Facts

334.3 calories; 9.2 g protein; 71.6 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 701.9 mg sodium. Full Nutrition

Reviews (54)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
08/12/2011
I submitted this recipe and I really want to share something valuable. In Germany, we usually add spices to the bread and they are available for purchase already ground up or as seeds. If you want, take a handful of Coriander, fennel, Anis, and/or Caraway seeds and add to the dough. I actually buy loose fennel tea seeds (cheaper) and smash it up good with a Mortar and add it. It adds a wonderful flavor and tastes so good! I now use a small coffee bean grinder to grind the seeds and I often add sunflowers seeds (salted or not) to the dough as well, which makes the bread juicier. The bread in the picture was done in a traditional bread basket. I put a dish towel in the basket, then sprinkle it with flour (you can see the flour on the outside of the bread in the picture), then pad the bread dough into it for the second rising. Invert onto a baking sheet (I always use a baking stone) and bake! Oh, if you decide to freeze some (it freezes very well), simply put it in a zip lock bag, then when you are ready to eat it thaw it in the CLOSED bag! It only takes a few hours to thaw. Enjoy! I noticed mixed results from different people and would like to say that this is not uncommon with this type of bread. Even I get different results sometimes depending on the climate. It matters quite a bit if it is humid/warm or cold. I do believe (but have no prove) that even elevation makes a difference. So if you get poor results DON'T GIVE UP. Try...temp/climate/baking time of day...changes! Read More
(191)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
01/13/2011
I will try this again...the loaf(s) ended up fairly flat as if I hurried the rise. That wasn't the case. Read More
(9)
62 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 43
  • 4 star values: 14
  • 3 star values: 3
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
08/11/2011
I submitted this recipe and I really want to share something valuable. In Germany, we usually add spices to the bread and they are available for purchase already ground up or as seeds. If you want, take a handful of Coriander, fennel, Anis, and/or Caraway seeds and add to the dough. I actually buy loose fennel tea seeds (cheaper) and smash it up good with a Mortar and add it. It adds a wonderful flavor and tastes so good! I now use a small coffee bean grinder to grind the seeds and I often add sunflowers seeds (salted or not) to the dough as well, which makes the bread juicier. The bread in the picture was done in a traditional bread basket. I put a dish towel in the basket, then sprinkle it with flour (you can see the flour on the outside of the bread in the picture), then pad the bread dough into it for the second rising. Invert onto a baking sheet (I always use a baking stone) and bake! Oh, if you decide to freeze some (it freezes very well), simply put it in a zip lock bag, then when you are ready to eat it thaw it in the CLOSED bag! It only takes a few hours to thaw. Enjoy! I noticed mixed results from different people and would like to say that this is not uncommon with this type of bread. Even I get different results sometimes depending on the climate. It matters quite a bit if it is humid/warm or cold. I do believe (but have no prove) that even elevation makes a difference. So if you get poor results DON'T GIVE UP. Try...temp/climate/baking time of day...changes! Read More
(191)
Rating: 5 stars
09/25/2007
I have made this bread several times and as a German I can tell you it IS authentic! Great recipe!!! Read More
(117)
Rating: 5 stars
09/20/2005
I made this recipe and the bread is very good with a crunchy crust. I only made half of the recipe and was able to knead it entirely in the mixer. I still needed to use a very large bowl for the starter because it rose up and ran over. I lost part of the starter but the dough still balled up in the mixer and cleared the sides of the bowl and I didn't need to add extra flour or water to the measurements. My husband is also from Germany and remembers bread baking day when he was little. He thinks this recipe is pretty authentic too. Read More
(88)
Advertisement
Rating: 5 stars
08/12/2007
I absolutely loved this recipe. I lived in Germany for a year and absolutely fell in love with the bread there. Ever since I've returned to the States, I've been wishing that I could purchase German-style bread, but it's nearly impossible to find. But now i don't have to find it because this recipe tastes so authentic. I do, however, want to share the three things that I did differently with this recipe. First, I used my own super tasty and entirely local sourdough starter so I didn't follow the first part of the recipe about creating a starter. Second, I halved the recipe because it sounded like so much bread. To do this, I had to make an educated guess on how much to use of the sourdough starter I already have. I went with two cups, and it seems to have worked perfectly. Third, I made the dough using the dough cycle of my breadmaker. After the cycle ended, I shaped the bread and let it rise for an additional hour. Even with these changes, the bread turned out amazing and like an authentic loaf of Bauernbrot. Read More
(79)
Rating: 4 stars
04/03/2008
This is a great recipe but a lot of work. I've used other simpler recipes that are just as good. On the other hand...I did get two GIANT round loaves out of this so I guess it was worth the effort. The starter does rise A LOT so be sure to use a huge bowl or one of the special buckets you can buy for this type of recipe. Also although the dense firm texture seemed just right the bread I baked seemed to suffer from the "dry crumblies" - maybe next time I'll add a little potato flour as I read on kingarthurflour.com that this may help moisten it just a tad so it will hold together better. All in all a good recipe for that elusive German flavor! Update: I tried adding 3T. potato flour and the texture was much better. Could probably even use more. My German m-i-l tells me her neighbor actually adds a cooked grated potato to the dough when she makes this kind of bread. Read More
(73)
Rating: 5 stars
03/15/2011
FYI ... 1 1/2 ounces fresh yesast equals 5 tsp plus a scant more of instant yeast. This is a wonderful bread, worth the advance planning ! Read More
(61)
Advertisement
Rating: 4 stars
09/25/2008
the one problem i found /when i make it into oblong loafs /let it rise / it flaten /and spreads out /so the bread ends up anout 3 inches in hight /is there a special pan /or secret to keep the bread up /and not spread side ways thank you ZENA Read More
(45)
Rating: 5 stars
05/10/2008
This the best bread I've had since leaving Germany several years ago. I took the suggestion and added a little potatoe flour. Otherwise I followed it exactly. I compared it to some bread we purchased from Chicago. The Chicago bread was slightly darker but the consistency about the same. Has anyone tried adding a cup or two of regular stone ground rye in place of some of the white rye? White rye is not available locally so if I can get by with a little less it would good. My German wife dreamed that I lost this recipe the first night after trying this bread. She was really impressed. Thank you for posting this recipe. Jerry Read More
(27)
Rating: 5 stars
08/16/2010
I absolutely love this receipe! However, some helpful hints to include in your directions, this particular dough will double very quickly and you must put it in a large container to prevent it from overflowing! I didn't see the spices recommended for the bread until i read through your reviews, those would have been good to know ahead of time. Also, fresh yeast is hard to come by in my leg of the world so i used dry active yeast in converted equivalency.. works good! I don't have an electric mixer and so I knead it myself which is more difficult but allows you to regulate how much extra flour you knead in. IF you get the dry crumblies, you have too much flour in it, if it doesn't rise, your yeast has died or you didn't use enough. Could also be that your water was too warm or too cold when dissolving the yeast it won't rise either. This is not intended to be condescending just helpful!! I come from a long line of Irish and German bakers and my mom loves this bread! It gets better every time I make it! Read More
(25)
Rating: 3 stars
01/13/2011
I will try this again...the loaf(s) ended up fairly flat as if I hurried the rise. That wasn't the case. Read More
(9)