Recipe: Sourdough farmers’ bread

It’s this time of the year again! The time where Nerdy Bookahs is a blog about cooking and baking for a full whole day.

This year, I’m going to show you a recipe about sourdough farmers bread. I will not get into how to make your starter dough. You can find guides about how to make one here, for example, or here, or here. One thing is important: Use rye flour! I’ve tried it with wheat once and while it did work per se, it was very weak and I had to use additional yeast to help it out. A young rye starter dough may also need a bit of help from yeast, but once it gets older, it should be strong enough to work on its own. Mine has been going for about two years now and it certainly doesn’t need any yeast.

My favourite bread is “Bauernbrot” which literally translates to farmers’ bread. It is a sourdough bread with rye and wheat flour. Add water and salt and you’ve got it. There’s no milk in the German version. A note: In all steps, if you add water, make sure the temperature is about 28 °C (82.4 °F). The sourdough culture dies at much lower temperatures than yeast, so make sure the water and the surroundings you’re preparing the bread in aren’t much warmer than that. If I remember correctly, it shouldn’t get higher than 32 °C (89.6 °F).

1) 15 g* starter dough, 150 g rye flour, 150 g water – 20 hours of waiting time

You need to plan ahead if you want to bake a bread with sourdough. For this recipe, you need to start 20 hours before you can actually make the bread dough. You need 15 g of the starter dough (seen in the little glass in the picture on the left). Add 150 g of rye flour and 150 g of water. Put everything in a bowl, mix it, put a lid on it or a clean dish towel and let it rest for 20 hours. The result of this step will be your sourdough! Be patient as it actually takes some time before you can see that it’s “alive”. The bubbles won’t appear for several hours.

2) 200 g rye flour, 150 g wheat flour, 185 g water, 9 g salt

After 20 hours, you should see a bubbly sourdough. Now add 200 g rye flour and 150 g wheat flour as well as 185 g of water and 9 g salt. The salt is very important as the taste will be really… bad if you forget to add it (I speak from experience). Maybe you want a bit less salt, maybe you want even more. This is up to your personal preference. I usually have a bit less than that in my bread. Mix it for a few minutes (no more than 8). I usually use a kitchen machine with a dough hook (this one is important!), on one of the lowest settings. A word of warning: The dough will not be like a pizza dough. It will be super sticky!

3) 90 minutes of resting time

Let it rest for 90 minutes (with the lid or the towel on top again). Make sure it’s at least 25 °C (77 °F) in the surroundings. Maybe by placing the bowl near a heater or into sunlight. But also be careful that it’s not getting too hot (see above).

4) Place the dough on a floured surface (only use a little bit of flour here!). Again, the dough will be pretty sticky, so be prepared for that. If you’ve got a proofing basket, round the dough in a way that it will fit in there. If you don’t have one, you can find alternatives you can use online.

I can’t really explain it as well as videos can. So here is one that will show you how you can do it. It’s in German, but you can still see her hands’ movements. At 4:45 she shows how to do a long shape.

5) 30 minutes of resting time – then 30 minutes of resting time while pre-heating the oven

Place the dough in the proofing basket or the alternative of your choice. Let it rest (with a dish towel on top and with the appropriate temperature again) for another 60 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, it’s time to pre-heat the oven: 250 °C (482 °F) upper and lower heat. After the second 30 minutes (so, 60 minutes of resting in the proofing basket altogether), get a little glass bowl that you can put in the oven and fill it with water. Put that one on the base of the oven. Then either put it on a baking stone (if you have one) or a baking tray. Bake it for 10 minutes at the aforementioned 250 °C. After that, open the oven for about 10 seconds and reduce the temperature to 200 °C (392 °F) for another 35 minutes. Sometimes, it’ll need a bit longer than that.

If you’re not sure: Knock on the baked bread (careful! It’s super hot!) and if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

That’s it already!

Also, please don’t mind the finished bread in these pictures. Obviously, this is the demo effect here (and we just moved and I’d never used the kitchen for baking bread before) and the bread didn’t turn out that well visually. It still tastes great! It probably should have needed a bit more time to rise or a slightly higher temperature to do so. There’s also too much flour around as I’ve just gotten this kind of proofing basket and I am still experimenting with the right amount for it to not stick.

*Look online for calculators to convert the measurements. I don’t want to do it and mess up your bread by making a mistake!

Below are pictures from bread I made in my old kitchen where I knew all the appliances.

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