In monarchy days, while grand nations invested in armies and glory, Austrian aristocrats focused mostly on shiny buildings and imperial coffee houses. Known as a stiff aristocrat, and bureaucrat for that matter, Kaiser Franz Josef was also known for his love towards Austrian sweets and baked goods. And not without reason.
While pastries like apple strudel and vanilla crescents are well known and marketed, not to mention raved about in Li’l Vienna, there is more to discover: The bread. And not your toast-it-to-make-it-edible type of sloppy white bread, we are talking about real, dark, healthy and hearty stuff. With real grains. Austrians really don’t know how anyone can live a decent life without such bread, and are constantly stunned by the fact that, outside of Austria, most people do so :-).
Well, let’s walk you through the recipe, cook it together, and then you can decide if it’s really worth living without this kind of real bread. And yes, we are fully aware of the fact, that we are bread snobs … and the condescension in this lines is on purpose. How else would the world learn about the achievements of Austrias glorious days :-).
Recipe for the best rye whole wheat sourdough bread
This is a recipe for a rye and whole wheat sourdough bread. The whole wheat flour makes the bread rise really well, frankly makes it more fluffy and not as dense as rye breads usually are. I have developed and tested this recipe over the last months, at least 15 times (no joke). For the last 12 times it was perfect and worked out every time. This recipe does not require any machine or excessive kneading. You will just need a sturdy (wooden) cooking spoon and your hands.
First of all, you will need this little bastard:
Rye sourdough, I called mine Rudi, is the key ingredient to this bread. I use about 1-2 tablespoons starter (ripe sourdough) and feed it with 75 g rye flour (about 2/3 cups) and 125 g water (1 cup + 1 teaspoon). I let it ripen at cool room temperature for about 15 hours (usually over night). The sourdough will triple in volume during this time.
When the sourdough is ripe, you have to mix all the bread ingredients, including your ripe sourdough. Don’t forget: Set 1-2 tablespoons of your ripe sourdough aside as this will be your starter for the next sourdough bread (put it into the fridge). If you are using a very young sourdough, add some additional yeast, just to make sure the bread will be leavening.
After having mixed the dough ingredients, line a loaf pan with parchment paper. I usually use two individual sheets. With the help of parchment paper, it’s easier to pull out the baked bread from the pan later. Put the dough into the pan, distribute it with a spoon as well as in any way possible and pat it smooth with wet hands.
Sprinkle the surface with rolled oats (and raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds), carefully pat them into the dough, so the oats and seeds are not loose any more and don’t come off the second you touch the baked loaf. Let the bread ferment covered at room temperature until it has doubled in volume.
Update 6/13/2015: For letting the bread rise covered, it is easiest to place the loaf pan in a plastic bag and seal it tightly – see pictures here. If you are using cling wrap, watch out for the dough not to stick to it.
Usually it takes about 4 hours at cool room temperature for the bread to rise. If you added some yeast, the bread will rise faster and will have doubled in volume within 2 ½ to 3 hours. It should fill the entire loaf pan (9-by-5 inch).
Preheat the oven to 450 °F with a rack in the center (I use positon 3 of 4 from bottom). Put in the pan and bake the bread for 10 minutes at 450 °F, reduce temperature to 400 °F and bake for 30 additional minutes.
Then take it out of the oven and remove the bread including the parchment paper from the pan (best done if you pull it out at the edges of the parchment paper). Bend the edges of the paper down a little and put the bread back into the oven again. Bake for another 15 minutes at 400 °F without pan.
Take out the bread from the oven, remove the parchment paper and let it cool completely on a rack. If you leave the bread in the pan, the crust gets soaked with condensation. The same applys to the bread if you don’t let it cool on a rack and it can’t breathe. It tastes best when sliced the next day (be patient!). If you cut into the bread before it’s cool, it may still be a bit gummy inside.
Enjoy with unsalted butter and jam for breakfast or any time. Austrians often eat cold snacks for dinner – for example this type of bread, spread with butter and cheese, sliced ham or cold cuts on top.
As you can see in the picture above, you can alter the recipe by adding one medium grated carrot and/or 1/4 cup of sunflower seed. You can sprinkle the surface with sunflower seeds instead of rolled oats as well.
Austrian breads are dark, hearty and healthy.This is a recipe for a typical Austrian rye and whole wheat sourdough bread. It requires neither a machine nor excessive kneading, just a sturdy (wooden) cooking spoon and your hands.
- 2 cups / 480 g lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (only needed with young sourdough)
- 2 teaspoons molasses or honey
- 3 1/4 teaspoons fine table salt (20 g)
- 2 teaspoons bread spices, optional (3/4 tsp. caraway seeds, 1/4 tsp. anise seeds, 1/2 tsp. fennel, 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed with the flat side of a knife)
- 14 oz / 400 g (about 3 cups) whole wheat flour (I use 365 everyday brand from Whole Foods)
- 7 oz / 200 g (about 1 2/3 cups) rye flour (I use Arrowhead Mills organic whole grain rye flour)
- 7 oz / 200 g (about 1 cup) ripe thin rye sourdough (see recipe) *
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats & 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds (for coating, optional)
* To get 200 g ripe/leavened sourdough feed 20 g starter with 75 g rye flour + 125 g warm water) and let it rest at room temp. for 8-15 hours, depending on the temperature. In cups/tablespoons: Feed 1-2 tablespoons starter with 2/3 cups rye flour and 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon warm water) and let leaven at room temp. for 8-15 hours.
>> Sourdough changes its volume over time. I recommend measuring the sourdough (and flour) by weight since it is more accurate than measuring by volume.
- Mix warm water and yeast (if used) in a big bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Add molasses (or honey), salt and bread spices, stir well.
- Add sourdough (keep 1 tablespoon as starter for the next bread) and whole wheat flour and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon, until well combined.
- Add rye flour and continue stirring with the wooden spoon. If the dough is too firm to stir (or you don’t want that much workout) you can use your hand. Be aware, the dough is very sticky, but refrain from adding extra flour. Just work in the rye flour until combined with the rest of the ingredients and you will be fine.
- Line a 9-by-5-Inch Loaf Pan with parchment paper (I always use two separate sheets) and add the dough. You can pat the surface even with wet hands. The dough should fill about half to two-thirds of the pan.
- Sprinkle the surface with rolled oats and pumpkin seeds, just until the surface is covered and pat, so the oats and seeds are not loose any more. I always cover the surface with rolled oats (or anything else) because this way the dough will not stick to the cling wrap (see next step) when it is rising and you overlook the right moment.
- Wrap the whole loaf pan in cling wrap so the dough doesn’t dry out and let it rest at cool room temperature for about 3 hour (if you have used yeast), about 4 ½ hours if your sourdough is the only leavening. At warm room temperature the dough will rise faster. The dough should about double in size and fill the whole loaf pan. When the dough nearly reaches the cling wrap (after about 2 ½ hours or even more), you can remove it. This is really important in case you didn’t sprinkle the surface with rolled oats. I removed the plastic wrap once when the dough already stuck to it, then the dough deflated and I ruined the whole bread.
Update 6/13/2015: For letting the bread rise covered, it is easiest to place the loaf pan in a small plastic bag filled with air (like the ones you get for produce at supermarkets) and close it tightly. The bag shouldn’t touch the dough. This way the dough won’t stick to any lid or cling wrap (pictures here).
- Preheat the oven to 450 °F with a rack in the center (I use positon 3 of 4 from bottom). Put in the pan and bake the bread:
10 minutes at 450 °F
30 minutes at 400 °F, take it out of the oven, then remove the bread including the parchment paper from the pan (best done if you pull it out at the edges of the parchment paper), bend the edges of the paper down a little and put the bread it into the oven again.
15 minutes at 400 °F without pan.
- Remove bread from the oven, remove the parchment paper and let it cool completely on a rack. If you leave the bread in the pan, the crust gets soaked with condensation. It tastes best when sliced the next day (be patient!). If you cut into the bread before it's cool, it may still be a bit gummy inside.
You can alter the recipe by adding ¼ cup sunflower seeds (40 g) and/or 1 medium grated carrot (100 g).
For half the amount: Cut all ingredients in half and bake bread 10 minutes at 450 °F, reduce temperature to 400 °F and bake for another 35 minutes (the last 15 minutes without pan).
Did you follow this recipe? You could share your result here. All you need to do is take a picture with your smartphone and send it to [email protected]
wow, nice! That looks exactly like one of those that I could find in Austria… do you have also a recipe with regular yeast? I also wanted to ask you if you have a recipe to make semmel, because I found one, but it wasn’t satisfying… Thanks for the good job, btw :-)
Actually, I have never tried this bread recipe without sourdough, but I will do so the next time I bake it. I think I’m trying to substitute 75g rye flour and 125 g water for 200g of sourdough the recipe calls for and add a little more yeast. I let you know if this works!
I’ve tried to make Semmeln a few months ago and they turned out quite well. They tasted really great but shaping them was somehow difficult. Since you have to fold them with your hands in a certain manner, this needs some practice. So I will test the recipe (with yeast, no sourdough involved) one or two more times and than I will definitely post it. I’m looking forward to this day, since the kaiser roll banner is our logo, hihi.
Thanks! Have a good day!
This looks amazing, Ursula. I’m also glad you shared the sourdough starter! I am going to buy some rye flour next time I’m out and give it a try.
that’s great. I really, really love this bread. And it also freezes very well ;-)
Oh yes, that’s the perfect Austrian bread – and since is homemade, it must taste even better than the ones you can find in Vienna’s bakeries! I will surely try to make it these days…
And I love your photo of “that little bastard” ;)
Right now, this is by far my favorite bread – not only because of the taste, but also because I know it works every time. Greetings from the bastard ;-)
I can’t wait to try this out but slightly confused with the two lots of instructions in the post!
Is this correct?:
Feed starter with 75g of rye and 125g water and leave overnight (15 hours)
Then add the rest of the rye flour (1 cup), the whole wheat flour (3 cups) and all other ingredients – stir and let rise?
Hi Lucy, So sorry for the late reply. I hope you still want to bake the bread.
Yes, exactly: First you have to make ripe sourdough (also called leaven). This recipe calls for a rather thin, ripe sourdough so you have to mix 2 tablespoons starter (20g) with 75 g rye flour and 125 g water and leave for 10-15 hours – depending on the room temperature. In summer it usually takes 10 hours, in winter rather 15 hours.
In the next step you mix the ripe starter (200g) with the rest of the ingredients, pour it in a parchment lined loaf pan and let it rise until puffy, about 4 hours. Then it’s ready to bake.
If your sourdough is rather young, add a little yeast, as the recipe suggests.
I hope you will try it!! Enjoy, Ursula
I just made this wonderful bread! OMG this is sooo tasty!! I instantly felt like I was skiing in Austria =D I’m not kidding!!! It’s the caraway in it!!! Thank you for posting this!!
I am originally from Germany but live in Hawaii. And bread here is nothing like this awesome sourdough bread of course!! Really Thank you!!!!
Hi Julia! I’m so glad that you like the bread! I spent a lot of time developing it, so I’m even happier that it turned out great. Thanks for making it!!
Oh and just a little advise for all other sourdough newbies: at first I wasn’t sure if I have to feed the 5day young sourdough again to get 200g or just take 200g out of the young starter and bake with it. I went with the instructions on the starter recipe and fed my young sourdough starter the morning of day 5 with 50g rye flour only, no water. Then used 200g of this without any thinning or feeding and it turned out perfect. Was this correct, Ursula? :)
Hi Julia. Yes this is correct.
On day 5 you have to add 50 g rye flour but NO water. You can use the starter 6 hours after the feeding (or up to 24 hours later).
Cool that you made the rye sourdough starter AND the Sourdough bread!
I just made the sourdough rye bread, following your recipe, using caraway seeds and fennel. It is very salty. I’ve made your sunflower bread, which uses a similar amount of salt, and it was great. Is there any reason for the salt besides the taste? I’m thinking of making the bread again cutting way back on the amount of salt.
I also have a question about the starter. I used whole-wheat starter I had for Tartine bread (50% whole wheat/bread flour and 50% water), added the rye flour and water in the proportions you specify, and let it sit in an oven with the light on overnight. It had risen to 3 times its volume in the middle of the night. In the morning it had collapsed a lot, so I also used a teaspoon of yeast. It took a long time to rise.
I’m trying making the rye starter from scratch as you describe.
Great that you made the sourdough bread and the sunflower bread. Hm, usually for almost 700 grams of flour 3 1/4 teaspoons (20g) salt is not that much and it shouldn’t taste salty at all. It’s funny that the sunflower bread that uses 3 teaspoons salt as well tasted fine for you…. I can’t think of a reason why it turns out like that. You can cut back the amount of salt for sure, the only reason is for taste, nothing else.
About the starter: I am using a more liquid starter than your 50% flour/50% water sourdough, which is a hydration of 100%. I am using a sourdough with 75g flour/125 g water (167% Hydration). So first of all, I would make a sourdough using 125g water and 75 g flour. Was your bread pretty stiff? Also, if you already have a working sourdough, I woulnd’t bother making a new one from scratch. I would simply feed your whole wheat/bread flour starter (let’s say 2 Tablespoons) with 125 g water and 75 g rye flour. This way you get a rye soudrough pretty easy. Leave some of your whole wheat starter as a safety in the fridge, in case it doesn’t work.
You can also leave the sourdough at room temperature (20-24°C or around 74°F). No need to put it in the oven with the lights on. In a warm place like that the sourdough rises pretty fast.
I sometimes add a teaspoon of yeast to the dough too (if I am short of time). Without yeast it takes 4-5 hours for the bread to rise. With yeast about 3 hours. I hope you’ll give the sourdough and the bread another try. Hope I could help. If you have any further questions, please let me know! Ursula
Thanks for your reply! I wonder if the bread was actually “too sour” as well as “too salty.” My wife and I are both on low-salt diets so not used to lots of salt in our foods. Or I might have mis-measured. :) I’ll have to read up more about the science behind bread-making.
I received the whole-wheat starter I used from a friend. I’ve decided to make the starter from scratch and try again – it’s quite interesting to observe the whole process. I’m going to try using less sakt and adding the sunflower seeds and maybe grated carrots. I’ll let you know how it tutns out.
Hi Algis! Yes, maybe the sourdough was too sour plus the salt….. I’ve tried this bread with added sunflower seeds, they make a great addition ;-) I think the process of making a sourdoug is quite interesting. But I’ve noticed, that sometimes it simply doesn’t work, even though using the exact same method. Good luck with your new one and yes, please let me know how the bread turned out. Very exciting!
Servus Ursula, goodness, I’ve made this bread a few times with your recipe, each time the brad came out great, just as I remember from living in Vienna. And now, for the first time. I’m reading the comments, and realized that ice been making a mistake. After adding the 75 g of rye flour and water to our sourdough stayed (we’ve had the starter for a few years) I did NOT allow the mix to leaven. I just used it after letting a teaspoon of yeast sit on the warm water for ten minutes. I’ll try it the next time with your exact instruction and Kerry you know. Wish I could pay a photo of the two I’ve just made!! :-)
Great that you made the bread several times and it turnd out well :-)
You know what, I’ll change the ingredients now that you’ve pointed this out. It’s not really clear that I mean ripe sourdough, and the term ‘freshly fed’ is highly confusing too. Yes, try it again some time and let the 200g of sourdough ripen overnight, and only then use it. It seems in your case that the addition of yeast speeded up the process in your case. Let me know if it turns out different, or send me a pic :-) I’m always interested how my reciped turn out in other homecooks’ ovens hehe. Cheers, Ursula
I tried making traditional rye bread a while back and was honestly underwhelmed. In spite of adding molasses and caraway, the recipe I used didn t have much flavor. This bread, on the other hand? Holy cow. It s pretty sour, but the deliciousness of rye and caraway isn t lost not at all. And if that s not enough to sell you on this bread, the crust is great a little brown and crispy crackly and pretty much fantastic. Jeth isn t a crust guy (more for me!), and he even likes it. I made my loaf with unfed sourdough starter, just to see how it would work, and it rose with no problems maybe just taking a little longer than if I d used fed starter. And if you don t have sourdough starter, a little yeast will work just as well; the long rise should help give the bread a bit of extra flavor, at least.
Thanks so much for your comment. Great to hear that you like the taste and crust. I think the sour flavor in combination with caraway (and other spices) and molasssses/honey is a winner :-) Thanks for trusting my recipe! Ursula
Thank you for that recipe. I tried it twice and both times it was a perfect outcome. Thank you!
Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I’m so happy that your bread was perfect. I really love these kind of loaves. Ursula
You won’t believe how tasty was it! I tried 3 times and the last one was so perfect!
Happy to hear that! Thanks for leaving a comment, Ursula
I love this bread and basically make nothing else anymore! I was curious if you have any tips on how to best store the bread. After letting it fully cook I usually store it in a plastic bag, but feel like it can trap the moisture. any suggestion? thanks!
I’m so happy that you like the bread!! Actually, storing the bread in a plastic bag might not be the best thing to do since it gets damp and mold grows faster/easier. A bread box/bread bin would be the best, but of course takes up a lot of couter space. That’s why I don’t have any at the moment either…. The bread should be stored in a way that it doesn’t dry out but at the same time should be able to breathe, which is not possible in an airtight plastic bag or container. So what I often do is to only put a small piece of cling wrap on the cut side of the bread, then wrap some parchment paper plus a kitchen towel around it (to fix the parchment). This way it doesn’t dry out. What I also often do is to cut the loaf in half and freeze half a loaf. This way the bread doesn’t get mouldy even if stored pretty airtight and doesn’t dry out with the kitchentowel/cling-wrap method. I hope this helps.
Again, so thrilled to hear that you make the bread often. I love it too :))),