German-Style Brown Bread (Bauernbrot)
This recipe for a German-style "farmer bread" is adapted from a motley collection of recipes found on the Web, with some help from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Apparently real bauernbrot includes sourdough culture; this recipe doesn't, but there's some tang from the yoghurt. You will need a stand mixer or arms like Popeye the Sailor to make this.
You can bake this bread on a stone as a free-form loaf or in two one-pound size loaf pans.
- 1/4 c. hot (110°) water
- 1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 c. milk, heated to 95°
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2-1/2 c. bread flour
- 1 c. plain yoghurt at room temperature
- 2-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. oatmeal (preferably not "instant")
- caraway seed (start with 1 tsp and work up)
Preheat the oven to 500° with baking stone in place if you're baking a free-form loaf.
Put the hot water in the mixer bowl and dissolve the yeast. Add the milk, salt, vinegar, and bread flour and mix for about a minute. Add the yoghurt, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and caraway seeds. Mix until uniform. Add water or flour as necessary to get a sticky dough that cleans the sides of the mixer bowl. Knead for about two minutes with a mixer, five minutes by hand. Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes, then knead it again for a minute with the mixer or about three minutes by hand.
Put the dough into a bowl that has been rinsed with hot water but not dried. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled. (I've been known to let it rise in the mixer bowl if I'm otherwise done with the mixer for the day.)
You can divide the dough and pat and push it into two one pound loaf fans, or form a free loaf. For the latter, cover a baker's peel with with cooking parchment. On a floured surface, pat the dough into a 12" square, then fold it in thirds like a letter. Folding is easier if you make indentations along the "fold lines" with the edge of your hand. Pinch the seam closed, rock the loaf to round it, smooth the ends, and plop the loaf on the baking parchment. Cover it with a towel and let it rise for 15-20 minutes.
Make three or four diagonal slices in the top of the loaf with a lame or a sharp razor blade. (Or a disposable scalpel!) Re-cover and let it rise a little longer until it has doubled in bulk.
Slide the loaf onto the baking stone (or put the loaf pans on the middle rack). Immediately spray the inside of the oven lightly with water from a plant mister and reduce heat to 425°. Mist the inside of the oven again after about five minutes.* Bake to a dough temperature of 190°. That'll be about 45-50 minutes for the big loaf or 35-45 minutes for two smaller loaves. Allow the bread to cool completely on a rack before you try to slice it.
* One of the Web recipes I read suggests putting an old pan in the oven and pouring water into it just before you put the bread in the oven. I suggest that this is dangerous as hell and you shouldn't try it. When water hits that 500° pan, some of it will flash to steam, spraying the rest of it everywhere. It could crack the glass on your oven door, scald your wrists and hands, or even your face. Use the plant mister, OK?
Orignially posted: 2011-12-01
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