Vollkornbrot – German Whole Rye Sourdough

Vollkornbrot German Whole Rye Top

I have a new bread baking gadget and its name is Pullman, a right-angled pan used for shaping rectangular loaves that would make your Geometry teacher proud. You may also know Pullman-style loaves as pain de mie, French for “bread of crumb,” because loaves baked with the removable sliding cover prevents a stiff crust from forming. We won’t need the lid for this rye sourdough, though.

Instead of starting off with homemade Wonder Bread, I’m going with the polar opposite. This version of German vollkornbrot from Jeffrey Hamelman is a 100% whole grain rye with nary a pinch of white wheat in it.

I couldn’t find a source for rye meal so I used pumpernickel flour, which is as coarse a grind as I can get short of milling rye berries myself. Not gonna happen. I consider myself very geeky about bread, but milling my own flour is a line that must not be crossed.

recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog
Bake Your Own Bread

German 100% Whole Grain Rye Bread

makes one 13- x 4-inch loaf, about 4.5 pounds before baking

Vollkornbrot Pumpernickel Flour in Pullman


  • I need to let vollkornbrot stand for 48 to 72 hours before slicing? Is that a typo? 100% rye breads need time to set, but most importantly, the long rest allows the bread to fully develop its flavor. As Alton Brown would say, your patience will be rewarded.
  • Slice as thinly as possible to serve, unless you want to tone your jaw muscles.

For the Rye Sourdough:

pumpernickel flour3 2/3 cups15.6441
water2 cups15.6441
sourdough starter2 1/2 tbsp0.822

For the Rye Chop Soaker:

rye chops or cracked rye2 2/3 cups12339
water1 1/2 cups12339

Rye Sourdough and Rye Chop Soaker Directions:

  1. Make the rye sourdough. Pour the water over the sourdough starter and stir to dissolve. Add the pumpernickel flour and mix until thoroughly hydrated.
  2. Make the rye chop soaker. In a separate bowl, stir together the rye chops and water.
  3. Cover the bowls and let stand at room temperature for 14 to 16 hours.

For the Final Vollkornbrot Dough:

pumpernickel flour2 1/2 cups10.3293
water, warm1/2 cup3.6101
salt1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp0.821
instant yeast2 tsp0.26
sunflower seeds1/2 cup2.159
all of the rye sourdough, minus 2 1/2 tbsp
all of the rye chop soaker

Vollkornbrot Directions:

Mix. In a large bowl, mix together all of the final dough ingredients, just until thoroughly hydrated and a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Continue mixing in the bowl for about 10 minutes, either by hand or using the first speed of your stand mixer. The dough will have weak gluten development and will be very sticky.

Desired Dough Temperature. 85ºF / 29ºF (slightly warm to the touch)

Bulk Ferment. 10 to 20 minutes at 82ºF / 28ºF (slightly warmer than room temperature)

Prepare a Pullman loaf pan by oiling and dusting with rye meal or pumpernickel flour.

Shape into 13- x 4-inch logs. Heavily dust your hands and work surface with whole rye flour for easier handling. Gently place the log in the oiled Pullman loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.

Final Proof. 50 to 60 minutes at 82ºF / 28ºF.

Vollkornbrot German Whole Rye Proof
I was a bricklayer in a previous life.

Preheat Oven. 470ºF / 245ºC

Steam. 1 cup of boiling water poured into a heavy steam pan, preferably cast iron.

Bake for 15 minutes at 470ºF / 245ºC. Open the oven doors to let the steam out, lower the heat to 380ºF / 195ºC, and bake for another 60 minutes. Towards the end of the 60 minute baking time, prepare a sheet pan.

Remove the bread from the pan and immediately place on the sheet pan. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Cool. Let the loaves cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature. Wrap the vollkornbrot in linen and store in a cool draft-free place. Let rest for about 48 to 72 hours before slicing.

Storage. Vollkornbrot will keep for several weeks wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

Vollkornbrot German Whole Rye Crust
Was it worth the wait? You bet.

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59 Responses to “Vollkornbrot – German Whole Rye Sourdough”

  1. Rosa says:

    A beautiful loaf and a great pan!



  2. katiek @kitchensidecar says:

    funny, i was thinking about making rye rolls. But this is epic. I’d love to see it with sliced. what do you eat it with? Makes me thinking of smoked salmon and cream cheese pairing.

    Doesn’t rye has a sour flavor? That crust looks like perfect – like a dry desert floor — In a good way.

  3. Simone says:

    Beautiful. Going home to Germany tomorrow, and one of the things I’m looking forward to most is Vollkornbrot. The Irish just don’t do bread as well… :)
    So thank you for making me even more giddy, and sharing this wonderful recipe.

  4. Tim says:

    Now that is some serious bread. Without this post I wouldn’t have been able to tell whether ‘vollkornbrot’ was a type of bread or the name of a European metal band.

  5. Manggy says:

    I beg to differ; this is quite a wonder bread in itself ;) I love all the different kinds of flours you get there- that’s hardcore! (Well, you know how it is here :)

  6. clumbsycookie says:

    I love this kind of bread. I buy it often to have toasted for breakfast. Nice to see a good recipe for it!

  7. U_Pink says:

    mukhang masarap yan sa kape ah.. lalo na ngaun, malamig dito sa metro..^^

  8. Mama JJ says:

    I don’t think that’s a typo, the 72-hour bit. It just takes a while for rye breads…

    I once borrowed one of those bread pans, but then I never used it. From your pictures, it appears to make pretty nifty bread.

  9. Julia says:

    Great tutorial. wow, though, one loaf = 4.5 pounds? That’s a dense bread. No wonder it needs to rest before slicing.

  10. Jescel says:

    beautiful loaf! and I’m sure that new pan will be put to good use. love this bread.. Germans have really good breads. thanks for sharing your wonderful creations, as always.

  11. Ulrike says:

    Great looking loaf, yes it looks original except the pumpernickel flour. In Germany we don’t have that, it’s just ground rye ;-) And Vollkorn means only whole grain, you can produce Vollkorn with all bread grains as long it has all of the whole grain …

    Ulrike @ Küchenlatein

  12. Adam says:

    Well it’s nice to know you stop short of milling your own flour :) You’re still my go-to on bread though :)

    I love dark breads and especially rye. While the name reminds me of a Harry Potter character, it looks delicious :)

  13. kat says:

    I imagining a thin slice of that with some good local butter & thinly sliced radish, yum

  14. Pigpigscorner says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of new ingredients to me. Looks and sounds good though!

  15. grace says:

    goooorgeous dark and dense loaf, jude! it kinda looks like it could double as a weapon, but i’m sure it tastes quite wonderful–hooray for pullman and hooray for pumpernickel!

  16. Sara says:


    One thing I will say is at least is keeps well. Most of the bread I make loses it’s deliciousness exponentially after being out of the oven for mere hours. I can’t imagine baking a loaf of bread and then waiting 3 days to eat it. you almost have to bake yourself another loaf to eat right away!

  17. erin @ dessert girl says:

    Your bread always looks so gorgeous AND yummy!

  18. The Duo Dishes says:

    That’s some crazy crispy crust you have on that bread!

  19. lisaiscooking says:

    At my grocery store, there’s a machine that allows you to grind your own flour. You don’t get to choose what is being ground; I believe it’s loaded with whole wheat, but you can grind it fresh if you like. That’s the closest I would come to making flour. Your rye looks great, and now I want a pullman pan.

  20. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Rye really is my favorite.
    This would seem to go well with your radish butter which by the way I can now say is really delightfull.

  21. Jacqueline says:

    I have been lusting for a pullman pan for the longest time – because look what wonderful bread you can bake with it!
    p.s. Where did you manage to find rye chops? I’ve had absolutely no luck so far except for places that will only sell 50 lb. bags… I like rye, but I’m not that crazy for rye chops.

  22. Marta says:

    I love these breads that take time, patience and effort. The reward is indeed greater at the end! I love pumpernickel and the pan is very cute, very geometric. I’m sad to say I’ve never seen it in a store :(

  23. noble pig says:

    Oh how my husband would love this.

  24. Caitlin says:

    Fan-freaking-tastic. So jealous of your Pullman pan though – mm, pre-shaped sandwich bread…

  25. Soma says:

    That’s a tough name to say, but another of your handsome breads.

  26. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    That crust, oh my how beautiful! I’m curious where you got the rye chops?

  27. Jillian says:

    Wow- this is such a beautiful bread!

  28. Sophie says:

    I only eat dark & healthy breads like yours!! I like the look of yopur yummie looking bread!!

    When you eat 2 slices, you aren’t hungry for at least 4 hours!!

  29. Tangled Noodle says:

    Seriously – your breads continue to blow me away. I’ve said it before and I really mean it: you should consider opening a business. If not a bricks-and-mortar store then perhaps by special catering. I would be the first to order this – I would so love a taste of whole rye sourdough!

  30. YeastSpotting July 24, 2009 | Wild Yeast says:

    [...] Vollkornbrot – 100% Whole Rye Sourdough Bread [...]

  31. Madam Chow says:

    Wonderful. I’ve been eying pullman pans for a while. And guess who just bought . . . a grain mill? I crossed the line!

  32. Mimi says:

    That is a gorgeous loaf. Wow, you gotta love a bread that gets better with age. You did say it keeps for weeks??!!

  33. Claire says:

    Wonderful looking Volkornbrot. Looks perfect with a slice of strong cheese!

  34. Kaitek – stinky cheese, although smoked salmon is also something I like to eat with it.
    Rye doesn’t really have a naturally sour flavor, but it’s often made with sourdough so the taste kind of gets associated with it.

    Jacqueline, Susan, I actually used cracked rye from Bob’s Red Mill. It supposedly absorbs water at a slower rate than rye chops but since the soaker is done a day ahead, I figured it would work just as good anyway. I updated the recipe to include cracked rye as an alternative.

    Ulrike, thanks for the explanation!

    Sophie, it’s probably great for camping out in the woods or something.

    Chow – :)

    Mimi – When refrigerated, yes it will keep really well.

  35. Selba says:

    Wow! I love vollkornbrot!!!

  36. Haley J. says:

    This bread looks flavorful and delicious! Very nice. I have been meaning to purchase some Pullman pans and see what kind of trouble we can get into together…now I have a really good idea!

  37. maris says:

    I’ve always wondered what a Pullman loaf was! This sounds really interesting – how do you serve it?

  38. anushruti says:

    This looks simply amazing! A perfectly baked loaf of bread!

  39. Nancy (n.o.e.) says:

    Beautiful loaf! This is my favorite type of bread, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can tackle it! I have yet to work with a starter/sourdough, but that time is coming…

  40. Squawkfox » July Roundup: The Buck Stops Here Edition says:

    [...] German Whole Rye Sourdough (Vollkornbrot) | Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate [...]

  41. Aks says:

    I made this on the weekend, and yesterday sawed (literally!) a piece off to try. It’s very dense, just how I like it.

    The loaf literally is like a brick though – you could build a sturdy house if you had enough.

    Was yours like that? You really have to (actually, physically) saw with a breadknife to cut a piece (or maybe I just have no upper body strength). Not sure if I overcooked mine – my oven is fan forced, so I had to adjust the temps: maybe I had it too high?

  42. Carolyn Jung says:

    Love the way the top of this loaf looks with all its ridges and hills and valleys. Makes me want to just smear a load of creamy butter all over it.

  43. Danish Ryebread – Rugbrød « Blargh – random ramblings says:

    [...] that led me to my final recipe. The Pullman pan with cover and to cook the bread low and slow. This post got me quite a bit of the way [...]

  44. Vollkornbrot « A Bread A Day says:

    [...] Adapted from Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté Makes one 9 x 5 inch [...]

  45. Alan Hagan says:

    I couldn’t find a source for rye meal so I used pumpernickel flour, which is as coarse a grind as I can get short of milling rye berries myself. Not gonna happen. I consider myself very geeky about bread, but milling my own flour is a line that must not be crossed.


    Man up and get yourself a mill! Fresh ground is best!

    …..Alan {laughing}

  46. Makayla Minter says:

    Understand the stickies, look at the journal section top 15 journal views(75% should inspire something)… patience…search button.

  47. Anja says:

    Wonderful, best recipe to recreated German Vollkornbrot in my home, I use organic dark rye four and it turns out great. Two thumbs up from visitors who came over straight from Germany. Better than you are able to purchase over there. :-)

  48. Sue says:

    I used to make all of our bread, but don’t recall knowing about that kind of pan. I also had my own sourdough for a number of years. This recipe sounds great!

    I see you haven’t posted for awhile. I hope things are going well for you.

  49. Erin says:

    I’ve made this twice now and it’s great! I don’t have a Pullman pan, so I use two standard (in Germany, anyway) pans. I wait about 10 minutes before I cut into it. The other loaf sits 72 hours and it’s stored as directed, but by that time, it’s much drier and I really can’t tell any difference with taste. The loaf I cut into immediately stays moist and fresh until it’s eaten up, which is about 72 hours. I’m just saying this in case there are other impatient people out there…

    I tried sunflower seeds the first time and discovered that I don’t like them and used crushed flaxseeds the second time. The flaxseeds worked out well!

    Thanks for posting this great recipe! :)

  50. Markus Dagle says:

    I like Shrek movies, great animation movie.

  51. bestbuy says:

    I don’t think that’s a typo, the 72-hour bit. It just takes a while for rye breads…

    I once borrowed one of those bread pans, but then I never used it. From your pictures, it appears to make pretty nifty bread.

  52. German Currywurst | Andrea Meyers says:

    [...] Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate – Vollkornbrot, German Whole Rye Sourdough [...]

  53. こないだ焼いたパン « Gangalee Web Log says:

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  54. Maggie says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. It was fun reading all the comments. I will be making this recipe – really can’t wait for that wonderful texture and flavor I remember from Germany! Love thin sliced cheese and cucumbers on this, plus a thin tomato slice in season!

  55. Marketing Wyszków says:

    It would be better if film makers had done one part movie not in two.

  56. Lisa in Oregon says:

    This recipe looks like what would make the sprouted german breads I buy – thanks!
    But I can’t believe you’ll make this and somehow think grinding your own grain is crossing a line. Lazy people like me grind grain and use in bread machine…

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  58. freshloaflover says:

    Very good recipe, thanks!

  59. Sprouted Rye Vollkornbrot | yum vee says:

    [...] (malt) the rye, dehydrate the rye, mill the rye (flour), flake some of the rye (chops), bake into vollkornbrot = very yummy!  and everyone in this house can eat it (yay!) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike [...]

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