Vollkornbrot – German Whole Rye Sourdough


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



  • 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:

Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams
pumpernickel flour 3 2/3 cups 15.6 441
water 2 cups 15.6 441
sourdough starter 2 1/2 tbsp 0.8 22

For the Rye Chop Soaker:

Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams
rye chops or cracked rye 2 2/3 cups 12 339
water 1 1/2 cups 12 339

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:

Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams
pumpernickel flour 2 1/2 cups 10.3 293
water, warm 1/2 cup 3.6 101
salt 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp 0.8 21
instant yeast 2 tsp 0.2 6
sunflower seeds 1/2 cup 2.1 59
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.


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.