Caraway Seed Bread Recipe (Rye Bread)

 

I’m sure my Austrian roots have something to do with my slight addiction to the flavour of caraway seeds. In Austrian cuisine, caraway seeds are used abundantly, from flavouring roast pork to enhancing salad dressings. Most notably, Austrian dark breads frequently use caraway seeds as part of the Brotgewürz which is used to flavour the loaves. Caraway seeds are superb bread flavour enhancers, some of the top seeds to add to breads and perfect for rye breads specifically. Here is my caraway seed bread recipe, based on a combination of wholemeal rye flour and white wheat flour, leavened with sourdough.

Caraway seed bread
Caraway seed bread

Are caraway seeds good for you?

Caraway (carum carvi) belongs, like coriander, fennel and celery for example, to the family of Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. Not technically seeds, caraway ‘seeds’ are the split halves of the dried fruits of the plant.

Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds

The effect of caraway is mainly related to the essential oil containing Carvon, which has a stimulating effect on the stomach and a soothing impact on the bowel. Two digestive bonus points at once.

At the same time, the delicate, aromatic but slightly bitter taste of caraway adds a completely new dimension to breads.

Caraway seed bread recipe
Caraway seed bread recipe

Caraway seed bread recipe

A great bread for tasty sandwiches or creamy vegetable soups. Delicious also with pastrami, mustard and gherkins (my personal favourite). Add slightly more or less caraway seeds than recommended below to intensify or lessen the flavour kick. The sharpness of the mustard and gherkins works incredibly well with the distinctively bitter, yet warm and sweet taste of the caraway seeded bread.

Caraway bread ingredients

For the sourdough starter

For the main dough

  • 180g strong white bread flour
  • 80g dark rye flour
  • 150g water
  • 8g salt
  • 10g caraway seeds

How to make caraway bread

  1. Prepare the sourdough by combining the various ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well and cover the bowl. Leave to rest overnight (16 – 24 hours).
  2. On day 2, prepare the main dough by combining 300g of the sourdough from day 1 (the remaining 30g go back into the fridge for future bakes) with the main dough ingredients.
  3. Mix well and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Rest for about an hour, then shape into a loaf before placing it in your pre-floured proofing basket.
  5. Leave to proof for a few hours (this will depend on your room temperature), then preheat the oven. If you have a La Cloche baking dome, preheat this in the oven from cold.
  6. Turn out the loaf from your proofing basket to the baking tray (lined with baking paper) or the La Cloche dome.
  7. Make a few slashes with your scoring knife.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 220°C and for another 45 minutes at 200°C. Take the lid off the dome for the last 10 minutes if using the La Cloche dome.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Grünkern (green spelt) bread recipe

 

Browsing the local delights of the organic grocery store in my home town in Austria, I picked up a bag of Grünkern. The greenish grains looked pretty and unique on the shelf! Grünkern grains are unripe spelt kernels cultivated predominantly in Southern Germany. Although mainly used for soups and vegetarian burgers, I wanted to incorporate some of this unique green spelt grain in a sourdough Grünkern bread.

Grünkern sourdough
Grünkern sourdough bread

What is Grünkern?

Grünkern (German for ‘green kernel’) is spelt, harvested when green, in the dough stage of ripening, and then dried. Historically, harvesting spelt so early and before it reaches its full ripeness was a reaction to periods of adverse weather, which destroyed crops and resulted in poor harvests. It was a way to prevent crop failure.

Grünkern
Grünkern

The green spelt grains are harvested when the starch isn’t fully developed and the kernels are still soft and juicy at about 50% moisture content. Grains are dried over a beechwood fire or in hot air dryers – right down to a moisture content of 10 to 13%. Once dried, the outer husk is removed. Have a look at gruenkern.de for more information around the harvesting process, then and now.

The dried green spelt kernels smell aromatic and a little bit like fresh hay. The aroma remains uniquely pleasant and hearty when cooked with water, so it became a tradition to harvest a portion of the spelt as Grünkern. Grünkern doesn’t tend to be milled and is typically available as whole grains or chopped grains.

If this sounds similar to another grain, Freekeh, then you are right. Freekeh is also harvested green, then roasted. The difference? Freekeh is made from green unripe durum wheat and dates back to the ancient regions of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria while Grünkern is made from spelt and is still mainly produced in Germany.

How Grünkern was made

Watch these videos showcasing the Grünkern harvest back in the 1970s in Germany.

Where to buy Grünkern in the UK?

I’ve only seen Grünkern on Amazon in the UK. Unfortunately, other probable places such as Real Foods or Buy Whole Foods Online don’t seem to stock it.

Grünkern bread recipe

This recipe adds Grünkern to a wholemeal spelt sourdough loaf. Adding black treacle enhances the flavours, but you can easily leave out the treacle if you would like to taste the pure Grünkern flavours.

Grünkern bread
Grünkern bread

Ingredients

For the sourdough

For the Grünkern soaker

  • 175g Grünkern
  • 350g water

For the main dough

  • 220g spelt flour
  • 50g water
  • 14g salt
  • 1 tbsp malt extract

How to bake Grünkern bread

Day 1

  • Prepare the sourdough by combining your spelt starter with the spelt flour and water. Mix well in a bowl, cover with a lid and leave to stand at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
  • Combine Grünkern and water in a pan, cover and leave to soak overnight.

Day 2

  • Drain the Grünkern and bring to a boil in a pan with 350g water. Simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
  • In a large bowl, combine 440g of the sourdough (the remaining 25g go back into the fridge for your next bake) with the main dough ingredients.
  • Form a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Add the Grünkern to the dough and knead until evenly distributed.
  • Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • Prepare a baking tin (23 x 11 x 9.5 cm) by lightly oiling it. I use a silicone brush to do that.
  • Place the dough into the tin and prove for 2 – 4 hours depending on the temperature in your room. The dough should rise visibly, filling the tin to the top.
  • Preheat the oven to 250°C.
  • Place the baking tin on the second layer from bottom up and bake for 15 minutes, then bake for a further 25 minutes at 180°C and a final 10 minutes outside the tin at 180°C.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
Grünkern spelt bread
Grünkern spelt bread