Bohemian Forest Bread/ Böhmerwaldbrot
(Austria/Bavaria/Czech Republic)

Rye %:

86%

Stages:

Stage 1 Rye Sponge, Stage 2 Rye Sponge, Wheat Sponge, Soaker, Final Dough

Leaven:

Rye sour culture

Start to Finish:

20-22 hours

Hands-on Time:

45-60 minutes

Yield:

Two 2 pound/900 gram loaves

I found this bread in Dietmar Kappl’s’ ever-fascinating blog, homebaking.at and was immediately intrigued by its provenance – the region once known as Bohemia, and which today straddles the borders of three countries – Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. By both its geography and methodology – multiple rye and wheat sponges, a stale bread soaker and the addition of a fragrant spice (fennel) – this Bohemian Forest Bread bears all the hallmarks of an Alpine/South-Central European rye bread.

Kappl’s formula calls for two types of rye flour: an Austrian Type 960, which is one grade darker than white rye – and which is virtually unobtainable in the US – and Austrian Type 2500, which is equivalent to Bay State’s dark rye flour. To make the formula more accessible to US bakers, I calculated the final ash content of Kappl’s flours and recalibrated the formula using more easily obtainable white rye and medium rye flours.

The end result? This is a lovely bread that offers everything I look for in a rye bread – a tender, moderately open crumb, chewy crust, the pronounced nutty flavor of the rye, underlain with the subtle fragrance of fennel; and a clean, mild sour finish. In all, it’s a versatile loaf that pairs nicely with all kinds of cheeses and charcuterie, as well as smoked and cured fish. I like it for breakfast, lightly coated with butter, then liberally covered with raw onion and Baltic herring – my idea of Jewish sushi.

Wheat Sponge (Day 1, Evening):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Bread flour

60

2.10

100%

Water

50

1.75

83%

Rye sour culture

5

0.20

8%

Combine the sponge ingredients, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) for 18-20 hours. The sponge will be very bubbly, have tripled in volume and will have begun to collapse back on itself.

 

 

Stage 1 Rye Sponge (Day 1, Evening):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

White rye flour

120

4.25

100%

Water

84

2.95

70%

Rye sour culture

10

0.35

8%

In the mixer bowl, mix the stage 1 ingredients by hand into a stiff sponge, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) 12-14 hours. The sponge will double in volume and show cracks and broken bubbles on the surface.

 

Stage 2 Rye Sponge (Day 2, Morning)

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Medium rye flour

240

8.45

100%

Water

276

9.75

115%

Stage 1 rye sponge

214

7.55

89%

Add the stage 2 ingredients to the stage 1 sponge, mix by hand, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) for 5-6 hours. The sponge will have doubled in volume and show cracks and/or broken bubbles on the surface.

 

Soaker (Day 2, Morning)

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Stale rye bread

50

1.75

100%

Warm (110°F/43°C) water

400

14.10

800%

Break the stale rye bread into small pieces and combine with the water in a separate container. Let stand until the bread has absorbed most or all of the water and breaks up easily.

 

 

Final Dough (Day 2, Afternoon):

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Wheat sponge

115

4.00

Stage 2 rye sponge

730

25.75

Soaker

450

15.85

Medium rye flour

650

22.95

Bread flour

100

3.55

Water

400

14.10

Salt

25

0.90

Fennel seed, ground

8

0.30

In the mixer bowl, combine the final dough ingredients and use the dough hook to mix at low (KA2) speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until fully blended into a firm dough that leaves the sides of the bowl, 7-8 minutes.

 

Cover the bowl and ferment at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume and shows broken bubbles on the surface, 60-75 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and divide it into two pieces, each weighing about 2¼ lb/1,000 g. Use floured hands to shape each piece into a boule and place seam side down into a floured brotform or cloth-lined proofing basket. Cover loosely with a cloth or plastic wrap and proof at room temperature until the dough has visibly expanded and shows cracks, about 30 minutes.

Turn the loaves onto a well-floured peel, if using a baking stone, or parchment-lined sheet pan and proof at room temperature for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 485°F/250°C with the baking surface in the middle and a steam pan on a lower shelf. Bake with steam for 3-5 minutes, then remove the steam pan. Continue baking at 485°F/250°C for an additional 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 395°F/200°C and bake until the loaves thump when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 203°F/95°C, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

Baker’s Percentages:

Ingredient

g

%

TOTAL FLOUR

1,170

100.00%

Medium rye flour

890

76.07%

White rye flour

120

10.26%

Bread flour

160

13.68%

Water

810

69.23%

Salt

25

2.14%

Rye sour culture

15

1.28%

Stale bread

50

4.27%

Fennel seed

8

0.68%

TOTAL FORMULA

2,078

177.61%

Flour Prefermented

420

35.90%


4 Comments

  • Karin Anderson

    February 8, 2020

    Praise to you, Stanley, for “translating” the specialty European rye flour types to some we can get here in the US.
    Dietmar has a great blog, I tried several of his loaves. And I prefer the “Jewish Sushi” anytime

    Reply
  • Chris

    March 27, 2020

    Great knowledge shared, grateful Joe Beddia (awesome pizza master)mentioned you and the supplies that are offered. But feeling a bit strange, what is rye sour culture? Different from rye starter?

    Reply

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