A Coast-to-Coast South Tyrolean (Merano) Rye/Meraner Striezl

Rye %: 61%
Stages: 2-stage rye sponge, Wheat sponge, Soaker, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture
Start to Finish: 26-30 hours
Hands-on Time: 45-60 minutes
Yield: Two 28 oz/800 g loaves

If there’s a rye bread equivalent of the Perfect Storm – that is, when all the ideal conditions come together at the same time – this bread is it. Start with the formula for a classic South Tyrolean Merano Rye from Austrian master baker/blogger Dietmar Kappl, then use it to showcase two spectacular artisan flours – California-grown Abruzzi rye from Grist & Toll and organic heritage emmer from Maine Grains – and you come up with a bread that’s very, very special.

Like most Alpine ryes, this one is built on multiple sponges – a 2-stage sour rye sponge and a one-stage emmer (wheat) sponge seeded with rye sour culture. The result is an amazingly complex, well-balanced sour that complements the sweet nuttiness of emmer, the fragrance of fennel and the spicy sweetness of this earthy heirloom rye. A stale rye bread soaker adds tenderness to the open crumb, encased in a dry baked, chewy crust.

When I first tasted this bread, I was at a loss for what to pair it with: frankly, almost anything I could think of would only, to my mind, become a distraction from this extraordinary chew. So here’s my suggestion: Don’t pair it with anything. Eat it unadorned, or perhaps with a light coating of sweet butter and concentrate on this wonderful symphony of flavors.

Stage 1 Rye sponge (Day 1, Afternoon):

Ingredient Grams Ounces Baker’s
Wholegrain or Medium rye flour 85 3.00 100%
Warm (105°F/41°C) water 110 3.90 129%
Rye sour culture 7 0.25 8%

In a bowl, combine the Stage 1 rye sponge ingredients by hand, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) 16-24 hours. The sponge will have a strong sour aroma, and will have begun to fall back on itself.



Wheat sponge (Day 1, Evening):

Ingredient Grams Ounces Baker’s
AP or bread flour 150 5.30 100%
Warm (105°F/41°C) water 150 5.30 100%
Rye sour culture 7 0.25 5%

In a separate container, combine the Wheat sponge ingredients, cover and ferment at room temperature for 16-20 hours. The sponge will have a strong sour aroma, and will have begun to fall back on itself.



Stage 2 Rye sponge (Day 2, Midday):

Ingredient Grams Ounces Baker’s
Stage 1 sponge 202 7.10 122%
Wholegrain or Medium rye flour 165 5.80 100%
Warm (105°F/41°C) water 290 10.25 176%

Add the Stage 2 sponge ingredients to the Stage 1 sponge, hand mix until blended, cover and ferment at room temperature for 3-4 hours. The sponge will have nearly tripled in volume and show broken bubbles on the surface.



Soaker (Day 2, Midday):

Ingredient Grams Ounces Baker’s
Stale rye bread, broken 70 2.45 100%
Warm (105°F/41°C) water 180 6.35 257%

In a separate container combine the Soaker ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 2-4 hours.




When the bread has softened, mash it finely with a fork.





Final Dough: (Day 2, Afternoon)

Ingredient Grams Ounces
Stage 2 rye sponge 657 23.20
Wheat sponge 307 10.85
Soaker 250 8.80
Wholegrain or Medium rye flour 300 10.60
AP or bread flour 200 7.05
Warm (105°F/41°C) water 150 5.30
Salt (1¼ Tbs) 22 0.80
Fennel seed (1 Tbs) 5 0.20

In the mixer bowl, combine the final dough ingredients and use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed to mix until fully blended into a soft, moderately sticky dough that begins to gather around the hook, 5-6 minutes. Cover and ferment at room temperature until the dough has visibly expanded and shows broken bubbles on the surface, 30-40 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and divide into two pieces,  weighing just over 2 lb/935 g. Shape into rounds or oblongs and place them, seam-side down, into well-floured proofing baskets.

Cover and proof at room temperature until the dough has expanded to about 1½ times its original volume and shows cracks or broken bubbles, 35-40 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 480°F/250°C with the baking surface in the middle. Bake without steam for 7 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 390°F/200°C and continue baking until the loaves thump when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, 45-50 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

Baker’s Percentages:

Ingredient g %
TOTAL FLOUR 900 100.00%
  Whole or medium rye flour 550 61.11%
  AP or bread flour 350 38.89%
Water 700 77.78%
Salt 22 2.44%
Rye sour culture 14 1.56%
Soaker water 180 20.00%
Stale bread 70 7.78%
Fennel, ground 5 0.56%
TOTAL FORMULA 1,891 210.11%
Flour prefermented 400 44.44%


  • Brad Prezant

    August 26, 2017

    Wow. Drooling already.

  • Karin Anderson

    August 28, 2017

    Beautiful loaves!
    Dietmar Kappl’s blog is a great source for breads, I do appreciate that he is willing to share his recipes even though he works in a bakery.
    The little package of emmer grains, a welcome gift from the Maine Grain Alliance) that I sowed in my front yard just yielded a harvest of about 1/4 cup (but I bought some emmer at the Kneading Conference, too). I’m really glad that Maine farmers grow heritage grains again, and I can get Maine rye now from my supplier.

  • Mark Woodward

    September 11, 2017

    The flavor of this bread is superb! Having neither emmer nor Abruzizi rye, I made it with freshly milled generic organic rye from my local organic market and Anson Mills’ French heritage white flour. I found the hydration level way too high, even after discarding the excess water from the soaker (next time I’ll save it and discard excess filtered water). I should have remembered that that white flour absorbs less water than many bread flours and that my freshly milled rye also seems less absorptive than some, but I didn’t think to hold some water back until it was too late. Shaping was out of the question so I just scooped the dough into a short Pullman pan. I got great oven rise, to the extent that the top burst half off (next time, if I do it this way again, I’ll score the top). So I’ve got a great sandwich bread rather than a hearth bread, but, like I said, the flavor is exceptionally good, and the crumb relatively soft and open. I’ll definitely be making more of these.


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