The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spices of Bread

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Spices of Bread

June 20, 2006

I can't imagine what my loaves would be without the wonderful special bread spices. Oh poppycock, yes I do, they would be bland and almost boring. You see I bake low salt. Now if I want to cut back on the salt something has to add some flavour. I started out putting in bread spices (the flavour) not because of the lack of salt but just because I like it. Reducing the salt was easy.

When my local baker found out I would be going off to a foreign land, and would probably be baking, (Why bother in Austria where the bread, cheese and wine are so good!) he would give me a good 1/4 kilo portion of his special brotgewürz. On one condition, that I don't bring any of it back with me and go into competition with him. Fair enough.

Rye is my favorite grain, followed by oats and corn. Now when I first started out with rye, something always seemed to be missing. I threw in all kinds of combinations and included molasses. Molasses was a key. Eliminate the sugar and add molasses. Caraway rye, well who never heard of caraway and rye? Now the rye needed some glue and white bread flour fit the bill, a handful or two, and sometimes powdered milk, sometimes a spoon or two of oil. The secret was the spices and plenty of it. Well, my baker died, God bless his soul, and with him his secret. Before I came here to China, I also knew I'd be baking so off I went to my Austrian Supermarket in search of spice.... and low and behold! They now sell Brotgewürz and in the handy 320gm plastic vacuum sealed jar! Perfect for traveling.

You may laugh about this or you may cry but I'm just happy. It isn't quite the same, but it's very good. Now what are those ingredients? Well a combination of Fennel, Coriander and Caraway seeds, crushed. Packaged by Kotanyi GmbH In what proportions it doesn't say but it wouldn't take too long to figure it out. I personally add more caraway and it is a very hard seed to crush. I even like it in white bread or sprinkled on top of rolls.

The recipe on the label is for Farmer's bread from Frank Zimmer, a classic:

Farmer's Rye Bread

  • 570 gm Rye Bread Flour
  • 60 gm Wheat Bread Flour
  • 500 ml Water
  • 16 gm Sourdough
  • 13 gm Salt
  • 15 gm Yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons Brotgewürz or mix of Crushed Fennel, Coriander and Caraway

Mix all ingredients into a dough and knead till smooth and elastic. Let rest 30 minutes. Put into the desired shape and form and eventually bake in preheated oven 200°c for 65 minutes.

I haven't tried this recipe but it seems in order. I would reduce the salt to less than 10 gm. (one teaspoon=5 gm) If you choose to use only sourdough and no commercial yeast, I suggest letting it rise in floured form for 20 min before putting into the oven. As you can see, there is no sugar, A flat tablespoon of honey or molasses might help the sourdough rise. If your sourdough is as soupy as mine, use two cups of it and reduce the water above to about 200ml or 300ml. The dough looks like a wet one. The kind I like to beat in the bowl with a sturdy spoon.

Try putting some spices into your favorite recipe. Have you tried any yet? It's great just wiffing the jar! Have Fun.... :) Mini Oven


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I went to my corner supermarket and got very curious over the bins of flour, grains, cereals, etc. and decided to do some investigating. I bought about 200gm of each sample and dragged them home. The sales lady was very careful not to misslabel anything. Thought I found Rye flour, nope but very close... Barley flour, all other flour samples have too little gluten to form a ball with a little water. So far I've identified tiny glutinous yellow rice grains, Buckwheat flour and Sorghum flour. Oh and Lotus flour. Now if I only knew what to do with the stuff. Any ideas? Thanks.
Mini Oven :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is that Rye needs the sourdough, that's the real secret.  If you bake lots of rye bread, it needs to be soured, and the best way to sour it is combining a fair amout of rye flour in the recipe with a sourdough starter and letting it blend a while.   Adding pickle juice or vinegar to sour the rye will work but it has its limits and the flavour is better with sourdough.   Once commercial yeast is added to the dough, there is limited time to get that loaf into the oven before it deflates forever.  

Mini O

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


"KOTANYI"  Brotgewürz  (Breadspice) geschrotet (crushed).   Füllgewicht (g): (content weight in grams)  340g   Mindestens haltbar bis Ende:  (Good until at least:) 04.09.2010 ( L0709261022 (Lot no. blablabla)   Zutaten:  (Ingredients:)  Fenchel, Koriander, Kümmel.  (Fennel, Coriander, Caraway)   Gut verschlossen aufbewahren!  (Keep closed for storage!)  KOTANYI GmbH (name of company) A 2120 Wolkersdorf PF 66  (Austria zipcode Village-in-the-Clouds  Post-office-box 66)

The little ying/yang arrow symbol means to please recycle the empty package when finished.

Brotgewürz ist eine Mischung feinster Gewürze.  (Breadspice is a fine <=> mixture Spices.)  Bauernbrot bereiten Sie ganz einfach so zu:  (Farmers's bread is made You totally easy so to: or You can easily make Farmer's bread:)

  • 57 dag Roggenmehl (57 decigrams or 570g Rye flour)
  • 6 dag Weizenmehl (60g Wheat flour)
  • 1/2 l Wasser  (half a litre water)
  • 16 g Sauerteig (16 g Sourdough)
  • 13 g salz  (salt)
  • 15 g Hefe (Yeast, fresh yeast) und (and)
  • 4 EL (EL is a Tablespoon) Brotgewürz (spice)    

zu einem Teig verarbeiten.   (Mix to form a dough.)  Den gut durchgekneteten  Teig warmstellen... (Put the well mixed dough in a warm place...) und eine 1/2 Stunde lang gehen lassen. (and rest one half hour.)  Anschließend den Teig... (Eventually the dough...) in die gewünschte Form bringen... (should be laid into the desired baking form...) und im vorgeheizten Backrohr bei ca. 200 Grad 65 Minuten lang backen.  (and bake in a preheated oven, at about 200°c, 65 minutes long.)

That's all it says, Eric. 

Hey, I have never toasted my seeds for spice before, I just ground them when I didn't have this mix. I think the main seeds are coriander and caraway with some of the fennel thrown in. One just might be toasted, like the coriander, try giving a tablespoon 5 min on parchment paper at 350°F and see what happens.

Mini O

Thegreenbaker's picture

Goodness me Minni Oven!

I havent played with Buckwheat, lotus or sorghum. You will have an interesting time playing with them!


Your baking sounds like mine. It also sounds like my cooking style :D


I agree with your comment about rye and sourdough. I went for a while making bread with a percentage of rye, yet it just didnt quite make the grade after I had tried sourdough rye. That is good stuff!


I wonder if things like barley flour are too weak in structure to make a decent bread. Not that I have tried, yet I have made pancakes with it, and, it tends to just fall apart. It has gluten, but I made better pancakes with Spelt than Barley! In its defence, it does lend a lovely lovely flavour to them.

Good luck with your experimenting. I look forward to reeading more of your posts. I do enjoy reading them and seeing your photos :D