The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Detmolder rye bread

nicodvb's picture

Detmolder rye bread

I made several times this particular rye bread, but I never bothered to take pictures before; moreover this time it came out better than the other times.

This rye bread is very particular because it's not a traditional bread in any sense: it was studied at the Detmold insititute -based in Germany- to take out all the taste components of rye. It's prepared in 3 (actually 4) stages to develop yeasts, acetic acid and lactic acid (in this order) in each of the 3 refreshments preliminary to the final dough.

The recipe I followed is explained on the very excellent Samartha's site here that also provides a very easy calculator.


I wanted to use 500 grams of flour with a final hydratation of 85% plus 2% of salt, thus I ended adding 425 grams of water and 10 grams of salt (~920 gr of dough is the ideal mass for my 12 inches plum-cake form).

The refreshments were done as follows:

-10 gr of rye sourdough, 20 gr of flour, 30 grams of water, fermented for 6 hours at 26°C

-15 gr of the previous levain, 75 gr of flour, 45 gr of water, fermented for 24 hours at 24°C

-all the previous levain (135 gr that almost didnt' rise because it was too stiff), 202 gr of flour, 203 gr of water fermented for 3 hours at 30°C

(it rose a lot, it more than tripled).

final dough with 10 gr of salt dissolved in 169 gr of water and mixed with the starter, 216 gr of flour.

I kneded briefly in the air just to get a homogeneous mass, than I put the dough in a bread form and let it rise at °28C for 2 hours.

Baked at 200°C for 50 minutes, the 30 minuted with lid on. This time I preheated the oven, but next time I'll go back to the usual cold-oven  method because the bread came out a bit drier than I'm accustomed to (this time it was exactly almost as moist as ordinary white bread, that I don't like).


If you like sour bread this one is for you! It's perfect except for 2 points: the over-baking said above and the lack of the sweet component that comes with a hot soaker. Next time I'll modify the formula using a part of the third levain as soaker.


The picture came out a bit darker than the real thing because I applied too many corrections ;)

This bread really deserves a test, it's delicious.

ananda's picture

Hi Nico,

How good to see you posting on Detmolder.

I take it this is 100% rye.   I'll have a look at the link to Samartha's site later; Hamelman's work on this was pretty revelatory at the time.

I'm so into rye at the mo'!   Fortnightly routine now involves pumpernickel, steamed for 7 hours [please see my blog for this; ], plus caraway rye and molasses [rye sour @ 25%] plus Pain de Campagne w' rye @ 10%.

Anyway, not to detract from your own work: lovely stuff; you should have your own blog for work of this quality

Very best wishes...Ciao!



wally's picture

even with the photo darkened.  How long did you wait to cut into it?  I've done 3 bakes now using the Detmolder method and Hamelman's recipes and I'm impressed at the degree of flavor development and also with the lasting power of the loaves.  One lasted me two weeks (I kept it wrapped in plastic wrap and moistened it a bit from time to time near the end).

Nicely done!


nicodvb's picture

before slicing it. I keep it in a linen sheet and it keeps perfectly for 15 days, without dryint out.

Thanks to both for you words.

Andy, I'm a bit allergic to blogs, really. Having to manage web sites takes takes to this ;)

Guees what? At the moment I'm cooking a schrotbrot (2/3 with cracked rye and 1/3 with 3-stage sourdough). I have to wait 2 more hours to complete the 8-hours baking.

nicodvb's picture

Feeling that the Detmolder process lacked a sweet flavor  I tried to extend it dedicating 20% of the flour to a soaker made with hot water (the usual tried and true method of scalding flour).

I had to change significantly the percentages of flour decicated to each step, but finally I came out with the following method that works with the same principles. I have to say that my pattern looks like a detmolder just like a fly looks like an elephant, but ... it works :) Besides my method has the advantage of yielding a 40x increment in weight (rather than 216x), so if you want to get 1000 gr of final dough (final hydratation is Mini's magical 85%) start with 1000/40=25 gr of starter. The dough increment is roughly 3x at each refreshment, that I find much more reasonable for my uses.

This is the pattern:


starter from
previous build
flour water desired temperature
1 1 2 let triple at 26°C - 6 hours
4 7 2 26°C (detmolder calls for 24!) - 12 hours
13 9 6 30°C - 3 hours
soaker made
with step 2:
4 8(boiling water) 65°C downward (close in a cover) - 12 hours
Total: 40


Note that i reduced the duration of step 2 from 24 hours down to 12 hours because the rate of refreshment is much lower (1:9 in Detmolder, 4:13 in step 2).

I cooked starting from a cold oven at 200°C with cover for 30 minutes and without cover for 20 minutes.

The taste is excellent -one of the best I experienced in my many bakings- because to the complexity of the original Detmolder the scalding contributes significantly with its sweetness.


ananda's picture

Hi Nico,

Please can you provide a summary of the revised method, using the soaker, as a reply?

This looks truly excellent bread; I'm sure your analysis of the flavour complexity is spot-on.

I've always thought 85% hydration is the magical no. overall.   Nothing gets past Mini, you know!



nicodvb's picture

I hope I understood  your question correctly.

I proceeded following this method:

-the first leaven was prepared with 1 part of starter dissolved in 2 parts of warm water and 1 of dark rye flour. I let it triple at approximately 26 degrees (5-6 hours). Hydrataton was 2.5/1.5 = 166%

-the second starter was prepared adding to the first 2 parts of warm water and 7 of dark rye flour. I let it ferment for 12 hours at ~24 degrees, during which the leaven grew little or nothing, but it fermented for sure. Hydratation was 4.5 / 8.5 = 53%

-at the same time I prepared the soaker pouring 8 parts of boiling water over 4 of flour and mixing well, then closing the jar and enveloping it in a blanket

-final dough was prepared dissolving 2% of salt (w.r.t. flour) in 6 parts of warm water, using this water to dissolve the soaker and the second leaven mixed together and adding 9 parts of flour. After having kneaded the dough in the air as much as necessary to get a homogeneous mass I put it in a oiled purex and let it rise covered at 30 degrees for 3 hours.

Of course all of the above measuring "parts"  in weight, not in volume.

I hope I answered your question, otherwise just ask;)

Thanks a lot!

ehanner's picture

Well done Nico. I love the looks of your bread. I especially like your metaphor of the fly and elephant. Your thinking on this formula makes perfect sense. I have a few questions before I go out and try this for myself.

This build was made with all dark (wholegrain )Rye flour. Is that correct?

I like to include chops or meal and usually whole berries that have been soaked and cooked. Do you think I could get good results using these course ingredients in the soaker? 

And finally, are you of the opinion that this bread gets better tasting after a few days?

You are on the cutting here Nico. Brave and bold. I appreciate your efforts.


nicodvb's picture

I appreciate a lot your kind words.

The answer to all your questions is yes: the flour was all dark; in the soaker cracked or  whole berries would fit perfectly, just like a touch of altus that you surely have.

As for aging I have to say that there's something magical in rye breads: after cooking they seem to continue their evolution because they markedly improve their taste. This bread is no exception: today it's already better than yesterday, as it's sweeter.

I want to tell you what happened with one particular bread I made (it was entirely made with boiled water): the day after the baking it was very sour, so much acidic that I couldn't eat it; the next day all acidity was gone and it tasted heavenly.


There's another particularity that I noticed: if kept pre-sliced in a linen the bread seems to get more taste more quickly than when left uncut, as if it needed to breath. If you watch carefully the last cut side is always darker and tastier than what is inside. Does it make sense?

nicodvb's picture

that if you add a lot of berries (whole or cracked) you will probably need some more flour in the final dough if it comes out too liquid. As usual Mini and Andy described perfectly well the consistence the "dough" should have when mixed: if it tends to break and drip through your fingers  it's too wet and will make a hole during baking.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and I agree with your observations.  It makes sense.  It must be oxidation.  Red wines also need to be exposed to the air before drinking to bring out their flavors as well.  Thinly sliced dried meats, aged cheese, these all taste better when air has reached them prior to enjoying and when they are sliced thin, exposing more surface area.  Must have something to do with the tastebuds on our tongues too.

The loaf has a nice crown and the consistant crumb is a pleasure to behold! 

I have a loaf sitting in the refrigerator now for two weeks.  (Gasp! …Arrest me!)  And it is also getting darker and the flavor just keeps getting better.  It is firm, but I warm it up first before eating.  It is just too good!  My little dog parks herself next to me and prays quietly, often making eye contact.  She tries not to look but I know she stares holes thru  my bread.

I cut a few slices ahead of time and keep them in a plastic sack with the loaf in the refrigerator.  When a slice warms up on the plate, it is darker, ever so slightly. 

I've been following this thread but I must go to bed.