The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Vollkornbrot from Hamelman's "Bread"

dmsnyder's picture

Vollkornbrot from Hamelman's "Bread"

Hamelman's "Vollkornbrot" is a 100% rye bread with sunflower seeds. The flour Hamelman calls for is "rye meal," which I just happend to have in quantity due to my error in ordering "medium rye meal" when I had intended to order "medium rye flour" from Well, as Kubler-Ross wrote, "There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from."

As it happens, I have intended to work on baking 100% rye breads for some time, my  past attempts having been less than wonderful. Clearly, my unconscious mind highjacked my order. So, after blessing my unconscious ... or something like that ... I proceded to takle this project.

Hamelman's formula for Vollkornbrot calls for 68.4% rye meal and 31.6% rye chops. I had abundant rye meal (see above), and I had a pound of cracked rye from Central Milling, which I used in lieu of rye chops.  60% of the rye meal is pre-fermented. The cracked rye is included in the form of a 100% hydration soaker. The overall hydration of the dough is 82.1%.

Other than substituting cracked rye for rye chops, I followed Hamelman's formula and procedures to the letter. The dough was drier than I expected, but still very sticky. It had no difficulty holding together. I shaped it on a wet board with wet hands and, after shaping a log, placed it in a pullman pan and smoothed it out with a spatula. The top was dusted with more rye meal, as instructed by Hamelman. I baked it with steam for 15 minutes at 470 dF then for another 60 minutes at 380 dF. I then dumped the loaf out of the pan and baked another 15 minutes with the loaf sitting on a baking stone. This was to firm up the crust, although it was very firm already when taken out of the pan.

After baking and cooling on a rack for several hours, I wrapped the loaf in baker's linen and let it rest for about 30 hours before slicing. The crust was very firm and chewy. The crumb was very dense, as you can see, moist but not gummy. The aroma and flavor were earthy and slightly sweet. I had some for breakfast with cream cheese and smoked salmon and enjoyed it. I think this bread would make great Danish-style open face sandwiches.

I have never had this type of bread before, except once long ago from an imported package. So, I really don't have a good model with which to compare my bread. From what I've read and pictures I've seen, I think I hit the target. I wish I knew how close to the bullseye I got. This bake was certainly superior to my few previous attempts at a 100% rye bread.

I'm hoping TFL members with more experience than I have of this type of bread will offer constructive criticism and suggestions.



bikeprof's picture

Here is my 2nd Volk attempt, this time following JH's formula.  Not having access to examplars, I'm a bit at a loss as to what to think.  Using JH's directions (and using my new proofing box which worked nicely), it all seemed to come together just fine, although I ended up adding just a bit additional water to the final mix.

I did not get as much rise/spring as I was hoping for, and while I know this is supposed to be dense and most, but it again seems a bit far in that direction.  And while it is very flavorful, it had little tang at all (despite the sourdough portion fermenting nicely for 16hrs, and being quite puffy and fragrant when adding to the final mix).

The most likely things in my mind to work on is my timing of the bulk fermentation and final rise, and perhaps mixing (I went just as far as it needed for a thorough mix of ingredients and little beyond that - but I have little to use as a gauge on this.  JH suggests just making sure everything is well incorporated).


dmsnyder's picture

Analysis of your crumb photo may provide useful suggestions. It's kind of like reading tea leaves - an arcane practice known only to the cognoscenti, of which I am not one. 

I suggest asking Mini Oven and Andy (ananda on TFL). Please share their advice.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You did so well!  An excellent rye loaf.  The thread did get a little gruff (no fault of your own) I think it scared me off.  Sorry.  I do tend to freeze half the bake after a few days standing.   

I love this type of bread for open faced sandwiches, or just thin sliced with butter wedged between.  If bikeprof doesn't get back with the advice, I'll post our comments.  

gerda39's picture

What an amazing thread! It spans over a year!

I am about to start baking through the JH's chapter on rye breads and was shopping around for rye ingredients, which at a rough calculation came up to 15lbs of medium rye flour, 5lbs of rye meal, and 4lbs of rye chops to try each recipe full size once. In case my research is of benefit to fellow bakers here, I decided to go with Central Milling for flour and will replace chops with their cracked rye. At $5.64 for a 5lb bag of organic medium-white (on the medium side, they assure me) rye flour, this is a WAY better deal than $9/3lbs from KAF (as much as I love KAF); and a better amount for me than the 50lb bag from Honeyville farms, as generous as their shipping charge of $5 (have not checked, but saw that in one post on this thread) is. I think cracked rye will do fine in place of rye chops (Elliot from GM, who has been really helpful, assures me that the pieces produced by these two different processes are roughly identical in size, and cracked rye might just need to be soaked for a bit longer or in a bit warmer water). KAF is out of chops for the moment, not that I even want to guess how much 5 of their 1lb packages would run me ;) GM's FedEx shipping of $18 bites a bit, but this is the best deal I could find. Suggestions are welcome! :D

On to my dilemma though: GM only offers pumpernickel rye meal of the COARSE grade. Those of you who have baked rye breads, perhaps specifically those from JH's 'Bread', what grade of meal would you recommend? I understand that an experienced rye baker can probably play this by ear, but to a novice it is just easier to figure out what went wrong (as something so often does with first-time recipes ;), when at least the ingredients approached those specified. I see that NYB offers each fine/medium/coarse types of the meal, at $9/3lbs plus a $9 shipping charge for those of us not fortunate enough to live in San Diego. And here I was getting excited that I can check them out on my trip to NY in a few days, seeing how they are "NY" Bakers after all. Duh...

And since I have you all on the line, one thing I somehow am confused about on-and-off. 'Pumpernickel flour' versus 'whole grain rye flour'. Are these one and the same thing? KAF describes it pumpernickle flour with the following "It's the rye equivalent of whole wheat flour. Contains all the bran, all the germ, all the goodness and taste. Organic pumpernickel & rye flour in a 3-lb. package." Umm... if pumpernickle is just a whole grain rye, what does it mean "pumpernickel & rye flour"? Hmm. Hodson Mill, which is the brand of 'dark' rye flour I am able to find in local stores and have been using, just says "whole grain rye flour. All of the nutrients... are still present in each bag of flour. There is nothing added and nothing taken away".

Thanks and sorry for the long post!

pmccool's picture

I use the Hodgson Mill product for breads that call for pumpernickel or rye meal, with good results.  Since you can get that locally, it will save you money on shipping charges.


dmsnyder's picture

The lack of standards for rye products certainly can be confusing.

Did you find CM flour locally, or are they shipping to you?

Regarding rye chops vs cracked rye: I have also been told they can be interchanged, but cracked rye needs more soaking. 

Regarding whole rye vs pumpernickel: Whole rye could be ground coarse, medium or fine. Pumpernickel is, by definition, whole rye flour that is coarsely ground. However, I have seen a lot of variation in just how coarse pumpernickel appears. And I have a bag of "medium rye meal" from NY Bakers that is much coarser than my pumpernickel flour from KAF.

Good luck and Happy Baking!


Old Dog's picture
Old Dog

I'm in agreement with David on the lack of standards for rye flour in this country. Often dark rye is labelled as whole grain. That may be so for some brands, but it is not so for all.  JH says dark rye is comprised of just the outer portion of the rye berry.  This is what is available to me at my local bulk foods store, but the store owner insists it's whole grain. The flour is sandy and brownish, similar to buckwheat flour in appearance.  Pumpernickel has a more variable color with much contrast between grains both in color and grain size.  I currently use ConAgra 100% Rye Meal/Pumpernickel.  That's how it's labelled.  It's quite coarse, more than even the coarsest corn meal. The Honeyville Grain medium rye is true medium rye. I like that flour a great deal. It's best to inquire and try a few to make sure you have what is called for in the recipe. I have found JH's formulas to be almost full proof when I use the exact ingredients for which he calls. 

Since my last post on this thread I've picked up a 50lb of the Honeyville Grain rye flakes.  They are often running 10-15% off specials which they announce in their email newsletter. 

My favorite thing about the vollkornbrot is how fragrant the loaves are during the bake.  Wow.  


gerda39's picture

Thank you all for responding! Wow, I do not know if to think I am less or more confused now! Haha, I bet they would not tolerate this sort of lack of standards with rye flours in Germany, where, from what I understand, rye flour is treated much like white flour with specifications on what percentage if bran and such it contains, and similar fine distinctions...

I am gathering the bottomline is that I will be ok with coarse pumpernickel meal from CM (for Central Milling - sorry about the inexplicable repeated 'GM' typo in my earlier post), seeing how the meal Old Dog is using is quite coarse. And thanks for the tip, by the way on the Honeyville farms email list - I should get on that. Have you used any of their bread flours by any chance and what was your experience?

David, I wish I had a CM distributor in my area, but if there is one, from what I can tell, it is a 4 hour drive away. Hence the $18 shipping charge...

When I do get my order from CM, I will have assembled KAF Pumpernickel flour, KAF medium rye flour, CM medium white rye flour, and CM pumpernickel coarse meal. It will be interesting to compare both color and texture...

Old Dog's picture
Old Dog

I haven't tried their other flours.  I am loyal to Sirs Galahad and Lancelot -- both of which I get for about $23/50lb sack. My supplier is a good guy, and he gives me a good price. The first time I got interested in baking bread I asked him what flour would be good.  He and his wife both pointed to the Galahad.  I've stayed with it.