The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bruneski's picture


Hi, this is my first post here. I'm a novice, amateur bread maker. So far, I've worked only with a vertical pan bread machine. I usually make one loaf of bread a week.

Results have been, this far, surprisingly good (imo, of course)! I've made a few french bread loafs, a 7-grain bread, a honey wheat bread, a pumpernickel bread and a few Swedish rye loafs. The pumpernickel and the Swedish rye were very, very good (again, imo, of course)!!!

These results encouraged me to try to make a loaf of Schwarzbrot. I got hold of what looked like an interesting recipe and tweaked it a bit to try and use it with the bread machine. Of course, I'm well aware it is not a recipe for a r-e-a-l, a-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c Schwarzbrot!

First, since the recipe seemed to yield too much dough for the size of my bread machine, I chose to half the whole recipe (across the board). Besides, since it was, flourwise, about 83% rye, I decided to tweak the proportion of rye flour and white flour to make it about 67% rye, lest I break my so far beloved bread machine. Because of the high proportion of rye, I gave it an extra 30-minute final rising time (as mentioned in the adjusted recipe). In order to get the right consistency for its crust, I gave it an extra 20-minute oven time (also mentioned in the adjusted recipe).

The result was excellent: a delicious, rich, very fragrant loaf of dark rye bread (also imo).

There is only one thing that certainly deserves some improvement: after two days, it began to show a tendency to (slightly) crumble when I sliced it. It seems it has a weaker "structure" than it should.

What could be done to the recipe to improve this characteristic? Substituting some whole wheat flour for the same amount of white flour would work? A little cornstarch could give it a better structure?

By the way, it's my impression that the chocolate, the coffee (instead of plain water) and even the molasses are basically 'darkening agents' in this recipe. Is this correct? Could (or should) any of these ingredients be replaced or outright ommited from the recipe?

I certainly realize that the dark molasses also have a sweetening effect. In this respect, I'm inclined to half the amount of this ingredient (from 4 to 2 tbsp) next time I make this bread.

The adapted recipe I've been talking about is presented below. In the list of ingredients, at the end of each line, I included the quantity mentioned in the original recipe.

I'll deeply appreciate any advice I can get from you! Even if it concerns things I've not mentioned above!

Please, keep in mind that I'm an almost complete neophyte bread maker, even though I'm a very interested learner!

Finally, if someone has a well-tested, for-bread-machine recipe of Schwarzbrot and is willing to share it, I'll be delighted to use it!!! :-)

Thanks a lot. Take care. Bruneski.

SCHWARZBROT (adapted for BM)

4 tbsp dark molasses (was 8)
3 tbsp vinegar (was 6)
3 tbsp butter (was 6)
20-30 g unsweetened dark chocolate square (was 2)
1 cup lukewarm strong black coffee (was 2)
1 tsp salt (was 2)
1 tbsp active dry yeast (was 2)
2 cup rye flour (was 2½; was 5) (66,7% rye; originally, 83,3% rye)
1 cup unbleached white flour (was ½; was 1)
2 tbsp caraway seeds (was 4)
½ tsp fennel seeds (was 1)
In a saucepan combine the molasses and vinegar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and chocolate. Stir until they melt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm. Place this mixture in the bread machine pan. Add the lukewarm coffee and the salt. Mix well. Add the rye flour and the white flour. Add the yeast. Set cycle to Whole Wheat, bread size to 600 g and color to Dark. Start the machine. During the first mixing phase, gradually add the fennel seeds. When it beeps, after the first rising phase, gradually add the caraway seeds. After 2 minutes into the Baking cycle, turn the machine off and let the dough rise for an extra 30 minutes. Turn the machine back on and start its Baking cycle again. After the machine is done, check if the bread is crusty. If not, give it some more oven time at 200 oC (preheated). Yield: 700-g loaf.

Mebake's picture

A crumbling crumb was due to the excess acid present, in this case vinegar. The original recipe contains more rye flour than your version, and it will need the dark chocolate (acidic) and the vinegar. However, by reducing the rye flour percentage, i believe that you should have reduced the acids considerably (less dark chocolate, and vinegar).

67% Rye is totally different from 83% rye. In high percentage rye breads, you need the fully acid dosage provided in the recipe, but when you reduce the rye to 67%, you need minimal acids, or else the crumb will be crumbly.


bruneski's picture

Hi, Khalid. Thanks for your reply.

Interesting point. I had no idea these ingredients had this function.

In your opinion, what would be my best choice for my next Schwarzbrot: (a) try the original 83%-rye recipe or (b) decrease the amount of acids in the tweaked 67%-rye recipe?

In the latter option, could I just 'drop' the dark chocolate ou should I also reduce the amount of vinegar?

Take care. Bruneski.

hanseata's picture

 I'm glad you liked the taste of the bread, but regarding the authenticity of this recipe you are (sadly) only too right. Schwarzbrot IS a high percent rye bread, hence the name "black bread".

Rye has little gluten, it should, like all higher percent rye breads, be leavened with sourdough, not just with yeast. Obviously the creator of this formula tried to recreate the tangyness of real Schwarzbrot by adding vinegar (groan!)

Like all sourdoughs, making Schwarzbrot is not a quick process, but should be slow, developing its good flavor over time. In your recipe all kinds of stuff is added to give it some flavor and color: like chocolate and coffee (shudder!)

Molasses is okay, the amount can vary, depending on how sweet you like the bread.

Caraway in larger amounts is an American addition, you won't find it in German Schwarzbrot.


Mebake's picture

Hi, Bruneski

Like Karin Said, Schwarzbrot is typically black high percentage Rye bread, so if you seek authenticity, go for the 83% Rye one (USING SOURDOUGH, not colorings and acids, as Karin noted abpve). If you want a less dense yeasted version, you may choose the 67% one, but try to reduce mcuh more vinegar than chocolate or coffee.


bruneski's picture

Thank you both, Khalid and Karin! Your comments are certainly very helpful! Especially for a neophyte like me!

The real issue is not authenticity, but result! All I want is to be able to enjoy a small selection of good, tasty breads made with the invaluable help of my bread machine.

Yesterday, the machine helped me make a french-type loaf based on my first ever poolish. The poolish worked wonderfully. The final result was (imo) a nice looking, crusty, very aromatic, great tasting loaf (even though the recipe was the simplest possible: a 600-gram 1:1 poolish that rested for 10 hours and a 3:1 final dough at 70% hydration that also included 1, 2, 2 tsp of salt, sugar and olive oil, respectively --- using only all-purpose white flour).

Instead of resorting to any of the machine`s presets, I took advantage of its kneading capacity for 10 minutes (after autolysis). Then I left the dough rise/rest/proof for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Finally, I employed its baking cycle (1 hour). Since the upper side of the crust didn`t come out as crispy as the rest, I gave the loaf another 20-minute baking time in a very hot (preheated) regular oven.

It was a large improvement (resultwise) over the french-type loaf I`d baked before (in a few different occasions). These ones were based on a "for-bread-machine" recipe I had found in the user`s manual of my machine. Ingredients were exactly the same, amounts were slightly different. However, it involved no poolish and was worked with the machine's "French Bread" preset.

Back to my original subject, do you think the Schwarzbrot could also be poolish-based? If so, how should its recipe look like? A 67%-rye bread would be good enough to satisfy my black bread craving! :-)

As I might have mentioned before, so far I`m not considering creating and maintaining a sourdough starter. However, dealing with a poolish seemed easy and practical. Moreover, it yielded a very interesting result!

Hope to hear from both of you soon!

Thanks for all your help. Take care. Bruneski.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

a great bread from Carol Field's "Italian Baker"

using a rye poolish, very tasty bread. The poolish smells odd, don't worry.

The recipe has been posted here

For convenience I include the metric amounts and % that worked for me

 Bakers %Weight
Rye Flour25136.0
Yeast (fresh)316.3
Bread Flour50247.2
Rye Flour25123.6
Malt Syrup0.63.0
Caraway or Fennel0.52.5
Straight Dough  
Bread Flour50247.2
Rye Flour50247.2
Malt Syrup0.63.0
Caraway or Fennel0.52.5


 The low overall hydration might not be ideal for bread machines, 

but this bread is easy to make and really tasty. 

bruneski's picture

Hi, Juergen. Mighty nice of you to point me to this recipe.

Later on today I'll check the link you posted. There, I`ll probably find a description of the method to be employed, right?

Why does this poolish smell odd? How so?

Did I figure it correctly: this poolish`s hydration is set at 135%?

Could I replace the 16.3 g of fresh yeast with the equivalent in active dry yeast (that I have readily available)? How much would that be? 8 g of active dry yeast?

In the speadsheet above, the first 2 blocks make up the recipe for the poolish-based dough, while the last (third) block is for the very same recipe but without the poolish. Are these two statements correct?

Sorry for all these questions! Please, keep in mind your talking to a novice bread maker.

Thanks for your help. Take care. Bruneski.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Bruneski,

the "poolish" here is very liquid, and in my experience smells very different from a wheat poolish or a sourdough.

I made this with instant yeast, and the ratio for that is fresh yeast / 3; I used active dry yeast some time ago and used your ratio with success for other breads

And your assumption about the blocks in the spreadsheet are correct - the way I notate it you see things like total hydration in the "straight dough" section and the amount of prefermented flour in the other sections. 

I got used to this notation - it makes it very easy to spot errors in a formula.

Please keep asking!



bruneski's picture

... following the link you posted, Juergen. Very interesting indeed!

Since the malt syrup would act basically as a sweetener, I think I could replace it, using a 3:2 ratio, by dark molasses (more readily available to me). Do you agree?

From the recipe, I gather that this is a 50%-rye bread at 60% hydration, right?

I`m planning on making half this recipe this weekend.

Take care. Bruno.


Mebake's picture

Hi, Bruneski

Poolish is not a suitable option for Rye breads.  Firm fermented dough (biga) might be, as it contains more acids than poolish. Don't foget to reduce chocolate, and vinegar.


bruneski's picture

Hi, Khalid. Thanks for the info.

Unfortunately, at this very early stage of my bread making experience, I think I`m unqualified to properly adapt the recipe I posted above to a "biga-based for-bread-machine Schwarzbrot".

Would you be willing to help me with this?

Thanks again for your help. Take care. Bruneski.

Mebake's picture

hi, Bruneski

biga is simply a preferment, much like a poolish, only water to flour ratio is much lower (poolish is 100% flour to water, and biga ranges from 55-65%). If you plan to use a poolish, say 200g, then your flour is 100g. To convert this to a biga, flour should be 120g and water 80g.


bruneski's picture

Hello, Khalid! How are you doing today?

Let's say I prepare a biga with 120 g rye flour, 80 g water and, say, 1/4 tsp active dry yeast and let it rest (covered, at room temperature) for 8 to 12 hours.

This biga would be mixed with the remaining 160 g of water (adding up to a total of 240 g or 1 cup of water in the final dough), 80 g of rye flour (adding up to a total of 200 g or 2 cups of rye flour in the final dough) and 120 g unbleached white flour (1 cup). I'd then place this mixture into the bread machine pan, cover it and autolyse it for 30 (or more) minutes.

The next step would be to add 2 tbsp dark molasses (half what I used originally), 1.5 tbsp vinegar (again half what I used originally) and 3 tbsp butter. I'd then turn on the machine setting the cycle to "whole wheat", the size to "900 g" and the color of the crust to "Dark".

During the 2nd kneading phase I`d add the caraway and fennel seeds.

Notice that I`ve completely dropped both the unsweetened dark chocolate and the coffee from the recipe, besides having halved the dark molasses and the vinegar. If somehow indicated, I could still use 160 g of strong black coffee instead of the final 160 g of water.

Based on your experience, what changes would you suggest? Looks promising? Should I use some more active dry yeast in the final dough?

Here is the list of ingredients mentioned:
120 g rye flour
80 g water
1/4 tsp of active dry yeast
160 g water
1 tsp salt
80 g rye flour
120 g unbleached white flour
2 tbsp dark molasses
1.5 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp caraway seeds
0.5 tsp fennel seeds

Notes: (a) 240 g of water and 320 g of flour would result in 75% hydration for the final dough, correct? (b) 200 g of rye flour and 120 g of unbleached white flour would result in 62.5%-rye bread, correct?

Thanks for your help (and patience)!

Take it easy. Bruneski.