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German Spice Sourdough with a hint of Rye 

Danni3ll3's picture

German Spice Sourdough with a hint of Rye 

 My daughter noticed a local bakery use this mix of spice in their bread and asked me to make something similar. When I researched this particular mix, I discovered that it was called German Bread spice. So I tweaked the grains in one of my favourite porridge bread recipes (I’m all about porridge bread these days... Thank you to Ian for convincing me!) and tossed in these spices. 




Makes 3 loaves

German Spice Mixture

(Procedure in recipe)

1/2 tsp anise seed

1/2 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp caraway seed

1/2 tsp coriander seed



100 g large rolled oats

200 g water

45 g honey

40 g butter



700 g strong bakers unbleached flour

100 g freshly milled wholegrain Red Fife berries 

100 g freshly milled wholegrain Selkirk berries 

100 g freshly milled wholegrain Rye berries 

50 g freshly ground flax seeds

700 g water

23 g pink Himalayan salt

30 g yogurt

250 g levain (procedure in recipe)

Extra wholegrain and unbleached flour of your choice for feeding the levain



The day before:

1. Take 2 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 4 g of filtered water and 4 g of wholegrain flour. Place in a warm spot for about 8 hours. 


The night before:

1. Mill the berries from the various grains. Place the required amounts of each milled flour in a tub. Grind the flax seeds and add to the tub. Add the unbleached flour to the tub as well. Cover and set aside.

  1. Toast the whole spices for the German Spice in a dry frying pan until lightly fragrant. Grind in a spice or coffee mill. Reserve. 
  2. Feed the levain 20 g of water and 20 g of wholegrain flour. Let that rise at cool room temperature for the night. 


Dough Making day:

1. Early in the morning, feed the levain 100 g of filtered water and 50 g each of strong baker’s flour and whole grain. Let rise until doubled (about 5-6 hours). 

2. About two hours before the levain is ready, put 700 g filtered water in a stand mixer’s bowl and add the flours from the tub.  Mix on the lowest speed until all the flour has been hydrated. This takes a couple of minutes. Autolyse for at least a couple of hours at room temperature. 

3. Make the porridge: Add the water, the butter, the honey, and the spices to the rolled oats and cook on low until water is absorbed and porridge is creamy. 

4. Once the autolyse is done, add the salt, the yogurt, and the levain to the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed for a minute to integrate everything, then mix on the next speed for 8 minutes. At the end of the 8 minutes, add the porridge and mix until incorporated.

5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Let rest 30 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 

6. Do 2 sets of coil folds at 30 minute intervals and then 2 more sets at 45 minute intervals, and then let the dough rise 40%. This only took another 15-20 minutes as the kitchen was quite warm. It should have irregular bubbles visible through the sides of the container and  bubbles on top as well. 

7. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~800 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 30 minutes on the counter. 

8. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and cross over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough towards from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make a nice tight boule.

9. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons. Cover and let rest for a few minutes on the counter and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge overnight. 

Baking Day

1. The next morning, about 11 hours later, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 

2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 22 minutes at 425 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.


I believe these were a bit underproofed considered the way they split open during baking. Maybe leaving them in a fridge a bit longer might have been beneficial. 


HeiHei29er's picture

Great bake!  The natural breaks in the crust give them all a unique look, especially when they're stacked up next to each other.  Looks delicious.

How did they taste?

Danni3ll3's picture

Haven’t tried them yet but the spiced porridge that went into them tasted  great!

Benito's picture

These look awesome as always Danni.  The German spice mix sounds like a lovely addition.  I’m not familiar with Selkirk, what is it?


Danni3ll3's picture

is a 1950s hard red spring wheat that Daybreak mills sells. It’s an old fashioned kind before major hybridization of wheat started.

Benito's picture

Ah ok I’ve never seen it here in Toronto, thank you Danni.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and the splitting caused by the rye is so inviting!   

In tasting, do you think there was enough spice in the loaves? 

Danni3ll3's picture

yet, but my daughter and a friend literally tore  into them (we were at the barn where we have our horse and I delivered a loaf out there), and they both said it was a subtle flavour. I think I could have doubled the spice from their comments. How much do you think I could have put in?
Its funny that it’s so mild because I was seriously concerned about the amount I was putting into the porridge. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but it depends on the flours. Less with predominantly wheat, more with more rye flour. I tend to lump fennel and anis flavours together, so my suggestion would be if you increase the amount of spice hold back on those two. You don't want to be too overwhelming, yet not enough can be too subtle.  You can play around with the amounts of each spice just as the spice mix tends to vary slightly year after year and in different locations.  

Sometimes just adding the spices to the levain will do the trick of intensifying the flavour while remaining economical.  Weigh each of the spices before combining. After adding them together, I use 3% of total flour weight as an upper limit with a full 100% rye bread. 

A trick to prevent burning is to add a tablespoon of recipe white flour (or oatmeal) to the spice seeds.  It is much easier to see  white flour changing to tan as it roasts.  (Roasting the oatmeal before boiling is also a flavour enhancer. With a little butter even better.)  Stir very often or constantly and don't walk away from the stove while roasting.  Many times after turning off the heat, the seeds will continue to roast so do remove them from heat, preverably to a cold pan.

Danni3ll3's picture

Very helpful! I would never have thought of adding the spices to the levain! I’m saving your remarks for the next time I do this. 

idaveindy's picture

"Toast the whole spices for the German Spice in a dry frying pan until lightly fragrant."

Thank-you.  "lightly fragrant" is the key.

Yesterday I toasted some until the coriander turned dark, and some fennel seeds popped, and it was very fragrant.  Unfortunately, it made the bread bitter.


Danni3ll3's picture

I was very careful with these as I was afraid of burning them. Burned spices are not a desirable thing as I guess you found out!

Danni3ll3's picture