German rye bread, or Roggenbrot how it is called in Germany, is one of the breads that I am missing the most living in the US. The flavorful taste of the rye and the heartiness of this type of bread is just not comparable with other kinds of baked goods.
But making German rye bread from scratch can be daunting. This is why I have created this easy dark rye bread recipe for you. This easy version of German rye bread tastes like artisan sourdough bread but is made without sourdough. Enjoy the full taste without the hassle!
If you are completely nuts about fresh, homemade bread like I am, you need to give these authentic German pretzel buns and this Kartoffelbrot, aka German potato bread, a try.
How is rye bread called in German?
Rye bread is called Roggenbrot (das Roggenbrot - n/singular) and Roggenbrote (die Roggenbrote - f/plural) in German.
How to pronounce "Roggenbrot" the correct way in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Roggenbrot" the right way.
Ingredients & Substitutes
I am always amazed at how few ingredients it takes to make the most wonderful-tasting homemade bread. No artificial color or preservatives is necessary.
This easy German rye bread is made without sourdough but your would never believe that. It is flavorful and has a great texture. But if you are interested to make your own sourdough starter check our Facebook group. We host once in a while sourdough bread challenges for free.
Rye Flour: I use finely milled dark rye flour for this recipe. Keep in mind that rye flour can be very fine or coarse, which will change the amount of water you need to use. If you are in doubt, refer to the photos to see if your dough has the right consistency to avoid disappointment.
Bread Flour: the recipe calls for bread flour, but you could substitute all-purpose flour.
Honey: I prefer to use honey, but white or brown sugar will also do the trick to balance out the hints of bitterness in the rye flour.
Apple Cider Vinegar: is the secret ingredient that will give this bread the slightly sour note that reminds of real sourdough bread.
Vegetable Oil: any neutral vegetable oil and even olive oil can be used.
Salt: I am using coarse Kosher salt in my bread recipes, but fine salt will be fine too. If you are using fine table salt, you should reduce the amount to about ½ tablespoon or to your liking.
Caraway Seeds: in Germany, you can find Roggenbrot with and without caraway seeds. Some bread recipes incorporate whole caraway seeds, while others use the ground version. I personally prefer whole caraway seeds that I grind in a mortar with a pestle.
Water: it is best to use filtered, lukewarm water for the recipe.
See recipe card for quantities.
You won't believe how little work is involved in making this bread. Kneading will take a while, but if you are using a stand mixer, your active working time will only be a few minutes.
Step 1: Melt the honey in warm water and set it aside to cool to lukewarm.
Step 2: Add the bread flour, with the yeast and the honey-water to a stand mixer bowl.
Step 3: Mix well, cover, and let sit for about 20 min. until it is nicely bubbly and foamy.
Step 4: Add rye flour, apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, caraway seeds, and salt to the yeast-water-bread-flour mixture.
Step 5: Knead on low speed for about 3-5 min. and then on medium speed for about 5-8 min. Rye flour can be a little tricky. Make sure that your dough is not too firm. Add a little extra water if the dough is too dense and super hard to knead.
Step 6: The dough should have a smooth texture, and you should be able to stretch it without breaking. But it is normal that the dough will not be as smooth as you are used to from wheat dough.
Step 7: Cover the bowl and allow the dough to raise in a warm place for about 2 hours.
Step 8: Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. Make sure to don´t incorporate a lot of flour.
Step 9: Shape to a long loaf of about 11-12 inches or place the dough into a floured bread banneton or medium sized, floured bowl. Then cover the bowl again and allow the dough to raise for 90 minutes.
Step 10: Place the loaf onto a with parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour and slash the bread 1–5 times with a sharp knife or in the pattern you prefer. Add a heatproof dish with water to the oven, and preheat the oven to 380 F. Bake for 60–70 minutes in the preheated oven.
Allow to cool completely on a rack before you cut into it and enjoy!
There is not much in regards of equipment that you need for this bread.
- kitchen scale or measuring cups
- stand mixer bowl with kneading hook (optional)
- clean kitchen towel
- bread banneton (optional)
- baking sheet
- parchment paper
Store the bread wrapped into a clean kitchen towel to preserve its best taste and texture. If the bread is too dry for your taste, place it into a plastic bag, but be aware that the crispy crust might get softer too.
The bread will stay fresh for up to a week. You can also freeze half a loaf or pre-cut slices of the bread if you don´t eat the whole loaf in a week. Allow to thaw at room temperature.
My Top Tip
If you love a shiny crust like some rye breads in German bakeries have, use an egg wash made from one egg white and one tablespoon of water.
Brush the bread with this egg wash before baking and a couple of times during the baking process, and you will have a beautiful, shiny crust.
How to Serve
This German rye bread is the perfect base for a Brotzeit or Vesper. You can make any open-faced sandwich out of it. I love it with my easy, homemade liverwurst or obatzda cheese bread, but the possibilities are endless.
It also makes a wonderful side for soups and salads, like this German goulash soup or this German pumpkin soup.
Easy German Rye Bread without Sourdough
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 ¾ cups bread flour
- 1 tbsp. coarse Kosher salt
- 2 ¼ tsp. dry yeast
- 4 ½ cups rye flour
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
- ½ tsp. ground carraway seeds
- Melt honey in warm water and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- Add bread flour, yeast, and honey-water to a stand mixer bowl.
- Mix well, cover, and let sit for about 20 min.
- Add rye flour, apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, caraway seeds, and salt.
- Knead on low speed for about 3-5 min. and then on medium speed for about 5-8 min.
- Cover and allow to raise in a warm space for about 2 hours.
- Knead again for about 5 min.
- Shape to a long loaf of about 11-12 inches or place the dough into a bread banneton or medium sized bowl.
- Cover again and allow to raise for about 90 minutes.
- Place the loaf onto a with parchment lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with flour and slash the bread 1–5 times with a sharp knife or in the pattern you prefer.
- Add a heatproof dish with water to the oven, and preheat the oven to 380 F.
- Bake for 60–70 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Allow to cool completely on a rack.
So there is no second rise?
Angela Schofield says
Hi Rebecca, great question. This is a very simple bread that does usually not need a second rise. But you can always can add a second rise if you prefer, it will be wonderful.