Dark as a solid block of dried molasses and boasting a density that could very well rival lead, vollkornbrot is one serious baked good. As I’ve affectionately nicknamed this loaf “brick bread,” it’s no secret that the texture is entirely different from the standard soft, fluffy American sandwich loaf or crusty French baguette. Not a forgettable filler or bland vehicle for jams or spreads, no sir, this German bread means business. Though easily obtained in most health food stores under the guise of “fitness bread,” shrink-wrapped and alarmingly shelf-stable, those flimsy slices can’t compare to the fresh stuff.
Thickly built on whole grains, and often nuts and seeds, each bite is a whole new textural experience. In fact, the traditional loaves don’t employ the use of any flour at all, employing only cooked wheat, spelt, or rye berries to hold them together. Variably crunchy and chewy, a proper vollkornbrot won’t break teeth, contrary to how some models may appear, but they certainly won’t dissolve into insubstantial fluff on the tongue. Think of each slice as a portable bowl of hot whole grain cereal, perfect for topping with any sweet or savory spread desired. So hearty and filling that just one small piece could power you through a grueling morning’s work, this is solid fuel indeed.
Not convinced yet? Try slicing it thin and assembling some dainty open-faced tea sandwiches. The contrast of that wholesome, grainy melange with light, crunchy cucumbers combines to create a divine little snack. Nothing if not versatile, my preconceived concept of brick bread” has been utterly and totally cast aside thanks to this beauty- Even if my own approach may be far from traditional.
Brick Bread (Faux-Vollkornbrot)
Inspired by Seitan is my Motor
3/4 Cup Hard Red Wheat Berries
3/4 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 Cup Steel-Cut Oat Groats
3/4 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Yeast
1/3 Cup Sprouted Adzuki Beans
2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
It’s a somewhat long process to make this bread, so above all else, you must have an ample supply of patience on hand! I highly recommend reading the recipe all the way though so you know what kind of process is involved.
First, mix together the ingredients for the starter in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place for a full 24 hours.
Once that time has elapsed, add in the “second addition” ingredients, mix well, and let sit for another 3 hours before proceeding.
Finally, you can add in everything called for in the “final dough.” This is where my bread greatly diverges from traditional recipes. I use flour to hold everything together, because it seemed like that mass of grains would never create a solid loaf otherwise. Mix well, and kneed for 10 – 15 minutes to activate the gluten. Once smooth and elastic, roll the dough into a log and gently place it into a lightly greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Let rise for about 1 hour before preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is evenly amber brown. If it seems to be browning too quickly, you can tent a piece of foil over the top of the loaf pan. Let cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.
Makes 1 Loaf