All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Karin's German Feinbrot

Cellarguy's version of Karin's German Feinbrot

I made this bread on a whim, mostly to see whether or not my motherstarter was still viable.  I am in the process of making some new motherstarters -- both rye and whole wheat, but my old motherstarters have kept me more or less in sourdough breads for some time now.  My only problem with the old motherstarters is that I end up refreshing them more often than I do using them.  I tend to use the old discards more than I use the new refreshed starter.  And so I don't get any drastic rises from my loaf.  I wanted to know, are they still working?  They were sour, to be sure, so I knew that they had the bacteria that would make lactic acid all right.  The question was, did they still contain yeast?  Would they rise breads on their own, without adding commercial yeast?

So recently, this German Feinbrot caught my eye as I perused the various bread blogs.

From information I have gleaned, Karin is an ex-pat German now living in Maine who was forced into making her own bread when she couldn't find anything decent in her adopted home state.  Once making her own, she became hooked: and this recipe was one that she came up with on her own, to achieve the taste she missed.  See her article on 'The Fresh Loaf Blogs: From Brick to Bread, My German Feinbrot', or the original on her own blog, 'Brot & Bread'.

From what I understand, a "Feinbrot" is a light rye bread containing mostly (>50%) wheat flour, and somewhat less rye.  Using my favourite online German-English dictionary, you can see the many adjectives that 'fein' can be translated as:  accurate, beautiful, choice, classy, dainty, delicate, fine, gentlemanly, nice, pretty, subtle, tenuous, wispy.  I think that I would translate it as 'Fine', with whatever connotations or baggage that fine word brings to English.

The similarities here to Reinhart's technique in Whole Grain Breads (he uses an overnight soaker, a starter, and some more ingredients in a final dough on day 2) are of course, deliberate, since she claims that as one of her inspirations.  But this loaf is not entirely whole grain.  There is a fair amount of bread flour (for which I have substituted an organic Canadian All Purpose flour).  She does use a whole wheat motherstarter at 75%, though -- which is what Reinhart uses in his recipes, and it is what I have on hand.  So I felt relatively 'at home' with this recipe.  This was my experience, your mileage may vary:

Day one: Mix up the soaker and starter and leave covered overnight.


  • 192g whole rye flour (I freshly milled this amount, it is about 1 c of whole rye grains)
  • 64g whole wheat flour (I freshly milled this amount, it is about 1/3 c of whole wheat berries)
  • 4g salt (~1 1/4 tsp of Kosher salt)
  • 192g water (200ml)


  • 195g whole wheat motherstarter @75% hydration
  • 200g organic all purpose flour (1 1/2 c)
  • 120g water, lukewarm (150 ml)

At the end of day 1, I have a soaker and a starter set aside in containers.  At this point, they look pretty much the same.  But the one that is expected to rise is the starter, on the right.  Is my wild yeast still viable?

Day Two:

 The starter has seen a nice rise, overnight.  I'm thinking the yeast is good.

Final Dough Ingredients:

 Final Dough: Mis en place.


  • Mix all ingredients, 2 minutes, knead 4 minutes, rest 5 minutes, knead 1 minute.
  • Cover, rise at room temperature for 4-5 hours.
  • Shape into a boule, proof in a basket, seam side up, 2-3 1/2 hours.
  • At 2 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees, with a stone and pan for steam.
  • Score the bread, and bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes with steam.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes more, then rotate the loaf.
  • FInally, bake for 20 minutes more and cool on a rack.

 Initial Mixing I
 Initial Mixing II

 After several minutes of kneading, I stop to rest the dough for 5 minutes.

 You can see how the dough relaxes somewhat during its resting phase.

The bulk fermentation was looking good.  I never get a good idea of how much my dough expands until I actually look at these pictures afterward.  The ball was quite tight, before, and it did expand nicely in the bowl.

The final proof in the basket was looking good, too.  Perhaps I could have left it a bit longer during the final proof.  But I had left it for 3 hours.  And if I had waited any longer, I would not have been able to use the stone to bake the pizza I had planned for supper, before yoga.  So I was up against the clock.

The baking went off without a hitch.  The dough was dumped out pretty close to the edge, but it didn't drip, thank goodness.  I scored it roughly when it hit the hot stone.

It didn't see a huge rise while baking, but then, it didn't see much rise during the final proof, either.   Still, the loaf looks fine from the outside, even if it is a bit small.  You can see the texture of the linen that it proofed in.  Someday I'll get a real banneton.

This is a bread that my wife will like.  She says that it certainly is the right crumb density that Germans have come to demand -- without all that 'crunchy munchy' stuff I tend to put in.  This is a bread that holds up to toasting, and it can handle some jam or honey without being overpowering.  It also complements a nice mild cheese.  This bread will disappear quickly in our household, because she will help me eat it.  Finally!

Thanks, Karin!

Notes to Myself

  • I wonder about more whole grains.  Sure, why not?  Try this with only whole wheat and whole rye, to see what kind of a rise your loaf gets.
  • Maybe you can try sifting the home-milled whole wheat and whole rye flours (perhaps to 80% of the original weight), and use the bran that gets removed to cover the surface of the loaf when it is proofing and baking.  That might be interesting.
  • Wait the appropriate time when proofing in the banneton, for a better oven spring.
  • Follow Reinhart's directions to bring your motherstarter back to full strength again.

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