Amongst the many wonderful pieces of equipment in my father's kitchen was a massive terracotta bowl, I estimate it must have had a volume of 20 liters or more. It was used for one purpose only, namely to bake bread. And just one particular type of bread, namely the tastiest whole grain loaf one could imagine. A spicy bread, it delights with a grain-to-grain texture and a solid crust. This recipe has been in my family for three generations, its origins lost some where in the dim and distant past but I believe it comes from one of the small Frisian islands off the North Sea coast.
By the way, did you know that Germany is supposed to have the largest variety of bread worldwide with more than 300-500 basic types of bread? I am on a mission to try as many as possible but to date this still remains my absolute favourite.
You need a lot of ingredients for this bread, many of which are only available in health food stores. Purchasing them is getting increasingly easier these days but you can easily substitute a few grains or flour types. Keep in mind that a larger variety of ingredients equals a greater depth of flavour. The main trick for producing a loaf with a grain-to-grain crumb is that you must boil the grains beforehand. This is a far cry from purely flour based doughs with a few grains thrown in for appearance. Personally, I have always loved the gruel on its own and would beg a bowl-full of my father every time, and I'm still known to taste it - once, twice, and a few more times, just to make sure... My biggest mixing bowl can just about handle the amounts given below. It fits a loaf tin of 13 x 31 cm.
Note: cups in the following are ordinary European coffee cups, how they equate to American cup measures, I have no idea (let me know?). For my German readers, I will provide the relevant German terms in brackets.
Boil the following in salted water (like rice):
1 cup wheat grains (Weizenkörner)
1/2 cup green wheat grain (Grünkorn)
1/2 cup barley groats (Gerstengrütze)
1/2 cup millet (Hirse)
1/2 cup linseed (Leinsamen)
Leave until cold enough to handle with your bare hands. The grains should be moist but not swimming in water. They should look like this:
500 g wholemeal rye flour (Roggenschrot, idealerweise Typ 1700)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp stinging nettle powder (Brennesselpulver) - can be replaced with 1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 cup corn flour (Maismehl)
1/2 cup wheatgerms (Weizenkeime)
Knead thoroughly, then add the gruel and knead again until you have a moist, sticky dough. Add 250 g wheat flour and knead again until all the flour has been absorbed. The dough should be firm and pliable.I will be honest, kneading this dough is very hard work in comparison to most bread doughs - think of it as a work out for your finger muscles!