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Of all the breads in regular rotation here at Journeyman, our Vollkornbrot - a dense and seedy German rye - has perhaps the most fanatic following. Its devotees, a small but mighty contingent, ask us weekly when it will return. And when it does, they eagerly place orders for two or three loaves. One German couple drives 45 minutes up from Scarsdale just for this bread.

That said, Vollkornbrot - in name and appearance - is also the bread which evokes the most confusion among the uninitiated. Customers, shocked when they heft the small brick-like loaf, ask incredulously, "what is this?" And, more importantly, "how do you eat it?" 

What is Vollkornbrot?

From stalk to slice, Vollkornbrot has deep roots in northern Europe, and particularly in Germany and Scandinavia where rye thrived in the cold climes and clay soil that make producing wheat difficult. Translating literally to "whole kernel bread," Vollkornbrot belongs to a family of 100-percent rye breads which use un-processed whole-rye, including the bran and germ. This results in a nutritionally dense and filling loaf packed with flavor. 

To accentuate the complexity of the rye, our Vollkornbrot uses both sourdough and a soaker (rye chops soaked overnight in water), which bring out the breadth of rye's flavor, from sweet and grassy to deep and earthy (that it's 100-percent rye and fermented means this bread may be an option if you're looking for something low in gluten - though it's not gluten-free). In the dough's final mix, we add additional whole-rye and sunflower seeds which give this bread it's distinctive chew and occasional crunch.  

How Do You Eat It?

So, now that we know what it is, how should you eat Vollkornbrot? Because it's so dense, this bread is best sliced as thinly as possible – no thicker than 1/8-inch – and served by the slice (you'll get a lot of slices per loaf, but not to worry: the multiple fermentations contribute to the bread's staying power and our Vollkornbrot will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, loosely wrapped in plastic).

To serve, spread with butter or preserves or present slices as an accompaniment to charcuterie. It's dark intensity pairs nicely with other assertive flavors such as smoked meats, pickles, and aged cheese.

Or, as I prefer, spread with sour cream, top with gravlax (make your own using the recipe below), and sprinkle with dill. Four bites of Nordic heaven.

 

 

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