This is recipe #2 of our German Bread Series. Zwiebelbrot or onion bread in English, is a German classic. This loaf, made with rye flour, onions and spices, yields a very complex flavour reminiscent of a more rustic food era. It partners extremely well with cold cuts and cheese.
Making the dough comprises two stages. First comes the preferment which you need to do the day before you want to bake the loaf, then you use the preferment to make up your final dough on the next day. The preferment is essentially just a mixture of half of the recipe's flour, some fresh yeast and sourdough starter. As in the first recipe of this series, we use a mixture of wild and cultivated yeast which lend the bread complex flavour notes. You can omit either without any need to alter the recipe and still end up with a very good loaf.
As this loaf is 100% rye based it does not require any kneading. However, you will need a dough scraper to mix it thoroughly. Don't even attempt to use your hands as it will be very sticky. The key to shaping the loaf, prior to placing it into a loaf tin, is to run both hands under the cold tap and use wet hands for this. It is very much like using wet clay!
If you want to get a visual idea of how the loaf is made see the step-by-step video below. Please ''share and like'' and if possible leave a comment f you enjoyed it:
Zwiebelbrot (Rustic Onion Loaf)
Makes 1 loaf
330g rye flour (dark, medium or light work fine)
30g sourdough starter
10g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
Pinch of cardamom
1 large onion, chopped into small squares
1 Tbs butter
Dissolve the yeast in the water and stir in the sourdough starter. Combine this with half of the rye flour. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight (at least 12 hours). This is your preferment which will be used to leaven your bread.
After the allotted time has passed your preferment should be spongy and have a sweet-sour smell. Add to it the remaining flour, the salt and spices. Stir to combine using a dough scraper. Because this is 100% rye flour based loaf you won’t be able to knead it like conventional wheat flour based dough. This dough will be like putty and very tacky so just use a dough scraper or two.
Fry half of the onion in the butter until soft, then combine with the rest of the raw onion and allow to cool a little before kneading it into the dough.
Now for the fun part. Dip both hands into cold water, scoop the dough out of the bowl and shape it into a log. The water on your hands prevents the dough from sticking to them. This process is a bit like working with wet clay.
Once you have shaped it into a log, place it into aloaf tin either lined with parchment or brushed generously with oil. Cover and allow to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Place a baking tin or heatproof bowl in the base of the oven.
Make a diagonal cut into the top of the dough with a sharp knife or grignette.
Pour hot water into the baking tin to create steam and bake the loaf in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.