German Sourdough Black Bread

German Sourdough Black Bread
Sonja_For The Pleasure Of Eating

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I’m Sonja and “For The Pleasure Of Eating” is my food blog.

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This hearty German Sourdough Black Bread is very similar to Pumpernickel, in that is has whole grains and is made with dark rye flour, baked very slowly. The added sourdough gives it more flavour and easy digestibility, while softening the grains in the slow fermentation. This is a dense and flavourful bread, amazing with both savoury and sweet toppings. And really good for you.

The Inspiration

Missing yet more of the thousands of German breads from home, this German Sourdough Black Bread (Or “Vollkornbrot” as we call it) was high on my list of them. A proper wholegrain bread. Dark with Rye, full of grains and sunflower seeds. The ideal bread for one of my favourite German sweet spreads “Grafschafter Goldsaft”. A sugar beet sirup, which is sweet, but not too sweet, with molasses undertones, yet very different and addictive.

Fun Fact

Did you know that we categorize our breads by colour in Germany? We literally call them white, grey, and black bread. With white being what other countries just call “bread” basically, Grey being a mix of white and rye, sometimes wholegrain flour, in various degrees. A typical example would be my German Sourdough Rye Beer Bread.  And black being anything really dark, usually with whole grain berries like this German Sourdough Black Bread. Most of these are made with yeast, even the whole grain ones, but by adding sourdough, you will increase the health benefits by adding nutrition, easier digestability, beneficial gut bacteria and more.
Let me know if you’d like to see a recipe for any specific German bread and I’ll see what I can do.

German Black Bread with Sourdough Ingredients

The Ingredients

Don’t get scared by the long-ish list. Most of it is pantry stuff you probably already have at home, especially if you like to bake.

The essentials are: Dark (or wholegrain) rye flour and whole grain berries, which will soften due to the long fermentation.
I’ve used 2 different grain berries here, Emmer and Spelt, as I found them at Riot Rye (Absolutely love the company name!), but one will do just fine.
I mixed the wholegrain flours here. You could use just rye, but I felt the bread needs a tiny bit of rise at least, as it’s pretty heavy due to the whole grains, so I used Einkorn and Emmer, to keep the rustic feel. But Wholegrain Bread flour will be just fine.

Sourdough starter of course. Fed is good, but if you only have discard, it’ll come back to life as well during the fermentation.

Buttermilk for added flavour and tang. Use either water or a mix of 2.25 cups of milk with 2 tbsp white vinegar added and let it stand for a while.

I used sunflower and flax seed here as add-ins. The flax provides extra hold for this bread, which helps with cutting later. Also, lots of healthy fibre for you. The Sunflower seeds can be swapped for any seeds you enjoy. Pumpkin and sesame are popular replacements.

The malt extract and powder are my own additions and give flavour, crust and a bit more rise to the bread. If you don’t have them, you can leave them out. I tend to buy one per year of them and they last ages, as I only use a tsp or so per bread. But they are really worth it for me, as I love the maltiness they add to everything. I also add molasses, instead of the more common sugar, as I love the depth it adds to this dark bread.

For sprinkling again, you can get creative. I had Rye flakes at home, so I used those, but have Oats in the recipe, as I assume most people have them in their pantry.

German Black Bread with Sourdough Process

The Process

Despite the long and strange looking list of ingredients (if you are not used to German Sourdough Black Bread that is), this requires very little hands-on time. Only a lot of resting time, to soften the grains.

Basically you mix first all the wet ingredients. Then add them to the dry ingredients, have ideally your stand mixer knead it for a while, to form a very soft and sticky dough. Unless you enjoy the sticky dough on your hands, in which case: Go wild.
Mind you, this will be nothing like your typical sourdough, that comes away from the sides of the bowl after kneading. It is and remains a sticky mass.

I leave this for about 24h. Though you could, theoretically, bake it after about 8. But if you are in a hurry, I’d say soak the whole grains over night before you start the bread, so they have plenty of time to soften. This isn’t a bread for the impatient (I do sometimes wonder why I am patient with bread, but pretty much nothing else), but rather something to plan and then have for the week, as it keeps incredibly well.

When the fermentation time is up, you will see it has risen a fair bit, but it won’t retain many bubbles when baking. Grease a bread tin and maybe line with baking parchment, for ease of lifting out later. Then use a silicone or rubber spatula to transfer the sticky dough.

My form was a bit too small for all of it, even though I used a long one, so I got to make that cute tiny loaf on the side, which you see in the pictures. I found it quite charming. Alternatively use 2 standard size bread tins or bake twice.

This bakes at relatively low temperatures, but fairly long, compared to most other sourdough breads. So, you get a lovely moist loaf. Since it’s so dark, it’s hard to go by browning grade, I would advise to use an instant read thermometer, which should show around 205 degrees F/96 C when your German Sourdough Black Bread is ready.

The bread needs to cool a few hours, otherwise you’ll have a hopelessly sticky mess on your knife.

German Black Bread with Sourdough

Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot. 🙂

German Sourdough Black Bread

German Black Bread with Sourdough

This hearty German Black Bread with Sourdough is very similar to Pumpernickel, in that is has whole grains and is made with dark rye flour, baked very slowly. The added sourdough gives it more flavour and easy digestibility, while softening the grains in the slow fermentation. This is a dense and flavourful bread, amazing with both savoury and sweet toppings. And really good for you.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Resting time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine German
Servings 40
Calories 165 kcal


  • 2 cups dark rye flour
  • 1.5 cups Einkorn Flour Substitute Wholegrain
  • 1 cup Emmer Flour Substitute Wholegrain
  • ½ cup Emmer berries
  • 1 cup cracked Emmer berries
  • ¾ cup cracked Spelt berries
  • 2 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup Flax seeds
  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp malt extract substitute honey or molasses
  • 2 tsp malt powder optional
  • 1 tsp molasses or honey
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats for sprinkling


  • If you plan to just ferment the dough for about 8h, pre-soak the grain berries in warm water and drain before mixing into the dough. For 24h, this step is not needed.
  • Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl: buttermilk, sourdough starter, malt extract (or substitute with honey or molasses), and molasses (or honey). Mix thoroughly.
  • For the next steps I have given instructions with the stand mixer, as this is a very heavy, sticky dough. But if you don’t have one or just enjoy kneading with your hands, it’ll work perfectly fine, if a bit messy.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the dark rye flour, Einkorn Flour (or substitute wholegrain flour), Emmer Flour (or substitute wholegrain flour), Emmer berries, cracked Emmer berries, cracked Spelt berries, sunflower seeds, Flax seeds, kosher salt, and malt powder (if using). Mix on low speed to evenly distribute the dry ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients in the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined, then increase the speed to medium. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes until the dough is thoroughly mixed. It will be very soft and sticky. There is no windowpane test or similar with this dough. It’s also very forgiving when it comes to the fermentation time.
  • Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours to ferment and rise.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Transfer the dough into a greased bread tin. Note: This makes 1 large bread tin or 2 standard ones. Alternatively do what I did and make one smaller loaf from the leftovers and bake it beside the tin on baking parchment. Sprinkle the top of the dough with rolled oats.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 100 to 120 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 205°F (96°C).
  • Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a few minutes. Then transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy your homemade German Black Bread with Sourdough!


40 portions:
Total Estimated Nutrition per Portion:
Calories: Approximately 150-180
Fat: Approximately 4-5 grams
Protein: Approximately 6-7 grams
Carbohydrates: Approximately 25-30 grams
Fiber: Approximately 4-5 grams
Sugar: Approximately 1-2 grams
Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on the specific brands and measurements of the ingredients used. Additionally, the quantities of the ingredients are provided for 1 portion, and the nutrition information is based on a rough estimation.


Calories: 165kcal
Nutrition Facts
German Black Bread with Sourdough
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy, High Fibre, sourdough, whole grain
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