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Westphalian Rye Bread

in quick and easy whole grain dairy free gluten free overnight guaranteed classic


Westphalian Rye Bread Recipe

Germany is known for its rye breads. Raisin rye represents the sweet end of the spectrum, while sour rye, made with a tart starter, will pucker your mouth like a dill pickle.

Westphalia, a northwestern German state, is famous for both its unctuous, lightly smoked ham, and its dense, dark pumpernickel. Both are sliced ultra-thin, then served with one another in a perfect marriage of bread and meat. Accompanied by sweet butter, perhaps some smoked sausage, and a stein of beer or glass of schnapps, this is a standard Westphalian repast.

The following rye bread mimics Westphalian rye, but is prepared in a less time-consuming manner. Don't be discouraged while preparing the dough; it's very heavy and sticky, more like mortar than bread dough, and it's therefore most easily mixed in a stand mixer, food processor or bread machine.

At a glance

two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves


Choose your measure:


  1. Put the cracked wheat and malted wheat flakes or oats in a large mixing bowl, and pour in the boiling water.
  2. Stir in the burnt sugar, caramel color, or black cocoa. Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.
  3. Stir in the pumpernickel flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, salt and vegetable oil. If you're looking for a typical yeast dough here, forget it; the mixture will be sticky and have about as much life as a lump of clay.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it sit in a warm place (70-75°F) for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  5. After 6 to 8 hours, fold the mixture over once or twice, then cover it again and allow it to continue to mellow. (We hesitate to use the word "rise" here; though there is in fact a bit of yeast in the dough, it'll rise very little.)
  6. After the mellowing period is complete, grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pans. The dough will look "cracked" or "broken" at this point; that's OK.
  7. Turn it out onto a floured or lightly greased work surface, knead until it holds together, then divide it in half.
  8. Press each half into a loaf pan, smoothing the surface with wet hands.
  9. Let the loaves sit, covered, for 1 1/2 hours; they'll rise just slightly.
  10. Preheat the oven to 225°F.
  11. Grease two pieces of aluminum foil, then cover the pans tightly with the foil, greased-side down.
  12. Place the covered pans in the oven. Bake the bread for 5 hours.
  13. After 5 hours, remove the foil from the pans, and check to see that the bread is firm and looks set — it should register 195°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a loaf.
  14. Remove the bread from the oven. Let it cool in the pans for 15 minutes to firm.
  15. Remove it from the pans and allow to cool to lukewarm before wrapping in plastic wrap or a dishtowel. Cool for 8 hours or more before slicing.
  16. Store, covered, at room temperature for a week. Freeze for up to 3 months.