Germans love their rye bread. Ask any expat what they miss about their homeland and I'll bet you bread is high up on that list. Westphalian rye? Pumpernickel? German “Black” Bread? These strange words will evoke nostalgia in a German for the no-nonsense dense loaves of their country. The Germans are serious about rye.
I went home inspired by the zesty smells of the German rye spice mix and made a new loaf with my very own spices added. And I know I nailed my spice mix when I finally got a thumbs up from my friend’s German mother.
My winning spice mix consisted of coriander seed, caraway, and aniseed, at a ratio of 2:1:1.
Of course, you can adjust the ratios to your own tastes and you can even try different spices, but the key here is toasting the spices in seed form and grinding them finely prior to use in the bread.
Toasting the spice brings out their flavour. Plus it’ll make your home smell like rustic incense. If all you have is pre-ground spice, you can just use that. But trust me, if you get whole spices to toast and grind yourself, and you’ll never look back.
To make the spice mix I made, simply measure 2 tbsp of coriander seed, 1 tbsp fennel seed, and 1 tbsp aniseed and place in a dry skillet. Turn the heat to medium and toast, moving the spices often so they toast evenly. You’ll notice the aromas immediately. When they start to pop, they’re ready. While still hot, grind the spices using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder until fine. There you have it: rye spice that will please even the most discerning German.
For use in bread: use 1 tsp per 500 g of bread. Check the recipes for Finnish Sourdough Rye and for Danish Rye - both are wonderful with spices added to the dough.
Spice that go well with rye
I'm Erik, the Burnt Chef. I'm a Finnish-born Newfoundlander living in Norway. I have a passion for cooking and a deep fascination for the culinary history of the North. Simplicity guides my cooking. Time, place, and history guide my storytelling. This is my personal blog about food.