Götz von Berlichingen Sourdough Bread

Götz von Berlichingen is a very famous German knight who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries.  What makes him famous are 3 unique things. First, he lost his hand in battle at the siege of Landshut (1504) and used an iron prothesis to do battle there after.  He was also know as Götz of the Iron Hand.  Second, he lived to the ripe old age of 82, an unheard of old age for the time, expecially for a knight with an iron hand.   He finally died in his Castle Horbeck in Homberg near the French border.  Thirdly is he most famous for his spirited retort while Götz was under siege by the Imperial Army in his castle at Jagsthausen – yes, he had two castles.  The captain of the army asked him to surrender…….from a window he gave his answer:


Mich ergeben! Auf Gnad und Ungnad! Mit wem redet Ihr! Bin ich ein Räuber! Sag deinem Hauptmann: Vor Ihro Kaiserliche Majestät hab ich, wie immer, schuldigen Respekt. Er aber, sag’s ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!  Which  can be translated as:

Me, surrender! At mercy! Whom do you speak with? Am I a robber! Tell your captain that for His Imperial Majesty, I have, as always, due respect. But he, tell him that, he can lick me in the arse!


Today, Schlosshotel Götzenburg in Jagsthausen is a hotel in the medieval Castle Jagsthausen – the birth place of Götz von Berlichingen and still owned by the family. Their problem is they don’t make their own bread, buying it from a local grocery store – Oh My!.  A German born bread blogger, Karin (CHALLENGE FOR FELLOW BAKERS – A BREAD FOR THE KNIGHT WITH THE IRON HAND stayed there recently and said they need a signature bread for this fine hotel.  She put out a challenge bake for other bread bloggers to come up with a fitting loaf Götz von Berlichingen and the hotel could be proud of and call their own.  So here is Lucy’s take.


Lucy, being a German Baking Apprentice 2nd Class in fairly good standing when she isn’t sleeping, came up with what she thinks is a fitting healthy and hearty bread.   If it were actually baked back in the 14th and 15th centuries would, all by itself, explain this one handed knight’s long life, clean behind and possibly account for his missing hand too.  Best of all, this bread migjht grow missing body parts back where they belong.   Lucy does have a thing for men with Von in their name since she is a real Von Snigglefriz herself.


First off, the bread had to be 100 whole grain, milled perfectly in the Wonder Mill and it had to be sourdough since commericalyeas was still 400 or more years off. No tough, self respecting, one handed knight would be caught dead eating fluffy, white bread.


Second, some of the grains had to be ancient varieties that might have been found around that time, native to Germany or called dinkel which rhymes with dackel.  So Lucy picked, rye, spelt, farro, Kamut, barley and wheat.


Third, since the water was poisonous back then, folks drank beer to keep from having ….dirty arses! But knights didn’t drink woosie low alcohol German lagers, they drank high alcohol dark beers with real ooooppffff to them like the one Lucy chose for the dough liquid –  a very dark Grand Imperial Porter at 8% alcohol made in Poland which itself was part of Germany at the time and several other times too.  This beer is not for the feint hearted nobility and had strong, assertive flavor fitting for the toughest knights around.


Fourth, for a bread to be considered hearty and healthy, especially one that made knights seemingly live forever even with appendages and possibly appendices missing, it needs to have healthy seeds packing the inside.  Lucy picked wheat sprouts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chia and  lots of flax seeds since clothes were made from flax back then too.  Nothing is too small or insignificant for Lucy not to be able to lend a lessened understanding of it in the end.


With the bread concept set on parchment, the paper of the day that we now use for baking bread, we set about getting it all organized even before we knew what Karin’s challenge was going to be exactly.   We ground the whole berries on Tuesday in the Wonder Mill  and sifted out the 15% extraction of hard bits to feed the levain on Wednesday.


The levain was our usual 3 stage build using the 15% hard bits for the feed so they would be as wet for as long as possible.  We used our Ancient Age Rye Starter that had been in the fridge for 8 weeks – it was very sour.  The first stage of the levain build was 2 hours and the 2nd stage was 3 hours when it doubled in volume.  We refrigerated the levain for 24 hours after it rose 25% after the 3rd feeding all to bring out as much sour as possible..


The next evening we autolysed the 85% extraction multigrain flour with the Polish Imperial Porter for 1 hour with pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled on top so it would not be forgotten. It took 3 hours for the levain to warm up and then double again once it was retrieved from the fridge.  Once the levain hit the mix we did 3 stets of slap and folds for 7, 1 and 1 minute each on 20 minute intervals.


We then did 3 sets of stretch and folds on 20 minute intervals. The sprouts were added during the first set and the rest of the seeds were added during the 2nd set.  By the 3rd set, everything was evenly distributed and this dough was well packed with seedy goodness.  This dough was a little stiffer than our usual and could easily have taken another 5% water to get to 90% hydration – no worries.


After a 20 minute rest, we pre-shaped and then shaped the dough into our normal squat oval fit for the mini oven, placed in a rice floured basket, bagged and put into the 36 F fridge for a 12 hour retard.  This bread is past the maximum weight and size we usually put into the little blistering beast so we hoped for the best and figured of the top got too dark we would just turn it over with our remaining good hand.


We let the dough warm up on the counter for an hour and half but it still wasn’t proofed enough for these old eyes to be ready for the oven so we gave it another 30 minutes on the counter before firing up the mini oven to 500 F and getting (2) of Sylvia’s steaming cups boiling in the microwave.


We upended the dough onto parchment on the top lid of the mini’s vented broiler pan top and slashed it twice with an appropriate heavy battle sword which was too big for Lucy to lift.   The steaming cups went on the lid catty corner and then we slid the whole shebang into the tiny oven – it was a close fit.


We steamed it for 15 minutes and turned the oven down to 450 F after 2 minutes of the steaming process.   Then we took out the steam, turned the oven down to 425 F convection and continued to bake for another 15 minutes until the bread hit 205 F on the inside.  We let the bread rest for 5 minutes in the now off oven to crisp the skin and then it was removed to the cooling rack.


The bread sprang, bloomed and browned just OK, developing little blisters on the crust that the MO is so adept at making – even for whole grain breads. The crumb was not as open as we had hoped but it was, soft and moist and attractively decorated with seeds.


It was the taste that was exceptional.  Medium sour as the distinctively assertive porter taste powered through for once.  The seeds made for an even earthier, hearty bread to go along with the all the whole grain. Götz von Berlichingen would be proud of this bread named for him and hopefully the hotel will call it their own for their guests to engy too.

Happy Wonder Milling and Baking.


  Build 1 Build 2 Build 3 Total %
SD starter 8 0 0 8 2.01%
15% Extraction 6 Grains 8 16 32 56 14.07%
Water 8 16 32 56 14.07%
Total 24 32 64 120 30.15%
Flour 60 15.08%      
Water 60 17.65%      
Hydration 100.00%        
Levain % of Total Flour & Water 16.09%        
Dough Flour   %      
85% Extraction 6 Grain 338 84.92%      
Salt 8 2.01%      
Porter 280 70.35%      
Dough Hydration 82.84%        
Total Flour 398        
Water 60, Porter 340        
Whole Wheat Sprouts 50 12.56% (dry weight)  
Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed 50 12.56%      
Chia Seeds 25 6.28%      
Ground Flax Seed 25 6.28%      
Total Add Ins 150 37.69%      
Whole Grain Equivalent % 100.00%        
Total Weight 896        
Hydration w/ Adds 85.43%        
The 6 whole grain mix is 50 g each of: spelt rye,      
Kamut, farro & barley and 150 g of wheat


About Scott Brownfield

I'm 62 years old and have been retired for 6 years. I spent my working career in the wholesale food distribution business delivering specialty food products to retail grocery stores and all kinds of food service customers. I love all things food -especially bread baking. I took it up as a hobby a little over two years ago and now prefer to bake sourdough bread - but any cooking or baking will do. I also have a German Baking Apprentice 2nd Class named Lucy, who just turned 10 year old. She is really the one who keeps me on track in the kitchen. - Happy Baking

See my blog

Our Experience: Our baking has really changed for the better with the new WonderMill we used for the Grain Mill Wagon Challenge. Before, we would only use 10-20% whole grain in our baking since milling grain berries in a coffee mill was tedious, took forever and yielded dubious results. But now, milling any grain we use in our baking is as easy as pie and pie crust made with 50% whole grains are way healthier and tastier than white crusts. In the month or so we have use the WonderMill to mill soft white whole wheat for cookies, cakes, pies, galettes and tortillas and the harder varieties for all kinds of breads including our new favorite 15 grain sourdough and even salted rye cookies. We have even milled popcorn for bread and corn tortillas and beans for Ezekiel Bread. The WonderMill has lived up to all of its claims and then some and we use it nearly every day. It has changed the quality and nutrition of our baking and cooking forever.

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