Potato Onion Rye Meteil




This is made following Peter Reinhart’s recipe from the book ‘Whole grain bread’ – one of the best books I ever chose to buy! It has some amazing techniques for making 100% wholemeal breads. This bread is with a rye and wholemeal flour mix – no white flour at all! The crumb is a more closed than you might get in a bread made with white flour, but it is soft on the inside and crunchy on the crust, everything needed in nice wholemeal bread! I think the potato really helps with giving it that soft texture. Also, the flavours from the wholemeal flours combined with the onion, molasses, rosemary and tang from the sourdough all thrown together in one loaf taste lovely!!

This isn’t my recipe but wanted to post about it because there are no photos of the finished bread in the actual book. Though there is a picture of his potato rosemary bread on the next page, but still no pictures of the crumb there! I essentially stuck to the original recipe, with the exception of halving the recipe to make one loaf instead of 2 (keeping all proportions the same), using a 100% hydration rye starter instead of 75% and using a little less vital wheat gluten (didn’t want the texture to have that gummy feel you get from vital wheat gluten!).

Reinhart calls this bread ‘potato onion rye meteil’ and really I had no idea what a ‘meteil’ was before making this – I would probably call it a loaf or a boule instead but thought meteil sounded french and fancy-ful!! When I googled ‘meteil’ all I found were a lot of french webpages and some immigration records – so I didn’t really get a greater understanding. I think it is something to do with ratio of rye flour to other flours. Please correct me if i’m wrong!

The techniques used in this bread are preparing a soaker and a starter the night before. The soaker helps to hydrate the wholewheat flour (as wholewheat can absorb so much more water than white flour) and soften the grain, as well as release flavour and start enzyme activity. It’s so much easier to work with wholemeal bread after it has just been given time to soak. Sourdough starter and yeast are used in conjunction in this recipe. I would like to make my own version in the future, where there is no need for yeast. Due to time constraints I stuck with using yeast on this occasion.

Also I enjoyed watching this Ted Talk by Reinhart about his wholegrain breads – particularly when he’s on about the life and death cycle that happens as grains go through the process to become flour, then dough, then finally bread! The grains die when they’re harvested, in the oven the yeast essentially brings the grains back to life, and then the yeast dies in the oven when it gets too hot for them, but that death brings life: BREAD! As such bread is a symbol of life. From wheat to eat!

This takes two days to make so it does take some planning!But that really isn’t much compared to other breads where it can take 4 days!

The life cycle of bread takes time apparently! I halved the original recipe as it made two loaves and i only wanted one. I have also tried to write the recipe in a way that shows how the timings can be fitted in around doing other things that you generally have to do in life, apart from making bread. I’ve organised the prep and fermentation times around when I need to sleep and be at work, whilst timing in when I will around to actually bring the bread together into a final dough and get it baked.

Here’s a rough time schedule that I used:

Night before at 10pm: Mix and prepare soaker

Night before at 12pm (midnight): Mix and prepare starter

8am on day of baking: place starter in fridge to delay fermentation

5pm: Take starter out of fridge to take chill off

6.30pm: Mix final dough

7pm: Leave dough to prove for 45mins to an hour

8pm: Shape dough and place in banneton. Leave to prove for second time, for another 45 mins to an hour.

9pm: Bake!

Bread should be ready just before 10, though by the time it’s finished cooling it might be quite a bit later! I usually save it to be eaten in the morning!

Ingredients for soaker:

71g whole rye flour

42g whole wheat strong flour

2g salt

85g potato water (cooled) – this is just the leftover water used from boiling potatoes. It helps to sweeten and soften the bread

2g vital wheat gluten (Reinhart’s recipe stated 3.5g of vital wheat gluten would be optional for this recipe – I thought I would compromise by using some vital wheat gluten but not as much as advised)

Ingredients for starter

35g whole wheat mother starter (recipe uses a 75% hydration rye starter but I used 100% and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly to keep roughly the same hydration ratios)

115g (whole wheat flour, rye flour, or combination of the two. I did 50g rye and 65g whole wheat flour)

74g water (room temperature, recipe asked for filtered or spring water, I used tap water!)

Ingredients for final dough

all of the soaker

all of the starter

64g of whole wheat flour or rye, or a combination (I used all rye)

5g salt

4.5g instant fast action yeast

113g cooked, mashed leftover potatoes

56g fresh, finely diced onion (recipe doesn’t specify what colour, I used a red onion)

7g molasses (recipe says to use honey, agave, molasses or sorghum syrup – I liked using the molasses as they give the dough a deeper brown colour)

1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary (recipe says to use either 1/2 tbsp of caraway or rosemary)


I started preparing the soaker the night before. Mix all of the soaker ingredients in a bowl for one min, til there are no visible flecks of dry flour and it forms a ball. Cover with cling film/plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (I left mine out from the night before at about 10pm until 6.30pm the next day, so that’s about 20.5 hours. Put the soaker in the fridge if it will be more than 24 hours. 

I also prepared the starter the night before. MIx all of the starter ingredients in a bowl, ensuring there are no visible bits of flour and all is hydrated. Let the dough rest for for about 5 mins, then knead again for a min. Dough will be a little smoother but still very tacky.

The recipe states to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 4-6 hours at room temperature until doubled in size and the acidity is between 3.5 and 4 when tested with pH paper. I prepared mine at 12pm the night before and left it til 8am in the morning as I had a feeling it would take longer as it’s cold overnight! 12pm to 8 am is 8 hours, and that was just about the right length of time for my starter to double in size, not 4-6 hours. The recipe does state that it can take longer the 8 hours, though. I did not test for acidity though, I do not own any pH paper! I have been thinking maybe I should get some.

When the starter is ready, knead for a few seconds to get the gas out. It is now ready for using in the final dough. However! As my starter was ready after 8 hours and the soaker still needs time to ‘soak’, I put the starter in the fridge (covered with cling film) before going to work so that it would slow down its fermentation until when I got back home and would coincide with when the soaker would also be ready.

The starter just needs to be taken out of the fridge 2 hours before mixing in the final dough, to get the chill off.

When the soaker and starter are both ready, next is to mix the final dough!! Chop the soaker and starter into 12 small pieces using a dough scraper. Combine these with the rest of the ingredients. Stir or knead for about 2 mins. The dough should be quite sticky but still soft. Can add a little bit of flour but be wary of adding too much!

The dough can then be kneaded either by hand or with a machine. I used my hands as don’t yet have a machine – it should be kneaded for about 5 mins until softer and smoother, but still tacky. Tacky, not sticky. Let this rest for 5 minutes (I use this time to prepare a clean bowl), then knead again for a min. The dough is kneaded enough when it can pass the windowpane test.

Place the dough into the clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to prove for 45 mins to an hour, until about 1 1/2 times its original size.

When risen, form the dough into a loaf. I formed mine into a round boule. To give it strength stretch and fold the dough then shape into a round with a smooth, taut surface on one side of the round. Put this smooth surface face down into a well floured banneton. Cover loosely with cling film or an upside down large bowl, if this fits over. The recipe states to leave this to rise for 45 mins to an hour. I let mine rise for just over an hour, until it was about 1 1/2 times its original size. Start preheating the oven and a dutch oven (cast iron pot) about 3o minutes before the dough has fully proved. Preheat to the maximum temperature the oven can get to. Reinhart’s recipe says to preheat 218C but I like it to be even hotter to get maximum oven spring. I differ a little from the recipe here as I have used a dutch oven whereas they have used a steam pan. I think the dutch oven can produce more steam so is a little better – though it does limit me to a round shaped loaf.

When oven is preheated (as well as the dutch oven) and the dough has risen, remove the dutch oven from the oven and place somewhere heatproof (this is very important!!). Lift the lid off the dutch oven and gently turn the dough out from the banneton into the hot dutch oven. Replace the lid and put the whole thing back in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on (turning the temperature down to 200C after 10 mins), then turn down the temperature again to 180C, remove the lid and bake for a further 20 to 30 mins, until loaf is a rich deep brown and the internal temperature reaches at least 91C in the centre. I use a meat thermometer for this and it does the job!

Let the bread cool for 1 hour before cutting into.




Enjoy!! I ate this plain with butter and also dipped in hummus, which was yummy!

I really liked the use of potato and potato water in this bread and is definitely something I want to continue using. Also want to try make this purely sourdough, rather than a mix of yeast and sourdough. Though that will making timings more difficult as I cannot fit in two sourdough rises in one evening – might have to be a weekend job!

Also I apologise for the VERY specific quantities referred to in the ingredients sections – Reinhart’s original recipe is very specific and I did not want to change that. Though I probably rounded to the nearest 5 when making this.


17 thoughts on “Potato Onion Rye Meteil

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