It is already middle of January, but I still have two Recipes from christmas waiting. The first one is the recipe for a spelt panettone. Baking panettone or pandoro on the 23. December is already a kind of tradtion here at “Hefe und mehr”. In the weeks before, I take intensivly care of my sweet starter to make it especially fit for the task.
As baking Panettone is already nearly a no brainer. And so I was looking for a new challange. Switching from wheat to spelt is definitly more challenging, as kneading the sensitive spelt to full gluten development needs experience. And it is a good idea to check which sort of spelt you use. Different spelt sorts behave differently as their gluten composition differs. For Example if you use Oberkulmer Rotkorn you need to shorten the kneading time compare to Franckenkorn, which I used here. But with these in mind, baking panettone with spelt works very well. Just keep a close eye on the gluten development.
I am always fascinated how one recipe can lead me to the next (and the next…). Like when I was researching for the Rheinische Neujährchen, which leaded me to the Variant from the Westerwald. And then a reader commented about a tradition from reutlingen called Mutschel day. This day is the first thursday after Three Kings Day and at this day the people in Reutlingen a playing dice games in order to win a mutschel.
The mutschel is a highly decoreated bread made from a very rich dough. The bread has a eight pointed star shape with a bump in the middle. The shape is much easier to form then I first thought as the dough ball just has to be cut like a “#” and the sides then has to be pulled away and shape into pointy tips. I made pictures form the process but used a tinier variant of the mutschel as it was much easier taking pictures from it then from the big one.
For new years morning I baked my traditional New years pretzel, Westerwälder Neujährchen and Rheinische Neujährchen. The swirly form of the Rheinische Neujährchen may looks familiar to some of you. It is one of the forms that is used traditional for Lussekatter. And in Tyrol there is a Bread called “Thomasradl” which is baked during Christmas time in this form. The wide spread of this form is a hint that baking breads in this forms stems from a pre-Christian time. It is discussed that its a leftover of the midwinter fest and is a symbol for the sun.
I like the idea of sun very much as I am waiting each year in January to the days get visibly longer again.
Chocolate is always a good idea. And already since childhood I’m in love with the “Schokoladen-Weckchen” (Sweet chocolate rolls) which the baker in my home town baked. And during the sorting of my baking suppleys I found chocolate drops, which I original bought for baking cookies. But when I saw them, I coudn’t get this rolls from my mind. And so I decided to recreate the treat of childhood days!
As there was a bit of cream left in the fridge, I decided to base the dough loosley on the recipe of my favourite Sunday braid, but with some rye flour to enhance their tenderness and shelf life. This is a lesson I learned from several traditional recipes for sweet bread.
I am still surprised how widely spread the use of rye flour in traditional sweets bread was. Surprised because nowadays it is rather hard to find such breads in bakeries. And using rye flour to replace some portion of wheat flour makes perfectly sense as rye grows in much rougher conditions as the fastidious wheat. And so rye grew even in regions with poor soil and colder climate like you can find it in the Eifel or here in the “Bergische Land”.
When I stumbled upon the Bread called “Kleenroggen” (litterally little rye) I was buffled as I never heared from such a bread before. Researching deeper yield not so many information, but it seems that this tradtional bread was once baked from the “Bergische Land” up to the Sauerland. And it must have been a fairly common bread, as there is even a church which is called “Kleenroggenkerke” (Kleenroggen church) in the local idiom due to its pan bread like shape. And it always describes a sweet bread with currants and a good portion of rye.
The Einback (sometimes called Zeilenweck or Micken, too) is a slightly sweet milk roll with fluffy crumb and soft crust. They got their special form form placing the rolls so near to each other they touch during baking.
I had them on my list of regional breads already for some time. I was fascinated by the fact, that they are only a interstage product of the Zwieback production. But the fluffy rolls gained more and more popularity on their own and at some point “Einback” became a synonym for “fluffy milk roll”.
When I bake the rolls, I decided to try them as Einback as well as Zwieback and I like both very much. The Einback is soft and fluffy and flavourful due to preferment and water roux, the zwieback is crunchy and sligthly sweet. I can’t decided which variant I like most…
And here is a last glance of of what I baked this year for Easter. The little Dove I baked twice. Once with my sisters kids, once alone. In the first version I rolled the dough strand equally thick what resulted in doves with a very plumb body and with a tiny head. For the kids it didn’t matter, they made sure they vanished while still warm from the oven. But I was hooked and so I baked them a second time, this time with a slightly modified formed strand. And this time the birds looked like birds. And to find the pictures next year, too, I have here the “how to” for you. The dough recipe is the same like the tsoureki just without the spices.
When we drove through snow- rain to meet with the family on Easter Sunday, I mused if todays Easter weather was colder then on Christmas Eve or not. But good weather or not we had a broad mixture of rolls and a greek easter braid with us.
The idea of baking tsoureki I had in mind since a readers question last year. And so I did some research and found the braid in many different forms and different ratios of ingredients. But two ingredients were a stable: Mastix and Mahlep.
Mastix is the resin of the pistachios tree, while mahlep are cherry pits form Prunus mahaleb. While grinding the spices to powder I realized that mahlep has an similar aroma than tonka beans: almond like and very delicious. As always, the flavours of a spiced bread are depending more on the spices then on the aroma of the preferment. But using a preferment is useful anyway, as it helps to strengthens the gluten network as well as improves the shelf life.
We enjoyed this greek Easter Bread with its fluffy crumb and almond like flavours very much.
All the winter I did not make it to one of the bread baking days in our local history museum. It was due to different reasons: a lot of snow, a bad cold, our spontaneous weekend trip into the Ardennes…
But last weekend I finally was back and it was so good to meet all the nice people there once again. And as every time I was enchanted by all the little details around the wood fired oven and took many photos.
To honour the museum I call the bread I baked this time “Bergneustädter” as the Museum is seated at the historical centrum of the little town Bergneustadt. It is a bread made with white wheat and rye flour. To keep the bread moist for a long time I added a bit of potato flakes and a little bit of butter, too. The roasted malt enhances the subtle smoke notes of the wood fired oven. For rising the bread adding my hyperactive sourdough would be enough. But as a wood fired oven waits for no one I kept on the secure side and added a bit of yeast to make the proofing better controllable. So the bread needed 60 min to be ready for baking, which is fits perfect in the time schedule I have in the museum.
The second recipe I got from my parents neighbour which needed a bit of work over was a recipe for whole grain rolls with milk and a good portion of butter. I liked the idea of this rolls instantly.
I added poolish for more flavour and a water roux to make the dough more easy to handle. The other adjustment I made was concerning kneading and fermenting time. Kneading the dough until full gluten development is an important point here as a well developed dough keeps water much better. And as I told already last week, it is important that a whole grain dough gets enough time to soak up the liquid, too. This helps to improve the crumb as well as the shelf life. And in combination these all leads to a dough which is firm enough to get stemped with a roll stemp.
Beside of this I finetuned the recipe a bit, reducing the amount of yeast (once more) and adding an egg as lecithin source. This helps to create a fluffy roll with good volume and fine flavour. The buttery notes pair up very well with the nutty yet slightly bitter flavour of whole grain. These are rolls with potential for favourite rolls.