It was such a stormy Sunday! The sun was glimpsing through the clouds now and then, but the whole time trees were bending under the power of wind. It was the right weekend to stay home and bake bread.
And so I bake a delicious braid. But as we have a tiny bit of stormy days in our life, too, with a lot of appointments eating up time, there was no time for a preferment. And as I wasn’t baking in my own kitchen, I had no kitchen machine to take up kneading either. These were the facts I had to build my recipe around.
At the end, I opted for buttermilk and a long, cold proof to enhance flavour. And I decided to bake the Braid in Swiss Style, which means: no sugar in the dough. Without sugar, it is much easier to knead the dough to middle gluten development as sugar tends to inhibit gluten development.
My plan worked as well as I could hope for, and the next day I started my morning with some freshly baked bread. Is there a better start in a chaotic week?
Autumn means always potato time for me. And even after this hot and endless summer, when we had to harvest them already in august due to the drought, I hunger for the first loaf of potato bread. Here – in the region around cologne – potatoes are called Ärpel or Erpel. This dialectal term is a short form from “Erdapfel” (literal earthapple). And so is an Ärpelbrot nothing other then a potato bread.
These Variant is in some points similar to the Oberbergischen Ärpelbrot but is baked with a rye poolish and yeast. And so it is a variant that works well for bread baking beginners too. It is a aromatic bread whit crisp crust and tender crumb.
For me, it is the right bread to eat it – thickly slathered with Plum butter – on a cold, misty autumn morning!
Inspiration is a strange thing. In case of this whole grain bagel it came to me in form of an advertisement “to-go products” at the side of an supermarket. “Bagels” I told my beloved one while musings “are a good idea”. Back home I stumbled across a back of whole spelt flour and the different ideas melted together to one recipe.
As I baked them not in my own kitchen, I simplified the recipe as much as possible: hand kneaded dough and a long resting period in the fridge make sure, that they can be baked with no fancy equipment or preferment at hand.A spoonful sourdough can help to further improve flavour, but it is not mandatory. As the whole grain flour needs more water then white flour, the recipe has a higher hydration then the normal bagel recipe. Together with the overnight fermentation in the fridge this ensures that the bran can soak up all water needed. This helps to keep the crumb chewy and to enhance the bagel shelf life. But anyway – after two days all of the bagels were already eaten as they tasted so good…
Sometimes it is just time to use leftovers. Like last friday, when I looked around in the kitchen: there was some leftover fine rye meal from the blackbread, a small bowl with mashed potatoes and in the fridge I found a lonely egg yolk. And so I combined everything and kneaded a dough for the next day. As I prefer freshly baked rolls for breakfast, the dough rose overnight in the fridge.
When we get up on Saturday I went straight to the kitchen and formed the rolls. And while we get ourselves ready, cooked coffee and lay out the table, the rolls proofed and got baked. And when we then had breakfast with the flavourful fluffy rolls I thought once again: leftover recipes can be so great!
Some weeks ago a reader asked me if I had an idea for a spelt variant of the Buttermilk loaf from the beginners course. Of course I had an idea and so I send her a recipe draft. The flour used for this bread had a higher ash content – just as she asked for. A soaker made from flour and buttermilk prevents the bread from getting to dry.
It took a while until I bake the bread by myself. A inflammation of my wrist kept me from hand kneading dough for a while. But since my wrist is fine again, I finally managed to knead it by hand without pain. As I like the combination of spelt and walnuts, I decided to some, too. And I slightly increased the water amount in comparison to the recipe draft. The bread has a moist and fluffy crumb with a slight darker colour due to the higher ash content of the flour and due to the walnuts.
It is a mild tasting bread which pairs well with goat cheese or honey and as it made with a straight dough it is a good alternative for moments when you need a fresh loaf in a considerable short time.
Kieler Semmeln are rolls which stem – as their name suggested – from Kiel. They are a special roll as they are rubbed in a mixture of butter and salt, which gives their surface a rough look and adds a nice buttery and sligthly salty flavour. There are different recipes around for this kind of rolls, some of the containing lard or cinnamon as well. Cinnamon seems to me a bit to adventurous for a first trial, but I keep this variant in the back of my head for a second version.
As dough, I chose something well-tried, which I changed only slightly. Some sourdough and a cold rise in the fridge adds complex aroma notes even without a preferment, which makes the rolls good for spontaneous “I want to serve rolls for breakfast”- Ideas on late evenings. The rubbing of the preformed rolls in the butter-salt-mixture needs a bit of practice but even if the dough dos not make perfect folds, the recipe will still yields a delicous roll with fluffy crumb a crisp crust which crackles while cooling and which carries a hint of salt and butter.
Last year I saw a Christstollen with Sourdough which “Ofenkante” published on his blog. This stirred my brain and I started to think about Stollen made with sweet starter. But as I was already done with Stollen baking at this time point, I stored the idea in the back of my mind. After one year of thinking about it I decided to bake directly two stollen for this Christmas: a traditional and a experimental one.
In the experimental stollen with sweet starter I kept the same ratio of ingredients then in my traditional one (never change a winning team) but build the the sweet starter over several steps to get a enough strength for rising. It is always amazing to see how strong the sweet starter gets when fed three times in a row! But as the feeding is time consuming, this recipe needs a day until it is done.
After four weeks of ripening I brought the stollen from the cold attic back to the warm kitchen and sliced it. The crumb was perfect, firm but moist and the different flavours had fused to a harmonic consonance. Compared to the traditional stollen there are subtle differences in flavour nuances, but it is hard to pin them down. After all, both of them taste terrific and I can not name a favourite.
There are three different ways to soak seeds or flour: You can either cook them, or soak them in hot water or in cold water. For this bread I decided to soak the seeds in cold water. They do not absorb not as much water as when hot water is used, and this results in seeds which have still some bite. As the seeds have to soak overnight some salt is added to prevent them from fermenting.
Seeds in a dough can inhibit gluten development and so the soaker is added after ten minutes of kneading. The dough is firm at the beginning and will get softer when the soaker, which contains some free water as well, is added.
For a hearty flavour I bake this bread with some beer. It is a mild organic weiss beer, but you can start to experiment with different kinds of beers. A dark brew, for example, would bring the beer flavour forward and would yield in a very hearty bread.
“Eingenetztes Brot” would be Net-Bread if translated literally. But the origin from the word “eingenetzt” does not stem from the German “Netz” (net) but from “Nass”, which means “Wet”. And making the bread is wet indeed. The sticky dough is easiest to handle when hands and tools are really wet. When the bread is placed in the oven its surface is wet as well. This helps to create the shiny crust which is characteristic for this bread. To get the soft dough in the oven without accident, a so called “Schapf”, a kind of ladle, is used traditionally. Even in my rather big kitchen collection, there is no “Schapf” and so I used a small salad bowl instead. And this worked fine!
For a good flavour I used only a little bit of yeast and let the dough rise very slowly. A tiny bit of sourdough adds depth and complexity. The recipe works without sourdough as well, but its flavour is then a little bit flatter. Continue reading
Another Bread from “Wishlist” is the Westphalian Farmers loaf. It is made with buttermilk and lard. As breads with buttermilk easily catch my eye, I couldn’t resist this whish.
It is a rustic bread with a small amount of rye which is typical for Westphalia and especially for the Munsterland. In its traditional form it is made with lard, but it can be made with ghee instead as well. In my version, I used it a rye poolish, which helps to create a very good crust and a great flavour. For the form I saw them as a long, slashed loaf as well as a rustic round loaves which were baked seam side up. I like the rustic look for a farmers bread more and so I baked round loaves.
During baking the bread develops a nice crisp, reddish brown crust due to the rye poolish. The crumb is very soft and fluffy. Another bread for my favourite list!