In Germany you can finde a lot of different kinds of pretzels. There is the lye pretzel, of course. But there are all kinds of “white” (aka not treated with lye) pretzels as well. There are sweet ones like the Martinsbrezel, the Burger Brezel and the Neujahrsbrezel, but there are hearty pretzels like the Anisbrezn as well.
Todays white pretzels stems from the little town called Biberach. It is said that once upon time there was a lazy baker’s apprentice who forgot to prepare the lye. His Master Baker was very angry about his forgetfulness and tossed the pretzels in a pot with boiling salt water. And that turned out to be a brilliant idea. The so treated pretzels tasted deliciously and so these pretzels are baked during lent until today. Sounds like a real “happy ever after”, doesn’t it?
There is one advantage of recipes which are troublesome in the development: the other good recipes you find on the way. A recipe which development was extremly troublesome is the spelt & emmer sandwich bread I needed for my “Vergessene Getreideschätze” course. It took me over a year until I got the bread just as I wanted it to be. But as I was testing different methodes and the influence of ingredients, I got a lot of good recipes during this tests: Sandwich bread with Emmer, Spelt-Sandwich bread, Spelt-Emmer-Sandwich bread und spelt brioche. And this whole grain Spelt & Emmer Burger Buns are from this series, too.
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.
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.
We spent a relaxed New years eve with some dear friends and I promised to bring bread. As always, I like to bring a wide variety and so I decided for caraway seed bread, wheat and rye bread, and my favourite spelt, nut and fruit bread. As addition I liked to have small rolls, similar to the little rolls my mum sometimes bought when I was little. They were called bread confection and where turned in a mixture of cheese and different seeds.
For my own variant I decided to go for a classic roll dough with some active malt and sweet starter for flavour. And as I did not planned to spent a lot of time with weighting 32 to mini dough portions I divided the dough into four equal parts and rolled them into strands. Each strand was then cut into eight equal sized parts and each piece then turned in the cheese mixture. That went very well and easy.
The resulting rolls turned out even better then I hoped. They gained a good volume due to the malt and a bit of egg yolk as lecithin source while the sweet starter gave them a good flavour. Just as a good roll should be!
I struggeled a lot with Emmer or Einkorn Whole Grain Sandwich breads this year. The problem was always the weak gluten network of the ancient grain in combination with the bran in the whole grain bread which destabilized the gluten network even more. And so the crumb never satisfied my high standards.
Adding Spelt flour to the mixture did not do the trick and so I still try to create the perfect recipe. And will continue in the next year. To relax meanwhile I decided to bake a sandwich with white wheat flour and 30 % whole emmer flour.
Sometimes I have the feeling that baking bread follows as many fashions as you can observe in cloth. The trend flour of the last years was the French ones. Nowadays it seems that Swiss Ruchmehl is the new “in” flour. (Ruchmehl is a light wheat flour that contains more bran than normal white flour.) But this is not my kind of philosophy. I like to buy my flour in our local mill in which Wheat from the Rhineland and Spelt from The Bergischen Land is milled into very good flour. Just like Arndt Erbel I prefer to bake with the things that grow in my nighbourhood. And I firmly belief that every baker has to school his or her feeling for the dough for produce a great bread. Of course a great bread needs to have a great ingredients, too. But these can be found in your home region, too.
My rule is an easy one. I buy local flour. And when I in a new region, I buy the local flour there, too. This makes traveling much more exiting. And of course I bought some kilo Ruchmehl when we visited Basel – I like playing with new flour as much as everyone else does.