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?
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.
I love to bake bread for Christmas. And nearly every Christmas I included one loaf with nuts, as nuts are an essential treat on Christmas for me. So, the 2018 Edition of Christmas Bread is made with walnuts, spelt and emmer. It has a crisp crust and soft and fluffy crumb, perfect to go along any Christmas delicious.
The preferments are inspired by a look in the fridge: a bit of left over Pâte Fermentée and a Sweet starter that needed a feeding. They add complex aroma notes to the dough which is nicely underlined by the flavour of buttermilk and nutty tone from the Spelt and Emmer.
And with this recipe, my dear reader, I start my christmas break here in the blog. For new years eve I will be back for the traditional “Best of 2018” post. I whish you merry and peaceful Christmas Days!
Most of the time I think that breads with the tag “vegan” are silly. The standard variant of bread means “flour, water and salt” and this is after all so pure and simple vegan that there should be no questions left. But with sweet breads this is a different story. I always try to avoid highly processed replacements like margarine. And so I was fascinated when I read in a description of a organic baker that he uses coconut oil for vegan baking.
Using this fat makes sense as it contains naturally a high amount of saturated fat and so is solid at room temperature. I just wondered if the the slight coconut flavour of the oil would shine trough in the baked good. And to verify this question there was just one option: Baking a bread with coconut oil.
Besides of baking Martinsbrezel I tested a recipe as well: St. Martins Rolls. Like for the Martinsbrezel I learned about them from a dear reader. These rolls are stuffed with candid orange peel and hazelnuts and topped with a generous amount of pearl sugar. They are only baked in the time between St. Martin and Christmas.
And even with the temperature far away from winter, I felt a bit like Christmas when I smelled the candid orange peel and nuts during baking. And on breakfast I fell completely in love with the rolls. Spread with some honey (a gift from a baking course participant) they are so delicious!
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.
Heißewecken – sometimes called Hedewäggen, Hetwegge, Heiteweggen or Heetwich, too – are spiced raisin buns which are typical for North Germany. Their form vary from region to region, sometimes they are baked in bun shape, in others regions they are baked as flatbreads. They are baked traditionally in the feasting time between carnival and Easter and often served with warm milk and butter.
I have them on my list of regionals breads I want to bake for already one year. And before it is Easter again I finally managed to bake them. I chose the bun shape over the flatbread as I find the buns easier to eat for breakfast. But you can easily roll the dough to small flatbreads, too. Both forms are baked fast and hot which ensured a moist crumb.
I like the fine crumb and soft crust of this rolls very much. Cinnamon and Cardamom add a delicious deepness to the flavour and I ask myself why it took me so long to bake them …
I baked this bread in the last weeks already several times. One time with raisins, one time with dried apricots and walnuts, once just plain. And always when I start to bake a bread repeatedly it is a clear sign that I have a new favourite.
I like the good balance of the hint of buttermilk sourness and the subtle sweetness of this bread. And if you add raisins or other dried fruits the bread moves a bit more onto the sweet side but is still well balanced. Freshly baked it is one of the breads I eat with just a dab of butter. Is there anything in the world that tastes better then a freshly baked sweet bread with fluffy crumb?
I baked the bread in my new tiny 500g loaf pans. These pans are brand new in my baking pan collection and I already realized that they are perfect for baking such sweet breads or whole grain breads. And it is perfect if you need some small loaves to share with family and friends!