The “Bergische Land” is a hilly region next to cologne. Its name stems from the former Duchy of Berg and not from the hilly (which means “bergig” in German) landscape. It was for a long time a poor region as the ground is stony and loamy. Most farmers grew rye which can better cope such conditions.
And if you look for recipes which are from this regions you will inevitable find mainly rye breads. But for special occasions a whet bread was baked. It is called Nullbruut.
The origin of this bread stems either from the flour or because of its form. The Rheinische Wörterbuch explains that “dubbel genullt” means a flour is extra finely milled and such is the flour need for this bread. But “null” is also an old word for “parting (hair or landscape)” and could refer to the fact that the bread is slashed lengthwise prior to baking.
During the last weeks I planned my recipes according to different leftovers I found in my flour storage boxes. Now, they are (almost) tidy and I can come back to my personal favourites: regional bread recipes.
The special thing on regional recipes is the fact, that they are hard to find. They are often so common in their region that no one recognize them as that what they are: little recipe gems which can be found only in a narrow area. Only when an habitant moves into a area farer away, he or she will learn that this common everyday bread is not known in this part of the world. Nevertheless I stumble over a recipe from time to time or one of my readers askes for a special recipe and so I can enlarge my collection continuously.
The Butter Blatz is such a readers request. Blatz can be found in the southern Rhineland and in the Bergische Land and is baked in different variants: filled with raisins or almonds or topped with crumbles. The plain butter blatz variant is shaped to long loaf and cut serveal times on both sides prior to baking. This gives the bread the appearance of a leaf and looks just beautiful.
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…
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 stumpled about the Neheimer Stütchen during a guided tour in the cologne cathedral. It was the fact that Count Gottfried von Arnsberg IV. is buried as the only not clerical person. This prominat burial place he got because of a very generous gift to the cologne bishop – and to ensure that the people in his county would pray for him after his death he gifted a very good forest to the city of Neheim. The forest still exists and from the yearly gain of it several celebrations are paid: each year a wreath is laid down at his tomb in the cathedral, there are count gottfried games and all children of the city get a roll called “Neheimer Stütchen” at the 4th september.
The Neheimer Stütchen is a sweet milk roll, a bit larger then normal and already that tempted me. And as this story is such a nice one that it fits very well in my blog series of regional, traditional breads. And so I baked my version of this roll, with a biga for aroma and a water roux for fluffy soft crumb.
There are so many different variants of black bread in Germany that I always feel sorry that my stomach can not cope to much of it. So I can bake one just once in a while and to bake me through all the regional variants will take some time. One really fascinating black bread recipe is the “Klever Schwarzbrot”. It uses buttermilk instead of sourdough. This adds enough acid to make the rye bake-able.
The bread has fine lactic flavour in combination with the sweetness of the molasses makes this bread special. And to add some complex flavour notes I added for my recipe a preferment with rye meal, buttermilk and tiny bit of yeast. The preferment adds not only aroma but helps the meal to soak up enough liquid which makes the bread more moist. The same is true for the soaker: the roasted bread crumbs add flavour and the nuts and coarse meal can soak up the liquid. And while this two additional steps makes the recipe more complicated then the “fast” variant with a lot of yeast but it makes it so flavourful that it is worth work. Continue reading
Another discovery of my search for regional breads is the Salzweck. Its a roll which stems from the region Baden and which is formed in a special way. Its rim is folded in a similar way like used for Kärntener Kasnudeln or for the Handsemmeln. Its not so difficult to form and to proof this I took a video from the forming process.
The roll comes golden brown out of the oven and provides a fluffy soft crumb under its crisp crust. This is due to the combination of the macial combination of egg yolk, butter, enzyme active malt and vitamin C from the powdered rose hip. To make the flavour deep and complex, I added a Biga to the dough, too. Taken together this yields a beautiful looking roll with great aroma!
This was a great weekend in Berlin! The smell of bread was everywhere and I had the change to try so many different specialities. Not only on the Brotzeit Market, but on the evening before as well when all of the participants came together to chat and eat. A lot of the Bakers brought their favourite bread and I spent that evening of sampling nearly 20 Breads. My personal favourites were: a bread with sprouted spelt, a loaf with sprouted sun flower seeds and a ciabatta like bread with hot pepper and olives. But there was a delicious walnut, a bread flavoured with nettles, and different great rye breads as well. The different breads and the interesting conversations about bread, grain and bees at this evening will be inspiring my baking in the next time for sure!
The next regional bread recipe is from Northern Germany, too. Or, to be more precise, from Osnabrück. It is a roll which roots in meagre days when good flour with a high amount of gluten was rare. The poor flour quality results in a finer, denser crumb and a smaller volume then normal rolls. To archive good looking rolls with a nice crust despite the flour quality the bakers used a trick. They spread the rolls with different kinds of mixtures which results on a crisp, and crackled crust. This special look of the crust gave the rolls their name “Springbrötchen” (lit. Cracked Rolls).
The flavour of the crumb is slightly sweet while the crust is very hearty. The hearty flavour stems from the last mixture which is applied on the rolls: It is a mixture of fat and baker’s ammonia. The slight alkalinity of the baker’s ammonia has a similar effect like lye for making pretzels and gives the rolls their specific flavour. The hint of sweetness is archived by a bit of sugar and the addition of some milk and is a lovely contrast to the flavour of the crust. I like the flavour very much and there are already new recipe variants with preferments circling in my mind. Always a sign that I like a recipe…