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.
No, I will not start complaining about the rain. I am honestly glad about the constant pouring as the hot and dry summer and autumn left nature thirsting for water. But my foodblogger heart is still grumbles a little bit about the dull light we have. It is rather bad for taking pictures. But that’s what high Iso and the golden side of my reflector is for, isn’t it?
And when it’s raining cats and dogs it is the perfect weather for baking bread. And so I spent the last sunday with baking another regional bread. The Kassler Bread (or short Kassler) stems – as its name suggest – from the city Kassel, but is nowadays baked often in the Rhineland, too. It contains about 30% Rye and 70% Wheat flour and it’s a kind of bread I call lovingly “everyday bread”. It is flavourful and goes well with every kind of topping: from honey to cheese, everything fits with this kind of bread.
It may looks like a bagel, but it’s no bagel for sure. This crusty roll with its fluffy crumb shares only the shape with the more prominent bagel. It is a regional speciality which is baked only in Dortmund. It is topped generously with salt caraway seeds and often is spread with Mett. So – it’s said – the Innkeeper will sell more beer because salt increases the thirst.
The roll was inveted already back in the nineteenth century by the bakery Fisher. But the original recipe was lost when the bakery burned down during the bombing in the second world war. But it was reinvented is baked until today. But its distribution area is still restricted on the city of Dortmund. And so I’m very happy that I found this delicious little gem of regional tread!
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 Saint Martin’s Day is a celebrated through whole Germany. The traditions anyway vary from region to region. In the Bergische Land, where I live, and in the Rhineland, one tradition is to give a Weckmann to each child after the lantern procession. In other regions instead of this weckmann they get a Martinsbrezel (Martin’s pretzel).
I learned about these tradition quiet recently and did some researching then. And interestingly this tradition is rather wide spread and there are differnt kinds of pretzels. In some regions, they are topped with pearl sugar before baking while in other regions they are brushed with butter and turned in fine sugar after baking.
I decided to try the second variant. Due to the big amount of sugar decided to use only a small anount of sugar in the dough. And then these pretzel are big treat – they may not replace a weckmann in this house but are a good addition to them!
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 …