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.
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…
When I asked for suggestions of regional traditional Bread one bread on top of the list of favourites was Gersterbrot. This bread stems from the region around Hanover and Bremen and it is really special as it is flambéd after forming the loaves. This seals the crust and adds dark speckles all over the bread. Both lead to a bread with a hearty flavour and beautiful crisp crust. And it enhances shelf live as well as the thick crust prevents the moisture from evaporating.
To flambé the loaf properly I bought a small blazing torch as it develops more heat then a flambé torch. And when I flambéd the bread I took care that the surface below was fire proof! And I had a wet towel near just in case… But everything worked perfectly fine, no kitchen on fire, just a beautiful bread with a fine crumb and the thin crust – just as it has to be!
The grandmother of my dearest complained that today you can not get real blackbread anymore. The “modern” one is to moist in her opinion. When I asked how a “real” blackbread should be, she answered: “Just like it once had been”. My argument that I do not know how the bread looked like ninety years back in the past just gained me a critical gaze. But at the end I could get some informations about her childhoods blackbread from her: moist, but not so moist we today, dark and baked with rather fine cracked rye. And my ambitions was aroused to recreate this bread for her.
And so I bake a blackbread with the classical way: sourdough made with fine cracked rye, a soaker with roasted bread crumbs and coarse cracked rye and a good portion molasse. I added a bit of dark roasted rye malt to enhance the deep malt flavour. I baked it in the middle of the week when we spent some days with our Gran. And when we cut the bread the next day, everyone was happy, even Gran liked the bread!
A small part of a comment caught my attention: the word “Pottweck”. I asked for a description and got a very detailed explanation from Jürgen. Nicole added some other details and so I was straight on my way to the kitchen. They explained to me that the Pottweck is a regional speciality from the area lower rhine. Its name stems from the way it is baked: in a pot (= Pott in the dialect). And the pot gives the bread its typical mushroom shape, too, as the bread rise highly over the pot.
For the ingredients both were united at the buttermilk as liquid, while they differed at the used fat – it seems that either butter, butter plus some lard or only margarine can be used. I stayed with the butter for the beginning, but it is easy to swap part of it with lard or replace it completely with margarine. To increase flavour complexity and to enlarge shelf life I added a pâte fermentée to the formula as well as a little (untypical) addition of cream. And as my old black enamel pot is a bigger one, I knew from beginning that it had to be one big bread.
To watch the bread while baking was pure fun. It rose higher and higher. It was hard to let it cool and wait to for the photos before tasting the bread. But then we had the fresh bread for breakfast and where extremly happy with the slight sourness and complex flavour! A delicious treat on Saturday morning!
When I was researching another recipe, I stumbled upon the recipe for anise pretzels . These pretzles are made without lye and are typically served during winter in the region Upper Franconia. They contain a lot of anise, as their name promise.
Interestingly it seems that the recipe vary from town to town: In Weidenberg the dough is made without the addition of fat, while in a recipe from Bayreuth the dough is enriched with some milk and butter. I liked the richer variant more and so my dough contains both milk and butter, too. A egg yolk is added as emulsifier and helps to create fluffy and soft crumb.
In the cologne pubs (called “Brauhaus”) exists a dish with confuse tourists regulary. It is called “Halve Hahn” and the tourists translate this with “half rooster” and expect to get a half roasted chicken when they order it. What they get is one half of twin-roll together with old gouda cheeses, mustard and some onions. There are many theories to explain the name of the dish – one is that once upon time someone asked in the cologne dialect if he could get on half of the roll: “Ääver isch will doch bloß ne halve han” (But I want just one half).
The roll that comes with the dish is called “Röggelchen” (little rye) and is baked as twin roll. You can tell in which city the roll was baked by the way it was formed: The Röggelchen from Düsseldorf has a round shape while the Cologne one’s shape is long. Both in common is that they are made partly with rye. In this variant the rye is used to make a sourdough, which adds complex flavour notes to the rolls. Another typical characteristic is the dark, shining crust which is due to a glazing which is made with roasted starch and applied before and after baking.
The “Oberländer” Bread is a bread with tradition and stormy history: In 1829 the city council of cologne fixed the price for bread. The Bakers did not agree and so the bakers strike started. To get bread for the city, the council ordered bread in the region upriver, the so called “Oberland”. As this region has poor soil, the bread is baked with lots of rye there. This yields a bread with long shelf life and so it could be easily transported down the rhine to cologne. The cologne inhabitants liked the bread very much and even after the strike was ended they insisted on getting their beloved “Oberländer”. And so this bread is baked in cologne until today.
The characteristic shine of the crust is due to a glaze made of starch and water. Another characteristic trait of this bread are the tree slashes across the loaf. It is a mild rye bread with a fine crumb and a long shelf life. It pairs well with both hearty and sweet. And so it is both a beautiful bread for the regionalen Bread series and a good gift for someone who just moved to cologne.
The very first suggestion I got for the post series “regional bread” was East Frisian Black Bread. As I already wrote a recipe for the magazine “Ö” I needed another variant – and decided to create a new recipe using sun flower seeds and coarse rye in a soaker. A bigger batch of sugar beet syrup makes the crumb darker and adds a subtle sweetness to the sour flavour notes from the sourdough.
It is a very aromatic black bread, and the soaker helps to create a moist crumb. Cut in slices and wrapped in paper I took it with me to the food swap “Schwarzmarkt” in cologne. A attentive reader maybe already noticed that I used the food swap to bake a big batch of different rye breads. It was a good opportunity to bake a lot of rye breads without suffering from my sensibility to rye. and to provide you, my dear reader, a new batch of rye recipes. This is for me another advantage of this great Swap.
I’m totally thrilled about all the little jewels I meet in range of my “regional bread” series. From Annette I got describtion of the Bread Onjeschwedde, which is a raisin bread speciality of Rheydt – a part of Mönchengladbach. It is baked with the loaves touching each other a methode which keeps the bread very soft and moist. Before baking it is slashed with a curved long cut and some small cuts on the sides. The so called “Rheydter Flower”.
The name “onjeschwedde” means literally “not sweated” and means that the bread is made with “green” flour – freshly milled flour of newly harvest grains. This flour contains more moisture then a ripened flour which looses the moisture – it sweats! As it was just harvest time, so I called my local mill and ask. And indeed they promised me fresh flour for September.
The second special thing about this bread is that it is made with a huge amount of rye – 40% to be precise. It is the first sweet bread I met with this high amount rye! And so I used sourdough as preferment, which adds a deepness to its aroma, rounded by a faint cinnamon flavour. Sweetness comes from a bit of sugar and currants. The taste is something special, a sweet bread but with its very own, distinct flavour. A great bread which needs nothing more then a bit of butter!