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.
Autumn means always potato time for me. And even after this hot and endless summer, when we had to harvest them already in august due to the drought, I hunger for the first loaf of potato bread. Here – in the region around cologne – potatoes are called Ärpel or Erpel. This dialectal term is a short form from “Erdapfel” (literal earthapple). And so is an Ärpelbrot nothing other then a potato bread.
These Variant is in some points similar to the Oberbergischen Ärpelbrot but is baked with a rye poolish and yeast. And so it is a variant that works well for bread baking beginners too. It is a aromatic bread whit crisp crust and tender crumb.
For me, it is the right bread to eat it – thickly slathered with Plum butter – on a cold, misty autumn morning!
Slowly I find back into my everyday life after summer holidays. And summer seemed to be endless this year. I can’t remember when we had such a long period of hot and dry weather. But now, beginning of september, I feel that autumn is shyly knocking on our door. On my daily way to work I can see how mist is now filling the valleys around me. These are mornings which wake the memory of my favourite poem from Eduward Mörike.
A memory of the fading summer is this recipe for three grain rolls. Made with einkorn, rye and wheat flour the rolls have a delicious nutty flavour. A bit of potaote flakes helps to keep the crumb moist and tender. They are nourishing rolls packed with flavour and a good portion of whole grain flour. And so they were the perfect snack on our long summer trip to the Normandy.
The spicy flavour of grounded caraway, fennel and coriander seeds in combination with the tasty Schabzigerklee (Trigonella caerulea) makes it hard to resist these rye flatbreads. They taste very (!) similar to the Tyrolean flatbread named Vinschgauer. But while traditional Vinschgauer are made with sourdough, these variant is made with an rye-buttermilk-poolish instead. It is a recipe well suited for the advanced beginner. Someone, who did not started the adventure of rising an own sourdough, but is not afraid of sticky rye dough. How sticky the dough will be can be regulated by amount of added buttermilk. The more buttermilk is added, the more stickier the dough will. But a plus of buttermilk makes the flatbreads more moist, too, so it is worth the hassle with a sticky dough anyway! And the dough will be sticky in any case – just as prewarning! But with some flour on hands and counter top the dough can be handled very well!
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.
I could call this bread a simple “leftover bread”. But this would be to simple as the bread is a really delicious one. But to be honest, it contains a lot of leftover flours. There is the package of einkorn flour I found behind my flour box. And the bag with the little bit of spelt flour and another bag with some leftover rye flour. And as these three did not yield enough flour for a bread, I added some wheat flour, too.
As I planned to bake the bread in the wood fired oven in our regional history museum, I had to plan accordingly. For an relaxed baking day, I prefer to knead the dough friday night and let it rise over night in the fridge. But this normally means that I have to prepare the preferment in the morning before I leave for work. But – with school years end so near – I knew I would be to tired that morning for mixing a preferment at 5:30 am. As workaround I decided to let the poolish ferment in the fridge as well. It needs about 24 hours then, but with a bit of planing ahead, it minimize the time I had to spent each day with preapring the bread.
One tradition in Germany I value very much: Giving bread and salt to newly wed couples or when someone moves into a new house. And when two very dear persons got married beginning of this month, I started two think directly about the traditional gift. But as the two lives two far away as that I could simply drop a basket there, I decided to send it per mail.
To make sure that the bread survives the trip in the parcel and stays fresh until its arrival, I bake a simple rye bread in weck jars and canned them afterwards. Treated like this, the bread keeps fresh for several weeks.
If you want to avoid the canning, you can close the lit on the glass directly after baking. But as I have the tendency to burn my fingers in this process I prefer variant one 😀
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.
Sometimes Inspiration is knocking on our doors surprisingly. My sources of inspiration can be various: from something I saw on TV, something I got told, a picture from the web to a question of reader everything is possible. And sometimes reader questions result in the very best ideas.
And this is the origin of the idea for this rolls, too. A reader asked for crusty rolls with a lot of rye. And my mind started to turn on this idea directly. As pure rye rolls lack the volume and crispy crust of rolls with rye and wheat flour, I decided to bake rolls with 50% rye flour.
Sometimes I have “phases” in which I concentrate on a special topic while baking. At the moment it is whole grain. Maybe the very cold or dark winter is the reason why I am craving for grains, I do not know. But it is as it is and so I played a bit with the recipe I posted two weeks ago. The result is a beginner friendly bread which needs not so much planning as works without preferment. To still archive a balanced flavour I opted for a mixture of buttermilk and a tiny bit of balsamico. The amount of balsamico has to be well balanced, as to much can cause a unwelcome stingy tartness. But carefully dosed it creates a flavour with reminders of sourdough taste.
For the rest, I keep the parameters: enough time for kneading and proofing, so the whole grain flour can soak up all liquid its need. And for a little change in the palate I switched wheat with emmer flour. But if you have no emmer flour at hand, it can be baked with spelt flour all along, too.