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.
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.
These Crescents are a spontaneous recipe. I planed to bake some kind of rolls and so I prepared more sourdough than I needed for the Sprouted Spelt Bread the night before. But what to bake – I had no clue then.
Most of the time, I sit down and write down the draft of a recipe before I head to the kitchen. This makes not only baking more easy but helps me to finetune the recipe for publishing, too. The decisions for this rolls, anyway, where made in the kitchen by following my instincts. While proofing, I type down the recipe as fast as I could to prevent me forgetting some detail. And I’m glad I did so as I love the new rolls very much.
It was nearly 10 years ago when I stumbled over a sprouted grain bread. Susan from Wild Yeast baked it for Bread Baking Day with the theme “Bread with Sprouts”. A long, long time ago… I can still remember…
But it needed a second encounter to make me thinking about it. This second time I tasted a bread from sprouted spelt on a bread market a year ago. And this time I was hooked. But as sprouting is time consuming I took some time to start this project. But the Easter holidays were perfect for a new adventure!
All the winter I did not make it to one of the bread baking days in our local history museum. It was due to different reasons: a lot of snow, a bad cold, our spontaneous weekend trip into the Ardennes…
But last weekend I finally was back and it was so good to meet all the nice people there once again. And as every time I was enchanted by all the little details around the wood fired oven and took many photos.
To honour the museum I call the bread I baked this time “Bergneustädter” as the Museum is seated at the historical centrum of the little town Bergneustadt. It is a bread made with white wheat and rye flour. To keep the bread moist for a long time I added a bit of potato flakes and a little bit of butter, too. The roasted malt enhances the subtle smoke notes of the wood fired oven. For rising the bread adding my hyperactive sourdough would be enough. But as a wood fired oven waits for no one I kept on the secure side and added a bit of yeast to make the proofing better controllable. So the bread needed 60 min to be ready for baking, which is fits perfect in the time schedule I have in the museum.
Some time ago my mum handed two recipes to me. A very dear neighbour of my parents asked if I could give the recipes a work-over. And as its due to my mum and me that she got the bread baking virus, I could not deny. But the first look on the recipe made me sigh. It was a variant of the infamous “three minute bread”. There are many variants of this bread available, but all suffers at a stable crumb and a all overpowering yeast flavour.
The yeast flavour is due to an overdosed amount of yeast. This can be easily fixed by reducing the yeast amount. Fixing the crumb needs a bit more work and time. Most important is to knead the bread thoroughly. Beside of kneading giving the flour enough time to soak is important, too. And so I added a Soaker and a Sourdough and added proper time for fermentation.
The bread is not a three minute bread anymore. It needs time like every good bread, but this time is well invested. The bread has well balanced flavour and moist, but stable crumb. A delicious bread for my lunch at school!
After a mainly cold and rainy summer, the weather turned for some days just when school started. But this was just the last glimpse of summer we got. With the beginning of September it changed again and since then we have typical autumn weather – cold, sometimes rain, sometimes sun. When I drive to work I can see the valley filled with mist– it looks like little clouds snuggling into their beds before sun is waking them for the day. For me autumn is always the season to bake nut breads. And so I bake not only the dark spelt, nut & fruit in the wood fired oven last week, but as well a light spelt bread with hazelnuts and walnuts.
A deep flavour is archived by the combination of a spelt sourdough, a rye sourdough and a sweet starter. And due to the three lively sourdough adding yeast is theoretically not necessary. But as the community oven is not waiting for anyone I used a tiny bit of commercial yeast to keep fermentation well controlled and well fitted in the time schedule. And so et the end everything worked as planned: The oven spring was strong, the crust turned out crunchy and the crumb was fluffy. A perfect day for calm autumn days.
Sometimes it can happen even in a bread loving household: no bread! This happened to me some weeks ago when we had to defrost our freezer and so started to eat our way through all frozen goods. And then – in the middle of my working week – all bread was eaten and only to lonely rolls where left in the freezer. Enough to ensure our breakfast the next morning – but for the rest of the week we needed bread. And so I checked the flour stocks, took out some sweet starter and sourdough from the fridge and kneaded a dough before I went to sleep. The dough rested in the fridge meanwhile.