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.
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
Just a few days after I read about Björn’s wood fired oven adventures I stumbled about an older newspaper telling about the oven in the local history museum just 20 km from my home. Each second Saturday of the month the oven is heated and everyone is invited to come and bake their bread – just like it was done traditionally in the old communal ovens. Reading that I got very excited and wrote an email instantly, asking if they still do this as the newspaper was already a bit older.
I got a fast answer and the invitation to join the bakers group the following Saturday as the oven is still used regulary! And so, I must warn you at this point: this post is longer and with more photos than normal because I had a wonderful time in the museum!
Whole grain flour needs more water then white flour, that is a well known fact. And the psyllium hulls can bind a lot of water, too. Nevertheless I was surprised by the amount of water I needed to reach the right consistency when I prepared the dough. At the end there was more water then flour in the dough. It yielded good rolls but I found the amount of water a bit to much, anyway. And so I changed the recipe, using less water and bit of sugar beet syrup to break the slight bitterness of the bran.
And with this second try I was happy. They have a nice, moist crumb and stay fresh for a long time. They are not as airy as their siblings but a delicious, more healthy variant. The right roll for a healthy lunch break!
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 second bread for my regional bread collection is one I know well: a crusty bread from the rhineland, called “Rheinisches Krustenbrot”.
These crusty breads you can find in different parts of Germany and they vary in the amount of rye which is added to the dough. I know it as a mild bread with only 10% rye flour added. It is baked with seamside up which creates the typical rustic look of this bread. It has a light, fluffy crumb and – as the name suggested – a thick, crunchy crust.
I baked my version of this bread using two different sourdoughs: A rye sourdough which adds a hearty note to the flavour and which contains all of the rye in the formula, and a mild wheat sourdough which adds a joghurt like note to the taste of the bread.
Finally I can post the first recipe in the upcoming post series of “regional breads” and can tell you how I came to this idea.
It all started with an email from the Magazine “Ö”, asking if I could develop some recipes form different German regions for their September issue. Of course I could and shortly after I was whirlwinding in the kitchen, baking Eastfrisian Blackbread, Schrippen from Berlin, Cologne Röggelchen, Göppinger Briegel, Swabian Spelt bread and Bavarian Farmers Bread. At the end of the week the bread was stacking in my kitchen and some colleagues and family members would find anonymous gifts of bread or rolls 🙂 I sent the recipe together with some Gerstl to the photographer who bake the bread, too and took the pictures.
I was asked more than once to publish a sourdough rye bread recipe for the “Bread baking for Beginners” post series. I hesitated as a rye bread is not so easy to handle as a wheat one and to know when a pure sourdough loaf is ready to bake needs some experience. But with the Rye bread without sourdough we had already the right starting point to step into the world of sticky rye dough – practising this bread before switching to sourdough is highly advisable.
To rise the bread with only sourdough in a reliable way, the sourdough has to be very active. If it is not so active or was in the fridge for a longer period, making a refreshment to activate the sourdough yeast the day before is a must. The rye sourdough is then build in two stages to archive a well balance flavour and a high activity. The two stages make use of the fact that lactobacteria and yeast differ in their temperature optima. The first, cooler and firmer stage is perfect for the growth of bacteria , which produce lactic acid and acetic acid. The warm and soft stage then favours the yeasts which are needed for a good oven spring.
The recipe, which I created for this post contains 60% of rye and 40% of wheat flour which makes the dough sticky but still good to handle. It is a classical german “Roggenmischbrot” (literally mixed rye bread), with a slight sour and hearty flavour. Different bread spices which are sprinkled into the bread form add a spicy note to its taste.
One of the best methods to achieve a thick, crunchy crust is to bake a bread twice: after cooling down the bread is placed in the oven for a second time for about 15 min. During that time the crust gets its extra bit of crispiness.
And this method I used for this farmers bread. It contains 15% Rye flour and the typical Bavarian bread spice mixture of caraway, fennel and coriander seeds. If you, like me, have a well stocked supply of spices then it is easy to mix the needed spices by yourself. For grinding you can use either a mortar and pestle, a food processor or a coffee mill. And if you have a grain mill which allows you to mill oily seeds, then the easiest way is to mill the seeds with some wheat berries – just remember to reduce the amount of flour accordingly to the amount of wheat you mill.
The amount of bread spice is seasoning in a discreet way without overpowering the other flavours of the bread. This makes this bread suitable for hearty cheese as well for sweet spreads like honey.
I like recipe tweaking – especially when this happens so spontaneously like here. Duríng a nice exchange about sweet starter the questions occurred how to add the starter in a existing and trusted everyday bread recipe. I offered help and Kekki posted her formula and the wishes for the new versions. The recipe sounded very good, made with Kefir or Buttermilk, 20% rye and 80% wheat. I exchanged the wheat sourdough with sweet starter and added a long, cold autolysis for the whole grain flour. And I baked the recipe directly, as it sounded so tempting. And I was not disappointed: The bread is very flavourful, with a hearty tangy note, good crust and soft crump. A true everyday bread!