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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The second recipe I got from my parents neighbour which needed a bit of work over was a recipe for whole grain rolls with milk and a good portion of butter. I liked the idea of this rolls instantly.
I added poolish for more flavour and a water roux to make the dough more easy to handle. The other adjustment I made was concerning kneading and fermenting time. Kneading the dough until full gluten development is an important point here as a well developed dough keeps water much better. And as I told already last week, it is important that a whole grain dough gets enough time to soak up the liquid, too. This helps to improve the crumb as well as the shelf life. And in combination these all leads to a dough which is firm enough to get stemped with a roll stemp.
Beside of this I finetuned the recipe a bit, reducing the amount of yeast (once more) and adding an egg as lecithin source. This helps to create a fluffy roll with good volume and fine flavour. The buttery notes pair up very well with the nutty yet slightly bitter flavour of whole grain. These are rolls with potential for favourite rolls.
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!
There is one big christmas tradition in our Family: Cheese fondue with Grandparents, Grandaunt and –uncle, Parents, Aunts and Uncles, Siblings and Cousins and little nieces, nephews and great cousins. The recipe for the cheese fondue I published already some years back. Last year we had a little bread desaster. The bread was not only undelicous but crumbly and break rather than holding the cheese. A lot of bread got lost in the pots… And so my Mum and me volunteered (of course without any thinking) to bake baguette for all in the next year.
Over the year I did some researching and stumbled over the swiss fondue bread, something even my Swiss Grandaunt did not knew.