In Germany you can finde a lot of different kinds of pretzels. There is the lye pretzel, of course. But there are all kinds of “white” (aka not treated with lye) pretzels as well. There are sweet ones like the Martinsbrezel, the Burger Brezel and the Neujahrsbrezel, but there are hearty pretzels like the Anisbrezn as well.
Todays white pretzels stems from the little town called Biberach. It is said that once upon time there was a lazy baker’s apprentice who forgot to prepare the lye. His Master Baker was very angry about his forgetfulness and tossed the pretzels in a pot with boiling salt water. And that turned out to be a brilliant idea. The so treated pretzels tasted deliciously and so these pretzels are baked during lent until today. Sounds like a real “happy ever after”, doesn’t it?
And sometimes a new recipe starts like this:
When filling the dried potato flour into a container I was left with a leftover that would not fit in. So what to do?
I opted for putting it in my dough bowl and started to build a recipe around it. As it was already late that evening, it was clear that I would do my favourite variant of rolls: Overnight rolls.
As I’m still testing coconut oil in baking, I used it here, too. But if you prefer butter, replacing the coconut oil with butter is possible, too!
I am always fascinated how one recipe can lead me to the next (and the next…). Like when I was researching for the Rheinische Neujährchen, which leaded me to the Variant from the Westerwald. And then a reader commented about a tradition from reutlingen called Mutschel day. This day is the first thursday after Three Kings Day and at this day the people in Reutlingen a playing dice games in order to win a mutschel.
The mutschel is a highly decoreated bread made from a very rich dough. The bread has a eight pointed star shape with a bump in the middle. The shape is much easier to form then I first thought as the dough ball just has to be cut like a “#” and the sides then has to be pulled away and shape into pointy tips. I made pictures form the process but used a tinier variant of the mutschel as it was much easier taking pictures from it then from the big one.
For new years morning I baked my traditional New years pretzel, Westerwälder Neujährchen and Rheinische Neujährchen. The swirly form of the Rheinische Neujährchen may looks familiar to some of you. It is one of the forms that is used traditional for Lussekatter. And in Tyrol there is a Bread called “Thomasradl” which is baked during Christmas time in this form. The wide spread of this form is a hint that baking breads in this forms stems from a pre-Christian time. It is discussed that its a leftover of the midwinter fest and is a symbol for the sun.
I like the idea of sun very much as I am waiting each year in January to the days get visibly longer again.
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.