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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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In 2007, after baking my way through all my old German bread baking books and Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", I checked for more bread formulas in the internet.

In German foodie magazine Essen & Trinken, one reader's recipe, featuring beer - always a plus! - caught my eye and piqued my interest. The beer was not only used to hydrate and flavor the dough, but, also, cooked into a mash, to feed the starter!

At that time I had the opportunity to chat with Peter Reinhart in an online bread baking Q & A, hosted by "Fine Cooking", and asked him about the boozy, mash-fed starter. He had never heard of such a thing, either.


Ale cooked into a mash is later used to feed the starter


Not only that - there was another oddity: the recipe described stretching and folding the dough into a neat package, at 1-hour intervals. What an entirely weird concept! I was puzzled and very intrigued.

Later I found out that S & F was first mentioned in The Fresh Loaf in 2006. Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day", introducing a larger audience to S & F, was published in 2009. 

A bit skeptical how this could work, I went ahead with the Englisches Kartoffelbrot mit Ale (English Potato Bread with Ale), stretching and folding the dough as per instruction, and was a bit surprised when I saw how the dough became smoother, more elastic, and really showed little gas bubbles, when I cut it to check the development.

To learn more about this tasty bread, my tweaks, and find the recipe (including a downloadable BreadStorm formula), please, follow me to my blog Brot & Bread.


 Moist and tasty - my bread loves beer (same as the baker :)

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When I - driven from a real "Breaking Bad Bread" experience - challenged my baking buddies from The Fresh Loaf, Facebook and several congenial blogs to create a "Bread for the Knight with the Iron Hand", I promised myself to try all 30 loaves over time.

One of those congenial blogs is Britta's Brot vom Niederrhein - Bread from the Lower Rhine.

Britta, 35-year old process engineer and mother of two, named her blog after the lower Rhine region of North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany, where she lives and works.

Britta: "Others knit to relax - I bake!"

"It is pretty here, prettier than many believe. Industrial culture has its charm, the view from a heap to the blast furnaces, chimneys, and the Rhine with its many green meadows and sheep is really pretty."

She finds baking and process engineering have a lot in common: a technical process turns the raw materials into products - only her cakes and breads rise much faster than the industrial plants she is building.

The Lower Rhine with its industrial culture has its own charm - coal mine Zollern in Dortmund 


Niederrhein Landschaft Natur Schafe 100330-029.jpg
Idyllic contrast to heaps and chimneys: sheep grazing on the Rhine meadows

With fond childhood memories of baking cakes with her grandmother, Britta wanted her kids to have the same experience.

Soon she progressed from simple everyday cakes to more elaborate ones, like the Pirate Ship Cake for her son's 7th birthday.

Birthday cake for little pirates!

And she finally ventured into the realm of home-baked breads. But not without side effects on her married life! "My husband got used to a fridge and kitchen counter full of (on average) seven pre-doughs on weekends".

He also has to live with the fact that she can't leave the house, because her doughs are just ready for the oven. "Or, alternatively, listen to detailed instructions, so that HE can put the breads into the oven, at the right moment, the right temperature, with or without steam!".

Britta started blogging to save her own recipes and show some of her breads and cakes to other enthusiasts. She also wants to help people with diverse food intolerances (like herself) to make delicious pastry, since that is "less easy to find in stores than bread".

The bread is made with cooked and raw potatoes

Britta's Kartoffel-Weizen-Roggen-Brot intrigued me - she didn't only use cooked potatoes, but added raw potatoes, too.

It is made with two preferments:  a salted sourdough (Monheimer Salzsauer, 2% salt) and pâte fermentée, so that very little additional yeast is needed, and the aroma has time to develop overnight.

Moist and flavorful, with a hint of earthiness

We liked the Double Potato Loaf a lot, it was very moist and flavorful, with a subtle hint of earthiness from the raw potatoes.

To see the recipe (in English) for Britta's tasty Double Potato Bread - including a downloadable BreadStorm formula - please, follow me to my blog "Brot & Bread".

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When I - driven from a real "Breaking Bad Bread" experience - challenged my baking buddies from The Fresh Loaf, Facebook and several congenial blogs to create a "Bread for the Knight with the Iron Hand", I promised myself to try all 30 loaves over time.

Well, let's say, almost all of them: the original 1914 German Army Kriegsbrot I'll better keep in reserve when times get tough.

Preparing Khalid's Götzenburg-Brot, I was struck by the idea to not only present his bread on my blog, but, also, finally satisfy my curiosity, asking my Fresh Loaf friend (username: Mebake) how on earth he came to bake whole grain breads in Dubai (a hint: flat bread are not much fun!)

If you want to take a look "behind the scenes", and learn more about the "Golden Wheat Bakery" and whole grain baking in Dubai. please follow me here to my blog Brot & Bread.

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The day arrives for every serious hobby bread baker when he or she - no longer satisfied with being limited to store-bought yeast - craves for the star among starters - the homemade sourdough!

The usual pathway to your own starter is stirring some flour into water, hoping that, over time, this mixture will attract wild yeasts and lactid acid bacteria to devour and digest the free all-you-can-eat menu. These microorganisms are either clinging to the grains or parachute down from the air.

But there are some surprising shortcuts, especially for those people who, like us, stuff their fridge with so many baking ingredients and condiments that they lose the overview.

Check the back of your fridge, you might find something like THIS!

Or you just visit your local grocery, or supermarket, and look for living cultures in the dairy aisle (no, I don't mean a call for the health inspector!)

You can turn plain old supermarket kefir into a very lively starter!

To learn more about improv starters, and see the great breads you can make with them, please, follow me to my blog "Brot & Bread". 

The title image, by the way, shows a Tartine Porridge Bread, made with the power of kefir!

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Dear baking friends who joined in my challenge to create a Bread for the Knight with the Iron Hand:


You thought about breads that were worthy of a famous knight from the middle ages, and, also, could please the palates of today's guests of Schlosshotel Götzenburg.

Not only your enthusiasm and creativity is amazing - your comments about medieval knights in general, and Götz von Berlichingen in particular, are highly entertaining.

Some of you even tried to figure out what practical considerations might influence a pastry chef's decision on what kind of bread to choose - like using leftovers from the restaurant kitchen and easy availability of ingredients.

I translated all German recipes into English and vice versa. So, if you don't want to be at the mercy of Google-Translate (rather pathetic with bread formulas, but always good for a laugh!), please contact me and I will send you the recipe.

Please, follow me to my blog "Brot & Bread" to see the whole bread basket for the Knight with the Iron Hand.

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Before I present you with the amazing bread collection you submitted for my Knight with the Iron Hand challenge, I owe you my own creation!

These goals I had in mind when I thought about the formula. I wanted to create a bread with grains and seeds used in German breads, preferably growing in the Baden-Württemberg region.

Though worthy of Schloss Jagsthausen's long tradition and its noble, iron-fisted ancestor, my bread should meet modern baking standards, not authentic medieval bread tradition (weevil-count over 100/kg!)

I also aimed for a bread that was not too fussy, and could be prepared either by the pastry chef of Schlosshotel Götzenburg's fabulous restaurant or outsourced to a local bakery. Therefore no holey loaf à la Tartine, and no overly complicated procedure.

Introducing a porridge to power up the hydration without making a whole grain dough too wet - this idea I happily took from Chad Robertson's "Tartine No. 3". It would work its magic in my less holey bread, too.

BreadStorm did the math for me, and this is the result (re-directing you to my Blog "Brot & Bread")


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I sometimes mention my little home based bakery. Since - as my husband always says - inquiring minds want to know - I will open the door to my Bar Harbor kitchen.

Since 5 years I am licensed to sell breads (and cupcakes) from my home. My kitchen was officially inspected, and I'm paying every year 20 bucks for the renewal of my Home Processor's License.

I am therefore legally:


I bake European breads for A&B Naturals, our our local natural food store - in summer twice, in winter once a week.

To show you more, please follow me to my blog Brot & Bread  - for some reason TFL doesn't let me upload any other photo today.


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Fellow bakers, many of you rose to my last year's challenge, re-creating a Vollkornbrot for Schlosshotel Cecilienhof in Potsdam ("When Taste Meets Tradition").

I fully trust you to come up with another loaf with a historical connection - a bread worthy of Götz von Berlichingen, the Knight With the Iron Hand.

This is what it is all about:

My husband and I are romantic souls. We like to visit fortresses and castles, and whenever we travel in an area where those are plentiful, we check for hotels with turrets and moats, commanding views and a rich history.

On our recent trip to Germany we stayed two nights at Schlosshotel Götzenburg in Jagsthausen. The medieval Castle Jagsthausen is the birth place of Götz von Berlichingen.

Götz von Berlichingen (1480 - 1562)

This notorious knight spent his life as mercenary, engaged in the never ending feuds between Emperor, nobility, church, wealthy cities and farmers, losing his arm, being incarcerated, outlawed and re-installed in the process (amazingly, he nevertheless lived to a ripe old age!)

He would have been probably long forgotten, if not immortalized by Goethe in his drama "Götz von Berlichingen with the Iron Hand", who turned the belligerent knight into a pillar of integrity against a deceitful and decadent society - in other words: a German Robin Hood.

Goethe turned Götz into a German hero

 When besieged by the Imperial Army and asked by its captain to surrender, Goethe had Götz say the famous (and, in the last part, often quoted) words of defiance:

"Me, surrender! At mercy! Whom do you speak with? Am I a robber! Tell your captain that for His Imperial Majesty, I have, as always, due respect. But he, tell him that, he can lick me in the arse!"

My husband quotes Götz von Berlichingen

 Schlosshotel Götzenburg doesn't only offer an lovingly restored medieval environment, beautiful views, and fine dining - its courtyard also serves as stage for the annual theater festival Burgfestspiele Jagsthausen.

One of its highlights, is, of course, the drama about the outspoken knight with the iron hand.

Scene from this year's theater production "Götz von Berlichingen"

The (comparatively moderate) price for our hotel room included breakfast (thankfully, something you still can expect in most German hotels!)

The ambiance - dark paneled dining hall, solemn ancestors looking down from the walls, body armor and tapestry - couldn't have been more appropriate. The dinner the night before had been fabulous, so we had high expectations for the breakfast.

Everything was fine - except for one thing that really matters for this bread loving baker: the rustic looking loaf on the table was sadly lacking - in crustiness as well as in taste!

Breads at the breakfast buffet - a mass produced disappointment

When I asked about it, I learned that it was not baked in a local bakery, but supplied by a whole grocer: hence its blandness and rubbery crust. Not at all worthy of the legacy of a fierce old knight! (He might have fed it to his dogs.)

Grumbling at the breakfast table, I pondered what to do. Whine about it to the manager? Or smite this nice hotel with a nasty comment at TripAdvisor? I had a better idea.


So, please join me, dear friends, in creating a special loaf, worthy of the noble Götz and his beautiful castle (which is, by the way, still owned by the Berlichingen family!)

Even though this loaf is meant for a medieval castle hotel - please, refrain from submitting an "Authentic Bread" à la Don Sadowsky. The tough old fighter might have had his share of those, while embattled, but he surely would not have served them to guests of his castle.

I won't give you a deadline, most of you are hard working people with little spare time, and if you want to participate, you will bake your bread as soon as you can, anyway.

Every contribution will be posted and linked to your blog (if you have one).

I will present our results to Schlosshotel Götzenburg, and, hopefully, when any of us visits there next time (it is well worth it!) you'll find a bread that (like Cecilienhof Vollkornbrot) marries taste with tradition.

Schloss Götzenburg


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After reading Don Sadowsky's guest post "The Hole Truth" on Barbara's wonderful blog "Bread & Companatico", I knew I had met a kindred spirit.

Beginning with his nouvel interpretation of Munch's famous painting - how lame seemed my 12th grade essay on the same subject in comparison! - he mused on the holeyness of bread, going back to the caveman's gritty gruel and ending his discourse with St. Chad's holey grail at Tartine.

Eager to further this hole discussion I invited Don to share more of his eye-opening insights with a guest post on my humble blog. He graciously accepted, so I'm happy to present to you:


 I have a huge amount of respect for people like Daniel Leader. He treks all the way from the U.S. to Europe and dodges rolling boulders, booby traps and angry natives to find THE guy who makes the best kringenschmaltzenblinkenbrot in the world.

Daniel Leader's French Walnut Bread - not authentic?

Then he spends a decade cleaning out the stables so that the master will teach him the secrets to put in a cookbook for the likes of you and me. I’ve made some of his breads, and they’re fantastic. Authentic breads, people say.

You know another group I have great respect for? Bakers who take difficult ingredients that have been used since the dawn of time to make bricks, and manage to turn them into gorgeous, airy and perfectly shaped loaves better than anything I could make with the finest wheat flour and Peter Reinhart looking over my shoulder making helpful suggestions.

They’ll use 100% einkorn or barley to create a boule that’s better supported than a suspension bridge (and tastier too!).

100% Einkorn Bread - solution to our crumbling infrastructure?

Well crafted, impressive breads? Certainly. Authentic bread like what folks ate in the old days? Not so much. Do you really think that most people dined upon lovingly baked loaves made with golden wheat from tall fronds waving in a gentle breeze and harvested on a sunny afternoon by a smiling Tuscan ragazza in colorful garb?

To find out what authentic breads were all about, including a downloadable BreadStorm formula, please follow me to my Brot & Bread blog here!

:) :) :)

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Looking for a seasonal specialty for my customers at A&B Naturals, I came upon an Italian Christmas bread, Pinza, that, after crossing the border to Austria, switched holidays - and turned into Easter bread, Pinze.

After a solemn blessing in the church, this lovely Styrian Easter bread (often adorned by a red egg, and cut three times, to symbolize the Holy Trinity) is served with the meat on Easter Sunday.

Styria - Steiermark, home of this lovely Easter bread

There are several versions for Pinze, and it is either seasoned with vanilla or anise. The anise can be steeped in wine or cooked in milk to extract its flavor. All recipes include lots of eggs and egg yolks, so keep the Lipitor at hand, but I'm sure it is good for you, since it comes with a blessing.

I tried a Pinze version with anise, soaked in wine. Though the bread turned out quite nice, I couldn't detect much anise aroma. Therefore I decided on Petra's Easter Pinza (from her Chili und Ciabatta blog), substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat.

The bread, made in 3 steps with 2 pre-ferments, was wonderful. The only problem: its time consuming schedule would not work for my little bakery, unless I pulled off an all-nighter. So I turned to my favorite method: stretch & fold plus overnight stay in the fridge.

All egg-y goodness!

That way I could work the dough all at once, and let the folding and cold fermentation do the rest. No pre-doughs needed, very little hands-on time, and no standing around, waiting for pre-ferments and dough to rise.

In other words, the baker could hug her pillow, while the yeasties did their job!

My overnight version was just as good as the original, more involved one!

My Easter Basket

The Easter Pinze is a soft bread with a wonderful flavor. Though slightly sweet, it can be served with Easter Ham, like in Austria. Or, as we did, enjoyed simply with some good butter, or jam.

You find the recipe (plus a download for BreadStorm users) in my blog Brot & Bread.


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