The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

German Broetchen

hanseata's picture

Visiting my family and friends in Germany I took some photos I want to share.

My friend Michaela likes shopping at an organic farm store at Gut Wulfsdorf. I never sah Laugenbaguettes (pretzel baguettes) or Laugencroissants (pretzel croissants) before. The baguettes tasted quite nice, the crumb was airy but a bit chewier than regular one.

The breads are baked in a wood fired oven at the farm bakery. (This is a batch of Easter Bunny Cookies.)

All breads are baked at the same time, for one hour, but in different places in the oven, where temperatures are higher, or lower.


They use only beech wood, or beech wood shavings, from a local forest, to achieve an even temperature (they tried it once with mixed wood, and that didn't work).


Their whole grain flours are milled on the premises.

The vegetable section in the store: six different kinds of heirloom carrots, in red, yellow, white and black.

My cousin Uta has an incredible bakery around the corner. This is a Sunday breakfast basket - every one of these rolls tasted great.


And she baked us a wonderful Chocolate Apple Torte (I never heard of this flavor combination before - the apples went well with the rich chocolate frosting).

And when I visited the Hansetown Wismar, an UNECO world heritage monument - here the "Alter Schwede" (Old Swede) restaurant

we had in a nearby cafe this Marzipan Torte. It was really difficult to choose from Cafe Hegede's selection of mothwatering cakes.




hanseata's picture

Nobody in Germany thinks of baking regular, plain white rolls at home. You get them freshly baked everywhere, in bakeries, supermarkets, and even in gas stations. Every German region has them, called "Rundstueck" in Hamburg, "Schrippe" in Berlin, "Semmel" in Munich, or simply "Broetchen" (little bread).

The typical Broetchen has a crisp crust and a fluffy, soft, easy to pull out crumb. It has nothing in common with its pale, crustless, chewy US cousin, the dinner roll. And - sorry, guys! - American Kaiser Rolls are just Kaisersemmel wannabes, they share only the pretty star cut with their Bavarian or Austrian ancestors.

One of the greatest woes of German expats is the total lack of this everyday staple in the US. No Broetchen to be found anywhere - perhaps bad imitations, but never the real thing. No cookbook would even list the recipe, no website provides it, the deceptively simple, but oh so elusive good old German Broetchen!

When I finally found and adapted a recipe, and baked my first batch, using regular bread flour, I was in for a big disappointment. The pretty little rolls tasted okay, but the consistency was totally wrong, with a lean and airy crumb like a French roll. My next trial with all-purpose flour only proved AP's limitations - it definitely was not up to THIS purpose! Totally frustrated I shoved the recipe in one of the numerous paper/cookbook/ food magazine piles adorning my office, telling myself to just forget about it.

But then one day at my favorite Italian wholegrocer, Miccucci's, in Portland, I came upon a neat little package of Italian Tipo 00 flour half hidden behind bags of instant polenta. With the predatory instinct of a hawk I swooped down and grabbed it. The next day saw me in my kitchen, the (after a prolonged search) unearthed recipe in view, mixing a new batch of Broetchen dough.

Viva Italia - Tipo 00 was a winner! Finally Broetchen as they should be, crusty on the outside, but fluffy and "pull-out-able" inside! (Later I found out that pastry flour works well, too).

You'll find the recipe here:



hanseata's picture

Last week I had bad baking karma. On Monday I wanted to make Broetchen, the deceptively simple, crispy, white roll, as German as baguettes are French.
After several trials that never yielded the soft, fluffy, "pull-out" crumb typical for Broetchen I finally got it right with Italian 00 flour (from "Micucci" in Portland). But would simple American pastry flour work, too?
I made a beautiful looking batch, sprinkled with sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds. It went into the oven, I set the timer and started tidying the kitchen. The smell of something burning did not bother me at first, I thought it was some spill on the oven floor.
But the nasty smell grew stronger, and an anxious look into the oven showed a sheet full of charcoals instead of cute golden rolls. Even though not even half of the baking time was over, my rolls were completely burnt. The LED display showed the right temperature, so it must have been a short in the oven's electronic brain - or was it simply a bad bread day...?
Tuesday I tried a new bread - "Wheat Almond Bread", adapted from one of my German baking books. This time the oven meekly supplied the right temperature, and the loaves came out just right, golden brown, and smelling wonderful.
One was for Aaron and Lynn from Richard Parks Gallery, my cheerful part time employers. Their bread was ready to go, but I was distracted and forgot the bag in the hallway. We were not even down Cottage Street when I realized my mistake and went back.
I opened the door, and Buffy the Chow Hound ran upstairs - always a sign of a dog fleeing its owner's rightful wrath. Brown paper pieces littered the floor - but not even a crumb of the Almond Bread. It had been completely wolfed down, in less than five minutes!
I was still steaming when Richard, the best of all husbands, suggested that I might just see it from a different point of view: the Almond Bread was excellent - Dog Approved!

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