The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New baker from California - interested in German breads

cabreadeater's picture
cabreadeater

New baker from California - interested in German breads

Greetings,

Just wanted to introduce myself and thank everyone for their participation on this forum.

I've been baking bread at home for the past 2 years or so, but almost exclusively with the Lahey no-knead method (both recipes from Lahey's book and from the Breadtopia website).  My one experiment with sourdough starter was discouraging, and since I may not make bread every week, I found it expensive, wasteful and a lot of work to continually feed a starter.  So I've been using instant yeast.

I just returned from a trip to Germany which rekindled my ambitions to make great bread at home, especially German style (i.e. whole grains, lots of seeds, hearty).  I've found the variety and quality of breads in German bakeries to be outstanding.  Since I speak German, I searched there for some cookbooks specializing in German whole grain breads, and found one (Brotland Deutschland, Volume. 3: Schrot, Korn and Pumpernickel by Franz J. Steffen) that seems to have cult-like status even on some German bread forums (i.e. the German equivalents of The Fresh Loaf).

Unfortunately, the book is intended for commerical bakers and is quite ambitious.  However, I'm hoping to adapt some recipes for smaller portions and the equipment I have at home.  The book definitely provides a lot of ideas about different types of breads (there must be at least 100 different types of whole grain breads in this volume).  I was in fact surprised that most bread baking books in Germany didn't have that many recipes on whole-grain breads, which is why I picked this one up.  It also seems that most bread baking books in English have little on this subject.

Before I jump into this intimidating world, I was wondering if anyone knew of websites or recipes in English that have some good German bread recipes to get started.  Also, since all of the recipes in Brotland (and I assume other high-quality recipes) are using real starters, is it a real no-no to use instant yeast?  Should I just accept the facts and start growing my own starter?  Finally, many recipes I've been reading about call for some sort of steam in the oven.  I've been using a Le Creuset or La Cloche (i.e. earthernware covered top for a while in the oven, then take the top off), which is a lot easier.  Will that still work or do I need to perfect the tray with water / spraying water on the sides of oven techniques?

I appreciate any advice, guidance, encouragement, pointers, etc. that you may have and will look forward to sharing my experiences.

Many thanks!

Justin

 

 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Justin, my favorite breads also, hearty, sour, whole grain.  "Local Breads" by Daniel Leader has very good sections on the subject: Chapter 12 "In Search of Authentic German Ryes" and Chapter 13 "Discoveringv New Ryes in the Czech Republic and Poland and Remberbering My Grandparents' Light Rye".  And excellent information on the nature of starters, clutures, ways to achieve max or min levels of sour taste and more.  IMHO a worthy read.

A starter is mandatory on these full flavored breads that typically are built over one to three days depending on the recipe.  Suggest 100% rye for authenticity and the properties of rye that facilitate fermentation (albeit other starters will work). 

Your Le Creuset or La Cloche are perfect for these breads.  Spray the loaves with water prior to placing and you will have plenty of steam.  The Tartine Bread Book by Chad Roberton uses this approach and is another worthy read on achieving optimal results in a home oven.

These recipes should be easily scalable down as the ingredients will be on a weight basis once converted to a percentage of the flour weight (Baker's Percentage), in line with most commercial recipes and many of the posts on TFL.  So once you convert the recipe to Baker's Percentage you will easily be able to scale the recipe down.   I would be happy to help you convert to whatever size you wish if you send me a recipe privately or thru this post. 

Keep us posted, these breads rock!!

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Wie heisst das deutsche Forum ?  (What is the name of the German forum?)  German recipes abound searching via google, but I find most American authors to include wonderful German recipes.  Check out the book review here.  Hamelman, Greenstein, Leader, Clayton etc.

As long as you include some rye flour and fennel and caraway seeds, your German bread will be on its way ;)

I use a Römertopf or la cloche, sometimes - highly hydrated dough - I use a springform inside the cloche.

Viel Spaß !

Anna

cabreadeater's picture
cabreadeater

Hi Anna,

The German bread forums I've found so far are:

http://www.wir-baecker.de/

http://www.der-sauerteig.com/phpBB2/intro.php

http://brotbackforum.iphpbb3.com/forum/portal.php?nxu=77934371nx46130

I will check out the books you recommend.  Ich freue mich darauf.

Many thanks,
Justin

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

I noticed that the German groups I have found so far quite often refer to American bread books, so guess our guys are ok :)

Best,

Anna

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

Hi Justin,

Have a look at Karin's blog on TFL as well. She baked German bread and posted them regularly. You will find it useful if you like wholegrains, multigrains and seeds breads.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/hanseata

Sue

http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com

patricia hains's picture
patricia hains

I just returned from a two month Master Baking Course in Weinheim, near Heidelberg and have 300 recipes from the course.  What were you most interested in learning?  I can share...and by the way, you are right, German breads ROCK!

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Hi Patricia,

Did the course talked about how to go about making a rye sourdough culture from scratch and how there are commercial rye sourdough cultures that a professional baker can buy, so that a rye sourdough culture is ready in 24 hours?

Carl

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,

I found Mr Suepke's blog very useful.

http://www.baecker-suepke.de/

I find Mr Suepke gives good advice and formulas for making classic German breads.

I remember when I was little and lived near Freiburg in the Black Forest area the shop next door got their bread from a local bakery.

They had hardly any seeded breads, but a variety of breads with differing amounts of rye, wholewheat, and other wheat flours.

I remember these tastes, and they are something I am looking for.

The huge variety of seeded breads came somewhat later, around the mid seventies, if my memory serves me right.

Best Wishes,

Juergen

 

cabreadeater's picture
cabreadeater

Thanks for your link, Juergen.  I'll definitely check it out. 

I was just in Freiburg last week.  It's a beautiful small city and we had time to visit the Black Forest.

Best wishes,

Justin

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Justin,

I compared the formulas given by Hamelman (diverse rye breads) and Suepke (Detmolder Einstufenfuehrung in his Sauerteig blog) and they are pretty close.

Suepke tells you how to change the proportions of the dough when you change the wheat content, and Hamelman tells you how to add features to your bread, Using the two together one can make a huge variety of breads,,,

I am glad you enjoyed your stay in Freiburg.

Juergen

 

patricia hains's picture
patricia hains

Yes, we learned a variety of sourdough starters and some were 24 hours.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

But,

Do you have a formula for Milchbroetchen?

They are rolls (we had them in my childhood), not sweet, but soft crumb and slightly crunchy crust, shaped in a fendu-style

The milk bread formulas I found and tried so far weren't quite right ...

Thanks,

Juergen

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Hi Juergen,

I don't know the formula for the roll you have described, but I think I found a picture that closely describes what you have just stated.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%B6tchen

Just scroll down to "Regionale Bezeichnungen", and there's a picture of what I think is the Brötchen you're talking about.  Is that it?

Carl

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Carl,

Thank you for the link, the Austrian Langsemmel looks a bit like it.

(I completely forgot to search Wikipedia ...)

I found another recipe: http://www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/666081168529716/Milchbroetchen.html,

the rolls on the left look a bit like it.

This formula uses a lot of yeast, and some sugar - the ones I remember were definitely not sweet, and the crust had small regular bubbles.

Being from Southwest Germany the correct name is "Milchweggli" or "Milchwegge", google search brings up recipes that give me an idea where to start. I will make some for our German language group on Monday.

Thanks for getting me going on this - sometimes it just needs a gentle push;-)

Jürgen

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Hi Juergen,

I saw the link that you provided and once I saw the picture, I had to go back to my German baking class notes.  I think we made that roll in class.  It was called "Gedrueckte Broetchen."  We shaped the dough into a round piece (maybe 70 g each) and pressed it flat just a little bit.  Then we used a wooden dowel or a pencil and pressed it firmly into the dough...right in the middle.  I do not remember if we rolled the dowel back and forth a bit.  After that, we turned the pressed dough over onto a lightly flour couched and let it proof.  When it came to baking, we turned the dough over again, so the side that I previously pressed with a wooden dowel is facing up.

I also read the recipe with the link that you provided.  The sugar gives the roll a soft consistency and it gives the crust a darker color.  The fat aids in giving the roll a soft consistency as well.  If you find that the sugar is giving the roll a sweet taste, just half the amount of sugar or go a bit lower. 

I'm glad that I was abled to give you a gentle push!

Carl

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thank you, Carl.

I had the chance to experiment a bit today, I made 2 tiny batches.

1.  100g flour, 34g water, 34g full fat milk, 10g butter, 1.5g salt, 0.5g instant yeast.

The crumb was to open, and not yellow enough (does memory get a yellow tint, like old photos?), and too firm. Taste not bad.

I thought to add egg and reduce the liquid

2. 200g flour, 60g egg, 40g milk, 20g water, 5g oil (ran out of butter) 4g salt, 1g instant yeast.

Crumb too firm, and taste not quite right (the oil!)

The shaping works great, my 5year old proposes all sorts of cheeky names...

So far my experiments were rather random, but I have an idea where I can go from here.

Juergen

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Jürgen,

I don't remember the crumb of the rolls being yellow at all when I took the class.  However, I am pretty sure the dough we used for making Gedrueckte Broetchen was the same for making Semmel (Kaisersemmel).  I know that the crumb of Semmel tends to be closed and the color is fairly white.  I think butter or lard (Schmalz) is preferable instead of oil.

Carl

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Thanks, Carl.

That's what I thought, with regards to oil/butter.

I'll try a batch with egg yolk only, when I have time.

The baker who made these was an "old school" baker who unfortunately had nobody to continue his business (ended around 1980). He had very few multigrain breads among his produce, and the things he made are memorable (to me at least). 

Juergen

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Anna,

Thanks for posting the video. The formula is rather high-yeast...

I made a new attempt on milk rolls, this time using the Pane Al Latte recipe from Carol Field's Italian Baker.

There seems to be something odd with the hydration, but after ad-hoc adjustments I got this:

That is pretty close to what I am looking for. I think I'll use this dough and work on the baking profile.

Juergen

Polish Babka's picture
Polish Babka

Justin,

Nice to see someone who appreciates german bread. I lived there for two years. I still miss all the different kinds or bread and Broetchen, the smell of the Baeckerei (I had it 2 min walking from my flat). Good times!!

Anyway, I make this 5 grain bread (page 467) from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and it tastes, looks a lot like a bread you would get in Germany. My husband, friends love it. It has sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds, polenta and flaxseed. It uses stiff sourdough starter and of course takes 2 days to make. Worth trying.

I found it difficult to bake here europen style bread. I can't find all the different flour that it used in Europe. 

Good luck!

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Justin,

I don't think that using the instant yeast is a "no-no".

But if you want to make the most of rye flour, you will definitely want to get into using it as sourdough baking.   The benefits to very intolerant structure as rye pentosans break down, from high acidity are crucial.   The flavour is spectacular if you get it right.

Heute ist mein Deutsch nicht so gut.   Ich habe nicht irgendwie Deutsches für 25 Jahre gesprochen.

Best wishes

Andy 

rhomp2002's picture
rhomp2002

He has a website called the inverse cook and he does a lot of German breads.  He also has a kindle book of bread recipes out there on his website and also on Amazon.  He writes very good English and his breads that I have tried all worked out to be excellent.

MikeSwifty's picture
MikeSwifty

"and since I may not make bread every week, I found it expensive, wasteful and a lot of work to continually feed a starter"

 

You don't have to waste any starter.  Lots of people refer to discarding half the starter and then feeding it before using it.  I was never quite able to come to terms with those directions.  You will find other people who talk about taking a small amount of starter and building it up to the amount needed for a recipe.  This is the "no waste" method.  Personally, I keep 40gm of starter on hand in the fridge.  I use it once a week, mainly in an effort to keep the starter healthy--I think it prefers being at room temperature instead of in the fridge.  Now, I don't always make bread with it.  Sometimes I'll make pizza or pancakes instead.  The point (for me) is to make sure the starter gets out and gets a little fresh air, so to speak.  There are other non-bread things you can do with starter, but I can easily eat pizza or pancakes (or both) every week, so I stick with those.  I like to feed my starter at least twice before using it if it's been kept in the fridge.  At a minimum, I feed a ratio of 2:1:1 of starter, flour, and water.  Sometimes I'll do 1:1:1, but it's driven by the recipe.  I first figure out how much starter I'll need and then I figure out how much I need to add to the 40gm from the fridge to get up to that amount, remembering that I want to do at least two feedings.  If I only need 120gm of starter, then I'd do a ratio of 2:1:1, that is, 40gm starter, 20gm flour, 20gm water for the first feed, then 80gm starter, 40gm flour, 40gm water for the second feed.  In the end I'd have 160gm of starter.  I'd take out 40gm and put it back in the fridge then use the 120gm in my recipe thus not wasting any.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

My two starters,  one whole wheat and one rye, are kept in the refrigerator, and none the worse for it. Since I sell my breads once or twice a week to a local store, I never have to discard any of my starters, and they need to be refreshed only every other week.

Instant yeast is definitely no taboo for me - not all my breads are sourdoughs, and I add a little bit of instant yeast to the sourdoughs I sell in order to make the rising time more predictable.

There are not many whole grain baking books in Germany - and none about "regular" every day breads - because there are so many bakeries around that people usually don't bake their own bread. I started baking bread only after my immigration to Maine - out of desperation about the squishy white supermarket breads.

My favorite German bread baking books are fairly old, and I adapted the recipes to newer, better techniques (pre-doughs, cold fermentation, steam etc.). A really good newer one is Richard Ploner: "Brot aus Südtirol".  The beautiful book "Brot" features different bakeries all over Germany with their signature breads, but the recipes are only for advanced bakers, not that easy to replicate, with very little explanation.

Nils Schöner's e-book is quite good, but also not for beginners, because he doesn't explain the process in detail. To get started with whole grain breads I would recommend Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" and Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread". With their technique you can adapt a lot of German bread recipes from internet sites (if you google German terms like "Schwarzbrot", "Vollkornbrot", "Mehrkornbrot" etc., you can find many recipes online).

And, of course, you are welcome to check out my blog - you'll find several recipes for German breads and rolls (hanseata's blog).

Karin (originally from Hamburg)

 

 

 

patricia hains's picture
patricia hains

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the German Baking Academy in Weinheim Germany for two months last winter.  The course was outstanding.  There were 14 students from 11 different countries.  The course is taught in English.  I posted earlier on this site that one of the German instructors was coming to the US to teach a five day course in Olympia WA.  The dates are March 10 to 15.  He will be teaching breads, brotchen, pretzels, stollen and pastries.   If anyone is interested in finding out more about that course, let me know. 

Had a cancellation so one more spot opened up...any takers?  www.hainshouse.com.  class starts two weeks from today...yippee and Fun!  Hope one of you bread lovers out there can join us...a discounted price is a possibility!