I think most foreigners in Germany would agree that one of the best things about this country is bread. If you have to walk more than 500 m to find a baker, you must be somewhere on top of a mountain in the Alps. The Germans take their broetchen (rolls) pretty seriously. I could fill up several pages on the wide variety they have.
A typical German breakfast consists of huge basket of rolls alongside platters of cheese and meat. Making your breakfast roll is much like a “choose-your-own-adventure” novel as you layer different toppings and experiment with different combinations . I always end up eating too much as I can’t resist one more attempt at the “perfect” bite.
In about a year I have to return to Canada and I worry how I will live without German rolls. Therefore, I decided that this year I would learn to make them myself. My friends decided to help me on this mission and got me a big German book on bread.
So far I have tried the basic white, or Grundrezepte and here it is.
Basic German White Bread
2 Tbsp. yeast*
325 mL warm water
500g flour for bread (German # 1050)
1.5 tsp. salt
* I got the best yeast I could find
The ingredient list is pretty simple, but the steps are quite elaborate
- Take 100 mL of the water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit 5 minutes and then mix it softly with a spoon.
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and then make a little well in the center. Pour in your yeast mixture. Drag a little flour into the well and stir until you have paste. Let this sit 20 min.
- Add half the remaining water and slowly pull the flour into your mixture.
- Gradually add more and more water and stir until you have a “dough”
- Now get your hands in there and pull the dough out and knead for a good 10 minutes. The dough should become soft and elastic and smooth.
- Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a towel. Allow it to rise for 1.5-2 hours. It should double in size.
- After the rise, push all the air out of the dough and let it sit another 5 minutes. Now shape it as you like. I put mine in a greased bread pan, but this bread could easily make a baguette.
- Let it rise in the pan for another 45 min. until it has once again doubled in size.
- Cut some slits in the top. I did this with scissors, because my knives were not sharp enough.
- Preheat your oven 220*C and place a pan of ice cubes at the bottom (this supplies some moisture).
- Once the temperature is right put your bread in the oven. Once the ice has melted, remove the pan from the oven. If you have a spray bottle, spray some water in the oven twice.
- Let bake for 45 minutes. It will sound hollow when it is done and be golden.
I have tried a variety of recipes, but this was really amazing. The crust was crunchy. The inside was soft with lots of air pockets. It was as good as the bakery! I just need to master all the different kinds!