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.


My Birthday Cookbook

So far I have tried the basic white, or Grundrezepte and here it is.

Flour and Yeast

Flour and Yeast

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    Yeast in the Well

    Yeast-water mixture in the flour well

  3. Add half the remaining water and slowly pull the flour into your mixture.
  4. Gradually add more and more water and stir until you have a “dough”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

    Dough after Rising

    Dough after Rising

  7. 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.
  8. Let it rise in the pan for another 45 min. until it has once again doubled in size.
  9. Cut some slits in the top.  I did this with scissors, because my knives were not sharp enough.
  10. Preheat your oven 220*C and place a pan of ice cubes at the bottom (this supplies some moisture).
  11. 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.
  12. 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!

The Loaf

The Loaf