With the British summer seemingly out of the way now and the Great British Bake Off back on TV, people are once again rekindling their love for bread baking. For what else is there to do when the rain lashes down outside and your finger hovers over the central heating on button? It is the ideal time for dusting off that dough scraper and getting your dough on!
Over the next few months this blog will be discovering the delights of German bread baking like my mother used to bake when I was a young boy. Germany has a strong bread heritage with many regional variations on the same recipe. I want to share six of my favourites with you so that you can recreate them at home and discover the same delight that I experience whenever I bake these breads.
There are two recurring elements in this bread series that you will pick up on that warrant further/prior investigation:
• Firstly, most recipes in this series will feature rye flour either as the only flour or as one of two flours used. Germans’ love for rye is not to be underestimated. I put it down to its nutty, wholesome flavour being akin to their beers – full of flavour and character. The rye used in most of the recipes is light rye which has less of the bran or husk in it, making it smoother and more absorbent than dark rye flour. This makes the dough easier to handle too. However, you can use whichever type of rye flour you prefer. You may need to add a bit more flour when it comes to shaping your loaf to avoid it sticking.
• Secondly, the use of two leavening agents. Yes, they do this a lot over there. They use fresh yeast together with sourdough. Of course, the fresh yeast acts a lot faster than the sourdough so the main proving agent will be the former. However, most of the recipes will ask you to mix a proportion of flour with the water, yeast and sourdough starter to create a preferment that is left overnight to mature. This mixture of wild and cultivated yeast then provides a strong base for leavening your bread. The idea of mixing in a bit of sourdough is not that unusual. Dan Stevens, author of the River Cottage Bread Book, recommends this in many of his recipes. The addition of sourdough or 'old dough' (dough reserved from a previous bake) adds more flavour complexity to your loaf.
I really hope that you will enjoy following this bread series and try out at a few of the recipes.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to drop me a line.
So without further ado, here’s the first recipe:
(Savoury Farmer’s Loaf)