The last thing I expected to really get hooked on in terms of food, when I first moved to Germany, was bread. Having lived in many countries I was used to a great variety of bread, mostly flatbreads. In my arrogance - or call it ignorance - I was sure that while Germany had some great bread-types – think of the pumpernickel, others were overrated – for me the pretzel!
In just a matter of weeks of moving here my lack of enlightenment about Germany’s staple food was banished forever. And I promised never to do injustice to a true German pretzel again!
That was over 26 years ago and since then, just like it is for the Germans, bread has become a staple food for me. Over the years I understood that bread in Germany is more than just a food - it is a part of the German culture and makes up a very important part of the German diet. Germans enjoy a variety of brot (bread) and brotchen (bread rolls) for their Frühstück (breakfast), where bread is often accompanied with other favorites, such as butter, eggs, sausages and cold cuts and cheese, during snack-time they happily bite into a Pausenbrot (sandwiches) and Abendbrot is often a simple and light affair as Germans usually eat a hearty lunch. The evening meal will often, like breakfast include a bread of some kind and a variety of sausages / cold cuts, cheese, pickles and other vegetables. Those pretzels, they are the most common breads at festivals and fairs, and when they come out of hot ovens they taste simply heavenly with a good cube of cold butter and coarse salt.
Germany produces more varieties of breads than any other country. There are over 300 varieties of dark and white breads and over 1,200 varieties of rolls and mini-breads (Brötchen & Kleingebäck). Each region in Germany has its own specialties and variations. While in Northern Germany, dark and heavy breads such as multi-grain rye breads, are preferred, lighter white breads made of wheat are favorites in southern parts of Germany.
Rye is the most common type of flour used, either on its own or mixed with other types of flours like wheat or spelt. In actual fact the all time favorite bread here in Germany is the so called Mischbrot (31.7%), which is made of a mixture of wheat and rye flour. What surprises me however on second place is toast bread (21.6%)!
Source: Zentralverband Bäckerhandwerk.
Each German eats between 85 to 87 kilos of bread each year. That is about 4 slices of bread each day! Compared to Europe, Germany is at the top of the bread consumption scale. 23% of the total 30 million tones of bread that are baked yearly in Europe, come from German ovens. That’s a lot of bread!
Source: aid booklet: Brot und Kleingebäck, 1004/2008
So, I am sure it will come as no surprise I do not bake a lot of bread at home. I am spoilt for choice with an abundant supply of bread from some pretty incredible bakeries in my area.
However, there are some times when I just want to try something new or experiment with an idea that has been churning in my head. Then I take time to mix and knead and allow to rest. Each time when the scents of freshly baked bread floats through the house I always say “I need to bake bread more often!”
This apricot oat and spelt bread is a savory bread. I use a mix of spelt and wheat flour as it gives a slightly less dense texture as with 100% wholemeal flour. These loaves are perfect for breakfast and have something reminiscent of muesli. However, it also tastes fantastic with blue or goat cheese and some apricot chutney or brie cheese with a drizzle of honey! Good stuff!
Recipe: Apricot Oat Spelt Bread LoavesMeeta K. Wolff
Makes: 4 smaller loaves
- 300g spelt flour
- 200g all-purpose flour (Type 550)
- 10g fresh yeast
- 10g salt
- 350 ml water
- 200g dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 80g oats
- To make the dough, place both flours in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the fresh yeast and rub into flour with your finger tips. On the lowest speed, start the mixer, then first add salt, then the chopped apricots and finally water and knead for approx. 2 minutes. Increase speed on the mixer and continue to knead for another 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth, and elastic.
- Turn out onto a clean counter and form a ball with the dough. Lightly flour a bowl and place the doug. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 1 hour.
- Once again turn out the dough on the counter and divide into 4 equal parts. Spread the oats on a large plate. Using the balls of your hand form 4 separate loaves with each portion (see notes below).
- Cover a baking tray with a kitchen towel and sprinkle with flour.
- Brush the tops and the sides of the loaves with water, then turn into the oats so that the surfaces are nicely covered. Place each loaf on the kitchen towel covered tray leaving enough room for each of the loaves to rise. You can always fold the kitchen towel to separate each loaf to make sure they do not touch.
- Using a sharp knife make 2 or 3 incisions at least 5mm deep across the loaves. Leave the bread to rise again for another hour.
- In the meantime pre-heat the oven to 250C degrees. If you have a pizza/bread stone then place this in the oven to heat through properly. Once the loaves have risen slide them onto the stone or a baking tray. Place in the oven and reduce heat to 220 degrees C and bake for 15 minutes. Bake until golden. Allow to cool on a wired rack.
NOTES:Forming small loaves - form each portion of dough into small balls. With the ball of your hand gently flatten each portion. Taking a third of the dough fold to the middle then press down with the ball of your hand. Then take the other third and also fold into the middle, pressing down with your hand. Lengthwise fold into the middle and pressing down on the edges. With the seam facing down place on the tray.
I adore this bread as it is perfectly elegant for canapés at a cocktail party but so right for a family light dinner or brunch. It’s not a very dense bread due to the mixture of flours and those chewy bits of golden apricots highlight each bite.
Hope you enjoy it!
I am off on a long overdue summer break – a 3 week trip taking us to the stunning scenes and wildlife of Alaska! If you are not already, do follow me on my Instagram for a front seat of my adventure!
Have a great summer break!
More great bread baking at What’s for lunch, Honey?:
|Making Baguette: French Bread||Saffron Wholemeal Whole Wheat Bread Rolls||Ginger Mango Bread|
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