Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm a Brötchen Addict

Hi! My name is muddywaters and I'm addicted to Brötchen, a German roll traditionally served at breakfast. I'm in love with a version baked by Wheatfield's Bakery, which fortunately resides in my hometown. If I was short on cash, this roll would have me contemplating pawning my KitchenAid mixer, so I could get satiate my Brötchen fix.

I find its slightly blistered, caramelized crust appealing. Its earthy fragrance conjures visions of farmers harvesting wheat.

When I tear open a roll and view its whole-grained flecked interior, I always contemplate the ingredients in this Brötchen. Is this something I could bake? I see flax seeds. Is it a whole wheat flour they use or a rye flour or a combination? I detect the scent and flavor of sourdough. How do I make a sourdough?

Are those wheat berries or pearls of barley? I need to learn to bake Brötchen.

Unfortunately, after scouring the internet, I've found no recipes that resemble the Brötchen at Wheatfields. Finally, in Daniel Leader's book Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers I encountered a recipe that might work.

As I write this entry, I'm attempting to cultivate a rye sourdough culture, which will be the base for my Brötchen. I'm into day number four of a ten-day process, and so far I detect no signs of life. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

take care,

I found a 1968 Time magazine article titled "Brotchen from Heaven." The article explained that West Germans were forced to eat day-old Brötchen because of a law prohibiting commercial baking between 9:00 pm and 4:00 am. The article went on to report a recent agreement made with East Germany to import over 60,000 Brotchen a day to West Germans in Berlin. Needless to say, the West Germans were thrilled. When food can bypass the Iron Curtain, you know that food is more than food.


Rebel said...

It looks delicious, I've never made it but I'll look in some of my cookbooks. Sounds like you're on the right track though. Maybe after you get it perfected you might want to share?

SteveO said...

Don't do this to me!!

After a day of skiing, a brotchen dunked in a bowl of gulasche suppe is pure heaven.

At an imbiss pit stop ("Schnellimbiss," they call them these days), I'd get a brotchen with a spread of tangy butter. It was only after my 9th or 10th snack that someone told me I was eating bread with lard.

Another acquired taste is the dark brown bread the Germans eat at breakfast. Nothing served on this side of the pond is close.


muddywaters said...

Rebel: Thanks for the comment. I plan on sharing, even if I miss the mark with this recipe.

Steve: I might consult you on this recipe. I haven't been to Germany, so I don't a lot about German food. From what I've read, it sounds like German baking uses a lot of rye flour.

What's an imbiss pit stop? Is it like a truck stop? When I was in Austria last year, I was amazed by the truckstops there. They were so clean, and they offered some great food, and they had some great beers on tap.

Steve O' said...

Schnell means quick, and an imbiss is a small cafe usually found on the road side. Used to have fresh sandwiches and whatnot, but in the modern era, the "schnell" in front means a Quick-Stop type joint. But, even still, they're more likely to have freshly made food, like good bread and soup, than simply Slim Jims and Slurpees.

I think you're right on the rye flour. Baking is my weakest link... definitely more of a de-glazer and saute'er, not so much a kneader and riser.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Can't wait for your full proof Brotchen recipe. You know I'm depending on you right!

muddywaters said...

Steve: Thanks for answering my questions. It did seem like European truckstops and convenience stores carried better food than their American counterparts. I saw a lot of fresh-baked goods, and slow roasted food.

I found a Brotchen recipe at the Defense Commissary Agency's website. I guess, they run the commissaries located at various Armed Forces bases. I'm going to give it a shot, and then use a recipe with my sourdough starter.

It does seem like German's use a lot of rye flour in their baking.

muddywaters said...

Jessica: Thanks for visiting. I'm still enjoying your site. I'll keep you posted on my brotchen progress.