Thursday, September 24, 2015

German Brötchen

We enjoyed this "little bread" many times while living in Germany, and I have been on a quest ever since to try to make them.  I've tried numerous recipes, but this one I received from Ute Staack, who lives in a village north of Bavaria, is the best one I have come across.

The crust is crunchy and the dough is soft and chewy just like you want them to be. I love to eat them with lots of butter along side soft boiled eggs for breakfast, but they can be enjoyed anytime you want.

Did you know?
The crusty German yeast roll known as "Brötchen" (“little bread”) is as pleasingly moist and chewy on the inside, as it is satisfyingly firm and crunchy on the outside.

Bakers all over Germany bake them early in the morning, but also throughout the day because they are popular for lunch or dinner. The rolls are best when enjoyed within a few hours of baking, especially when topped with butter or cheese, a spread like liverwurst or  teawurst, salami, ham, or cold cuts, bratwurst, and even fish, either marinated or smoked,

Dipping pieces of Brötchen into the yolk of a soft-cooked egg is always a delight.  Sweet toppings also rank high on the popularity scale.  Try honey, fruit preserves, sugar beet syrup (Zuckerrübensirup), or a chocolate-hazelnut spread.

And a Fleischsalat (hearty meat salad) can turn a lowly roll into a satisfying meal.  And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the guilty pleasure of slicing open a fresh Brötchen and sandwiching a sweet, fluffy, chocolate-covered “Schaumkuß” between the two halves.

Brötchen (brotchen, broetchen), depending on the region, may also be referred to by one or more of these names: Schnittbrötchen, Spitzbrötchen, Semmeln, Schrippen, Weggla, Weckerl, Weckle, Wecken, or Rundstücke.

The traditional Brötchen is made primarily from wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water and is shaped into an oval.  However, more modern variations often include the addition of other flour types like rye. Sometimes milk fats, butter, or oils are added.  The shape of a roll might vary, as well, and the roll might be be covered with seeds or nuts. (Source: German Food Notes)


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. active-dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
4 tsp. *diastatic malt powder (optional - I purchase on King Arthur Flour)
1 cup water

Add flour salt, sugar, yeast and baking malt (if using) to the large bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, and using the dough hook, mix dough and "knead" it with the dough hook several minutes, or until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead a few times. Place dough in floured mixing bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 60-90 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl and shape into round rolls (you'll get about 10-12). Hold each ball under running warm water briefly, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a floured kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Brush rolls with warm water and powder them with flour, sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Cut a slit in the top of each roll with a razor blade, bakers lame, or very sharp knife. Let rest 10 minutes uncovered.

Meanwhile, place a large roasting pan with hot water on the lowest rack of your oven positioning top rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; water will be steaming so be careful when you open the oven door.

Spritz or sprinkle the rolls with water again, and place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven over the steaming water.

Bake 20 minutes or slightly longer adjusting for your altitude. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

* Diastatic malt powder is the "secret ingredient" savvy bread bakers use to promote a strong rise, great texture, and lovely brown crust. Especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours. Active enzymes in diastatic malt help yeast grow fully and efficiently throughout the fermentation period, yielding a good, strong rise and great oven-spring.


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