Life with bread and bread for life

I just read an interview with Michael Pollan, who said:

“I could live on bread for the rest of my life.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In early September I went to Germany for a week, and every day the breads–hearty and substantial– inspired and sustained me.

Bread and pretzels, Munich

I couldn’t possibly taste all that I wanted to sample, but the breakfast buffet at the hotel where I stayed in Munich for a few days had a variety of sliced breads and crackers, as well as baskets of warm rolls….

Hofpfisterei bakery, Munich

There are so many types of bread in Germany. Round breads, square breads, brown breads, black breads, white breads, rye breads, sourdough and sweet. Breads with sunflower seeds pumpkin seeds, flax or poppy, breads with walnuts or oats or dried fruit — and so many more. This website, which describes the most common types,  says there are about 300 types of bread in Germany and more than 1,200 varieties of rolls and mini-breads.

You can often get sandwiches at the bakeries too — and bring your food to the beer garden or a park (or both at the same time at the English Gardens in Munich) if you like.

This "power sandwich" had fresh cheese, radishes and arugula in a seeded roll. Very tasty.

When I got home, I started baking the no-knead bread recipe with healthy proportions of rye and wheat flours, oats, cornmeal and various seeds.

This dark bread was really a cheat — I used a tablespoon of cocoa powder in the dough to make it dark. The real Schwartzbrot (black bread) is a dense square-ish loaf made with at least 90 percent rye flour and baked for 24 hours to let the sugars in the bread caramelize, thus achieving its dark brown color and moist chewy texture.

For a hearty no-knead bread, follow the directions here, adjusting the ingredients as follows (or changing as you see fit!):

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup whole oats
  • 1/4 cup (or more) sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
  • about a tablespoon each of whatever other seeds you like: flax, poppy, sesame
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast (instant or regular)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

You may need to add a little more water than the 1 5/8 cup called for in the recipe — you should have a soft dough that barely holds together. Let rest at least 12 hours — I do this overnight — and the surface should be a little bubbly. Sprinkle with flour so you can gather it up into a loose ball and place on a lightly floured board or counter. Gently fold the dough over once or twice and let rest about 20 minutes, folding again after 10 minutes.

Follow the rest of the directions for resting dough, preheating Dutch oven, and baking. I bake this loaf covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

"It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it."-- M. F. K. Fisher

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3 Comments

Filed under baked goods, bread and pizza, fall, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Life with bread and bread for life

  1. Hi Toby, Your post made me drool. I wondered where you were. Didn’t know you had to go all the way to Germany for a snack. I love bread. I’m currently into sourdough cracked wheat with hummus and guacamole topping.

  2. I couldn’t agree more as well. I love this method of baking bread, too. Yum!

  3. Bavaria has the best bread, we think.Hofpfisterei’s Bread is a real Winner.
    Hedgehog Mushrooms(Semel Piltz), Garlic, Parsley, Lemon on sourdough in autumn
    I managed to get great lemons in Munich from Italy. It’s worth watching the stalls for when the fresh ones appear.
    Great Post.

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