Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Posted by Meeta K. Wolff
Allow me to introduce the man responsible for all the wonderful bread creations that are used in Soeren's lunch boxes and enjoyed by us at dinner time: Herr Becker ("Herr" being German for Mr.). Soeren and I are forever joking with him and call him "Herr Becker der Baecker!" - Mr. Becker the Baker. He takes it lightly and with humor. That's one of his many qualities - he is not just a brilliant baker but a kind hearted soul, always smiling and despite the size of him he is as gentle as a lamb. His family is equally wonderful and each one of his five ladies help out at the bakery: his daughters Katarina, Katy, Kim, Keila and his wife Kathrin.
I decided to revisit this post I had written to start a German Bread series a while back. Unfortunately, as many things so happen, I never got around to it. But thanks to Bee and Jai who reminded me about it. Both liked it and were charmed by this article so much and wanted to know more about my bakery and German bread and so they asked me to take part in their wonderful postcard series. So, I decided to re-write the article, dust it up and bring it out again. I am sending this with hugs and love to Jugalbandi's postcard series.
Visiting the Beckers at their bakery is never just an in-and-out routine, but an event. We always bring enough of time with us, because there will be a lot of chatter, a bit of gossip and a lot of tasting. Being his favorite customer, Soeren is allowed to go into the back and always taste one of his new creations that "he is currently in the middle of testing" - a new cake, cookie type, or bread. The bakery produces (mostly) organic breads and pastry and the thing I really like is that Herr Becker is always trying out new things. Kneading and mixing up concoctions, always busy and always with a huge grin on his face. In a week we visit the Beckers 3 to 4 times, buying mostly fresh bread, buns, rolls and pastry. It really is hard to choose one favorite when the variety is so huge, but we have found a few favorite breads we like to buy regularly. That is till the next time Herr Becker comes up with a new bread creation - who knows it might just become one of our new favorites.
Bakeries in Germany sell their large selection of breads in uncut loaves. They are all piled and sorted nicely on shelves behind the glass sales counters. In the glass counters you are disillusioned by the colorful selection of wonderful pastries, cakes and cookies. I think if I was ever left in there at my own risk I would dive into the counter - one of my more crazy fantasies!
The loaves of bread are sold by weight and depending on what's in them. One of the very best moments is to come home with a bread that is still warm, cutting a slice with the bread knife and the aroma of this wonderful freshly baked good spreading throughout the house, getting some fresh butter out of the fridge and spreading it on the slice. As the butter melts and trickles into the bread you take a huge bite. UMMMMMM! Heavenly!
Did you know that there are at least 300 types of bread to choose from? I think however that, that is just a rough basic number and in actual fact the number is a lot higher. "Brot" is a fundamental part of German food. You will find a "Baeckerei" (bakery) at any street corner and when we ask any of our friends and family living abroad what we should bring with us, the answer is always the same - "Some of that lovely German bread!" A typical bread mixes wheat and rye flour to form the basis of the traditional German bread. Other popular ingredients also include oats, barley and spelt, or onions, nuts, special types of grain, herbs and spices.
Something we really enjoy eating at our home is probably the darkest bread ever: Pumpernickel. It consists mainly of grainy rye flour and isn’t baked but steamed. This makes it very firm and juicy with a slightly sweetish flavor. As it stays fresh for a long time it is a handy gift for friends and relatives living outside Germany.
What I like about many bakeries here is you can often buy just half of a loaf. Which I do very often. I buy a half of one type and half of another type. This way I have a variety and it does not spoil that quickly.
So, maybe some of you can understand why I never wish for a bread machine on my Birthdays or for Christmas. Why should I when Herr Becker the Baker is just around the corner?
With this I am starting a new series on the Daily Tiffin. I hope to show you the many varieties of breads, rolls and pastries available in a normal everyday bakery.
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This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?