SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
Strolling through the streets of a city or local village in your host country, you will find that there are many family-owned and operated bakeries. The technical skills, the love and the passion for this unique craft have been passed on for many generations.
Germans are very proud of their baking culture.
A variety of different breads, rolls, cookies, pastries or cakes are offered daily in German bakeries. People get drawn by the delicious smell of the fresh baked goods. The quality of the products is usually high and the selection is large.
300 different breads go over the counter every day
There are about 300 different types of bread produced in Germany.
The most common and less expensive bread is known as Roggenmischbrot. It is rye mixed bread with wheat or other flour. Bauernbrot is similar to Roggenmischbrot but a bit tastier. It is usually round. Weizenmischbrot is also similar to Roggenmischbrot, it is also light in color, but is made with different proportions of wheat and rye.
For a slightly more expensive bread with a higher nutritional value, try the Vollkorn bread or whole grain bread. It has become one of the most popular breads during the past years.
And of course, for the white bread eaters there is Weissbrot. It does not cut or toast like American white bread, but it tastes even better.
Because the bread is fresh it doesn't last as long as store bought bread, so many Germans will go to the bakery every couple of days.
The shapes of breads are only limited by the bakers' imagination.
White bread is often sold as French Baguette, also known as flit. It is offered in an oblong shape, baked loose on the tray. Some bakers have also started offering the Italian style bread, known as ciabatta. The dough is a light wheat dough and has a slight yellow color.
The art of bread making
How bread is made? Well, the principles of baking bread were established thousands of years ago by our ancestors. The basic ingredients are flour, yeast, salt and water. The bread making process involves only four key steps which are: mixing, proving/fermenting, baking and cooling.
How to become a German Baker Meister
To become a "Brot" or "Baker Meister" isn't a small thing in Germany. After completing high school, one must complete a 3-year apprenticeship to learn the ins and outs of bread making. Apprentices also clean up the bakery and participate in all stages of running a bakery. After the apprenticeship they are eligible to work in a bakery. After five years of work and experience they are finally eligible to train to become a "Meister." At this point they need to attend school in the evenings for two more years. They must complete four exams, dealing with education, theory and chemical processes, mathematics and one practical exam, which includes preparing a display of their products with a theme. Once a Meister they are allowed to take on apprentices of their own and teach the trade of bread making to other young apprentices.
Rolls are popular breads throughout the country
There are almost as many varieties of rolls as there is bread. At the bakery, just simply point to what you would like. The best choice is usually a mix of some dark rolls, seed rolls (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or caraway seeds) and plain white rolls. For breakfast you may prefer the white rolls for a lighter meal. Many hotels in Germany will offer white rolls for breakfast, that taste wonderful with marmalade or honey. Of course, the whole grain rolls will make a good healthy choice.
Plain white broetchens are continuously baked in most bakeries, so they are always available and fresh. Among the white rolls you can also find soft white rolls, the Milchbroetchen or milk rolls or the airy type, called Wasserweck or water roll. These rolls are mainly for those who prefer the traditional style breads.
The darker rolls, also seed-broetchens make great sandwiches when filled with ham, salami or cheese, decorated with tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs or leafy salads. They are quite nutritious, and offering a good amount of fiber.
While rolls are simply called "Broetchen" in most parts of the country, in Bavaria they are called Semmel and in Baden and down-south they are called Weck or Weckle. Berlin calls
them Schrippen and Hamburg calls their rolls Rundstuecke, literally meaning round pieces.
When shopping for „Broetchen" it is polite to tell the baker or shop assistant how many rolls you intend to buy, so he or she can get the right size bag ready. If you intend to buy a larger number of 20 or more you may also order them ahead of time, for instance the day before.
They will be fresh and tasty the next morning when you pick them up.
Dark breads are great for arranging buffets
Not offered at every bakery, but available in German supermarkets are dark breads, such as Pumpernickel. These breads are quite tasty, but can be very filling. Sandwiches made from black breads, filled with ham or cheese make up a full meal and will certainly keep you going for a long time. Black breads are typically sold in slices and can be kept in a drawer at or inside the fridge at the office. They will stay fresh for a long time.
They also taste good with just butter, cream cheese, or even with jelly.
Dark breads are very decorative when arranging buffet trays of sandwiches.
About 1,200 different kinds of fine pastries are said to come out of German bakeries every day.
Besides breads German bakeries also offer other baked goods such as pastries and donuts or special- occasion- cakes.
People can stop in a German bakery and learn more about the art of baking from a local Baker Meister. A visit at local bakery also makes a nice and educational school trip.
Find out what is available or simply make your bakery visit a sweet memory.
German bread culture museum
Visitors can find out everything they always wanted to know about bread at the German bread museum in Ulm, where more than 7,000 exhibits from all over the globe relate to the art and history of baking. Learn more about harvesting and grinding processes or customs of the past and the present.
Here's the address for the museum: Museum der Brotkultur, Salzstadelgasse 10, 89073 Ulm