As I open the door to grandma Gerda’s snug, the aroma of fresh bread tickles my nose. That’s what happens every Tuesday – as Tuesday is bread baking day. Meanwhile, it’s become an absolute must to pop by gran’s on the same day every week to snack on a few slices of her freshly-baked bread. I don’t need any butter, jam, sausage meat or cheese. All bread-lovers know that it tastes best unadulterated. Depending on whether I have time, I pop by on bread-baking day first thing in the morning, so I can peep over the shoulder of the passionate baker from the very beginning.
Grandma’s bakery is located in the cellar of her house. Down here everything’s kept very simple – in any case she’s not a professional baker. However, she’s been baking bread for over 40 years and hands it out to family and friends week after week. For her farmer’s bread she uses a mix of whole grain wheat, rye, whole grain rye, spelt, sourdough, just a little fresh natural yeast, water and a handful of seasoning. After all the years of watching, lots of tasting and baking myself I know, however, that above all a large portion of craftsmanship and an even bigger portion of love is behind the secret of great taste.
Baking day starts at 5 am
Like every Tuesday morning grandma Gerda gets up today at 5 am. Everything’s ready for the big baking day – the grains, the bread baskets with red and white checked covers, the ancient scales and the large baking oven.
At the start of the 6 hour long baking marathon grandma makes a dough mound from a mix of water, sourdough and yeast, which has to rest for a while. In the meantime she mixes the grains with salt and bread seasoning. As soon as the ball has risen it’s carefully added to the dough. Another shot of lukewarm water is added and the bread dough is ready. This is allowed to rest and rise.
Then dough portions are weighed, so that each loaf ends up about the same weight. Then grandma kneads the individual portions by hand and forms loaves, which are allowed to rest once again in their baskets.
Before these loaves are allowed in the pre-heated oven, grandma brushes them with water. And then she comes around the corner with the flat, wooden so-called “shovel”, to “shove” the loaves in the oven, as it’s known in baking language.
After around 45 minutes the bread loaves are ready. As soon as grandma opens the oven, the fabulous aroma of fresh bread unfolds – and to my delight tasting can begin again!
Bread recipe for you to try:
200 g whole grain wheat
100 g sourdough
600 ml lukewarm water
300 g rye flour
200 g freshly ground spelt
200 g freshly ground rye
100 g wheat flour
10 g yeast
20 g salt
1 EL bread seasoning
The day before: soak the whole grain wheat overnight. Stir the sourdough with 300 ml lukewarm water until smooth, add flour. Make a hole in the middle of the mass, add the sourdough, stir a little and leave overnight in a warm place.
On baking day: crumble the yeast into the sourdough and mix thoroughly. Add the salt, bread seasoning and soaked grains plus the remaining water gradually. Knead the dough thoroughly and leave to rest for 2 hours in a warm place. Form bread loaves and leave to rest for another 30 minutes in a basket. Brush with water and bake for approx. 30 minutes in the pre-heated oven at 230 degrees. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes.
photo credits: Eva-Maria Nagl