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Friday, April 16, 2010

Everyday Bread #8

While playing with Wecken, I perused a German website, looking for help.  What I found instead was an excellent site with tons of interesting German style breads to try.  While looking for Brötchen, I came across a recipe for Die schnellsten Brötchen der Welt.  I ran the recipe through Google Translate (with a little help from another online German-English dictionary, that I regularly use), and tried it out today.

World's Fastest Buns  (Translated from the German Website, chefkoch)

  • 1 cube Yeast (this is the "Fresh Compressed/Cake Yeast", but you can substitute 1 pkg of Active Dry Yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 600 ml Water
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 kg Flour
Mix yeast with honey ('vermatschen': intermesh it, squish it together, mash it up?)
Pour in water, sprinkle the salt,
Stir in the flour gradually.
Shape into buns.
Place on sheet.
Bake 200 degrees C, 25-30 min.

This recipe makes enough buns for a baking sheet.
You can also use it for pizza dough, then it makes 2 baking sheets.

Apparently, that is all that is done.  There is no waiting for the yeast to froth, no rising stage, no proofing stage, no pre-heating of the oven;  I looked through a few of the (translated) comments of the various people to see what problems might have occurred.
A few people have advised, put moisture in the oven; some have spritzed it on the dough, some have brushed on milk or water.  Some have used milk instead of water.  Some have let it sit in a bowl before baking, and some have proofed for a longer time.  Some have found the second batch (in a preheated oven) rise nicer.

Some have advised scoring the buns in a cross, with a knife dipped in water.
Some have advised making the dough into a roll, so that it is not just a lump, otherwise you might get too much air like at the baker.  Many of the ones who tried it used seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy) on top.  A very few thought the buns needed to proof 30 minutes before entering the oven.  Some preheated the oven.  Quite a number wanted to use Whole Wheat Flour; one suggested using 50:50 whole wheat and spelt.

I tried a half-recipe.  I wasn't sure that my dried instant yeast would perform the same way as their cubed yeast, and indeed, I don't really think that it does.  I did put a tiny bit of water with the yeast and honey.  Once I had a murky cloud of moisture, I sprinkled on the salt and continued on following the official recipe.

When I mixed the ingredients together, I noticed a couple of things.  First, there wasn't much hydration.  It was difficult to incorporate that much flour with that little water.  I had to use my hands to incorporate all the flour, and within the bowl, this was tantamount to kneading.  The dough was tight upon mixing.  Secondly, making the rolls means tearing the gluten; to make a roll out of this piece you have torn off takes a bit of time, unless you don't care what the bun looks like.  Some Germans who responded said that they do care.  Taste comes first, but then it also has to look nice: so this is something that the amateur bakers who responded to the recipe decided they will have to work on.

I spritzed the bun tops with water and scored them a little before tossing it in the oven.  I originally put it in for 30 minutes, but as I could see they were not rising but were cooking as-is, I took 2 minutes off the oven time in the end.  I thought that they might be burning, through the glass, but in the end they were actually pretty blonde.  I certainly could have left them another 5 or even 10 minutes.  Remember, the oven wasn't preheated when they went in.  Various ovens are going to heat up at different times.

So how do they taste?  A couple of the larger ones were a trifle undercooked.  The smaller ones were okay.  They tasted like buns.  With butter they were tasty enough.  They had this dense crumb that (if I can generalize here) Germans seem to prefer: they hate it when they go to the bakery and buy something that is mostly just air.  They want some substance behind their breads.

The chefkoch website has lots of different breads.  I want to try their Schwarzwälder Landbrot next, when I'm not working.

Notes to Myself:
  • Try these buns again in different ways: try whole wheat, try half whole wheat and half all purpose, try a combo of all purpose and rye.  
  • Try these buns and get the yeast frothy before mixing.
  • Try these buns but have them rise about 20 minutes.
  • Try preheating the oven

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