Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WEIZENBRÖTCHEN - EVERYDAY GERMAN ROLLS


Nobody in Germany thinks of baking regular, plain white rolls at home. You get them freshly baked everywhere, in bakeries, supermarkets, and even in gas stations.

Every German region has them, called "Rundstück" in Hamburg, "Schrippe" in Berlin, "Semmel" in Munich, or simply "Brötchen" (= little bread).

The typical Brötchen has a crackly crisp crust and a fluffy, soft, easy to pull out crumb. It has nothing in common with its soft, sweet and chewy US cousin, the dinner roll. And American Kaiser Rolls are just Kaisersemmel wannabes, they share only the pretty star cut with their Bavarian or Austrian ancestors.

Brötchen crumb should be soft, fluffy, and easy to pull out

One of the greatest woes of German expats is the total lack of this everyday staple in the US.

No Brötchen to be found anywhere - perhaps bad imitations, but never the real thing.

And worse: no cookbook would even list a recipe!

In those days I had no clue about the differences between European and American flours.

I only knew they were categorized in a different way, European flours by their ash content (meaning what is left if you burn it) and American ones by their protein level.

One day we were shopping at our favorite Italian grocery, Micucci, in Portland. I saw Italian flour Tipo 00 on their shelves, and bought it, more out of curiosity then anything else. I remembered it listed as an ingredient in one of my most favorite bread baking books from a bakery in South Tyrol, Italy.
Different toppings to choose from

In Ploner's "Brot aus Südtirol" I had finally found a recipe for Brötchen. I tried them several times, just assuming "Tipo 00" would be the same as all-purpose flour.

Frustratingly, every time the rolls turned out lean and chewy, more reminiscent of French bread.

But when I used the Italian flour, I finally nailed it: my rolls had the soft, fluffy, "pull-out" crumb typical for Brötchen.

Wikipedia told me why: US wheat has much more protein compared with European wheat.

Protein rich flour develops a strong gluten structure, so that the crumb is airy and chewy. Soft, low protein flours, like German Typ 405, or Italian Tipo 00, have much less gluten and bake into breads with a denser, fluffier crumb.

For an American/European flour "translation", click here.


WEIZENBRÖTCHEN    (adapted from Richard Ploner: "Brot aus Südtirol")
 (12 rolls):

500 g Italian Tipo 00 flour
8 g instant yeast
4 g/1 tsp. sugar
270 g water, lukewarm
40 g olive oil
10 g salt
1 egg, slightly beaten, for brushing
6 g sesame seeds, for topping
4 g poppy seeds, for topping
14 g sunflower seeds, for topping


DAY 1
In the evening, stir yeast into lukewarm water until dissolved. Mix all ingredients for 1 minute at lowest speed (mixer or wooden spoon). Let dough sit for 5 minutes.

Knead on medium-low speed (or with hands) for 2 minutes. Dough should be supple and still a little bit sticky (adjust with water if needed). Continue kneading for 4 more minutes, increasing speed to medium-high for last 30 sec. Dough should be very tacky, bordering on sticky.

Fold the dough like a business letter in thirds

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. With wet or oiled hands, stretch and fold dough like a business envelope in thirds, then turn it around 90 degrees, and fold from short sides the same way.

Gather dough ball, sides tucked underneath, and place it in lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat these stretches and folds 3 more times, every 10 minutes (40 min. total time)*. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

*This technique is described in detail in Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day".

The dough is full of gas bubbles and has doubled

 DAY 2:

Remove dough from refrigerator 3 hours before baking, to de-chill and double their original size. Prepare egg wash and three bowls with sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds for topping. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape dough into 12 little rolls.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, and shape them into rolls. Brush each with egg wash, then dip in seeds. Place dough balls seam side down on baking sheet. Let rolls rise ca 2 - 2 1/4 hours, or until grown 2 times their original size (remember to preheat oven after 1 3/4 hours.)

Ready for the oven

Preheat oven to 428º F/220º C, including steam pan. Place rolls in oven, pouring 1 cup boiling water in steam pan. Bake for 9 min., rotate baking sheet for even browning, and continue baking for another 9 - 10 min., until golden brown (internal temperature at least 200º F/92º C). Leave rolls in switched off oven for 10 minutes more (leave door a crack open), before taking them out to cool on a rack.

Freerk of BreadLab made a very nice video clip of how to make these rolls - view it at YouTube.

And check out Joanna's Brötchen post at Zeb Bakes, one of my favorite blogs with great breads and lovely photos.

17 comments:

  1. Hanseata, hast Du dies mal angeschaut ?
    http://www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/967221202387607/Brot-und-Broetchen-schleifen.html

    Anna

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  2. Hallo, Anna, ich habe verschiedenste Rezepte ausprobiert und mir dieses auch angesehen. Eine Schwierigkeit sind ja die unterschiedlichen Mehltypen in den USA (proteinreicher als die deutschen).
    Ich wollte unbedingt ein Broetchen backen, das die "herausnehmbare" Krume hat, wie ich sie von den Rundstuecken aus Hamburg gewoehnt bin. Ein anderes Problem ist immer eine wirklich krosse, aber trotzdem nicht zu dicke Kruste zu erzielen (endlos in Backwebsites wie "The Fresh Loaf" diskutiert). Mein Rezept kommt diesem Ideal ziemlich nahe. Das langsamere Gehen des Teigs ueber Nacht im Kuehlschrank macht die Sache nicht nur einfacher, sondern verbessert den Geschmack zusaetzlich erheblich.

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  3. Hanseata,
    I finally got the Italian and made this recipe as well as the other brötchen recipe on The Fresh Loaf. One of my students just came back from being stationed with the military so he was my guinea pig. (I haven't been back since 2000.) the Type 00 flour really makes the difference. I'm going to try the other, hot milk recipe with the Italian flour but both my student and I were in heaven when we tried the batch made from your recipe. My son actually got down on his knees and gave thanks for a bakng mom. (He's seventeen and just a wee bit dramatic.)
    Thanks, this was fun.

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  4. I'm so glad to hear that, Cometprof!
    When you are living in Germany and can get Brötchen every day, you don't think much of it. Nobody bakes Brötchen at home, only some fancy whole grain ones, perhaps. But when you can't get them anymore, you start dreaming of them.
    Happy baking,
    Karin

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  5. Guten Tag Hanseata!

    I wanted to thank you for your recipe above! I've been scouring the internet for years and recently stumbled upon yours. It is amazing how a simple piece of bread can be so difficult to replicate in the States. I tried your recipe exactly as indicated, but left off the egg wash with the different seeds. I grew up eating the plain brotchen and was just looking for a basic recipe. Although I have made a few adjustments to the recipe since the first time I tried it, your recipe gave me the direction I needed. Thank you so much! For those who are looking for that basic plain brotchen recipe, I offer the following tips to the recipe above. To provide a little more 'air' to the recipe, add 1 stiffly beaten egg white to the yeast and water mixture before you add the dry ingredients. If you don't want an olive oil taste, replace it with melted crisco shortening (placed in microwave for 90 seconds and then cooled to below 110 degrees). Shortening is used to 'shorten' the gluten in the flour...making it more chewy. So, I increased it to 50 grams. I also doubled the sugar to 8 grams simply for taste. Remember the dough needs to be pretty wet...so you probably will be adding more liquid. When I divided the dough into 12 equal pieces, I found the end products to be pretty large. They grew together on my cookie sheet (which is a half sheet....so it's not that small). I like brotchen a little smaller than a tennis ball, so plan on using 2 sheets if you do as well. I also found my 'double insulated' cookie sheet was actually too thick. The bottom of the roll didn't get hard. I used a thinner cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then gave the rolls an additional squirt with a fine mist of water after the first 9 minutes. That seemed to do the trick for me. I like using parchment paper simply for clean-up reasons, but you may not have a problem with 'crustiness' if you just use the cookie sheet. All in all...the recipe is a definite keeper and I'm so glad that it was posted on the internet. I gave some to my brother and his first comment on opening the bag and taking a whiff was...."that's exactly what I remember!" and then after taking a bite....he said...."you nailed it!" Thanks again!

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  6. Hallo, Tom,
    I'm happy to hear that this recipe works for you! Another possibility, if you don't want to have a seed topping, is a starch glaze:
    Bring 100 g water and 2 g of corn starch to a boil, then let it cool down to room temperature. Brush proofed rolls with glaze, just before they go into the oven. When you rotate baking sheet, apply another layer of starch glaze.
    Then the rolls will have the crackling, shiny surface some German rolls have (Rundstücke).
    Happy baking,
    Karin

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  7. Hallo Karin!

    I just finished baking a batch of broetchen and used your recipe for the glaze. I liked the effect! Thanks for offering it!

    Tom

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  8. You are very welcome, Tom. I just came back from Cancun/Mexico - no bread baker's paradise there, the white bread was all fluffy, tasteless, and had no crust. And the beautiful pastry only looked nice - it was very sweet and nothing else.

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  9. Thank you for posting this brotchen recipe! We were in Germany for three years, and fruhstuck brotchen was a treat. Now, if you could only tell us how to make quark. The most acceptable substitute was full fat Greek yogurt, Fage brand. I drained it, and it seemed to work pretty well. Now I need to make this recipe for the bratwursts we will be having. Vielen Dank!

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    Replies
    1. You are very welcome! And, please, let me know how you like them. By the way, my Dutch baking friend Freerk made a YouTube video clip how to make these:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaZNvRxyx1c
      Ach, ja - quark! I wish we could get it here. For German Cheesecake (see my post) cream cheese works quite well, but not for other purposes. I made do with keeping buttermilk at 150 F overnight until it curdled. That has the right consistency, but not quite the tang. For the real thing you need rennet. I have a recipe, and I was thinking of ordering some rennet online - it is supposedly not that difficult to make quark.
      And Bratwurst, seasoned with majoram and thyme, is one thing I miss here, too.

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  10. We just got back from a trip to Bremerhaven (and some other cities in northern Germany). I miss the Brotchen so much and have been dying for some since we got back. I want to try your recipe but I have a question. We had some Brotchen that had the pumpkin seeds on them with other seeds -- I think it was sunflower seeds and something else. I thought that these Brotchen were not plain white bread, they seemed to be more of a whole grain or whole wheat bread. Do you know what these type of Brotchen are and do you have a recipe for them? They look similar to the one in the front of this photo: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/s720x720/582735_480869188592930_155262135_n.jpg

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  11. Hi, Yvette - have you been in my hometown, Hamburg, too? I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the Brötchen you had on your trip.
    You are right, the roll on your photo certainly has some rye in it. There are many different recipes for Brötchen, and I will look for one like that.

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    Replies
    1. We were in Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven and Bremen but didn't think we'd have enough time to visit Hamburg too (part of the trip was visiting my mother's family). We already want to go back and will definitely visit Hamburg next time!

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  12. On the topic of quark, here's a pointer to a recipe at The Splendid Table. I usually like her recipes. http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/quark

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  13. Thanks for the link, Mike. I tried making quark with buttermilk, left in a 150 degree warm oven overnight, otherwise made the same way. The texture is right, but the taste is a little bit too bland, not quite tangy enough.

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  14. I have made your brotchen and linked back to your post for anyone who wants the recipe, they are lovely! just lovely! xx Jo http://zebbakes.com/2013/11/23/german-style-rolls-brotchen/

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    Replies
    1. I'm very happy to hear that you liked them, Joanna. And thanks for the link. I will put a link in my post, too.

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