Saturday, October 19, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

It's October, almost November, but from the glorious sunshine and balmy temperatures you wouldn't think it is.

Only waking up when it's still dark, and having dinner in the kitchen instead of the porch are reminders of the upcoming winter.

Pumpkins are everywhere. The pumpkin dish I grew up up with, and loved, were my Pomeranian grandmother's wonderful pickled sweet and sour pumpkins.

Every year she bought one of those giant pumpkins, and, during an afternoon of hard labor, cut it down, cooked it with sugar, vinegar and spices, and filled a long line of glasses with golden pumpkin chunks embedded in aromatic syrup.

Every family member received his or her share, to be served with roasts and rice dishes.

My Omi was a great cook (with my son Per, age 3)

After "striking gold" with Dan Lepard's wonderful Pumpkin Whey Bread, I got back to one of my seasonal German breads, Kürbisbrot ("Pumpkin Bread").

It doesn't have such an interesting ingredient like whey (also hard to come by, if you are not in the yogurt making business.) But the German cousin is made with spelt, and therefore a little heartier.

The autumnal pattern is made with a large, leaf-shaped cookie cutter, pressed into the dough before it rises.

Both pumpkin breads share the same golden crumb, and nutty crunchiness from the toasted pumpkin seeds - and both taste equally good!

Golden crumb and nutty crunch makes pumpkin breads so good


Pumpkin puree and seeds
150 g water, lukewarm (95ºF/35ºC)
    4 g instant yeast
500 g whole spelt flour (or 1/2 spelt + 1/2  bread flour)
  11 g salt
    3 g dark brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
 1 tsp. ground ginger
28 g/2 tbsp. butter, melted
212 g pumpkin puree (1/2 can)
  60 g pumpkin seeds, toasted

milk, for brushing (optional)

Stir yeast into the warm water, to dissolve.

Add all dough ingredients in mixing bowl. Stir together for 1 - 2 minutes at low speed (or with large wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Knead dough for 2 minutes at medium-low speed (or by hand), adjusting with more water as needed, (dough should be smoother but still sticky.) Continue kneading for another 4 minutes. Dough should be still slightly sticky. 

Transfer dough to lightly oiled or wet work surface. With wet or oiled hands, pat and stretch dough into a rough square. Fold it from top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter. Repeat with sides left and right.

Pick dough ball up, tucking sides under, and place it, seam side down, in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat this stretch and fold 3 times. After the last fold, place dough in oiled container with lid, and refrigerate overnight.

The pumpkin dough has a beautiful golden color

 DAY 2
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC, including a steam pan.

Shape bread into a (not too tight) ball and place it, seam side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush it with milk, and using a large leaf shaped cookie cutter, press down deeply to score. Mist loaf with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap (or clean kitchen towel).

Use a large leaf shaped cookie cutter for the scoring

Let bread ferment at room temperature for 45 - 60 minutes, until it has grown to 1 1/2 times its original size, and dough doesn't spring back when gently poked with a finger.

Place bread in oven, pour a cup of boiling water into steam pan, reduce heat to 400ºF/200ºC, and bake bread for 20 minutes. Remove steam pan, rotate loaf 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 15 - 20 minutes, until the bread is golden brown, and registers at least 195ºF/90ºC on an instant-read thermometer.

Cool bread on a wire rack.

Lighter pumpkin breads with half spelt and half bread flour.

Completely updated and re-written post (original was posted 10/2010)

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico                                       
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                             
This month's Panissimo is hosted by Menta e Rosmarino

Friday, October 4, 2013


One of the best breads I ever made
 Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

During our recent trip to Germany we spent a few days in Potsdam, to visit Frederick the Great's Sanssouci. We stayed at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof, a wonderful hotel right inside another historic site, Cecilienhof Palace.

Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam, a UNESCO world heritage site

Built 1917 by Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia for his wife Cecilie, Duchess of Mecklenburg, this Tudor revival style palace was also the place where these three jolly old guys met:

Churchill, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam Conference

To honor the history and importance of this heritage, the hotel came up with the idea to create a special bread for the guests' breakfast buffet: an ancient grain sourdough, with a lot of different grains and seeds.

Bread buffet at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof

Multigrain bread served at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof
To educate their guests, the hotel had placed a little brochure on the table, with informations about the bread: "Taste meets Tradition", including a list of the ingredients:

List of ingredients of Cecilienhof Ancient Rye Bread
Rye meal
Sunflower seeds
Ancient wheat meal: emmer and einkorn
Wheat flour (white or medium, not whole wheat)
Rolled spelt
Chestnut flour
Rolled oats
Barley meal
Barley malt extract
Vital wheat gluten
Rolled barley
Steel cut oats
Spelt flour
Potato flakes
Sea salt
Vegetable fat (shortening)
Whole spelt sourdough
Table salt

Unfortunately they didn't supply the bakers' percentage!

Though I'm not the greatest vollkornbrot fan (having been force fed as a child) I really liked the bread, and was quite intrigued by the impressive list of ingredients.

Wild Rice Sourdough - The Bread That Ended The Cold War

In my repertoire I had already one remarkable bread associated with an important historic event: Wild Rice Sourdough - The Bread That Ended The Cold War. Wouldn't it be great to add another one?

I couldn't stop thinking about it, and deemed it a challenge worthy of my talented fellow bakers at The Fresh Loaf. And they rose to the occasion!

Janet's bread

Janet Cook from Colorado bakes breads for the joy of it, though she can't eat them herself.

She modeled her Cecilienhof rye look-alike after Russian rye or Borodinsky bread (her formula and photos are in the comments.)

Dabrownman's version
Prolific multigrain/many seed baker dabrownman from Arizona likes to taunt his audience with food porn and breath taking sunrise photos.

Helped by his no-nonsense, paws-on apprentice Lucy he created this version.

Brian's loaf
Brian (Skibum) from Canada felt encouraged to go over to the "dark side" with his first ever rye vollkornbrot.

A beautiful thing to behold!

Jürgen's take on Cecilienhof bread

Jürgen Krauss (Germany/UK) baked his loaf slowly over 12 hours, like a pumpernickel.

He praised the deep flavors and great versatility of his Cecilienhof challenge bread.  

Ian's nutty bread
Ian (isand66), from New York, gave the bread his personal touch by adding poppy and sesame seeds, pecans and "a bunch of more whole grains".

Inspired by all this activity I sat down with my BreadStorm program to create my own formula. Except for the emmer, I had all the ingredients from the list in my pantry.

Two of my breads would be my base, Friesisches Schwarzbrot (Friesian Rye) and
Rheinisches Schwarzbrot (Rhineland Rye).

Friesisches Schwarzbrot

Using an intermediate dough, like the Friesian Rye (thus eliminating the need for additional yeast,) and baking my loaf like Rhineland Rye seemed a good way to do it.

Rheinisches Schwarzbrot

I also omitted the vital wheat gluten, neither wanting to make quick process with my bread, nor being so anxious that I needed a "safety net".

The bread turned out to be one of the best loaves I ever made, we absolutely LOVED it! Whether it was the complexity of the ingredients, or just an optimal process to develop and marry the different flavors I can't say.

We had it with aged provolone cheese and blackforest ham, and it also tasted wonderful with honey.

Much as I enjoyed the original in its historic ambiance - my bread can at least hold a candle to it. The best of all husbands claims its even better (what a pity you can't see my oh so modest smile!)

Here you see my baker's formula in % (BreadStorm users can download it here)


26 g whole wheat mother starter
100 g rye meal
200 g water, lukewarm 

Intermediate dough
all starter
50 g rye meal (I used here a coarser grind)
13 whole wheat flour
45 g rolled spelt
30 g rolled oats
20 g barley meal
10 g spelt flour
11 g rolled barley
12 g flax seed
9 g steel-cut oats
150 g water, lukewarm

Final dough
all intermediate dough
37 g whole wheat
35 g einkorn flour
35 g farro flour
40 g chestnut flour
8 g salt
20 g barley malt syrup
120 g sunflower seeds, toasted
7 g potato flakes
7 g sunflower seed oil
50 g water

Very liquid starter

DAY 1:
Mix all ingredients for the starter, cover and leave at room temperature for 12 - 24 hours.

DAY 2:
In the morning, mix together all ingredients for intermediate dough. Cover, and leave at room temperature.

Intermediate dough

In the evening, mix together all ingredients for final dough, adjusting with more water, if necessary, to make a very sticky dough.

Fill dough into a (9-inch) sandwich loaf pan (up to 3/4), smooth top with wet hands, and sprinkle it with sunflower seeds. Mist with oil spray, cover pan with aluminum foil, and refrigerate dough overnight.

Final dough in the pan - no shaping necessary

DAY 3:
Remove bread from refrigerator 2 hours before baking, to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC.

Bake bread (loosely covered with aluminum foil) at 425ºF/220ºC for 15 min. Remove foil, and bake for 40 minutes more, or until it registers at least 200ºF/93º.

Un-pan loaf onto wire rack, then mist with water, and let it cool completely before cutting.

Cecilienhof Vollkornbrot also freezes well - when it is completely cooled, wrap it in plastic and place in a ZipLock bag.

Crown Princess Cecilie, Duchess of Mecklenburg

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                             
This month's Panissimo is hosted by Simona Briciole