Wednesday, May 11, 2011

E-Cookbooks Really Suck, But Some Are Worth It - E-Kochbücher sind bescheuert, aber einige sind ihr Geld wert

Much as I enjoy my Kindle for reading novels - e-cookbooks really suck!

My favorite baking books are full of scribbled exclamations, observations and suggestions. But try to enter notes in an e-book - and then IDENTIFY them again in their separate storage space on the e-reader - nothing is more cumbersome and annoying.

Therefore my only e-cookbook is Nils Schöner’s: “Brot - Bread Notes From a Floury German Kitchen” (written in English). First I got the free online version, but after I realized how much experience and work went into this compilation of recipes, I decided to give Schöner his due, and pay for the Kindle edition - a print version doesn’t exist.

Working with e-recipes is easy as long as you follow the recipe to the t, but if you want to change something, you have to write your notes on a piece of paper, and copy the recipe plus alterations and comments in your recipe program (or write them in a notebook) for later use.

Schöner didn’t make the task of navigating his book any easier by forgetting to add a table of contents to his book - but you can find it at Amazon with the book listing, and print it out.

His recipes are not “Bread Baking for Dummies”, either, and the procedure is often not described in great detail. So I adapted his recipes to my preferred method, introducing a soaker and overnight fermentation. I also found that baking it with slightly different temperatures resulted in a better crust.

In spite of all these obstacles - the “Floury Kitchen” puts out so many interesting recipes, that it’s really worth the little extra effort.

So gern ich auch Romane auf meinem Kindle lese - E-Kochbücher sind wirklich saudumm!

Meine Lieblingsbackbücher sind vollgekritzelt mit Bewertungen, Beobachtungen und Tipps. Aber versuch mal, Anmerkungen in ein E-Buch zu schreiben - und sie anschliessend in ihrem separaten Speicherplatz auf dem E-Reader wiederzufinden - nichts ist mühseliger und nerviger!

Daher ist mein einziges E-Kochbuch Nils Schöners: "Brot - Bread Notes From a Floury Kitchen" (in Englisch geschrieben). Zuerst hatte ich nur die kostenlose Download-Version, aber als mir klar wurde, wieviel an Erfahrung und Arbeit in dieser Rezeptsammlung steckte, beschloss ich Schöner das Seine zu geben, und für die Kindleausgabe zu bezahlen - eine Printversion existiert nämlich nicht.

Mit E-Rezepten zu arbeiten ist so lange einfach, wie man ihnen buchstabengetreu folgt. Wenn man aber etwas ändern will, muss man seine Notizen auf ein Blatt Papier schreiben und für späteren Gebrauch das Rezept samt Änderungen und Kommentaren in sein Rezeptprogramm kopieren (oder in einem Notizbuch festhalten).

Schöner macht einem das Navigieren seines Buchs durch Vergessen eines Inhaltsverzeichnisses auch nicht gerade einfacher - aber man kann es bei Amazon bei seinem Bucheintrag finden und ausdrucken.

Seine Rezepte sind überdies auch nicht "Brotbacken für Anfänger", und die Vorgehensweise ist oft nicht im Detail beschrieben. Daher habe ich seine Rezepte meiner Lieblingstechnik angepasst, mit Einführung eines Quellstücks und Übernachtung im Kühlschrank. Ich fand ausserdem, dass leicht veränderte Backtemperaturen eine bessere Kruste ergaben.

Trotz all dieser Hindernisse - die "Mehlige Küche" enthält so viele interessante Rezepte, dass sie die kleine Extramühe wert ist.


  1. Nils Schöner's book deserves a wider audience. The breads are wonderful and the appendices are very helpful. I keep 3 sourdoughs (for various reasons) and the strongest, most viable one is the one I made from Nils instructions -- and it is by far the easiest sourdough-from-scratch instruction that I have ever seen.

    I don't have the kindle version of his book, I downloaded it when it was still available on his site, and donated via Paypal. So I've printed out my own hardcopy, and yes, it is quite marked up. Like you, I've found the need for a Table of Contents.

    I for one would be very interested in your marginal notes, as you tweak his recipes to work on this side of the pond, where flours are not graded by ash content. I'm sure my German Mother-in-Law would be grateful too. She loves the bread I've made for her from Nils recipes. She gets quite angry with me now when I offer her some other bread. It is like Nils' recipes are the Holy Grail, and I can quit trying anything else.

  2. You are right, Cellarguy. It's a pity that Schöner didn't publish his recipe collection as a real book (a little editing wouldn't have hurt, either).
    So far I baked 3 breads, the "Korntaler", the "Pain au Levain de Sarrasin" and "Grünkern-Carrot-Bread (I brought some Grünkern from my last trip to Germany to try it out). The next on my list is the "Pain au Levain with Walnuts and Hemp Seeds).
    As you could see with the Korntaler recipe, I soaked not only the seeds, but made a cold soaker with the whole grain flours, the seeds and a bit of salt. I maintain 2 starters in my refrigerator, a whole wheat (75%) and a rye starter (100%). For the Korntaler I used my rye starter as mother and reduced the overall rye a bit, raising the amount of bread flour.
    I'm a great fan of Peter Reinhart's books, and like his method with pre-doughs and overnight fermentation. For my own comfort I often retard the mixed dough overnight, so that I don't have all the work in the morning (I sell my breads, too).
    Schöner doesn't elaborate too much on the mixing procedure, for the "Pain au Levain de Sarrasin" I used stretch and fold (as in Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day") and then retarded the mixed dough overnight, so that it took 3 days to make it. I also baked all breads with steam.
    I changed the baking temperatures and times for Korntaler to my standard German Rye default bake (see my recipe), because I think the crust is better.
    The bread with the Grünkern was nice, but I wasn't 100% satisfied, maybe it needs some tweaking.
    Schöner uses the British term "strong white flour", that would be the American bread flour. In Germany are many more different rye types, in the Korntaler he has medium rye. I used whole rye (my supplier doesn't have organic medium rye). For Korntaler using whole rye was okay, for other German breads I baked before it wasn't - the consistency was wrong.
    I experimented a bit with mixes of whole and white rye in different ratios, but the result was not the same, either. And I find white rye basically tasteless. I brought a package of the usual medium German rye (Typ 1150) from my last trip, and want to compare it with American medium rye (which I will have to mail order).
    I will post a list of European/American flour equivalents.
    What breads from Schöner did you bake?