Monday, June 24, 2013


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

Gerd Kellner, aka Ketex, is not only an accomplished baker, but, also, writes one of Germany's best bread baking blogs. A book with his recipes: "Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen" is available as e-book for Kindle.

When I saw his post on Bauernbrötchen, I wasn't only attracted by the attractive look of these rustic rolls, but, also, intrigued by his use of old dough as leaven.

"Old dough" in bakers' lingo means a piece of dough, cut off before shaping the bread, and kept in the refrigerator for later use. After I learned how to make a wild yeast starter, and bake my first bread from a French cookbook, I had always saved a portion of the dough for my next loaf. 

Advancing from a series of weapon grade, dense and chewy "bricks" to more edible breads, this method had worked very well for me, until I branched out and started baking other types of bread than just my everyday German Feinbrot.

My typical German Feinbrot was originally made with old dough

The old dough was replaced by a whole wheat mother starter, and all but forgotten as a viable rising agent.

With Ketex' beautiful Bauernbrötchen in mind, I reserved a piece of dough from a yeast bread I made, and put it for later use in my basement refrigerator - and then completely forgot about it! 

About 3 months later, when I was looking for something in the depth of the fridge, I came upon the little container, and remembered what it was. 

I opened it gingerly, expecting nothing good after all the time, and the old dough, indeed, looked, shall we say, "antique", and didn't smell very nice, either. At least there was no mold on it! 

Lovely Rose Hip Levain - made from accidentally fermenting jam!

Always curious, and open for experiments before I throw something in the trash, I just wanted to see whether there was any life left in the mummified relic, and proceeded with the recipe.

Though I was rather suspicious about how this might affect the taste, my distrust was unfounded, the rolls, though not looking as nice as Gerd's, rose well and tasted surprisingly good. And I had a new, interesting formula to work with. 

For my second bake I did just the opposite: my old dough had slumbered only for 3 days in the fridge. With my first batch of Bauernbrötchen, I had followed Ketex recipe to the t, using a poolish as preferment and adding the piece of preserved dough later to the final mixture.

Rather than preparing an extra poolish, I refreshed the old dough

I didn't quite see the rationale for an additional poolish, especially since the dough was to be retarded in the refrigerator overnight. Why not, instead, feeding the old dough up front, and let it act the part of the poolish?

And, since the percentage of rye flour in the dough was not so high that a change would influence the crumb, I used whole rye instead of medium rye (easy to come by in Germany, but, alas, not readily available in the US.) 

Rather than kneading the dough for 15 minutes, and folding it only once, I followed Peter Reinhart's procedure in "Artisan Bread Every Day" (my default S&F) with a brief mix, an autolyse, and 4 stretches and folds over a period of 40 minutes.
Gram measuring spoon, for weighing very small amounts

Ketex adds a tad of yeast to his dough. For these very small amounts (that, nevertheless, make the rising time more predictable) you need a special scale, able to accurately weigh a few grams.  Mine looks like a big spoon, and is easy to use (about $15 at Amazon)

The second batch, without the poolish, performed just the same, but tasted a bit heartier with the whole rye. I had to adjust the baking temperature and time, but every oven is different, and you have to adapt to this, anyway. 

We found these crusty rustic rolls great for open faced sandwiches, and they, toast well, tool. You can easily freeze them, therefore it's worth it to make a double batch.

But don't forget to save a piece of the dough: for your next Bauernbrötchen!

These rolls were my very first batch, made with pretty ancient dough

BAUERNBRÖTCHEN WITH OLD DOUGH  (adapted from Gerhard Kellner/Ketex)

100 g/3.5 oz old dough
    5 g/1 tbsp whole rye flour
  42 g/3 tbsp water

147 g/5.2 oz refreshed old dough (all)
400 g/14.1 oz bread flour
  45 g/1.6 oz whole rye flour
258 g/9.1 oz water
    8 g/0.3 oz olive oil
  10 g/0.4 oz salt
 1.8 g/0.06 oz instant yeast (or 5 g fresh yeast)
 3.5 g/1 1/2 tsp barley malt
 rye flour for sprinkling

Rejuvenated old dough

DAY 1:
In the morning, feed old dough with rye flour and water. Cover, and leave at room temperature until lively and bubbly (like poolish.)

In the evening, mix final dough ingredients at low speed (or with wooden spoon) until all flour is hydrated, 1 - 2 minutes. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Then knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 2 minutes, adjusting with a little more water or flour if necessary (dough should be a bit sticky.) Continue kneading for another 4 minutes. Dough should be still more sticky than tacky.

Ready for S & F (use oiled or wet hands and work surface

Transfer dough to lightly oiled or wet work surface. With oiled or wet hands, pull and stretch it into a rough square. Fold dough from top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter. Then do the same from both sides. Gather dough together in a ball, and place it, seamside down, in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat this stretching and folding 3 more times, at 10 minute intervals. After the last fold, reserve 100 g/3.5 oz of the dough (for the next "old dough".) Refrigerate reserved piece (container with lid.) (Ketex recommends using it within 10 days, but it keeps longer.

Place remaining dough also in an oiled container with lid, and refrigerate it overnight.
Place dough in a container with lid and refrigerate it overnight

DAY 2:
(Since these are small pieces, you can shape them cold.)

Divide dough into 8 pieces (à 100 g/3.5 oz) and shape them into balls. Let them relax for 20 minutes, then roll them into strands with pointed ends. 

The dough pieces are first shaped into rolls

Place rolls in a couche, seam side up. Sprinkle with rye flour. Cover, and let proof for 1 - 2 hours. (Preheat oven 45 minutes before baking.)

Preheat oven to 500ºF, including steam pan. 

Bauernbrötchen proofing on a couche

Place Bauernbrötchen, seam side down, on perforated or parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle them with whole rye flour, and score lengthwise.

Bake rolls for about 20 - 25 minutes at 450ºF, steaming with a cup of boiling water. (Rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees after half the baking time, and remove the steam pan). They should be golden brown. For a crispier crust, leave them for 5 more minutes in the switched-off oven, with the door slightly ajar.

Golden brown and appetizing!

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                          Indovina chi viene a cena                                            

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


  Hier geht's zur deutschen Version  dieses Posts

The first time I heard about a cake called "Eierschecke", when I saw my cousin Uta's post in facebook. "Eier" is the German term for eggs, and "Schnecke" (snail)) is a common name for pinwheel shaped pastry, but I had not the slightest idea what "Schecke" meant, or where it might come from.

I looked it up at Wikipedia, and learned that this specialty from Thuringia and Saxony was named for a three tiered, medieval tunic for men. The cake had, obviously, three layers: crust, quark filling with apples or poppy seed, plus a custard topping.

Medieval schecke - male predecessor of the mini skirt?

I had never visited Dresden before, but in May we went on a trip to Saxony, and there it was:  every bakery offered Schecke, subspecies Dresdner Eierschecke. It came in many variations, yeasted dough or sweet crust, raisin-studded or not, baked as bar or torte.

My husband always gets this devout look in his face when he enters a German bakery. I, of course, view it also as continuing education, and sample solely for scientific purposes. Faithful to the Anderson credo: "Life is Uncertain - Eat the Dessert First!" we conducted a thorough investigation.

Dresdner Eierschecke bars (left of the tortes)

As a result of this extensive field work, I looked for a recipe, soon as we were home. I'm no great friend of raisins, and don't like it too sweet, therefore I wanted my cake to be a bit tart and fruity.

You can get apples, a classic Schecke ingredient, all year long, but now it was rhubarb season, and I had some in my fridge. So I entered "Eierschecke" and "Rhabarber" (rhubarb) in Google's search box, and promptly struck gold.

This recipe, posted by Thomas (Tolotika) in, was the one I liked best. It had a sweet crust, the rhubarb sauce was thickened with vanilla pudding powder, and the custard not only contained eggs, sour cream and pudding, but also quark.

Much as I love quark - it's almost impossible to find in the US, and even if you do, it is outrageously expensive and doesn't taste the same. Therefore I use for my German Cheesecake cream cheese as stand-in. Mixed with lemon juice and whipped egg white, it comes closest to quark in taste and consistency.

I reduced the amount of sugar in the custard by half, but the cake is still sweet enough.

There was another problem to solve. Though Richard and I like to eat cake, it's only the two of us, and I couldn't imagine that the airy egg mixture on top of the fruit layer would last several days without getting soggy.

So, back to asking uncle Google, this time for: "conversion large cakes small cakes". Is there anything at all that you can't find in the w.w.w.? has a very user friendly pan conversion tool on their website. (And it does rectangular pans, too!)

To convert a recipe for a 10-inch/26-cm diameter torte to a 7-inch/18-cm tortelet, you enter the pan size of the recipe and your desired pan size in Keiko's pan conversion tool and, voilà, there is the factor you need (0.48)! Now grab your calculator and multiply each recipe ingredient with 0.48.  

The result was everything I had looked for! The tangy rhubarb makes a pleasant contrast to the sweet custard, and the whole thing is so airy and fluffy that I'm sure it doesn't have a single calorie!

RHUBARB EIERSCHECKE TORTE (adapted from Tolotika at
(6 servings for a 7"/18 cm diameter cake pan)

454 g/1 lb rhubarb, cut in 0.5"/1 cm pieces
  75 g/3 oz sugar
  21 g/0.7 oz vanilla pudding powder

120 g/4.2 oz all-purpose flour
  30 g/1 oz sugar
  60 g/2 oz cold butter, cut in pieces
 1/2 egg *)
 1/2 tsp. baking powder
semolina and breadcrumbs (for sprinkling)

*) How to divide an egg into halves? It's easy: on a scale, crack an egg into a cup, stir well, and then take off half with a spoon.

 60 g/2 oz cream cheese
 60 g/2 oz sour cream
 40 g/1.5 oz sugar (original recipe: 84 g/3 oz)
       2 eggs, separated
     1 ½ tsp lemon juice
         1 tsp lemon zest
 10 g/0.35 oz vanilla pudding powder

In a bowl, stir together rhubarb and sugar. Mix well. Cover, and leave overnight at room temperature.

Drain rhubarb in a strainer over a bowl. Reserve 170 ml/5.75 fl oz of the juice (I didn't have quite enough juice, so I substituted with a bit of milk.)

Grease a 7-inch/18-cm diameter springform, and sprinkle with semolina.

Process sweet crust, until no loose flour remains in the bowl

Food Processor: Briefly pulse flour with baking powder and sugar to combine. Add egg and butter pieces. Pulse, until mixture comes together, and no loose flour remains on the bottom of the bowl. Or knead all ingredients by hand, or with a handheld mixer.

Shape dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, transfer to prepared springform pan, and press into bottom, making a small rim around the sides. Refrigerate, until ready to fill.

Sweet crust bottom layer

Preheat oven to 435ºF/225ºC. Place rack on middle rung.

Following instructions on the package, prepare vanilla pudding with pudding powder and reserved rhubarb juice. Add rhubarb, and stir well. Leave mixture to cool a little bit.

Spread vanilla pudding with rhubarb pieces over unbaked crust

Pre-bake cake for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 410ºF/210º.

For the custard, beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar, until well combined. Add egg yolks, one by one, and mix to incorporate. Mix in lemon juice and zest. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites in egg/cream mixture.

Gently fold stiff egg whites into egg/cream mixture

Pour Eierschecke custard over pre-baked torte and smooth with plastic spatula.

Spread eierschecke custard over pre-baked torte

Bake torte for about 20 minutes, or until set (but elastic to touch.) Leave for at least 15 minutes in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar.

Let Rhubarb-Eierschecke cool on wire rack. (It will sag a little bit.)

Freshly baked, the Eierschecke-Torte looks like cheese cake.

Or, like the greedy Andersons, eat it while it is still warm!!!

Never forget: "Life is Uncertain - Eat the Dessert First..."

Beautiful Dresden is really worth a trip - not just for the famous Eierschecke!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

This time Hanaâ picked savory scones for our Avid Bakers' June challenge. I wasn't too smitten by this idea: scones, okay, but salty ones? Not for nothing I put up the sign: "Life is Uncertain - Eat the Dessert First" in my old kitchen in Germany (sadly it didn't survive the move.)

When I read King Arthur's recipe I was, also, shocked by the amount of bacon that the recipe called for, half a pound! No wonder some reviewers complained about the scones' saltiness, and, though I love bacon (who doesn't?) I was sure they had a point.

Crispy bacon - who can resist it?

But I had a lot of chives in my garden, and, also, a good local cheddar cheese in my fridge, so I decided to give the savory scones a try. To be on the safe side (in case we didn't like them) I made only half the recipe.

The bacon shrank, of course, to more manageable proportions through the cooking, leaving much of its grease in the pan and on the kitchen paper towel. And I reduced the amount of salt in the dough by half, since there was also the salt in the cheese to consider.

Three colorful add-ins: cheddar, bacon and chives

This seemed a good opportunity to use some of my white whole wheat flour, so I exchanged 42 g of the AP flour to King Arthur's white whole wheat (about 17%).

Several reviewers reported problems with the crumbliness of the dough, so I added the whole amount of cream at once, and, using my favorite round bowl scraper, pushed and squeezed it, until the dough came together without falling apart again.

I find it easier to handle sticky dough on a lightly oiled, or slightly wet work surface, than on one that is sprinkled with flour. If you don't like your scones tough, you want to avoid getting more flour into the dough!

Instead of the recipe's large or miniature scones, I made medium sized ones.

Whether in his twenties, or sixties - Richard is dead for the world when he plays guitar

The kitchen already smelled good, when I cooked the bacon. But when the scones were baking, it started to smell so tantalizing, that even my husband, normally deaf for the world with his headphones and guitar, came down from the third floor to investigate.

The scones looked very appetizing, so we had one, soon as they were cooled down a bit. We looked at each other, bliss in our eyes - and had another one...

 What a pity that I didn't make the whole batch!

Fresh from the oven

BACON-CHEDDAR-CHIVE SCONES    (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
(8 large, 12 medium, or 16 mini scones)

200 g/7 oz all-purpose flour
  42 g/1.5 oz white whole wheat flour
   1/4 tsp. salt, (down from 1/2 tsp.)
    1 tbsp. baking powder
      2 tsp. sugar
  57 g/2 oz cold butter, cut in small pieces                 (1/2 stick)
114 g/4 oz cheddar, very coarsely grated or cubed    (1 cup)
  15 g/ 1/2 oz chives or scallion tops, snipped            (1/3 cup)
226 g/ 1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
200 g/7 oz heavy or whipping cream (more as needed)
more cream for brushing

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

Some larger pieces of butter should remain

Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work butter into flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, with some larger pieces remaining. (Using a food processor is more clean-up than useful, the amount of butter in the flour mixture is so small.)

Mixing add-ins into flour mixture

Mix in cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.

Add cream, stirring to combine. Using a bowl scraper or your hands, squeeze dough together; if it's not cohesive, add a little more cream until it comes together.

I used a round bowl scraper to squeeze the dough together

Turn out dough unto lightly oiled work surface. For large scones, pat into a 7"/18 cm disk about 3/4"/2 cm thick. For medium and mini scones, divide dough into 2 equal pieces, and pat into 6"/15 cm disks.

For medium scones, cut dough disks into 6 wedges

Using a bench knife, transfer disks to prepared baking sheet. For large scones, cut big disk into 8 wedges. For medium or mini scones, cut the 2 smaller rounds into 6 or 8 wedges each.

Before they go in the oven, brush scones with cream

Spread wedges a bit apart on the pan. (At this point you can also refrigerate them overnight, or freeze them.) Brush scones with cream.

Bake for 22 - 24 minutes (large scones), 20 - 22 minutes (medium) or 18 - 20 minutes (mini), until they are golden brown.

Cool scones on the pan. Serve warm, or at room temperature.


To bake the next morning: Place shaped, but unglazed (!) scones with the baking sheet in a big plastic bag, and refrigerate them overnight (don't brush them with cream!) When you bake them cold, they will take a little longer.

To store them in the freezer: Put shaped, but unglazed (!) scones on the baking sheet in the freezer. When frozen, place them in a freezer bag.

If you are ready to bake them: Place frozen scones on baking sheet, brush them with cream, and bake in a preheated 425°F/220ºC oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until they are golden brown.