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My typical German Feinbrot was originally made with old dough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                                            


  1. They look great! I always use left-over pizza-dough for my next batch, since then the dough turns out so well, I won't even need a rolling pin but can shape the pizza with my hands..

  2. I can imagine that the old dough method works great for pizza, too. Thanks for that information, I'll keep it in mind next time I make pizza!

  3. G'day! WOW, these look great, true!
    Bread making is something I continue to learn about too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    What's On The List

    1. Joanne, I see you enjoy trying out something new, too. My to-do list grows everyday!
      Happy Baking,

  4. beautifull!!!! thank's

    1. Thanks, Sandra (and keep the good Panissimo works up!)

  5. Great post. Loved reading your post. Bookmarking it for reference :)

  6. Thanks for visiting!
    You posted a severely addictive recipe for Roasted Almond & Chocolate Cookies - how did you know my preferences?

  7. I thought I had commented on this a few days ago but I think my Ipad froze. Anyway, very nice Karen. I admire your courage in using such an old piece of dough but obviously it came out well.
    Nice bake Karen.

    1. You left a nice comment on the Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones, Ian.
      Yes, it was more quirky curiosity to try baking with this mummified old dough, but that's the power of old dough for you!
      Happy Baking!

  8. Your rolls look so pretty! I must learn from you to bake them....

  9. Please do! And don't hesitate to ask questions - you know where to find me, on facebook, or here.
    Thanks for visiting!

  10. Karin, as soon as I saw your Bauernbrötchen, I knew I had to try them. Baked them this morning, and they are wonderful. Thanks so much for that recipe :)

    1. You are very welcome, Ralph! I'm glad they turned out so well, and now we have at least the East and the West coast covered, maybe the rest of the US will follow :)

  11. I am so happy I came across your blogspot via "weekend bakery" I also am going to try these wonderful looking rolls...thank you for sharing all your knowledge!
    From a beginner to bread making, Helen

    1. Thanks, Helen, I'm glad you like my blog. These rolls are really great, I make them quite often, and the magic of old dough works every time.
      And, please, let me know how they turned out, if you bake them.

  12. Great rolls! I made for today's dinner. Came out moist, the "old dough" added a lot of flavor.



    1. I'm glad to hear you were so successful with your Bauernbrötchen. I always have some old dough in my fridge, just for making them (I sell those, too), and they are one of my favorites.
      Happy New Year - and if you ever have questions or need help with translating recipes from German blogs - I'm happy to help you!

  13. Looks like a great recipe. Barley malt rye is not available in the Far East where I live. I can get German dark rye, will it be OK?
    I shall follow your blog from now on.