Some of you are very diligent bakers, cooks, even brewers of your own wines and beer, while I spend comparatively little time in my kitchen. That is one reason why you do not find that many posts under the label "Recipes" on this blog. But the other day, I made my own bread:
Well... to be honest, all I did was dip my hands in cold water, then into a large bowl of dough, grab some of it and knead it a bit into shape. Everything else - from the dough-making to the actual baking - was done for me by professionals.
But let me begin at the beginning.
Two weeks ago, I organized a guided tour behind the scenes at my hometown's most traditional bakery. This bakery has been in the same family for over 100 years, and they have been in Ludwigsburg just as long. From humble beginnings in just one house in the town centre, they now have 9 branches dotted all across the various town quarters plus the place where all the dough-making and baking is done. This is where we had our tour, with a hands-on part.
The owner's son and one of the 10 full-time bakers they employ greeted us with glasses of champagne for everyone:
We were shown the entire process from getting the right flour to the finished product. In the above picture we were shown the computerized scales for some of the recipes. For many of the doughs, we were told, the ingredients are mixed without the help of such detailed scales; the dough master (yes, that is a job description!) "feels" it when the mix is right.
A friend of mine getting her share of dough out of the mixing bowl, and the first batch of hand-shaped loaves ready to be put into the oven.
We also made Brezeln and Seelen ("souls"): bigger than a roll, smaller than a loaf of bread. You can see me and my Mum there in the back.
Our "master pieces" were put into the huge oven:
And after a set time, out came our bread and the other things we had made:
This truly was one of the most interesting and delightful outings I've had last month. It lasted the entire evening - much longer than expected - and we all had fun and learned a lot.
The building alone was well worth seeing: Originally built in the 1960s for a bank, many of the original features have been kept. There are stylish "golden" columns in what used to be the bank's foyer and is now the largest of the many production rooms; the old treasury doors (I have never seen such hugely massive doors before!) are still there (formerly to protect the money and other valuables in the bank, now the entry to the cooling house), and because it was built during the Cold War, there is even an atomic bunker underneath - nowadays holding the flour store.
The owner's son (he has won several prizes as "Best Young Baker" etc.) and his colleague were both so full of enthusiasm for their work and explained everything so well, we were all full of admiration for them.
Next time I am tempted to buy bread at the supermarket for convenience's sake, I won't give in!