Good things come to those that wait – this is the philosophy of Bernhardt Fey who runs a bakery near where we are staying in Berlin at Knobelsdorffstrasse 39. Michael baked bread with them last Friday morning – from 3.30 am until 6, see photos.
The ones with raisins in are little animals and make children’s sweet rolls. There are croissants, poppy seed rolls; pumpkin seed rolls; sunflower seed and delicious rye loaves and multi-seeded.
This is what he says about his work (translated):
‘On 1 January 2000 I took over the bakery from my predecessors. For my customers I produce bakery products according to the traditional principles of craftsmanship. In order to guarantee a high quality I work according to the following principles:- Production of the bakery products by hand – Let the dough mature in peace – Use of high-quality raw materials – No baking mixes or frozen dough pieces;We use only sea salt – Eggs from free-range chickens; Exclusive use of flour from organic production. As a supplier of flour I have decided on Paulick’s mill in Müschen in the Spreewald. More than 100 years ago the master miller Wilhelm Paulick took over the water mill at the Greifenhainer Fliess. Driven by a water turbine, the grain is processed in the mill. The company uses state-of-the-art technology, especially in the field of grain cleaning’.
A near daily ritual is that Michael gets up early and buys fresh rolls (Brötchen; Schrippen) – that are sold out by 8.15 a.m – and we make a picnic lunch.
Then we cycle into town – me to the Goethe Institute and he to the theological library! We cycle along the 17th June street – a long boulevard, named after an uprising in the East on 17 June 1953, with huge Russian monuments and sculptures of generals – but also with a screaming woman in the middle of the street which is very powerful.
We cycle through the Brandenburger Tor. My great grandad, Jakob Julius, used to go through the middle gate on his horse in 19th century at a time when Jews were not allowed to do this at all, only the Prussian generals!
Then we are in the former east and cycle along a similar boulevard – Unter den Linden, though without as many lime blossom trees as there used to be… and past the Humboldt university where my father studied law and where a hundred years earlier my family’s professional thieves stole the contents of the safe at Christmas.
Michael is going to the local bakery next week at 3.30 a.m to bake with them!
As we’re in Berlin for a few weeks and eating lots of delicious bread, I thought I add a few facts about German bread!
i) Germany is a “Bread Paradise”, and 3050 different recipes have been registered by the county’s bakeries at the Central Association of German Bakers.
ii) On average a German eats 87 kilos, 192 pounds, of bread every year.
iii) There are about 50 bakeries to 100,000 people in Germany.
iv)The huge selection of bread is partly down to Germany’s varied climate, which allows all types of crops to thrive, together with the country’s history. Baking different varieties of bread was one of the ways the small princedoms that formerly made up “Germany” carved out an own identity.
v)There is a culture of craftsmanship in German bread making, and bakers must complete a high standard theoretical and hands-on training before becoming a Baeckermeister. Master Baker.
vi)German bread is as much part of the country’s culture as beer and BMW, and across the world has such strong reputation that bakeries supplying bread of a high standard are often called “German bakeries”.
vii) Deutsche Brotkultur not only has its own set of postage stamps, UNESCO has added the country’s bread to its World Heritage List.
viii) Bread is so much a part of Germany’s culture that for many years one of the most popular children’s TV characters was Bernd a talking loaf. “Bernd das Brot” – Bernd the Bread, was a perpetually depressed and thoroughly bad-tempered loaf of bread, but then he “emigrated” to Sweden.
It’s really called the Baker Way and is named after a Mr Baker but the name seemed too suitable to miss. A few of us walked it on Monday and were blessed with good weather. We were guided mainly by Natasha and Philip (and of course Jet & Theo) who had done it before though in the opposite direction. It’s a lovely 13 mile flat trail through forests and fields with varied scenery, including ponds, rivers and canals. A great time of year to do it too – so much blossom – cherry, hawthorn; wild garlic as well as spring animals like lambs, ducklings and foals……
This fantastic pedunculate oak tree:
And stopping for a picnic:
Through wheat fields
Reaching the Hockenhall Platts.
So maybe this is a walk we could do as a whole group of the bread circle later in the year or explore some other areas of Wirral, Cheshire or North Wales. I like the idea of regular walks ( or bike rides?) with interesting conversations and sharing thoughts and ideas…..Are others interested?
We had a lovely picnic – with delicious bread of course – in a Bethlehem like stable that we found on the island but that I’d never seen before.
Other ideas for the future – a walk through the Liverpool tunnels or the Williamson tunnels. Any particular things anyone fancies? Please let me know if so…..
Please come along on Monday, the 22nd of May for an evening with bagels and delicious toppings. The bagels will be freshly made by volunteers in the afternoon, and toppings by Moyo, chef and proprietor at Nova. We will have
agood time. Drinks on an individual pay-as-you-go basis. There will be a small charge of £5 per head for the facilities and some food. Parking in the nearby British Legion on Pensby Road. Address of the restaurant: Nova Restaurant, 68 Pensby Rd, Heswall, Wirral CH60 7RE, tel.
Many countries in Europe have an institution called Carnival, and where I come from, in Bavaria this is big! People dress up, and do all sorts off silly things, and for the carnival period an official king and queen are chosen each year. It is also big in Cologne and I was really surprised and extremely pleased when Moira came along two show me her husbands grandfather’s ‘bread order’
It is the 1954 carnival order from the ‘Pretzel Brothers’ in Cologne-Land.
I thought it was fitting for the time of the year and a nice illustrations of bread related carnival customs.
Robin Sloan: Sourdough, Atlantic books, London, 2017, 261 pp.
I am not sure how I got on to this. Someone in my family got it out of the library for me and I have now read it – cover to cover. So, I thought I’d share my impressions. I am not a book professional, so I am not sure how this would be classified, but to my mind it is a fairy-tale tragic-comic science-fiction story with a good ending. Some of us have fantasies about the better life, better food, and better sourdough bread, some of us have beliefs about that and live by those beliefs. This book takes those beliefs, puts them in the context of Silicon Valley, in the character of a software engineer specialising in kitchen robots. But at its heart the beginning of the story is about her developing an addiction to regular deliveries of spicy soup and sourdough bread, and an attachment to the young man delivering it every evening. Not far into the story, the brothers who provide the soup and sourdough have to leave because of visa complexities and give their sourdough starter to their favourite customer with a remit to take care of it, and to play it music regularly. The starter is musical itself and ‘sings’ which made me wonder what it would be like if our starter in the bread circle bakery were to sing: Depending on the music it could be wonderful! A rather touching story is told about how – never having baked anything before – the main character starts making bread in her kitchen, then progressing to building her own bread oven in the back yard of her rental apartment and selling bread as a side line to her other work – a common and familiar story in the artisan bread world that also resonates with the story of the bread circle. Unusually, her bread is characterised by having strange facial features in the crust when coming out of the oven.
The narrative develops into something fantastic and wild, merging food and futuristic technology, with some people wholly living on synthetic food compounds and with the hero eventually giving up her work to become a fulltime baker in a futuristic ‘farmer’s market’. The sourdough starter becomes an increasingly volatile and unpredictable creature, resulting in phantasmagorical events leading to an extraordinary climax.
For me it was a good read even though it lost some of its captivating magic when the story became more and more unreal and kind of American. I recommend it as good entertainment with some very realistic action that makes good fun of the more bizarre aspects of the alternative food movement. ‘A plot that makes the book a page turner and a laugh-out-louder, with sweetness and romance and tartness and irony in perfect balance.’ as someone is quoted saying on the cover.
31.3.18 Michael Göpfert