I baked Brötchen everyday for a week and here’s what happened

On her Chef’s Table episode, legendary chef Nancy Silverton said, one must be obsessed with bread to be a baker. I thought that was a bit much, but what did I know? I did not bake bread then. Fast forward a few years and here I am baking Brötchen everyday, trying to learn the nuances of bread and keeping my mind open to what water, flour, salt, and yeast have to teach me.

The first thing I made with my new Kitchen Aid are Brötchen, small rolls typically eaten for breakfast, or anytime really, in Germany. On Day 1, I used this recipe and the result were crispy, soft, but dense Brötchen that could sustain the German army.

Markus said proper German bread is dense because it is supposed to fill you up. I am not going to war though and I prefer my bread lighter. I also thought it ate too much time in the morning: preparing the dough on a foggy brain and resting it for almost two hours, plus active working time, was a lot for me.

We found an overnight recipe instead and tried it on Day 2. The dough did not rise that much on our fridge. Could it be because I only covered it with a tea towel? They still baked wonderfully golden brown with that glorious crack in the middle, but more lift is required! So in the afternoon, Markus and I looked for a large bowl with a tight lid so I can try the recipe once more, hoping for better results.

I worked with the same overnight dough for Day 3 but fermented it at room temperature and inside my new airtight bowl. The volume definitely increased! The Brötchen were lighter yet remained crispy on the outside and pleasantly chewy on the inside. I noticed the top was not as brown though, and this gorgeous crack on top was minimal.

At first, I suspected it was because a lot of steam escaped the oven before I baked the Brötchen, but after much thought – and further experimenting – it was because I was using a different brand of flour!

Remember this kids: all flour are not created equal.

It felt like I was getting closer to a Brötchen that I would like. The inside from Day 3 was great and the outside from Days 1 and 2 was lovely. Maybe it would have been simpler if I just bought the first flour and tried again, but a more important question came to mind:

What would these Brötchen do if I used instant dry yeast instead of the fresh ones from the previous days? I have never seen fresh yeast in supermarkets in The Philippines, and if Brötchen would rent space on our kitchen, it must work with dry instant yeast, too.

This was the task for Day 4, and I was delighted that it worked! I did everything the same from Day 3 and simply switched the yeast. I added some cheese on top of the Brötchen for good measure.

The buns looked great but they came out salty! It could have been the cheese, but later I realized, I added the wrong amount of salt. I halve the recipe every time since I am not feeding the army, but on this day I forgot to halve the salt. Yikes!

For Day 5, my goal was to follow the halved recipe and not eat salty Brötchen for breakfast. I also used fresh yeast again. It is so nice to work with something that is alive, even if it makes the results unpredictable and hard to control.

Sixth day! I was feeling good about Brötchen-baking. The flour I am using is still less optimal for that crack, but that is easy to fix next time we go to the grocery store. The past days, I have put something on top of my buns and decided to have a basic one again. The bite was good, but it did not look as nice as the basic ones from the first day. I guess I would be sure once I get my hands on that brand of flour and experiment further.

The last Brötchen is a diffrent overnight recipe with no resting time in the morning. I placed the dough inside the fridge on my airtight bowl but it did not rise again! The yeast is new, so I really do not know why. Is there such a thing as a too-cold fridge?

Fortunately, it still baked well. The texture was really nice – my favorite so far! No browning though. On the recipe video, no oven pre-heating was required, but it may be necessary to get a nice color on the buns. I will try this again and ferment the dough overnight at room temperature. Lots of potential with this one.

At the end of my Brötchen-baking spree, do I think I am obsessed with bread? I guess not, but I am more curious about it than ever before.

Bread is so nuanced, so alive, that there is no telling what happens if ever the slightest change occurs. Bonus points that I am working with yeast from a Kingdom that I have a lot of respect for.

Do you think a lot about the bread that you eat? There is so much that goes into it and we owe our bakers a lot of thanks. What would our days be without these rolls and slices of deliciousness? Unimaginable!

56 thoughts on “I baked Brötchen everyday for a week and here’s what happened

  1. Nice Micah! These breads are super! I would love to be your neighbor… they all look amazing!!! Ang sarap isawsaw sa kape!!!
    “Do I think a lot about the bread that I eat?”
    I certainly do!!! And whenever I encounter weird tasting bread of the same kind as the one I usually buy from the same store, I do think about the mood of the baker, perhaps he is not feeling okay? or perhaps he isn’t around so another baker did the baking for them… I do make a wish sometimes, before picking it up from the rack, “I wish, it’s the bread that I like.”
    My entire mood changes when it’s not the good bread. Hahaha… I am on Keto most times of the year and this is the worst combination — being a bread lover vs. no carb diet. Totally, a horrible combination! So the longing for bread is really hyped because it is just for the break.
    Have you watched the animé, Yakitate!! Japan?

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  2. I get rather obsessive about finding the best cookie recipes–especially when I was learning to make meringue cookies. Sometimes you just have to keep at it until success. Great job at sticking with it!

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  3. Looks and sounds delicious! I just love anything that is about bread ahah! One thing that my German friend taught me is that Germans don’t joke about their bread and it is apparently one of the things they miss the most when living abroad ahahah! I think I stil hhave to try “real” German bread but by now my expectations are very high! 😁

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      1. That’s so nice of you! 😊 I guess we are much closer now than we were when you lived in the Ph, that’s true! I will definitely let you know if I am around one day!

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  4. I love bread! I do have to limit how much I eat though – too many carbs! I made some fresh bread/rolls when I first got my Kitchen Aide mixer. Now that the weather is cooler, I’m in the mood again. I have some recipes from my Grandma that I am going to try. Good job on making all those rolls. They all look so good to me!!!

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  5. You are a bread baker, an excellent bread baker. Our grandson Nathaniel loves to bake bread. Baking and pastry is his major at university. This is his last year, and he has all academics, with no baking labs. He would envy your baking bread every day. Like you, he would work on a recipe day after day until it satisfied him.
    I question your using an air-tight bowl. By definition, wouldn’t that suppress the expansion of the gas from the yeast? All the yeast recipes I have read specify to cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap. My standard bread recipe called for oiling the dough. I used to put a little bit of oil in the bottom of the bowl, add the ball of dough, give it a turn or two, and turn the oiled side up. That kept it from drying out.
    I grew up in the Southern part of the United States. Biscuits for breakfast was the main bread. It’s a quick bread, no yeast involved. I could never repeat a recipe day after day, or the family would have revolted. Instead, I made biscuits most Saturdays when we had more time to eat. This is not in the league of yeast bread at all, but you were wondering about local breads. I do have a recipe for Angel Biscuits that everyone loves. It includes yeast with no resting or proofing time. None of these breads would compare favorably with German or French bread.
    Keep on baking as long as you don’t gain dangerous amounts of weight.

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    1. Thank you for a wonderful comment! You must have nice bread and pastries from Nathaniel all the time! I wish him all the best. Will he have to do extra school time for the lab?

      That is a good question. So far, it has worked. Actually, I am not even sure how airtight it is but it does have a lid and I see condensation on it. My main interest now is the fridge. Everytime I fermented dough inside, it did not rise. Once, it was covered with a tea towel, and the next inside my bowl.

      I would love to try your biscuits, Anne. These are very English, aren’t they?

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      1. Nathaniel lives three hours away, so he rarely cooks for us. He had all his cooking labs the first two years and got a certificate for that. He could work in any restaurant right now. The last two years he’s had courses in management and accounting.
        Biscuits are probably related to scones from Scotland, although ours are not sweet and do not have dried fruit in them. If you are EVER in North Carolina, I would love to bake some biscuits for you. Of course, that means you would have to visit us, as well. We would love that.

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        1. Love how well-rounded his schooling is. I am so curious about working in a restaurant or cafe, too. I hope to read about some of his experiences from you. And I will screenshot this invitation so you cannot take it back! Haha. I would love to have biscuits and tea with you once we make it to your side of the world. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It made me smile really big.

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          1. Nathaniel worked at a local steak house for two or three summers. He was hired to do prep work, but he worked the line a number of times. Cheesecake was one of the desserts on the menu, and he occasionally baked them. He had to follow the house recipe, so he couldn’t try anything new.
            I laughed that you thought of taking a screenshot of the invitation. It would be such wonderful fun to spend a few days with y’all.

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            1. I envy his experiences! One day, I hope to see what a professional kitchen is like. And yes, it would be cool to meet. In the past, I have met blog friends, too, and they were just like the persona in their blog. Very fun!

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          1. There are so many types of German bread and many consider it the best in the world. The first I ever tasted was a very heavy rye bread, almost black in colour. At first I didn’t like it but grew to love all sorts later. Brötchen should be light, although individual bakers will always have their own favourite recipe. Good luck in perfecting your very own version.

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            1. Thanks! I think I have tried this dark rye bread. The ones that come in thin slices from the store. I do not enjoy them very much either. But I am impressed by how much flour variety is readily available here. Not so much in The Ph.

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  6. Amazing experimentation you’re doing, I love that you’re sticking with it until you get it right! Sounds like a true bread 🥖 maker! I know nothing about it although I love to bake ☺️ Thanks for sharing about this bread journey, it sounds so creative and fun! PS I also love Nancy Silverton!

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    1. Thank you for your support. I am learning and the learning curve is high! To me, bread is deceptively simple, just water, flour, salt , and yeast, but it has a life of its own and it does what it does. What do you love to bake most?

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      1. Yeah I’m scared to start the bread journey but I may someday. I love doing cakes and cookies. And I typically follow recipes but I’m just starting to try to create my own recipes. Next up I’m going to try Black Forest cookies (chocolate and cherries) using my own recipe! Wish me luck, it’s so fun and I LOVE to eat baked goods, so… 😬🥰

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  7. It looks to me that you are a baker! Yummy yum for any of those little lo buns. I’m afraid I don’t think much about bread, I eat it and my wife says I eat too much! 🤣😋🙋‍♂️ Doh!

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