My husband loves that my family comes from Germany and truly has embraced it into our lifestyles. This is a true blessing considering many people of different backgrounds will lose their ethnicity that our ancestors so truly wanted to hold on to when they were alive. Although my family is not strictly German, my one grandmother’s side came from England (but I believe was originally from Germany), I do try to keep a little tradition in our family from “the old country”. My parents do not do this tradition but I feel it is important to me and my future children. If we don’t understand where we came from, then how will we know where to go?
Some of my fondest memories as a child were going to my great grandmothers’ farm during the holiday season to visit with family and friends. This ritual soon passed as my great-grandmother passed on at a very old age but I still hold on to those memories. My fondest memory of my great-grandmother during these times was that she was a strong woman that would yell at her children and grandchildren in German. I’m not sure if she lost her second language of English as she grew older or not but the story goes that she actually was too ornery to speak English, even though she was fluent in both. My personal opinion of the situation was that she was a proud German woman and she wanted to hold on to her last German roots and pass it on to her children. For this reason, my cousin Kathy and I both took German when we were in high school. We actually instigated the induction of a German club and grew class attendance.
So, when my husband announced he had found a recipe for German Spelt Bread Dinkelbrot, I was thrilled he understood my stance on my German roots. Not only was it a vegan recipe but also contained nutritional yeast! (My personal favorite product!!!!) I quickly made the recipe at home while he was at work and oh did it bring back childhood memories with my grandmother. German bread is not a sweet pastry but rather dense, savory bread that is hard to pass up. This recipe was perfectly constructed and smelled like my grandmothers house when I was a young girl.
The original recipe comes from The Fresh Loaf Website and was submitted by a German Exchange Student (something that I always wanted to do but never got to Germany) and his German grandmother.3 1/4 c spelt flour 1c warm water + 1tbsp 3 1/4 tsp salt 2 tsp anise seeds 2 tsp caraway seeds 1 c nutritional yeast 1.5 tsp instant yeast 1 tsp honey Autolyse and Yeast Proofing: Mix water and flour in bowl until flour is hydrated, and set aside for 30 minutes. Mix a small amount of flour with 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast, and the honey. Let sit for about 1/2 hour until it foams up. When I did this, the foam about doubled or tripled in volume and was very foamy. Mix and Knead: Mix in salt, spices, nutritional yeast flakes, the contents of the cup with the yeast, flour, water, and honey and mix in mixer or by hand. I found the dough a little dry at this point, so I added just a touch of water to facilitate mixing the ingredients. The dough was fairly stiff but somewhat sticky, even after the addition of a small amount of water. I kneaded it for just a couple of minutes to fully mix all the ingredients and to bring the consistency to more like a dough. The recipe Marcel’s grandmother gave me doesn’t specify any kneading at all. I suspect that is correct, and that I should actually have just stopped after minimal mixing, based on a photo she sent me of what the dough looks like after mixing. Mine rose more than hers appeared to, and I think the bread may be meant to be a bit more dense than what I came up with doing what I did here. Put Bread in Loaf Pan: I greased the sides of a 9 inch glass loaf dish with butter and sprinkled pumpkin seeds onto the butter. The seeds barely stick to the sides, but they do stay in place. I then formed a stumpy batard, which I shaped in much the same way that JMonkey did in his whole wheat bread shaping video. Again, I may have done more shaping and kneading than was intended based on the pictures, as I look at them in retrospect. Marcel’s grandmother has a picture that I now see may have been more significant than I thought where she simply dumps the dough straight out of the mixer and into the loaf dish. I believe there is less kneading and mixing intended by Marcel’s grandmother than I did in my version here. Bake – No Preheat: Slash the loaf down the center, and place the dish in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 400F for 90 minutes. The bread rises nicely as the oven preheats. I forgot to slash the loaf, so I tried to do it after about 15 minutes. The crust was already forming. You can see the result from the pictures, which is not all that pretty. Sorry, it would have worked beautifully to slash before putting it in the oven, even though the oven started out cold. Oh well, I’ll do better next time. The internal temperature of the loaf was about 205F after 90 minutes, and the crust was quite thick, hard, and dark. Cool: Allow the loaf to fully cool. I dropped it out of the dish and let it cool on a rack.