Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kontinentbrot: Continent Bread

My German friend, Alex, and I were discussing whether this bread should be translated as continent bread or continental bread. Alex thought it was best to translate it as Continent Bread because continental has another meaning in the American Culture. I explained to Alex that, by dictionary definition, continental means coming from main land Europe. However, for some reasons in the United States we think continental means, "free breakfast", which I find very funny! I am not sure how that came to be, but, none-the-less, we will refer to this bread as Kontinentbrot from now on. I hope that this will reduce any confusion and will keep my quest of making German breads as authentic as possible. 

Alex and I both believe that this bread is referred to as kontinentbrot because it contains four different kinds of seeds, which come from different parts of the world. This bread recipe called for pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds. It called for a Brühstück soaker, which is a soaker made with hot water and is only given 1-3 hours to mingle. The word brühen means to pour hot water over something. 

There is another kind of traditional German bread soaker, a Quellstück, which is allowed to sit overnight. Quellen means to allow something to soak until it becomes plump. To be honest, even though this bread called for a Brühstück, I was going to make a Quellstückand allow it to rest overnight. However, I forgot, so two hours before I baked the bread I prepared a Brühstück. 

One thing that I do not like about quick soakers is that they are not loose and light, but tend to be very dense and heavy and have to be broken up considerably during the mixing process. Another thing which contributes to the heaviness of this bread is the use of oats, which become lost when a hot soaker is used.

I did make a few adjustments to this bread, mainly in the soaker. I removed the sesame seeds and replaced them with additional pumpkin seeds. I am not a huge fan of sesame in or on bread. I actually would prefer poppy seeds, but I decided to use pumpkin seeds in this bread. Normally I would bump up the sunflower seeds, but I was in the mood for that heavy, almost bitter, pumpkin seed flavor. 

Rather than simply placing the raw seeds into the soaker, I toasted the sunflower seeds and the pumpkin seeds before incorporating them. I did not toast the flax seeds because when you toast them they tend to jump and fly all over the place and you end up with a huge mess. I simply used raw flax seeds. 

I recently re-fed my sourdough rye starter, but for some reason it seemed to be much heavier than usual  I think that I may have used rye meal by mistake, and as a result it seemed a little slow. It is also possible that my starter was affected by my house being rather cool. Luckily, this formula has a small inclusion of yeast, which helped the dough to rise in a relatively short time. I don't think that this bread got as sour as it could have gotten, but I cannot complain because I was very pleased with resulting bread. 

I also use my brand new couches or basket covers for the first time, I would like to thank Kelly's wonderful mom Carla, for them! I will use them well! You can see in this photo that the basket covers do leave a cool texture on the bread. 

Another aspect of this bread that is different, is that it is not scored or slashed. In lieu of scoring, it is allowed to rise with full exposure to the air. This allows the bread to dry and slightly crack. Perhaps I could have given this bread more time to dry out at room temperature, but I was eager to bake this bread. With the Sabbath coming and my Mom needing to use the oven to roast two chickens and some butternut and buttercup squash, I went ahead and baked this loaf a bit quicker than I wanted. Since this bread was not scored, and it did not have time to fully develop, it cracked along the lower side of the boule. Actually, I think that it added a lot of character to the finished product. 

This is not a bread for the faint-hearted. It is a heavy bread with close to 75% whole grain once the sourdough and soaker are included. Also, it is not an open loaf. It is dense and absolutely full of seeds. After all was said and done, the heaviness and toasted seeds contributed an immense amount of flavor and texture to this wonderful German bread. 

I will certainly bake this bread again. Perhaps the next time I will include the sesame seeds in the mix and I will use medium rye flour in the final mix and use whole rye in the sourdough build and soaker. I think these changes might give the loaf a slightly lighter texture and flavor.  My readers and followers should know by now that I am not one to hide my rye. I want that rye flavor to be upright and in your face! I want those who eat this bread to be able to taste every ingredient that I used!

For the original formula go here.
But here is the hearthbakedtunes version:

Rye Meal
German Rye Starter

Rye Meal, coarse
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds

Final Dough
Rye flour
Bread flour
Sourdough build

 Bake On!
-DW, The Bread Barron


  1. I love the linguistic and cultural discussion at the beginning! (of course) It's very interesting to try to figure out how things got their names. I like the idea of the seeds coming from the different continents, although I think this might be what's called a 'folk etymology'--a derivation that sounds like it works but isn't what happened. But who knows! I googled Kontinentbrot and you're the first thing that came up, so...I guess that means you're the expert!

    I also really like the chart, nice job with that!

    1. I take that as the worlds largest compliment! Bake On!

  2. It never occurred to me that Americans have come to think "continental breakfast" means "free breakfast", but you could be right. In mainland Europe (the "continent"), breakfast was typically made up from a collection of breads, cheeses, meats, pastries, coffee, milk... A "continental breakfast" meant that you would have this informal offering, as opposed to a hot-cooked meal (as was typical in England). But you know how Americans tend to make the cheap, mediocre, and/or ordinary sound like more than it is for marketing purposes. So unfortunately, many hotels have taken the very lowest possible incarnation of the continental breakfast -- the packaged Danish pastry (there's another corruption) -- and offer it up as their version of what really is a hearty and delicious meal.

  3. Thank you - gathering ingredients. Do you have a preference for sourdough starter? I've seen so many versions.

    1. Susan, I am happy to instruct you on my method of building and maintaining a sourdough starter. When starting off make sure you do all the feedings, once the starter is strong and powerful, you can keep it in the cooler and only feed it when you need to build it up. Rye starers are tough, they can go long periods of time with out feedings. Best of Luck and Bake ON!!

      Day One:

      450 gram Whole Rye Flour
      450 gram Water

      Mix ingredients into a smooth paste and cover with plastic, allow to sit in warm area for 24 hours.

      Day Two:

      225 gram Initial Mix
      225 gram Whole Rye Flour
      225 gram Water

      Mix and let stand for 24 hours

      Day 3-6: Two daily feedings

      225 gram Initial mix
      225 gram Whole rye flour
      225 gram Water

      On the seventh day the starter should be ready to bake with.

      I like to use a 1 pint Ziploc container, rather than plastic wrap but you can use whatever works for you.

      Let me know if you have questions.


  4. Great bake - as usual, David!
    I had to smile when I read your "continental" discussion. I always thought, a "continental breakfast" meant a meager coffee/tea-toast kind of a breakfast, as opposed to a full bacon-and-egg-pancake thing.
    You wonder about the name "Kontinent"brot? I can assure you there were just some bakers who needed a new, fancy name for their bread, because calling them just after what's in them becomes repetitive. If they bake more than one many seed bread, they need different names to discern them. There is absolutely no historic background to this.
    Only breads named after a place CAN (but need not) be traditional breads typical for this area, like Hannover Gerster, Paderborner etc.
    They baked this loaf seam side up, so that it could naturally split without being scored.

    1. Karin,

      I am glad you got a laugh! I am always happy to bring a smile to another bakers face!