Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Senfbrot: German Mustard Bread

I have always believed that as a cook you should always go hard, or go home, so here we go! Another year filled with crusty, artisan bread, but this year with a German twist. I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I know that I will! BAKE ON! 
My first authentic german bread
Initially, my plan was to bake a Pullman sized vollkornbrot to start my year of Authentic German Breads. However, I decided that it would be much better to start with something that I have never done before. In fact, this bread has an ingredient, which I never would have even thought of putting in a bread formula, mustard. Granted, I have no idea what the mustard is like in Germany. I did my best to use strong flavored mustard, without going to the store and spending five dollars on a tiny jar of imported mustard. This bread also contains an ingredient, which I simply love to use in my breads, cheese. This bread calls for the use of gouda cheese. Since I am translating these German recipes into English, I have enlisted my two German friends, Alexander and Nicole, to help me. Alexander told me that Gouda is originally from the Netherlands, and it is named after the city where it originated. This is the fact of the day. Typically, when I bake breads with cheese, I like to use a cheese with a strong flavor, such as sharp cheddar or Parmesan. However, because I wanted to stay true to this bread's German roots, I stuck with the cheese that the formula called for. I usually grate as well as cube some of the cheese called for in bra ead. This way, the dough picks up the general cheese flavor and there are chunks of melted cheese throughout the bread. I did not use this method for this bread. I simply grated all of the cheese like the formula instructed. To be honest, I did miss the globs of cheese but I was pleased with the richness that the grated cheese imparted.

On the right you can see some of the melted cheese
Since I am using formulas from a German baking company website, they are given in very large quantities. For instance, I had to scale the recipe down quite a bit. I scaled down the first two recipes that I translated by dividing by 23. Because of this, it is possible that the mixing procedure will need some altering, as is evident in this week's loaf. 

This bread called for a pate fermente, which is made from flour, water, salt and yeast. The inclusion of salt in this preferment is what makes this one a pate ferment rather than a poolish or biga. This preferment had a much larger amount of yeast from what I am used to. In the past I have measured dry yeast by volume. Because my scale can not handle such small gram quantities (less than five grams), I am going to have to find a conversion or get my hands on a better scale. Come to think of it, my Mom has a very sensitive digital scale that she carries in her purse.  She weighs everything that she eats and is very committed to her diet. I will work on figuring out a conversion and will share it with all of you once I have the final computations. This bread called for one hour of fermentation at room temperature then the dough is placed in the fridge overnight. It is taken out of the fridge an hour before the mixing so that it can return to room temperature. In the past I have fermented pate fermente at room temp. Because this recipe uses a much higher percentage of yeast, I did not feel comfortable leaving it at room temperature.

Pate fermente prior to mixing 
The mixing protocol in this recipe is interesting as well. All of the ingredients are mixed together except for the mustard, salt and grated Gouda. This is mixed for five minutes on first speed or as the recipe indicates "gently". After this initial mix, the salt and the mustard are added to the mix. This is then mixed on 'quick speed' for five minutes. I used second speed. I have to note that I ran out of bread flour during the pate fermente stage because I had already scaled out the flour for the final dough, and I had to use 45 grams of all-purpose flour.  To compensate for this, I added some rye meal and a little all-purpose flour during the mixing on second speed. Perhaps I shouldn't have added more rye meal to this bread because it does not contain much gluten. However, I am a RYE JUNKY, and I will often make any excuse to add more rye flour to bread; particularly rye meal. After the dough was mixed for four minutes on second speed, I added the cheese and mixed on first cheese until it was well incorporated into the dough (about one minute). 

The inclusion of the gouda to the mix

I then gave the dough forty-five minutes of bulk fermentation. During this bulk fermentation, I put the oven on to preheat and to get my stone very hot. I then shaped the dough into two breads: one batard and one boule. I did this because I did not think two boules would fit on my baking stone. In the end, this did not matter because the two breads fused together in the oven anyways. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before the bread is baked, the proofed loaves are brushed with mustard, I used Nathan's Coney Island, I would have liked to use coarse ground mustard, but I did not have any. I had a hard time spreading the mustard, so I added about a teaspoon of water. In hindsight, I wish I had not done this, and just used my hands to smear.

Mustard Coating prior to baking
The next time that I bake this bread, I am going to make sure that I absolutely douse the top of this bread with a strong mustard. I used a brush this time, but the next time I bake this, I am going to literally put a ladle full of mustard on the top of each bread and I am going to smear it on with my hands. There is nothing better than finding an excuse to make a mess with your hands. This is like an adult version of finger painting, which I absolutely loved as a kid!!

Bread with mustard and sunflower seed coat
This formula called for the bread to be baked for 15 minutes at about 425 degrees, and then baked for an additional 30 minutes at 375. But, after baking for fifteen minutes, the dough was not too dark in color, so I decided to bake the bread at 425 for the entire time. I still did not get the rich dark color that I expected from the mustard, but the bread is not too far from wonderful. I only wish that the mustard flavor and aroma was a bit stronger and that I used a stronger cheese. I did speak with Alex about this and he introduced to a wonderful website on German cheeses. I like the seeds on top of the loaf, but I think that they almost detract from the intensity of the mustard. So next time I will:
1.     Use a stronger German cheese
2.     Use stronger and spicier mustard
3.     Use much more mustard on the crust of the dough. 
4.     Perhaps sprinkle some freshly cracked mustard seeds, that would give this bread a nice kick and leave out the sunflower seeds.

All in all, I was pleased with this bread. It could have used a tad more salt, but considering that it was my first attempt at a formula that I translated from German, I was very happy with the results! I look forward to many more! The next bread on my list is either Vollkornrbrot or Kontinentbrot (literally: continent bread) it is also known as three-grain bread with seeds because the seeds in this bread come from all over the world. 

Bake On


  1. Looks delicious--seems like would be perfect for grilled cheese with tomato soup!

    1. My dear, I am one step ahead of you. I made several grilled cheese sandwiches with this bread. The best part of it is; there is a loaf in the freezer just waiting to be eaten!!

  2. Bake on, indeed. This looks great. If you need a German tune to go with it - I can suggest a few :)

  3. David, I'd like to mention two things: there are 3 kinds of Gouda, young (mild, mostly eaten as cold cut), medium aged (spicier) and old (strongest.) For cooking or baking only the more aged ones are used, mostly the medium. I can get that here in Maine, never seen the really aged one, though.
    Same with mustard - there is not one authentic German mustard. You usually get medium hot or hot mustard, and it's usually not grainy. I would use, if I can get it, Löwensenf extrascharf (hot), or a hot variety of Raye's mustard, an award winning mustard from Maine.

    1. Very cool! My dear friend and pen-pal Alex, will be coming to visit me this summer, I will have him bring me some of this Löwensenf extrascharf, he is also bringing me some white lacquer cheese, which is only made by one dairy in Germany. I am so excited to bake with it.

      I would love this bread with a strong Gouda, but I am happy the way it came out, the mildness was a nice addition.

  4. I was very happy with the bread, using middle aged Gouda and a Düsseldorfer mustard I got at the Commissary. So much, that I'm planning to sell it in a smaller version (less expensive).
    We loved the taste when it was toasted - what can be better than a bread with in-built grilled cheese!

    1. I am very excited by this bread! I think I have really opened up a delightfully tasty can of worms. Wunderbar! Did you keep the cheese in chunks? If not, you should. I love the globs of molten cheese! My friend is bringing me Lacquer cheese, which is made by only one dairy in Germany! I can not wait to bake with it!