“Why bake bread?” asked me my family, after I had told them that I would rather like to go for my birthday to Roswitha Huber on the Kalchkendlalm for bread baking course and not to the wellness weekend.
“If you can bake bread, you can feed your family.”
Bread is a cultural commodity and is one of the staples. The Egyptians produced sourdough bread in bakeries more than 5,000 years ago. About Greece and the Roman Empire, the knowledge of the techniques of baking good bread came to Europe. Today there are 3197 recognized bread specialities in Germany and in 2014 the national UNESCO Commission added German bread culture to the nationwide list of intangible cultural heritage (www.brotinstitut.de).
“Nice that you have arrived well,” Roswitha Huber greets us on the Kalchkendlalm and leads us on a wintry Friday evening in the warm room. I am unsure what to expect this weekend, if I will fit into the group of bread baking enthusiasts. But the warmth of the wood-burning stove, Roswitha’s friendliness, and the fragrant warm soup lead to a relaxing evening in which we discuss what we expect from the course. Roswitha summarizes at the end:
“We want to bake the perfect bread.”
To reach Roswitha and book a course with her, I had to be pretty persistent. She never replied to my emails. Maybe I ended up in the spam folder. I often let the phone number from their website ring through to the end. When I tried again and again to reach Roswitha, her voice was suddenly in the lead. I was so surprised I was just stamming at first. I’d love to do a bread baking course with you. “Oh, the course on December 2 is already full, so I’ll just do another course on December 8,” Roswitha answered.
This is how uncomplicated this is with the “Eigenbrötlerin” whose work is shown in the documentary of the same name by Sabine Bauer. The introduction to the film is: The film pays homage to homemade bread and, at the same time, it is the portrait of an extraordinary woman.
How true. Roswitha’s bread baking course is special. Some things seem improvised. On closer inspection and a longer stay on the alpine pasture, however, it is understood that the courses on an alpine pasture require a high degree of flexibility in winter, simply because of the cold and that Roswithas Naturell is just like that. There is no scale for weighing the ingredients, no dough thermometer for measuring the dough temperature, no oven thermometer.
“Feel the dough, touch it and, above all, give it time.”
An approach that gives me courage. I now know I don’t have to buy the latest technical accessories to start baking bread. I have a grain mill, a scale, a pizza stone for the electric oven and, above all, thanks to Roswitha, the courage to experiment and the realisation after this wonderful weekend that there is no universal recipe for baking the “perfect bread.” Which we didn’t quite manage to do this weekend, thank you to God. The wood oven was already a bit cold due to weather and midday sleep-related (that was my idea), so that the top heat was missing to rise the loaves. Nevertheless, after a week the bread still tastes fantastic and you learn best from mistakes.
“Baking bread is never just a work. Never. “
When baking bread at home, the handles must now adapt to the conditions in my household. The first steps have already been taken: “Thomas”, our sourdough starter from the Kalchkendlalm, has become accustomed to our household and is happily bubbling. Tomorrow will be baked with love and eventually the experience will be added.