Having grown up in Southern Germany left a big culinary imprint on my life. Not only do I appreciate locally made beer but I also can not imagine living my life without bread. Now when I say bread, I do not mean toast bread. I also don’t mean any types of mass-produced, bunched up slices that come wrapped in plastic. When I say bread I think of an artisan loaf with a nice crust, ideally seasoned with bread spice. I imagine a loaf that bounces back into shape when you squeeze it lightly. To me, there is nothing more delicious than freshly made sourdough or whole grain bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. I could most definitely eat that every single day and live happily ever after.
Now that I have outed myself as a finicky bread eater it might not come as a surprise to you that I am having trouble finding bread that tastes like home. It is not because I moved to the UK but mainly because bakeries are quickly dwindling in numbers due to ever-expanding supermarkets. That is quite a shame if you ask me because what is being sold in the supermarkets doesn’t compare to an artisan or home-baked loaf. I have found a few bakeries, but they are too far away to allow for daily bread buying, so I was bound to have to learn how to make my own bread. Most of all I had to learn how to make the key ingredient to be able to eat bread that tastes like home to me – bread spice.
Admittedly bread spice sounds a little bit strange for anyone who never lived in Austria or Germany. However, it is the most delicious secret ingredient in any darker bread. It is commonly used in anything that contains a minimum of 50-70% dark flour such as rye, spelt or wholemeal. There is no strict rule for how much to use in a bread loaf, but it is recommended to not use more than 1 tbsp of bread spice per 500g (1 lb) of flour. I use about 1 tsp in that ratio, but it depends on the flour so feel free to experiment and use more of it the darker the bread is. It also goes great with seeds, grains and wholemeal bread.
The whole reason why bread spice is added is to give it some depth in flavour while at the same time adding some great digestive herbs to your bread. In fact, many people in central Europe believes that this spice helps their overall health as they feel less bloated and heavy after eating bread. Fennel, coriander, caraway and aniseed are all big favourites for any dietitian around the globe as they carry great antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties while at the same time aiding the natural flora in our digestive system.
If you try this you will be enjoying yourself as soon as you open the oven door and place your freshly baked bread onto the kitchen counter – it smells fantastic! The wonderful spicy fragrance will fill your kitchen and leave guests wondering what you made. Fresh bread smells wonderful, but when you add this wondrous ingredient it will smell even better, and without going into too much detail – so will your bathroom. (Eeew.. I know…. TMI…).
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp caraway seeds
- 2 tbsp anise seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- To make the bread spice simply grind the spices into a fine powder. You can do so by either going the old fashioned way of using a pestle and mortar or by using an electrical spice or coffee grinder. I tend to use the latter because it is quicker and easier. Store the spice in an airtight jar away from heat and sunshine.