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Category Archives: Bread

Brot Torten

Here are two recipes for a Brot Torte.  The word “torte” translates in Google to either cake or pie.  Research informed me that the word “torte” comes from the Italian word “torta,” which means a round bread or cake. In Europe, most cakes are called tortes, however, a French torte may be called a “Gateau”. A torte can have layers, but might not. Cakes also can have layers, but angel food cake and bundt cake do not have layers.  A torte can have a sweet icing like a cake, but if you are making a French torte it might not have any icing at all.

When comparing tortes and cakes, a cake is lighter than the torte. Cakes are probably made with cake flour which makes them very light because of the gluten content of cake flour. In order to make a more dense cake or torte, some of the flour has to be substituted with something heavier than the flour. Often, the substitute is almond meal or some other nut meal, but sometimes breadcrumbs are used. Nut meal adds density because it is heavier than the flour and it adds oil to the batter as it cooks. Nut meal also adds flavor to the torte.

These recipes add breadcrumbs to the batter.  The #1 recipe doesn’t list sugar as an ingredient but directions mention sugar. I decided that the chocolate must be a sweet chocolate used instead of sugar.  Since no flour is listed, I decided that the sweet almonds was actually almond meal.  I bought some at Trader Joe’s once but never really found a use for it.  The directions indicate the sugar and egg yolks should be stirred for 1 St. or 1 hour……that’s a long time, even if you’re only stirring by hand and not beating with an electric mixer.

Mom made some really dense breads one year so maybe this is what she was aiming for.  They almost had the consistency of a fruit cake, especially if she added raisins, dates or citron.  I must say they made some nice clean slices.


Brot-Torte Nr. 1

8 Eigelb, 4 Eier, 100 gr. geriebene Schokolade, ½ süße Mandeln, 100 gr. geriebenes Schwarzbrot 20 gr. Zitronat, 8 gr. Zimmt, Stange Vanille 10 gr. Nelken, ¼ abgeriebene Zitronenschale, 2 Eßl. Rum, 2 Eßl Backpulver, Eigelb u Zucker werden 1 St. gerührt, nach u nach die Mandeln, Schwarzbrot, Rum, Gewürze, Backpulver u zuletzt den Eischnee dazugegeben, 1 ½ St. backen.

Google Translate:
Bread Cake # 1

8 egg yolks, 4 eggs, 100 gr grated chocolate, ½ sweet almonds, 100 gr grated rye bread 20 g candied lemon peel, 8 gr cinnamon, vanilla stick 10 gr cloves, ¼ lemon zest, 2 tablespoons rum, 2 tbsp baking powder , yolk u sugar are stirred for 1 St., according to the u almonds, brown bread, rum, spices, baking soda u recently added the beaten egg whites, 1 ½ hours baking.

My Interpretation:
Bread Torte #1
8 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
100 gr sweet chocolate, grated
50 gr almond meal
100 gr grated rye bread
20 g candied lemon peel
8 gr cinnamon
vanilla stick
10 gr cloves
¼ lemon zest (grated lemon peel)
2 tablespoons rum
2 Tablespoons baking powder

Separate eggs and whip the whites until stiff. Combine chocolate (instead of sugar?) and yolks and beat until quite creamy. for 1 hour. Then add almond meal, brown bread crumbs, rum, and spices. Fold in egg whites. Bake for 1 ½ hours.


Brot-Torte Nr.2

Man rührt 100 gr. Zucker zu Sahne, gibt nach u nach drei ganze Eier, ½ kg braunen Zucker, ½ kg geriebenen Zwieback u 1 l Milch hinzu. Dann mischt man 500 gr Mehl, 2 Pakete Backpulver u 2 Messerspitzen Zimmt durch den Teig u läßt ihn ½ St. stehen, der Zwieback weichen kann, füllt ihn in die Tortenform u backt ihn 1 St. Man überzieht ihn mit weißem Zuckerguß

Google Translate:
Bread Cake No.2

Stirring 100 g sugar to cream are added to u after three whole eggs, ½ kg of brown sugar, ½ kg grated biscuit u 1 liter of milk. Then you mix 500 g flour, 2 packages yeast u 2 pinches cinnamon through the dough u let him stand ½ St., the biscuits can differ, it fills u in the cake pan bakes him 1 St. He covers with white icing

My Interpretation:
Bread Torte No. 2
Stir 100 g. sugar into three whole eggs and beat until creamy.  Add ½ kg of brown sugar, ½ kg bread crumbs and 1 liter of milk.  Then mix in 500 g. flour, 2 packages yeast and 2 pinches cinnamon.  Let the dough rest ½ hour or pour it in a cake pan.  Bake 1 hour.  Cover with white icing.



Solving the Blätterteich puzzle was fun.  The literal translation of “Blätterteich” is “leaves pond” which makes no sense, but it actually refers to Puff Pastry. My first search let me to the name of a restaurant in Oldenburg, German.  I remember Mom addressing letters to “Bakum en Oldenburg”, so that got me excited, but I kept getting the same translation about “leaves pond”.  Eventually I found a YouTube video in German that had “Blätterteich” in its title but it showed the process of making puff pastry.

Puff pastry is a light, flaky pastry containing several layers cold buttery. The dough (sometimes called a “water dough”)  is repeatedly folded and rolled out. The gaps that form between the layers are a result of the puff pastry rising as the water evaporates into steam during the baking process. Piercing the dough will prevent excessive puffing, and crimping along the sides will prevent the layers from flaking all of the way to the edges. 

 Making puff pastry dough can be time-consuming, because it must be rolled and chilled in 20-30 minute intervals to keep the butterfrom becoming runny; also, the rest in between the folding steps allows gluten strands time to link up and retain layering.

 Puff pastry is not the same as phyllo pastry which is also made with flour, water, and fat (but no egg) and is stretched to size rather than rolled. Usually when using phyllo dough, a small amount of oil or melted fat (usually butter) is brushed on one layer of phyllo dough and is topped with another layer. This process can be repeated as many times as desired. When it bakes, it becomes crispy but, since it contains somewhat less water, does not expand to the same degree as puff pastry does.

What makes Mom’s recipe a little different from classic recipes I found online was the addition of cognac.  I assume that is to help the dough rise a bit more.  In my version below, I took liberties and copied them from directions I found in those other recipes and the videoPuff pastry / Blätterteig herstellen



½ Mehl, ¼ Butter sehr harte, 1 geschlagenes Ei, Wasser, Congnack. Das Mehl wird mit ungefähr 1 Eßl. vom geschlagenen Ei, 3 Eßl. Wasser u einen Schuß Congnack zu einem Teig verarbeitet muß aber recht steif sein, dann ausgerollt die Butter darauf gelegt, zusammen geschlagen u. wieder ausgerollt, dann wieder zusammen geschlagen u. zum Ruhen hingelegt. Der Teig muß alle Stunden augerollt werden, einmal lang, einmal quer, bis die Butter alle durchgezogen ist.

Google Translate:
leaves pond
½ flour, butter ¼ very hard, 1 beaten egg, water, Congnack. The flour is with about 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg, 3 tablespoons water u a shot Congnack made ​​into a dough but must be quite stiff, then the butter rolled paid to beat up and rolled out again, then beaten and laid to rest. The dough must be eye rolls all hours, one long, one crosswise, until the butter has pulled all.

My Interpretation:
Puff Pastry

1/2 kg flour
1/4 KG Butter, very hard
1 beaten egg
3 T. Water
1 shot Cognac

With your hands, knead 10% (50g) of the flour with the butter and form into a block. Put on a plate and put in the fridge while you work on the dough.

Dump remaining flour in a mound; make a well in the center of the mound with a glass. Crack an egg and dump in the well then with a fork, use a whisking motion, gradually incorporate the well’s sides into the water. When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Adjust the water & flour as needed. Try to knead as little as possible. Puff pastry likes lazy kneaders.

Working the dough:
1. Pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block.

2. Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square, so that the butter corners are pointed at the middle of the dough sides. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.

3. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Remember to keep dusting with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking & tearing the layers.

4. Size up your rectangle visually into 3. Fold one-third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Relax, read the paper, check email, whatever you like.

5. Roll out to 1/2″ thick and repeat the fold. Don’t forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total five roll & folds.

6. After the last fold, roll the rectangle out to about 3/4″. If it is difficult, put dough in the fridge for a bit to relax the gluten. If using immediately, cover, rest in fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed. If it’s for later, cut into sections big enough but that still fit easily in your freezer (usually just in half), layer with wax paper between sections, freezer bag it, & store until needed.

You can use this pastry to make breads, pies, cakes, cookies, etc., so shaping and baking is dependent on your final product.

German Fruit Bread (Hutlesbrodt)

Mom made bread every week, usually the white kind.  As a little kid I thought the very best bread was the insides of a slice, still a little warm from being baked.  Occasionally Mom made raisin bread which was darker and rather bitter…too much so for my little kid palate.  Sometimes she even went so far as to add citron or candied fruit.  “Gross,” was my humble opinion.  Why would anyone do that?  Well, from these clippings I’m going to assume it was something she grew up with in Germany and was something festive that you made at Christmas time.  I wonder if she thought these were “Yummy” or just made her nostalgic for the old country.  

In the first clipping, Farm Gal from Nebraska spells it “Hutlesbrodt”.  I empathize with her for trying to figure out how to spell a German word passed down by word of mouth, but never in print.  The second clipping is closer to what I found when I researched it.  I found that the term is Swabian German: “Hutzelbrot”. The name comes from a type of bread that contains dried pears (“Hutzeln”). Incidentally, if a person spoke “Swabian German” that was a dialect from the south of Germany.  My parent always told me “We speak Low German.  Low German is what you speak at home, but High German is what they teach in school.”  High German (Hochdeutsch) is taught in schools and it’s what you hear when you turn on the TV or the radio. Low German is what people talk at home, it’s kind of a slang and it varies from region to region.

Two Recipes for Old German Fruit Bread

Dear Hope:  I am sending two Hutzel Brod recipes that Clare from Kansas requested.

No. 1 Hutlesbrodt (an old German recipe)

Make a coffee cake batter as follows:
1 quts warm water
1 package yeast, dissolved
4 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt.

Mix with enough flour for a soft batter.  Soak 1 pound dried prunes.  Cook slowly till tender.  Sweeten and cool.  Remove seeds from prunes.  Have enough juice on them  for 1 cupful.  Add:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Nuts, as many as you like (pecans or hickory nuts preferred)

Mix all into soft dough.  Mix stiff like bread.  Let rise once, then form into loaves.  Let rise again and bake at 350 degrees.

I clipped this recipe out of a paper or magazine just as it reads here.  I have never tried it.  So you will have to use your own judgment on amount of flour to use and how long to bake.  I suppose about an hour.

No. 2 Hutzel Brod:
I clipped this one from somewhere too, and have baked this.  This German fruit bread is delicious, keeps well and makes an excellent holiday breakfast dish.

Stew 2 pounds prunes, 2 pounds dried pears (I would prefer dried apricots), each by itself.  Pit, drain, and cut the fruit, saving the juice of each.

1 pound raisins
1 pound currants
1/2 poud almonds, shredded
1/2 pound walnuts chopped
4 ounces citron
4 ounces orange peel
4 ounces figs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon anise seed.

Make your sponge from 6 pounds flour, warmed.  Wet it with 1 quart fruit juice.  Add 2 cakes compressed yeast, work it and set it to rise.  When light work in:
Another 1 quart fruit juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 wine glass brandy or sherry
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt

Now add all the rest of the fruit.  Knead well, let rise, then make into loaves.  Let rise again, and bake in a very slow oven.

This is an old German recipe and makes twelve loaves.  Try giving Hutzel Brod for unusual gifts.

Just a reminder about these recipes.  It seems to me there is an awful lot of liquid for the sponge.  I wonder if you couldn’t use less, but the same amount of yeast, and not quite as much fruit or flour.  I am going to try it that way.

Here is a good way to cook the prunes.  Night before using, wash prunes, put in large jar or crock, pour boiling water over just to cover.  Cover tightly and let set overnight.  Next morning put over low heat and just simmer, don’t boil, for about 20 minutes.  Add very little sugar, and they are really good.  — A Farm Gal from Nebraska.

Why Make Wine?


May’s Three-Day Buns

Here’s a clipping from Hope Needham’s column.  Good old-fashioned ingredients.  Do a little each day and at the end something delightful!  I must say the measurements are rather vague.

 Fresh yeast might be even more hard to find today at the grocery store.  An on-line search indicates it is not dry and if you buy it and keep it for six months it is not what she is talking about. So, you’re looking for fresh or compressed yeast, not dry; besides, I don’t think the dry stuff would last through three days. It’s way too active. This is what “Loves to Cook” indicates you can get from professional bakers and pizza places. You might find it in cube form in the dairy section.

May’s Three-Day Buns

Dear Hope: Stir a yeast cake (you can get a lot of fresh yeast very cheaply from the bake shop–wrap it in foil and keep in refrigerator) into a half a cup of warm water.  Add a spoonful of sugar.  Do this in the evening, and in the morning add enough flour to make a soft batter or dough.  Let rise all day in a cool place adding 1/4 cup sugar or more, 2 cups cold water and 1/2 cup lard.  In the evening after supper, add a little salt and flour enough to make a stiff dough.  Knead well, let rise an hour, then make into buns set well apart in pan.  Butter tops well.  Let rise all night and bake first thing in the morning about half an hour in a 375 degree oven.l  These are so nice for breakfast, to serve at club, etc.  Don’t cover at night, but remember to butter well.  They are so light they will fall if jarred.l — Loves to Cook, Iowa.

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