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Learn how to make delicious German Bread from a German Master Baker

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The Dining Table recently caught up with Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig, the Chief Baker at SATS Ltd, to go behind-the-scenes to see how the humble little bread roll that we get on SQ economy flights came about. Read the full story here.

Besides overseeing and making sure the travellers get fresh and delicious bread roll, this German master baker can be found teaching baking classes on weekends at local culinary schools such as Creative Culinaire located at Tiong Bahru estate. These classes have been popular with local Singaporeans and the expat community.

“We have participants who just love baking or a few who are working in hotels or restaurants,” said Thomas. He does not mind sharing his knowledge nor returning into the kitchen on his days off work. “I think it’s just fun to share your skills with others. As a Master Baker, I believe that I have a duty to share my knowledge and to develop other bakers. This is very important to me.”

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig, the Chief Baker at SATS Ltd

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig, the Chief Baker at SATS Ltd

For his courses, he discusses and plans with the culinary school. He had done a number of standard German breads and bread rolls, as well as wholesome breads. Coming up on 22 August 2015, he will be conducting a class at Creative Culinaire, where he will be teaching bread lovers how to create a number of light and fluffy German breads such as pumpkin bread, yogurt bread, platt and Viennese bread among others.

“In Germany, we have a lot of variations of different rye and wheat products. German bakers love to play around with these different ingredients and that is why we have so many types of bread – over 300 variations – across the country,” said Thomas.

Is it just German breads that he loves? No. While he admires the tastes and varieties of German breads and feels that there is still more bread recipes to discover and try out, he also loves long-fermentation French breads and Italian breads. The fermentation process develops the acids and alcohols, creating depth and textures for a delicious bread. While living and working in California once, he fell in love with the San Francisco’s popular Sourdough Bread.

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig conducting a German Bread Class

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig conducting a German Bread Class

“The interesting thing about bread is that you can play around with many ingredients beside the three basic ingredients of flour, salt and water,” said Thomas. “Herbs, spices, vegetables and even meat products can change the taste and texture of the bread.”

At his weekend baking classes, he often gets questions about the ingredients and where to get them. He recommends the German Market Place in Bukit Timah as a good source for German bread ingredients and Phoon Huat.

He also gets a lot of questions regarding the different methods – for instance the rye sourdough process which is very different from the French wheat sourdough method.

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig at one of his German bread making classes

Bäckermeister Thomas Biesewig at one of his German bread making classes

Of course the number one question in class is “why didn’t my bread come out as I expected”. “There are several factors which can cause this and I always question them about the recipe and the process to try to help them determine what had happened, and from there, I try to give solutions.”

The most important advice that he would give baking enthusiasts is this: “Most of the baking issues happen because people do not follow the recipe properly.” He explained that is not because they had skipped a step. No, it is because they had not scaled the ingredients correctly. To him, baking is about precision. Serious bakers need to scale down to the last 1 gram and use the metric system, not to be scaling in cups and teaspoon units.

For The Dining Table readers, Thomas has a recipe for a German bread to share. “I’d like to give you an easy-to-make recipe which is used by the farmers in my hometown in Germany. In the old days, farmers produced their own butter and had a lot of leftover buttermilk. They would use the buttermilk to make a fragrant and fluffy bread which complemented savoury and sweet toppings.”

German Buttermilk Bread

German Buttermilk Bread

Recipe for one loaf of fluffy German bread made with buttermilk
300g Bread flour
100g Dark rye flour
8g Salt
4g Instant yeast (or 12g fresh yeast)
300ml Buttermilk (at room temperature)
50ml Water

1. Mix all the ingredients into a dough. You can use a kitchen machine such as Kitchen Aid to mix for 3 minutes at slow speed and 4 minutes at medium speed. If you mix by hand, the dough will be good when it is released from the bowl. Cover and rest the dough for 30 minutes.

2. Form the loaf, dust it with flour and set in a proofing basket or on a baking tray lined with paper. Cover with a kitchen towel.

3. When the size has doubled, form slits in the loaf and place it in a pre-heated oven (240 degree celsius), reduce the temperature to 200 degree celsius after 10 minutes and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Put on a cooling rack after baking.

4. The loaf can also be baked in a tin without a lid. For this, the baking time has to be longer by 5 – 10 minutes.

Notes to readers: Master Baker Thomas Biesewig will be leading a hands-on German Baking class at Creative Culinaire on 22 August 2015. Class begins at 1pm sharp and should end at 6pm. Bread lovers who want to join the class, please enquire and register at http://www.creativeculinaire.com.sg/Culinaire-Courses/bread-baking/german-bread-making-yoghurt-bread-pumpkin-bread. The Dining Table is not sponsored by Creative Culinaire nor Master Baker Thomas Biesewig. We’re just mad about good food.

Joh Ju is a PR professional specialising in B2B communications for clients in life sciences and hi-technology industries. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring Singapore for unique finds and good food that can be shared with her friends, family and the odd strays in the neighbourhood.

Author: JohJu

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