My first place in Germany was in a dormitory on a hill overlooking Stuttgart. Across the street from my front door was a tiny bakery not much bigger than my single room. I was already familiar with the bakeries in France, where thanks to fifty-cent baguettes I was able to survive on pocket change for a week, and the bakeries in Philadelphia, where they took the crusty white bread of the french bakeries and infused them with a certain
je ne sais quoi yuppie pretentiousness. But inside this tiny closet of a bakery were breads darker than I had ever seen, with a nice tight crumb and deep earthy flavors.
After years of being immersed in German Brotkultur (bread culture) and developing a love for these dark, dense loaves like Schwarzbrot (literally black bread) and Pumpernickel, I decided to dive into bread baking and have quickly fallen in love. There’s no feeling quite like the one I get opening a oven and having a cloud of steam pour out, revealing … well once I defog my glasses, a deeply browned, well risen loaf of rye. What’s more, every town and region has their own local breads and baking provides a way to discover and taste the forgotten corners of Germany.