Bread Spices (Brotgewürz) – The taste of real Austrian rye breads

 

My bread baking journey with The Bread She Bakes is firmly rooted in the delicious flavours of Austrian rye breads I missed so much when I moved to the UK. A lot of dark breads in Austria, Germany (particularly in the South), Switzerland and South Tyrol are made with Brotgewürz (bread spices) which are both great for the taste of the bread and also really good for your digestive system.

Bread spices (Brotgewuerz)
Bread spices (Brotgewürz)

Recipe for an Austrian bread spice blend

The basic seeds and spices used are caraway seeds, anise, fennel and coriander seeds.

Bread spice ingredients for a 1 kg loaf of bread

  • 2½ tsp of caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp of fennel
  • 1 tsp of anise
  • ½ tsp of coriander seeds

You can also experiment with small quantities of allspice, fenugreek, sweet trefoil, celery seeds and cardamom – or just use one of these ingredients for your bread e.g. just caraway seeds or just coriander seeds. The taste of your bread will be very different depending on your bread spice choice.

Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds
Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds
Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds
Anise seeds
Anise seeds

How to make a bread spice mix (Brotgewürzmischung)

Put everything together into a coffee & spice grinder or just use a pestle and mortar to crack and crush the seeds.

The finer you crush or grind the spices, the subtler the taste.  You can use all of the spices whole if you like.

Bread spice whole
Bread spice whole

How to use bread spices

Simply add the spice mix to the dough ingredients. I usually use bread spice in dark breads made with 50 – 70% rye flour, 2 tablespoons of bread spice per kg of flour.

If you make larger quantities, keep the bread spices in an airtight container but it’s way better to make a fresh portion every time you need it!

Why not bake this delicious Austrian Hausbrot with your freshly assembled Brotgewürz 🙂 Enjoy!

Wholemeal, Wholewheat, Wholegrain Flour… Confused?

 

Depending on the recipe you use, where you live and where you shop, flour can be named differently.

In general, wholemeal, wholewheat and wholegrain flour all refer to unrefined flours i.e. flours which are made of the whole grain (including bran, germ and endosperm). Note that wholewheat refers to flour made from wheat, while the terms wholemeal and wholegrain can also refer to other varieties of grain e.g. rye, spelt or buckwheat. Wholewheat could therefore also be described as wholemeal made from 100% wheat.

Refined (white) flours on the other hand only contain the endosperm of the grain (the bran and germ are removed) helping these flours to keep longer. However, by removing bran and germ, the flour also loses valuable nutritional components such as fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Brown flour uses a proportion of the whole grain, but usually not 100%.

There are regulations in place (“The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998” in the UK for example) which specify that four vitamins and minerals must be added to all white and brown flour (not wholemeal) to ensure the population still has an adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals even if they chose not to eat wholemeal. The process is called flour enrichment. The added nutrients are calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin which occur naturally in wholemeal but are lost in white, and to a certain extent brown flour. One key difference remains: refined flours are missing the dietary fibre of wholemeal.

The term wholemeal is more commonly used in the UK, while wholewheat and wholegrain are terms more frequently used in the US.

There are exceptions to this rule of course. I frequently buy Gilchesters Organics wholewheat flour (produced in Northumberland in the UK).

Gilchesters Organics Stoneground Organic 100% Whole Wheat Flour
100% Whole Wheat – Gilchesters Organics Flour

To make things more complicated (in the US in particular), you might come across white wholewheat flour. White wholewheat is made using whole white wheat grains while regular wholewheat is made from red wheat grains. White wheat is a type of wheat which has no major genes for bran color. White wholewheat is a lighter flour with a finer texture and milder flavour compared to regular wholewheat. Nutritionally, the two types of wheat are very similar.

Note that due to the different climate/agronomy, the wheat varieties grown in the UK differ to the wheat types in the US.