The Zell am See-Kaprun region is visited mainly for skiing in winter and for hiking in summer. However, there are also other activities on offer to diversify your stay in this beautiful corner of Austria. One of them is a bread baking workshop.
It is not hard to eat bread but to bake it
Master baker Günther Katschner will certainly agree with this German proverb. He uses a 200-year-old oven for baking, and several experiments were needed before Günther figured out how the oven responded to the effects of the weather.
The old stone oven has stood here on the small square (Kirchplatz) for 120 years. Around half past four in the morning, they start filling it with wood. To heat the inside of the oven up to 300°C, about 80 kg of wood are needed. The desired temperature is reached in almost five hours.
In the vicinity of the oven, there are wooden houses, typical for this region. In one of them (Steinerbauenhaus), which is already 400 years old, Günther and his parents were expecting our group. First, they sent us all to wash our hands – not only because of the pandemic but mainly because we came here to learn to bake bread. Günther’s mother mixed vanilla cream in a large pot on the stove and, for a moment, I was taken back to my childhood, specifically to the school canteen, when we were all looking forward to ducat buns for lunch…
At the workshop
In the second room, everything was already prepared – floured tables, scales, small round baskets and even sourdough dough, which they make from local ingredients. The dough is aged for 12 hours, 9 hours in the refrigerator and 3 hours at room temperature. Günther and his father poured a huge mass of dough on the table, tore off larger pieces, threw them on the scales – either added more dough or removed some and then threw the 650-gram-pieces to us for further processing.
We kneaded the dough with our hands, then bend it inwards in four movements and placed them into the basket with the floured side down. It was interesting to see, as the rule applies here, that when two people do the same thing, it is not the same thing. Some loaves were less floured, others more, and some looked like the surrounding hills with fresh snow.
Then our desks were sprinkled with semolina and another dough landed in front of us – a sour, airy dough made of whole wheat flour ground very finely. From the dough (450 g), we formed oblong pieces and twisted both ends against each other. This bread is called Wurzelbrot (Wurzel means root) in Austria because its shape resembles the twisted roots of a tree. We placed the pieces of bread in oval baskets and again it was interesting to see how they were the same, yet at the same time different.
Baking bread has its exact timing. The oven was heated, “our” breads were laying prepared in the baskets. Now, the furnace had to be cleaned quickly. By the time his father swept the inside of the oven, Günther was already carrying the baskets with the round loaves of bread and placing them on a large wooden table in front of the oven.
Then, they dumped two loaves on a wooden shovel, quickly rubbed their surface with a wet brush and shovelled them into the oven. First to the edges, because the middle is the hottest place and the bread could burn there. The oven can hold up to 75 pieces of bread.
First, we should thank God for the bread, then ask him for cakes (Russian proverb)
For our work, we were rewarded with a sweet bun with vanilla cream, which had smelled so tempting before. Yum! There was also a small market with various local specialties. The bakery offered an excellent Linzer cake straight from the plate.
Locals know that the oven is fully operational on Friday, they come, gossip with friends and wait for fresh bread. Günther started pulling the baked loaves out of the oven, the grooves in the basket had created a characteristic pattern on them, they had a beautiful color and smelled wonderful. But first, his father knocked at each one to see if it was baked over inside. If the sound was dull, the bread had yet to return to the oven.
The temperature in the oven dropped to 220°C, so the elongated pieces of bread, reminiscent of tree roots, could be put into it. When they were baked, the temperature dropped so much that the oven could be filled with all sorts of sweet pastries that had been waiting their turn in the van.
Give bread to everyone, but don’t eat it with everyone
Of course, we had to taste “our” bread right away. After all, what can taste better than fresh, hand-baked bread from local, honest ingredients? Bread is one of the oldest and most important staple foods since the hunter had become a tillage man.
More information about the bakery and workshops: Bäckerei & Café Gugglberger
It was a pity that we were already pressed for time and couldn’t wait for the “root” bread to finish baking. I’ll probably have to bake it myself. And you can try it too because Günther also shared his recipe with us.
So at least quickly a crumb into my pocket, because: Whoever carries a crumb of bread with them in their pocket, are going to be doing well everywhere and not even money will be stolen from their pocket! 🙂
Wurzelbrot – Recipe
1 kg of whole wheat flour
5 g yeast
22 g of salt
680 g of cold water
Knead the dough briefly and let it mature in the refrigerator for 16-24 hours.
the pre-prepared dough (total 1,700 g)
1 kg of wheat flour
50 g of olive oil
800 g of cold water
In total, we should have 3,540 g of dough. Knead it intensively and let it rest for 4 hours. Then divide into smaller pieces, form elongated twisted shapes and bake at 240°C, with the temperature dropping to 200 ° C, for 30-40 minutes.
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri