Bread (Brot) is a significant part of German cuisine, which has the largest bread diversity in the world. Around 300 kinds of breads and 1,200 different kinds of pastries and rolls are produced in about 27,000 bakeries. Here is a quick dictionary of the most well-known German breads:
Mischbrot literally means “mixed bread” in German. It is bread made from the mixture of wheat and rye flour with sourdough. It is also known as Graubrot (gray bread) in some regions of Germany. But there’s nothing grey about this bread. It has a milder taste than rye bread and a softer, moister crumb, which makes it a good base for spreads. The majority of the breads offered in Germany are Mischbrot. A distinction is made between the categories "Rye Mischbrot" and "Wheat Mischbrot", each of which must consist of more than 50 percent of the corresponding grain type.
Here is a good example of Mischbrot -> https://breadvillage.com/collections/all/products/country-bread
Also known as Semmel or Weck, Brötchen literally means "small bread." It is a small, round to oblong roll made of wheat or rye flour. Brötchen are versatile, they can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They go well with cheese, wurst, bratwurst, as well as butter and jam.
Here’s an example for a classic Roggen (transl. rye) Broetchen -> https://breadvillage.com/collections/all/products/german-rye-roll-5-pack
Kaiser (transl. emperor) rolls or Kaisersemmel in German is a crusty light bread roll, made from wheat flour, yeast, malt, water and salt, with the top side usually divided in a symmetric pattern of five segments, resembling a crown. However, nowadays there are wide variations of shape. The suffix “Semmel” comes from the Latin “simila”, which means wheat flour. Kaiser rolls date back to at least the 1760s. They are thought to have been named after Emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I of Austria. In the 18th century a law fixed retail prices of Semmeln in the Habsburg Monarchy. Allegedly, the name Kaisersemmel came into general use after the baker’s guild sent a delegation to Emperor Josef II and convinced him to deregulate the price of these bread rolls.
Here’s a good example for Kaiser Roll -> https://breadvillage.com/collections/all/products/kaiser-roll-5-pack
The German Schwarzbrot (transl. black bread) is a whole grain bread typically made with whole meal rye flour and of a dark brown color. In fact, it’s not black, and not to be confused with Pumpernickel. Schwarzbrot often is based entirely on rye flour and does not contain wheat, which gives it a lot of fiber and good nutritional values, but it can also make it a bit dry and tough. Most Schwarzbrot recipes contain sugar cane sirup, which explains the dark color.
Pumpernickel bread refers to a special baking method where rye shreds are mixed with sourdough cultures, and the mix is left to rest for several hours. This dough is then baked in steam rooms for at least 16 hours, which causes the bread to solidify without developing a crust. This method explains the soft and moist texture of Pumpernickel. Pumpernickel has a peculiar taste and texture that is not everybody's cup of tea. It does, however, have a die-hard fan base.
Kommissbrot (transl. commissary bread) is a dark type of German bread, baked from rye and wheat flours with sourdough, that was historically used for military provisions. It usually has a boxy shape and not much of a crust, and is noted for its long shelf life. This bread is a bit of an acquired taste, because it's not exactly great bread, but it did serve a big purpose in the military and many people attach emotional value to it. Kommissbrot was used as military provisions for soldiers at the front lines, and when things got tight, sawdust was sometimes added to compensate for shortages of flour. The boxy shape was efficient, because it saved space in the oven and made the bread easier to store. The rye and sourdough gave soldiers much needed fiber and vitamins.
Bauernbrot (transl. farmer’s bread) is one of the most popular German bread types. It’s a dark bread typically made from 2:1 rye to wheat mix and sourdough cultures. The high rye content differentiates the Bauernbrot from similar US style "rye" breads that - despite "rye in their title - barely contain any rye. The reason for that is simple: Germany grows a lot of rye grain, whereas the USA does not. A good Bauernbrot is crunchy outside, soft and moist inside and loaded with flavor and nutrients. It became popular with farmers thanks to its nutritional values and long shelf life.
Here’s a good example for Bauernbrot -> https://breadvillage.com/collections/all/products/rustic-farmers-bread
The German Koernerkruste (transl. seed crust) typically refers to a Mischbrot that is loaded with seeds. The seed content of a good Koernerkruste should be above 15% and the seeds are not just on the crust, but also inside the bread. This differentiates it from US style seed breads, which tend to have much lower seed content, and seeds only on the outside and not on the inside. Seeds have good nutritional values, which makes this type of bread wholesome.
Here’s a good Koernerkruste with 21% seeds -> https://breadvillage.com/collections/all/products/multi-seed-bread
There are many more types of German breads, but these big generic types here account for a big chunk of it. Here at BreadVillage, we specialize in REAL German bread, baked in Germany and brought to the US flash-frozen, and we ship nationwide.
If this article has piqued your appetite, then click here to place your order.
Thank you so much for this very wonderful information. I have one question! Will you ever be able to get any bread from Germany for those of us who have gluten intolerances? I will have retesting next November for my severe allergies to the environment and will have them check me for both wheat and rye breads. The breads we have had from you al are so good that it is so difficult for me not to eat them. I can do sourdough and rye better than wheat so there may be some of your breads that are better for me. I got the sampler box several times as my husband was born in Berlin in 1938 and I also remembered all the Broetchens I had over there. Blessings, Carol Ann