In many parts of Europe, bread is an integral part of the diet. In Austria there are so many popular breads that I could make a different bread every day for a fortnight (2 weeks) and never repeat. That is what I’ve gone for here. Using the variants mentioned, we should be able to get a month before we have to repeat!
This article focuses on Austria, but most of these are also popular in the neighboring Germany.
As we look at these breads, it is a good idea to understand the vocabulary. If you already know German, you can skip this table. If not, or if you are learning and want to improve your bread related vocabulary, please read on. Note that while in English we only use capitals for proper nouns, in German all nouns are capitalized. When referring to a German bread, I will use proper German capitals.
|Käsesemmel||Cheese sandwich (made with semmel)|
|Kleingebäck||Small breads (less than 250 grams)|
|Schinkensemmel||Ham sandwich (made with semmel)|
There are a huge number of bread products popular in Austria. Semmel and Kornspitz are the most popular, however, regional favorites, and variations make for a huge variety. Read on to learn about the many breads popular throughout Austria.
Semmel is the most popular bread in Austria. Without the addition of rye, this is one of the palest breads you will find in Austria. This roll is reasonably easy to make and is the most common roll in Austria. It is sometimes called a Bavarian Roll in other parts of the world.
This is the most common roll to use when adding meat or cheese to it. Add cheese and you have Käsesemmel. Add ham for a Schinkensemmel. Add Leberkäse for Leberkäsesemmel (Leberkäse is a unique Austrian dish similar to meatloaf, and kind of like spam).
You can also alter the Semmel shape. Make it longer and it becomes a Langsemmel (long roll). Make it bigger and it becomes a Kaisersemmel (king’s roll)
This roll, created in the 1930s by the Schmidl family in Dürnstein, is a regional favorite. Made with both wheat and rye this is a heartier roll than a Semmel. Rolling by hand on a linen cloth gives these a cracked surface that crackles while it bakes, giving it a unique flavor and texture.
Invented by Backaldrin in 1984, the hearty Kornspitz is sure to fill you up and get you through the coldest of Austrian winters. Made from a mixture of whole wheat and rye and then coated with seeds, this Austrian favorite is probably the second most popular bread in Austria. It makes a great sandwich. If you need to be filled up and kept warm, this is the bread to choose.
With a host of different seeds covering the outside, this bread is very versatile. It can be coated with poppy seeds, sunflower, oats, cheese, or many other kitchen goods.
The name can be broken into two parts. Korn means grain. In America we often think of “corn” as one particular grain that much of the world calls maize. Corn actually means grain in English as well, and can refer to the kernels of any cereal grain. Spitz means pointed. Kornspitz is typically a long roll with pointed ends.
Also called Turkish Flatbread, Fladenbrot is a flatbread that originated in Turkey, but is now popular around Austria and Germany. With millions of Turks living in Germany and possibly as many as 500,000 in Austria, much Turkish food has made roots in these Germanic nations.
There are two varieties of Fladenbrot, one flat like a tortilla and one about an inch thick and coated in nigella seeds. The flat variety of Fladenbrot is sometimes used to make a Doner kebab sandwich, which is similar to a gyro. The thicker variety is describes as being similar to ciabatta or focaccia.
Sometimes called “German Black Bread” Schwarzbrot is made with at least 90% whole rye. Schwarz means black and Brot is bread. This dark and hearty rye bread is slow baked allowing the sugars to get a good caramelization. Steam is used in the oven to keep the bread moist. In the end you have a good dense and flavorful bread.
While most modern recipes cook in as little as an hour, traditionally this bread cooked at a lower temperature for as long as 24 hours. Some of these recipes were very simple, with only rye flour, water, and yeast. Others added the complexity of other grains. This bread is similar to pumpernickel.
Many sources translate pumpernickel as fart goblin. This dense rye bread, similar to Schwarzbrot is made from a course rye flour, or a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries. While many store bought Pumpernickel relies on coloring agents to get its dark color, traditionally this was achieved through the Maillard reaction which is a chemical reaction between the amino acids and the sugars. This is the same reaction that gives seared steak its distinct and delicious flavor.
Similarly to its sister, Schwarzbrot, Pumpernickel traditionally cooked for 16-24 hours at about 250°F (120°C). This recipe from 196 Flavors calls for a 13 hour bake time, baking in jars to get a traditional round loaf.
Made with a combination of potato and bread flour, German potato bread, or Kartoffelbrot is another common bread in the Germanic nations of Germany and Austria. With a short rising and baking time, this bread can also be made quicker than many other breads.
Meaning house bread, Hausbrot is a traditional Austrian bread that uses a combination of flours, one of which must be rye. It could also include wheat, spelt, or other flours. Hausbrot is often considered a Schwarzbrot as it is a dark bread, but most of the recipes I found did not have the 90% dark that the traditional Schwarzbrot calls for.
Hausbrot is often proofed in a proofing basket called a Simperl or Gärkörbchen which gives them a beautiful swirl around the round loaf. Here is an recipe from an Austrian making this bread with her family.
Salzstangerl are a biscuit commonly eaten with breakfast or as a snack. Uses the same dough as Semmel. After rising, the dough is rolled flat and then rolled up into a cylinder roll and sprinkled with salt and caraway seeds. Serves equally well with both sweet and savory toppings.
Stollen is a German Christmas bread that has been around for more than 700 years. This bread has found its way into the English and American Christmas as fruitcake. While fruitcake is a hated bread in many kitchens, a well made Stollen can be a delight to eat.
In 1730. King August II commissioned a 1.8 ton (3600 lbs/1633kg) Stollen to be made to celebrate the might of his Saxon army. In 2013 at the annual Dresdner Striezelmarkt that years Stollen put King August’s to shame, weight in at some 4.7 tons (9400 lbs/4264 kg)
There are many variations of the Stollen including Mohnstollen with poppy seed, Nuss-Stollen with nuts, Butterstollen with extra butter, and Marzipanstollen with marzipan (a sweet made of almond flour, sugar, and egg whites).
A rolled pastry with a buttery dough and a poppy seed filling, this dish highlights one of Austria’s prize ingredients: the poppy. Poppy is grown locally in Austria, particularly the Alpine poppy which grows well in the alps. While you find poppy in many dishes, few use it as fully as this delightful dish.
Austrian sweet rolls or Buchteln should be a centerpiece of every meal. These filled rolls have the jam inside of them, eliminating the need to add jam to your bread. Traditionally filled with apricot jam, I suggest experimenting and using whatever preserve strikes your fancy.
Germknödel is a yeast dumpling famous in Vienna. This dumpling is usually filled with Powidl, a spiced plum jam also native to Vienna. Although sweet, this is usually a meal all to itself and can be served with a butter sauce, vanilla sauce, or some other sauce that compliments the dumpling.
Allerheiligenstriezel or just simple Striezel, is “all saints braid”. This braided bread is often given by godfathers to their godchildren for All Saint’s Day. The recipe is very similar to the Stollen, and it is believed they may have at one time been the same recipe, as the first Stollen was called Dresdner Striezel. Stollens are not typically braided, while Striezels are (though, they have not always been).