German food traditions: bakeries and artisan bakers

If we’re talking about German craftsmanship, then it would be a crime not to mention German artisanal baking. Germany consumes more bread per head than any other European country (approximately 85 kilograms per year), and nowhere will you find as many different types of bread as you do here. Besides the large-scale modern bakeries, you’ll also find countless traditional bakers and purveyors of artisanal bread in any German town, large or small. Today I’m headed to one of those original bakeries. In Walsrode, northern Germany, I meet Mr Stadtländer, a master baker whose family-run business is already in its fourth generation. “The bakery has been in the same family since it was founded in 1892. We’ve been baking our traditional breads ever since then.” My mouth is watering just looking at the display in the shop, with all manner of freshly-baked breads tantalisingly laid out. But alas, work comes before pleasure. So we make our way over to the bakery, where the smell of fresh bread wafts through the air ...

The secret of German breadmaking

As is customary in German bakeries, Mr Stadtländer – the master baker here – prepares breads from a wide variety of doughs made according to age-old recipes. Rye, spelt, whole grain and wheat bread – you name it, it’s here. “We make over 20 different kinds of bread,” says the master baker. And then he lets me in on the secret behind a good loaf: “We love what we make, but we know all too well that making exceptional bread takes more than love alone. That’s why we look very carefully at the production methods and origins of our basic ingredients and give our doughs plenty of time to ferment.” For my part, it’s high time that I learned how traditional German bread is made.

“Making great bread requires more than just a love of the baking tradition. The preparation method, the origins of the basic ingredients and leaving plenty of time for the doughs to ferment are all hugely important, too.”

German bread: world-beating variety

German bread is truly unique worldwide: with over 3,200 different types, it not only has the greatest variety, but has the official award to prove it. In 2014, UNESCO added the culture of German bread to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Whichever direction you're headed in, you’ll discover countless classic loaves and local specialities in every corner of Germany.

Discover Germany’s rich handicraft tradition

Germany has a long and venerable tradition of craftsmanship. Find out more about age-old professions that have been upheld in Germany to this day, whether in their traditional form or as a fresh new take for the modern age.