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Cucumber Castle

- Brot - Pan - Pain - Ekmek -

As a German in a far away country, I have discovered that there is one single medicine to all sufferings of cultural estrangement and misunderstandings, lonelyness and pain: A self-made loaf of BROT. Hard or soft, but by no means fluffy, with some nice taste of grains, herbs, sometimes even fruits and nuts mixed in. What's more, it doesn't only heal my own inner wounds - its taste is in high demand by the poor natives of this island who are often maltreated with a funny soft and fluffy substance of angloamerican heritage which is confusingly called bread. Bread looks and feels like a large, square-shaped roasted marshmallow but is absolutely tasteles. It must by no means be confused with the real thing. German it is, the object of envy throughout the malnurished post-industrial world, the essence of all my pride and patria: BROT.

Be the secret unveiled:

Hoomu Beekarii machine (Home Bakery is the name of international models), for sale in Akihabara/Tokyo around 20 000 Yen for Japanese models. I'm using a Korean model because it's cheaper, LG's LB-50W1. This machine operates a series of amazingly stupid programs to make all kinds of breads (eat-bread, raisin bread, French bread, ...) - but, surprisingly, almost any of those programs does an equally good job at baking BROT. Be warned, though: None of these programs are hot enough to activate baking soda or to denature eggs. So don't bother trying to bake cakes in it. Just leave it on program 1, possibly switch on the crusty variant (1C).
300g white flour, 100ml water, and a bit of dry yeast are the base. Then add the tasty stuff: half a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, a bit of cummin, possibly cardamon and other herbs. Important is some granular kind of flour (whole meal floour / laimugi), start the experiment with 100g. Note: laimugi or equivalently wheat germ somehow interfere with the yeast's activity, so the the bread turns out much smaller than without.
Put fruit juice or milk instead of the water, add lemon juice, extra sugar and cinnamon along with dry fruits, nuts and chokolate chips to get something more like a cake. Do not include things that are relative large and juicy because the BROT will end up moist around there: Dry plums are too much, for example.
Alternatively, you may add cheese and salty things.
Also try to use laimugi only, vary all ingredients until your soul starts having intimate conversations with the dough. Then, you are a master and know the profoundness of the difference between BROT and bread.
Put all ingredients into the machine, water first, and press the start button. Watch the dough while the machine is mixing, and adjust the consistency using flour or water. The dough should take on a smoot roundish ball-like shape once mixed. If it is flat, it is too wet, if it doesn't become smooth, it needs more water. A BROT with too much water will collapse in the center - try it out once, the taste is pretty good anyway.
In Tokyo, that's not easy. My favorite shop to get laimugi, dry fruits and some spices is a ragged small shop in Sugamo (JR Yamanote line): From the station go Northwest and follow a small shopping street which soon continues straight where the large streed makes a hardly noticable bend right. Going up the street, passing a small shrine on your right, you get to the post office, again on your right. Across the street from the upper end of the post office is the shop.
It's a cozy old-fashioned neighborhood up there. Once you did your shopping, continue strolling up the street up to the tram for a relaxed ride home.
Dry yeast and most other components are sold in any supermarket. Another special ingredient I like is "Irish Oatmeal" from National Azabu Supermarket in Hiroo.
More Brot
Once you got some experience and need new inspiration, have a look at Andreas Frantik's Brot page. Also click around there for other German delicacies: How to make your own Wuerstchen, mustard, Lebkuchen, Quark, Marzipan, etc. etc. A true door to a paradise is Gernot Katzer's Spice Encyclopedia. Japanese E-Dictionary Friends Bookmarks
Updated Aug. 3, 2001 by Armin Rump