European Study Tour to the Akademie Weinheim 2015

On Tuesday 22nd September Liveryman Henry Jefferies of National Food and Drink Training’s and (NFDT) Training and Quality Manager Scott Anderson accompanied seventeen students on the Worshipful Company of Bakers European study tour to the Akademie Weinheim, Frankfurt, Germany.

Scott Anderson from NFDT came at the last minute to take the place of Sara Autton who unfortunately had to withdraw in the last few days due to a family illness. We were very grateful to Scottish Bakers for Scott’s involment at the last minute; his input to the course was very much appreciated.

On arrival at the Akademie we were met by Bernd Kutscher the Akademie Director and given a warm welcome and overview of what would be covered over the next few days, we were then taken into the town of Weinheim and given a guided tour.

This was a fascinating history into the trials and tribulations of the town and area through the ages! They even have their own tower where unscrupulous bakers that did not remove stones from their flour were placed as penance for poor workmanship. The town also has the nickname “Zwei-Burgen Stadt” or two- castle city after the two fortresses on the hill overlooking the town.

The evening consisted of a welcome dinner at “Woinemer Brauhaus” where we were accompanied by Robert Schorp one of the Akademie teachers. We sampled the delights of local brewing and cuisine and ended the evening early in preparation for the next morning schedule.

Wednesday 23rd September

The study tour classes started in earnest with the production of typical German bread, roll products and Pretzels including the use of “sour dough” and the famous “stollen” made with 50% butter through our tutor Frank Sweningson. The sour dough discussions and demonstrations were very interesting and gave a massive insight into their gaining popularity within the UK.

We were also treated to a demonstration on “Lye” (the use of Sodium Hydroxide) as a covering for the pretzels before they are cut and dressed just before baking. Shaping the pretzels needs a particular set of skills as was demonstrated.

Products demonstrated and discussed included: 
 - Sour Dough Starters
 - Wheat bread rolls (inc starter)
 - Pretzels (inc starter)
 - Stollen
 - Bavarian Bread (inc Starter)
 - Dark Wholemeal Bread (inc starter)
 - White Long Fermentation Bread (inc Starter)

That evening we sampled the delights of the Akademie’s cuisine for dinner and some of the party walked into town. 

Thursday 24th September

Cakes & Donuts

The class started with a master-class by Katharine Regele on the world famous “Black Forrest Gateaux” or “Schwarzwalder-Kirschtorte” from the butter sponge through to the composition of the “Kirsch” (cherry filling) and finally the buttercream! It was absolutely superb.

We then had a demonstration on traditional German butter cream cakes before making the renowned Berliner dough for our donuts.

Again this was a fascinating experience as the recipe uses a starter dough and a period of rest before balling up and proving in traditional wooden boards before frying bottom up first for 3 minutes with the lid on the fryer, after 3 minutes the donuts are turned for another 3 minute fry, a further 1 turn each side for 30 seconds completes the frying. Donuts are then jammed and rolled.

This was my first taste of a “Berliner” and it was fantastic! It was light and who knew that the bigger the ring around the centre of the donut is a sign of quality!

We also made “apple Berliners” using the same dough but processed through a brake and rolled just like a cinnamon whirl. Again another fantastic product!

We completed the day by finishing our “Stollen” from the previous day.

Products Demonstrated and discussed included: 
 - Traditional butter sponge
 - Traditional Buttercream cakes
 - Black Forrest Gateaux (including making up a cherry filling)
 - Berliner dough including apple donuts 

That evening we were taken out for a formal dinner to “Hutter im Schloss” accompanied by Katharine Regele. An evening of fine dining and networking was had by all and thanks to all participants and the Akademie were wished on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Bakers and National Food and Drink Training by Henry Jefferies.

Friday 25th September 

An early rise of 5am greeted us for breakfast and our imminent departure at 6am to visit Rutz Bakery.

What a place this was, tanks for sour dough starters, plenty of employees crafting traditional products by hand before the proving process and finally baking.

This was a fantastic insight into craft and technology/equipment working together to create traditional products which are only sold in the company’s retail outlets.

They still use a traditional wood fired oven for some products and deliver three times daily to each of their 23 shops.

We then ventured into Walldorf to sample some of the products and see the shop. As you can see by the pictures it was again another fantastic insight into the bakery sector in Germany. 

Our thanks must go to Henry Jefferies, Scott Anderson, Sara Autton, and Scott  and all of the participants on the study tour, all at the Akademie Weinheim and Rutz bakery for a wonderful, knowledge packed and friendship forged study tour!