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Hi out there,

just a short note. I neglected this blog in the last weeks. I neglected my hobby in general. And there’s a reason for it: I was very busy! I just started university two weeks ago and I was in the final round of my driver’s licence, which I luckily passed last Wednesday. I had to get used to my new living arrangement, a flat share. I had to buy new furniture. I had to read loads. And of course I have to find new friends. Etcetera.

It’s getting more relaxed now. I baked for ‘the first time again’ on Sunday. My three room-mates all loved the Whole Wheat Levain and were astonished about the sourdough procedure. The two men devoured most of the bread and Livia, my female room-mate, showed eager interest in how to bake with sourdough. It’s a pleasure to see that my baking is appreciated.

A family meeting is coming up this weekend and my family is hosting it. We’ll have a simple barbecue-style lunch with pot luck, and I’m of course in charge of the bread for 40 people. You see, baking has got me again and I’m going to post about more breads soon!

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Switzerland’s flour quality has fallen off in quality. Quantity was more important than quality, do the bakers complain. More resistant species of wheat have replaced the ones with better baking characteristics. That means, that the Swiss flour is generally low in gluten and it’s harder to get high breads with it.

When I decided that I need some Vital Wheat Gluten in order to improve the flour’s quality, I soon found out that it’s not available at any normal store. I called the organic stores, I called the health food shops, I even tried to order it over my dad, who’s a doctor and has his own little pharmacy. (I order my soy for cooking through him as well.) No way. I called the producers, the sellers, the mills, but nobody was willing to sell my less than 50 pounds. What should I do with 50 pounds of Vital Wheat Gluten? And do I have just 75 francs, approximately 65 dollars, on hand to waste?

Well, no.

I knew that the bakeries in my village and in my valley mostly bake with ready made flour blends. There’s actually only one bread which I like and which really seems to be “home made”. There is this one great bakery called “Merz”  in Chur though, which bakes without any preservatives or chemical additives. They both have sourdough and regular breads with doughs that are allowed to ripe during more than 24 hours, if needed. Not surprisingly they bake fantastic breads, for instance the “Segalé” a very aromatic moist rye bread, or the “Müesli Brötli”, the most delicious roll ever. Stuffed with all the good of “Müesli”, hazelnuts, apricots, raisins. . .

The pictures below show quite tasty rolls that I made some time ago, trying to imitate the all-time favourite  “Müesli Brötli”. It just wasn’t the same. I’d do a lot to get the original recipe of this godness.

Well, anyway. To come back to the topic: I was racking my brain in order to come up with a place where I could get Vital Wheat Gluten in reasonable amounts in Switzerland. Actually I was racking my brain while I was walking to work, so I had to pass the “Merz”. That’s when I decided to call the chef baker and ask whether he could help me. He was incredibly friendly, promised me to send a kilo of Vital Wheat Gluten to the store and there it was today, when I passed by there. He made me a real good deal as well, he only asked for 6.80 francs, about six dollars. That’s ain’t cheap for a whole kilo of premium quality wheat gluten. Now I’ll go and search for recipes including either high-gluten flour or pure Vital Wheat Gluten.

So, if anybody’s looking for Vital Wheat Gluten in Switzerland, go and check in with your favorite bakery, and if anybody needs a good bread or roll while staying in Chur, check out the Merz.

I think I’m a geek. Or a nerd. Or simply a little bit crazy. I actually don’t really care about the term used, I think it all comes down to the same: I’m just really really into baking bread and I don’t mind to make any efforts to achieve “the perfect loaf”, completely knowing that “the perfect loaf” doesn’t exist.

I am convinced though, that it’s possible to get closer to “the perfect” loaf. And I do know that I’m still not really close to it. So, what do geeks, a nerds or a crazy bread bakers do then? They read bread bibles, they search through bread communities, they read tons of bread blogs, admire others shots of “close to be perfect – bread”, talk about bread, dream of bread at day and night, and of course: they bake bread, and eat even more of it.

Believe me, I’ve got a vague idea of how many bread blogs already are out there. You’re wondering while I’m still opening a new one? Well, the answer is obvious: Bread-nerds don’t mind tons of bread blogs.

I want to improve. I want to share. I want to get feedbacks. I want to be forced to document my baking better. I want to get better at food photography. That’s why I decided to finally start this blog. Improving in bread baking is, most of all, to have the hands in the dough as often as possible. But it’s not only that. Many times I’ve had “epiphanies” while talking with other bakers about bread. I think, to implement this gained knowledge into my own baking has helped me the most so far.

I’m really looking forward to my next private show on “oven tv”. (Oven tv = watch a loaf change in the oven.) I will start to publish my baking experiences here as soon as possible. I’d love to see people here who think that watching oven tv is one of the most magnificant things to do, too.

Looking at a bread in the oven is better than any TV. Enthusiastic bakers out there - why don't you switch channel and venture a glimpse into mine?