Handbrot / Hand Breads

Dresdner Handbrot is a staple at christmas markets and festivals. But why should I limit the pleasure to just those occasions? It takes a bit until they’re ready, but it’s only little hands-on work once you’re familiar with the process. And you can make many different versions of this snack. While the original is filled with bacon and caramelized onions mixed with sour cream and grated cheese, I like to stuff mine with all kinds of things from savoury to sweet.

Today’s hand breads are filled with chipotle beef (basically like pulled pork, just beef and with a mexican style flavor profile) and grated cheese.

You need a double portion of lievito madre for this one, so make sure to start the process with a good feeding. I like to feed big batches, put the exact amount I’m gonna need for the bake into a jar on the counter, and place the rest immediately in the fridge. That way I can make the dough whenever the counter portion is fully ripe and have the fridge batch at peak in about two days without having to feed first. It’s all about convenience.

The dough is pretty basic, it’s a bit like pizza dough.

  • 320g lievito madre
  • 260g water
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 240g all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12g salt
  • something to fill those 9 breads with
    (I used a jar of home canned chipotle beef, a little bit of the liquid, and 200g shredded cheese)
    I got the pulled beef recipe from here: https://www.healthycanning.com/chipotle-beef
    you can use all kinds of things, like roasted veggies, everything you’d stuff into a calzone, leftover roast with bbq sauce… bacon and onions… just don’t forget the cheese!)
  • a bit of extra cheese as topping

Mix and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test. Place it in an oiled bowl/container and cover it up. Let it rest until visibly risen. It took less than 2 hours in my kitchen.

I like to use rectangular freezer boxes for the bulk rise. We need a rectangle later, preferably without using a rolling pin, so it makes the next step easier.

Before you upend your bowl or container onto the well floured counter, be cleverer than I was and lay out a parchment that you then cover with a bit of flour. Makes the later transport onto the baking steel way easier. The breads should all be baked as one big piece that gets cut up, but I had to cut before baking to get them off the counter and it made a bit of a mess in the oven.

But back to the recipe.

Upend your dough onto a well floured parchment, twice the size of your baking sheet, and carefully pull the dough to fit the parchment.

Then mark the middle with a bench knife and divide one half into 9 pieces.

Add the prepped, warm filling in heaps like making giant ravioli. An ice cream scoop is a fantastic tool for those kinds of jobs, btw. One portion per square.

Now, if you listened and have a parchment underneath, flipping the other half of dough on top of the filling is easy peasy. If you didn’t, the now necessary fumbling serves you right. As you can see, things didn’t go completely smooth when I flipped my dough. It needed a bit of a mend in the upper left corner.

Use the edge of your hand or the handle of a long, wooden spoon to press the dough together between the mounds and along the edges.

If you have the parchment, let those breads rest now.

If you did what I did, you need to cut the bread into pieces now and get them onto a parchment. I cut off the edges as well, those made a tiny little pizza topped with all the meat leftovers.

Cut the top of each bread for pressure release brush them with milk or an egg wash, and add a bit of extra cheese on top.

Pre-heat your oven to 250°C including a baking steel or pizza stone. While your oven heats, the breads rise again.

Turn the temperature down to 220°C once the breads are in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let them cool on a rack and enjoy them best when they are still slightly warm. Cold ones are also great, definitely less messy to eat.

Enjoy, see you next time!

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