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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Brötchen, Matschbrötchen, and The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy {book tour}

Author:  Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Crown
hard cover: 304 pages
"foodie" elements: yes

random excerpt:  Deedee had come over with two bottles of Château Morrisette.  They'd drunk barefoot on the fresh-cut lawn, green clippings stuck to their toes.  By the second cork pop, wine wasn't the only thing being poured into the night.  Tipsy on illusive dreams, they forgot all their girlhood tears, talking of quixotic futures until even the lightning bugs turned off their lights; and for once, they understood why their daddy drank bourbon like lemonade.  It was nice to pretend the world was wonderful--to gulp away the fears, hush the memories, let your guard down and simply be content, if only for a few hours.  p.28
summary/synopsis (from TLC website):  In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines can often be blurred.

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the
uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

my thoughts/review:  This is my first "favorite" read of the year.  Great character development, picturesque historical descriptions, and skillful balancing of past and present are gracefully woven together like a cozy afghan that I wanted wrap myself in for extended periods of time.  The tale of the Schmidt family during the time of Hitler...Elsie growing up more fortunate than most in that her family's bakery survived (all be it barely) through the Nazi occupation was thrilling.  It made me yearn to know about my ancestors who, for all I know, may have experienced many of the same things.  I can't begin to describe my feelings.  It's "one of those".  I find myself (oddly) at a loss for words.  Other than to recommend it to fans of historical fiction and food.  It ends with a wonderful little collection of recipes that span from 1940's Germany to present day Texas.  I recommend baking up something tempting and spending some time along with your baked goods and this book.

I knew I had to make something even before I knew there were recipes at the back.  I didn't page ahead, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a recipe for the Brötchen, which is exactly what I planned on finding a recipe for anyway.  Each one of us (five) loved these simple orbs that were perfectly tender on the inside with a crusty outside.  Heads were perched atop necks that were bobbing back and forth searching for more once they disappeared.  They've made their way into our permanent rotation.  Thank you, Elsie...
Brötchen (+ Matschbrötchen)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2½-3 hours
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: bake bread snack dessert chocolate flour German

Ingredients (12 rolls)
  • 2½-3 c. (350 g-420 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ tsp. (7 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. (4 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 c. warm water, divided
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. water
To make 1 Matschbrötchen (Mud Bread Roll):
  • 1 Brötchen (still warm is best)
  • 1 schaumkuss (foam kiss), mallomar, or chocolate covered marshmallow
Put 2½ cups flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour yeast, sugar, and 2 Tbs. of the warm water into the well and mix these together (don't mix in flour yet). Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place until the yeast is foamy (proofed), 5-15 minutes.

Add the rest of the warm water, oil, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, beat everything (including the flour this time) until well combined. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead, adding as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth, pliable dough.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, ~1 hour.
Punch down the dough and divide into 12 even pieces. Shape into rolls and place 3" apart on a greased and floured baking tray. Cover and let rise until doubled again, ~45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.

Cut a slit or a cross on top of each bun. Whisk egg and water together, then brush over the rolls. Slide into preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden.

To make 1 Matschbrötchen (Mud Bread Roll):
Pull the warm bun in half. Place chocolate covered marshmallow in center and replace top. Squish together a bit and eat immediately.

I used a Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Heart on a still very warm bun...and it is PURE HEAVEN!

both slightly adapted from The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
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"Kind of wonderful to think something as simple as bread can mean so much to people." ~Reba p. 265

about the author:  Sarah McCoy is author of the novel, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an Army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas. The Baker’s Daughter is her second novel. She is currently working on her next.

further info: website | blog | facebook | twitter
*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.

I am sharing this post with:
BYOB Badge tlc-tour-host fr2button Miz- Helen-Badge-ALT5 foodfriday weekend cooking

Would you like to comment?

  1. A chocolate marshmallow INSIDE? Can it get any better?

  2. This book sounds very intriguing, I will have to check it out. And it's so true - bread really does mean so much to so many cultures. 

  3. This sounds just wonderful. Thanks so much for the review. I want to read it soon.

  4. Thanks for the great review! This is just the kind of book I love! The bread too, but alas, I will have to save the bread for a real splurge!~

  5. Good historical fiction AND recipes? What could be better??

  6. OMG, Brotchen...this has to be single-handedly my favorite bread...see I currently live in Germany and I have fallen in love with this perfect roll, even my kids crave it. Another crazy coincidence is, I too am from El Paso, Texas but now live in Germany. The character in Sarah's book grew up in Germany and ended up in El Paso. Heather your name is Schmidtt which is German for Smith and you married a Gonzalez...I am a Gonzalez from El Paso who married a there you have it coincidence??? I don't know but I think it's pretty cool. Now I definitely have to meet both you and Sarah. Thank you for the recipe for the Brotchen because it's on my Must Make list for this weekend...Gracias y un gran abrazo...Veronica Gonzalez Smith

  7. I love brotchen. We ate it everyday, at every meal, when I was in Germany. It is neat that it can be a dessert bread and also a ham/cheese bread or whatever. It goes with everything. 

  8. This is pure heaven!! jajaja!! a mi familia les encantarán.. en la lista!!

  9. I don't know how you keep coming up with these amazing posts day after day.  The top photo is exquisite.  The review is so heartfelt, and the bread looks insanely good. 

  10. OH MY GOSH!  That is a whole bunch of intertwining crazy coincidence - I love it!  And yes, I actually thought about you being in Germany (I remember reading it on the blog) as I was reading this and the Texan link. Such a small world.  And I'm in...I'd love to meet up one day. =) xo

  11. Yes!  So glad to hear we're not the only ones addicted :D

  12. Ok, you sold me on the book.  I pinned it!  Hopefully I can find it/buy it soon.  The bread looks terrific.  I'm especially into the version that is stuffed with the chocolate covered marshamallow.

  13. Umm you're a genius.  That chocolate covered marshmallow inside a bun thing...doing that. And the buns are so pretty and round!

  14. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesFebruary 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    I love the foam kiss surprise inside! Very cool. Reminds me of the chocolate-filled buns in Nice.

  15. I'm going to look for this book - I grew up in a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors and as sad as that was - there were amazing tales of selflessness and humanity. The bread is also similar to those had in local bakeries - just beautiful.

  16. Hi Heather,
    I was hoping that you would bring the Brotchen today. Having spent some time in Germany, this brings back great memories for me. I must get this book, thank you for introducing it to me and bringing back wonderful memories! I need to make some Brotchen.  Hope you have a fabulous week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  17. I'm so excited to get my hands on this book - it has all the things I most love: historical details, fascinating characters, an engaging story, and a WWII connection.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  18. I loved this book too. And the Matschbrotchen looks heavenly. I know what you mean about having the uncontrollable urge to bake after reading The Baker's Daughter.

  19. I like everything about The Baker's Daughter. (I wish I'd participated in the tour.) The story is the kind I love to read. Recipes included are a great bonus. Your sugary buns look yummy.

  20. I've heard so many good things about this book. Your review is wonderful and I loved the Mud Bread Rolls; they look yummy.

  21. This book has been on my radar for a while. Didn't realize recipes were included, too. Sounds like a must read!

  22. I thought the plain bread was fantastic, but then you put a chocolate marshmallow in and made it sinfully fantastic! The book sounds like a great read, adding it to my list.

  23. I love it and the name Mud bread rolls is so cute! 

  24. I have been wanting to read this one--glad to hear how good it is, and I love the little brotchen. How can you resist chocolate marshmallow in bread? ;-)

  25. interesting book...i think i'd like that, too.
    ..and oh wow...that 
    Matschbrötchen sounds (and looks) like heaven indeed!!!

    thank you so much for sharing over at Food Friday, Heather

  26. Looks like a wonderful book. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  27. Great synopsis...makes me want to go right out an buy a copy to read. Love the bread orbs and the photo with the marshmallow inside and bite taken out...perfect and mouthwatering.