Last Updated on 27th September 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
If you ask a German what they miss most while travelling abroad, they will often mention bread. Germans love their bread, and you can find bakeries all over the country. It’s not uncommon to live closer to a bakery than to a supermarket. In this German bakery guide, we’re going to explain to you the most common types of bread, the variety of pastries and everything you need to know about ordering in a German bakery.
This guest post was submitted by Daniel and Ilona of Top Travel Sights. On Top Travel Sights, Daniel and Ilona share travel tips from all around the world. They love learning about different cultures, getting off the beaten path and trying as much local food as they can find.
Over the centuries, Germans have developed many different varieties of bread. Some estimates say that you can find more than 300 different types of loaves in bakeries, plus more than 1,200 different types of bread rolls and pastries.
In fact, German bread culture shows so much variety and is so central to life in Germany that UNESCO named it an intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, you should try to visit a bakery at least once during your trip to the country.
What is the difference between Bäcker, Bäckerei and Konditorei?
In Germany, you will come across three different names for bakeries. The most common one is Bäckerei. This translates to bakery, and they usually sell bread, bread rolls and various pastries. Today, most of them also offer drinks, so you can get a coffee or a tea here.
Sometimes, a Bäckerei will have a few chairs and tables, so you can decide whether you want to stay there to eat or take your purchases home.
The next word you might come across is Bäcker. This is especially used when people talk to each other as a synonym for Bäckerei. Technically, Bäcker is a baker, while Bäckerei is a bakery, but both words often just refer to a regular bakery.
The last word you might see is Konditorei. While a Bäckerei specialises in bread, a Konditorei traditionally doesn’t sell any bread at all. Instead, this is a place where you can buy cakes and pastries.
A Konditorei is also more likely to have tables inside the shop, where you can sit down and eat your cake. You will see lots of regular bakeries in Germany, but finding a Konditorei is a bit more challenging as they’re not as common.
Different types of bread in a German Bakery
Loaves of bread
As we already mentioned, Germans love their varieties of bread. There are so many different types that it’s impossible to list all of them here, but we’ll go over the most common ones that you might see.
One of the most popular types of bread you’ll find in Germany is Mischbrot. This is bread baked with a mixture of flours. You’ll commonly see Roggenmischbrot, which contains rye, but you might also come across other variations. Due to the colour of this bread, it’s often called Graubrot, which translates to grey bread.
A variation of Mischbrot is Hausbrot or Landbrot, a round bread made from different types of flour with a very crunchy crust.
Another common type of bread is Mehrkornbrot, multigrain bread. These types of bread need to have at least five percent whole seeds, though they often contain more. You might come across Sonnenblumenkernbrot, made with sunflower seeds, but you can also get many other variations.
Many Germans also like to eat Vollkornbrot, whole grain bread. Local regulations stipulate that a loaf of bread needs to contain at least 90% whole grain flour before it can be called Vollkornbrot, so this bread can be very dark and has a strong taste. Schwarzbrot and Pumpernickel are variations that look almost black.
More than 20% of all bread eaten in Germany is toast bread, though you’ll rarely find it in a bakery. Instead, you’d have to go to a supermarket to pick it up.
Traditionally, many Germans eat bread rolls for breakfast on Sunday. Bakeries open early that day so that locals can go out in the morning and buy their fresh rolls.
That means that if you visit a bakery on Sunday morning, you will come across some locals buying their bread rolls. Most bakeries sell many varieties of fresh rolls, ranging from plain ones to whole-grain rolls with lots of seeds.
The most popular type is the plain bread roll made from wheat. You can also find very similar bread rolls sprinkled with poppy seeds (Mohnbrötchen), sunflower seeds (Sonnenblumenkernbrötchen) or sesame seeds (Sesambrötchen).
All bakeries will also offer darker bread rolls, usually made from a mixture of flours. The Weltmeisterbrötchen has become more popular over the years, a bread roll sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds on top and sunflower seeds underneath. These bread rolls also often contain linseeds.
If you’re hungry, bakeries are perfect for getting a snack. In most bakeries, you can buy a variety of sandwiches with different toppings. You usually have the choice between multiple types of bread rolls, from whole grain to multi-grain or wheat bread rolls. Sometimes, you can also find bread rolls baked with a crust of cheese on top.
Bakeries are getting more and more creative with what they put into their sandwiches, so don’t be surprised if you see them filled with schnitzel and cabbage. You can also get more classic ones, with sliced cheese or salami, lettuce and tomato.
If you’re travelling through Southern Germany, you might also see pretzel sandwiches. Pretzels are especially popular in the South, and they’re delicious when filled with cheese or butter. As an alternative, you can also buy plain pretzels in many bakeries.
German cakes and pastries
When you go to a German bakery, you have the chance of trying lots of different pastries and cakes. As we mentioned above, bakeries produce more than 1,200 different types of bread rolls and pastries. Many of those are regional baked goods, and not even all Germans will know about them.
Nevertheless, there are a few favourites that you can find at bakeries throughout the country that you should try.
A very common pastry you can find in Germany is the Milchbrötchen. We call it a pastry since it’s sweet and sometimes comes with raisins or chocolate, but it’s shaped like a bread roll. The dough is fluffy and sweet, making it a favourite with children and anyone with a sweet tooth.
Another typical pastry is the Puddingteilchen. You’ll see lots of variations of this one, and it also often goes by the name of Puddingbrezel since it’s shaped like a pretzel.
It’s a Danish pastry, meaning it’s a multi-layered dough (similar to a croissant), and it’s filled with a vanilla-flavoured pudding. Sometimes, you’ll also find it filled with a mixture of pudding and berries.
A popular pastry that you’ll find almost everywhere in Germany is the Berliner, which goes by many different names. Some people call it Pfannkuchen (which translates to pancake in the rest of Germany) or Krapfen, and in Frankfurt, people use the name Kreppel.
The Berliner is similar to a doughnut, but it doesn’t have a hole in its middle. Instead, it’s filled with jam, usually a red type of jam made from berries. For certain occasions, Carnival, for example, you might also come across batches where one single doughnut is filled with mustard to give as a prank to your guests.
Last, a very classic German baked good that doesn’t quite qualify as a pastry but is not bread either is gingerbread. If you visit Germany in late November or December, you will often see gingerbread cookies in bakeries. An alternative at this time of the year is to head to a traditional German Christmas market, where you will also be able to purchase various kinds of gingerbread.
Besides pastries, a lot of German bakeries also sell cakes. Just like with the other baked goods, you’ll notice a lot of variety when you walk from one bakery to another. Nevertheless, there are a few classics that you’ll see more often than others and that we’d like to mention here.
The first one is Käsekuchen, cheesecake, and it’s actually different from cheesecake you can find in other parts of the world. Here in Germany, it’s made with quark, a milk product somewhere in between cream cheese and sour cream. It gives the cake a much denser consistency, and you might also find it slightly less sweet than regular cheesecake.
Another popular cake that you can find at almost any bakery in Germany is Streuselkuchen. It’s a cake covered with sweet crumbles, and you can buy lots of variations. Try one with berries or with apples, or, if you visit in spring, get a piece of rhubarb Streuselkuchen. You can also often get a plain version without any fruit.
Last, there is Bienenstich, another famous German cake that you’ll often see in bakeries. It’s a layered cake made from a yeasted pastry dough with a creamy filling in between. On top, you’ll find almonds drizzled with honey or sugar, giving it a crunchy topping that contrasts nicely with the soft filling.
Germans love eating cake and especially on weekends, it’s not unusual to enjoy a piece of cake in the afternoon. This meal is called Kaffee und Kuchen, coffee and cake, and it usually takes place between 3 and 4 pm.
People meet up with friends or family, drink a cup of coffee and eat a piece of cake. While many buy their cakes at a bakery and take it home, you’ll also see lots of people in cafes at that time.
How to order at a German bakery
There are so many different German types of bread, bread rolls, pastries and cakes, that even Germans don’t always know the correct name of the baked good they want to order. That’s why you’ll often see people pointing at what they want, and we highly recommend you do the same.
Here are some words and expressions you might find helpful:
- Dieses Brot / Brötchen / Teilchen, bitte – This loaf of bread / bread roll / pastry, please
- Dieser Kuchen, bitte – This cake, please
- Zum Mitnehmen – For takeaway
- Zum hier Essen – For eating here
When you go into a German bakery, make sure to always carry enough cash with you. Lately, more and more bakeries have started accepting payments with cards, but most still prefer cash. You might need to meet a minimum purchase value before you can use your card, and even then, you can usually not pay with a credit card but need a German Girocard.
Don’t let that scare you off, though. Visiting a German bakery is one of the best ways to experience food culture during your trip to Germany. Try traditional bread, grab a sandwich or stay there for coffee and cake in the afternoon.
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