They bake bread and rolls high up in the KaDeWe.
A visit to the bakery
Every morning starts with the “champagne baguettes”. The origin of the name is shrouded in mystery, but what they look like isn’t: tapered towards the ends, wide and round in the middle, a light brown colour and dusted with flour. When the first baker arrives at the KaDeWe bakery at four in the morning, making the “champagne dough” is the first thing he does. “We also use it to make the Kaiserbrötchen rolls,” says Anil Dogu. He is the sous-chef at the bakery, which is located on the seventh floor above the food department. Pieces of dough roughly the shape of loaves of bread or bread rolls are laid out on wooden tables. Around 10,000 individual items of baked goods are baked here every day, if you include every single roll. As soon as the KaDeWe opens at ten in the morning, the counters on the floor below must be full to the brim.
Four cuts into the baguette
A grand act. Every month, the bakery uses six to eight tons of wheat flour and half a ton of rye flour. On some Saturdays, there are 150 kilos of dough in the kneading machine. This dough is used to make some of the 24 types of rolls and 20 types of loaves, from the Sauerteigring (sourdough ring) to the Krustenbrot (crusty bread). But none of them beats the baguette, the most successful product. About 600 pieces are baked each day, more at the weekends. There are many different types: classic, Parisian style, with grains, extra small.
But first the champagne baguettes are made. They’re all lined up and ready to bake. Before they go into the oven, Anil Dogu scores them four times. Once baked, this results in the flaps of dough that crisp up, which makes the bread more aromatic. “We do 90 percent of our work by hand,” says Dogu. “We are not an industrial bakery.” Everything is handmade. The bakers portion out the pieces of dough, then they are rounded, rolled out and pressed. And finally they are placed on baking trays. “In industrial bakeries, they chase the rolls through the machine. But we pick up each individual roll by hand.”
On the hot stone
If you are starting to get hot in a baking room, you’re probably nearing the ovens, which are in the back of the baking room. The baguettes, now slid in, bake at 240 degrees, and later the temperature drops to 190 degrees. Water vapour streams in so that the loaves become moist on the surface and expand. They are ready half an hour later, which the oven announces with a melodic ringing. The multi-deck oven makes the best bread. They contain a hot stone like a pizza oven. The direct heat supply means the aromas develop particularly well.
Sourdough, which is particularly old but also trendy right now, is a more complex process, because it has to mature for around 18 hours. The bread is generally baked in stages so that everything is always fresh. As soon as the loaves and rolls have cooled down, they are taken down to the KaDeWe in the lift. The baking continues until the early afternoon, on six days a week.
The seven bakers are busy all morning standing in line and shaping pieces of dough.
Air humidity: 83 percent
Back in the oven area you find the walk-in proofing cabinet where the dough is left to rise. Inside it, the temperature is 28 degrees and the humidity level reaches 83 percent. It has a climate similar to a steam sauna – except it smells of fresh bread. The length of time the baked goods stay here depends on the variety. A tray of Parisian-style baguettes is brought out. “They were in there for an hour and a half to two hours,” says Anil Dogu. Now they are ready to bake.
Elsewhere, the walnut and raisin loaves are relaxing. They can stay there a little longer. Because: “Dough needs time to develop its aromas.” What later becomes a sweet loaf is now just a small lump of dough.