The Brezn – the medieval alpine bakery
The history to the famous alpine baking item
One of the well known baking products of the alpine region is the Breze. There are numerous theories about its origin and shapes. The most reliable one is that medieval German speaking European monks baked them to reward children for learning their prayers. It turned out quickly, that the Breze is not only food for the kids, but also accompanies beer very well. So it was a solid base for the monks to drink their beer with a Breze or even used them during the fasting. The Breze is one of the oldest and last picture bakeries or picture breads, where the dough is formed in braids and knots, similar to the medieval celtic knot bakery. The dough is treated with washing soda or a lye treatment to create the brown glossy surface with a Maillard reaction. It is mostly seasoned with rough salt in the alpine regions.
The Brezn versions
Other seasonings can be black pepper, sesame seed, overbaked cheese and several others. There are also fully dried versions in different sizes, but also sweet variants with sugar seasoning or jam filled. The Breze is commonly just eaten as it is, but can be used in salads, in roasted Brezen dishes, in soups, and in our most favorite shape: The Brezenknödel. A dumpling that is made of old Brezen that were too hard to eat already. The Bavarian/Austrian Brezenknödel is one of the typical leftover dumpling dishes that you can find in higher alpine grounds.
Other forms of the Brezn
The Breze is not always in the typical symmetrical shape with braids and knots. There is versions like the Brezenstange, where the dough is in a longer stick with diagonal cut surfaces or a Brezenzopf, a braid with the dough. These are a full competitor to regular rolls and breads, since they have a wider soft doughy part when cut and can be topped with butter, cheese, sausage and everything that you are wishing for your breakfast or brunch. No matter how you prefer your Brezen, we suggest to start with the classic, cut it in halves and spread some butter on the soft dough to enjoy it with a Bavarian Weisswurst breakfast: Bavarian Weisswurst.