Sourdoughs as plump and heavy as vespa tires. Bread rolls that echo like a perfectly ripe melon when you tap them with your fingers. Loafs with crusts so crispy and sharp they almost cut your fingers when you touch them. What sounds like a bread aficionado’s fairytale is everyday reality at “Zeit für Brot”, the bakery chain that’s scaled this kind of bread craft into three locations since 2012. Zeit für Brot might be most famous for their sweet buns, but its the general quality approach that makes this bakery truly special.
“The Berlin equivalence to the Big Mac index is the “Schrippen-Index”
The realty of baking in Germany today is a grim one, because while there still surely are glimpses of artisanal baking being practised around the country, the main urban centres have been flooded with industrial bakery chains that sacrificed any reference to quality thinking a long time ago for the sake of pressing prices to the bare minimum. The Berlin equivalence to the Big Mac index is the “Schrippen-Index”, a law of nature, where the price for the classic bread roll diminishes the further you venture out from the city centre, reaching prices that are as low as five cent per roll.
“The concept of Zeit für Brot is easily described: High quality, freshly baked sourdough bread. No additives. No bullshit”
Zeit für Brot has in the course of the last decade not only emerged as a bastion against the bake-off Schrippe, but really as the bakery benchmark that’s proved how artisanal baking on a larger scale is possible without sacrificing on quality. The first Zeit für Brot might have started in Frankfurt (in 2009), but it was in Berlin that the bakery chain rose to true fame. Today Zeit für Brot has three shops in the capital and one in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne, all of which operate 100% autonomously as all the bread is baked in-house at every location. The concept of Zeit für Brot is easily described: High quality, freshly baked sourdough bread. No additives. No bullshit. Just good, honest bread.
Every bakery offers over two dozen varieties of sourdough bread, like loafs with names like “Bergsteiger”, “Körnerkruste” and “Roggenbauer” to smaller rolls with poppy or sunflower seeds. They are all heavy and crusty like a real bread should be, made from organic produce exclusively, and if you’re lucky you’ll get one of the loafs fresh from the oven.
“Yes, they are insanely rich and sweet, but damn, are they good.”
As for many others, my own, very first encounter with Zeit für Brot came in the form of a butter-drenched pastry. We’re talking about the prime reason people line up at Zeit für Brot: Their infamous cinnamon rolls, whose sweet aroma linger across every shop as temptation in its purest form. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you ask yourself “Are they really that good?”, I can assure you that every minute spent in a Zeit für Brot line will be made up in the form of pure pastry pleasure when you tuck into one of the buns. And this comes from a Sweden, the motherland of the cinnamon bun cult. Yes, they are insanely rich and sweet, but damn, are they good. And as the classic cinnamon bun really just is a gateway drug to heavier opioids such as Peanut Butter & Jam and White Chocolate & Rhubarb, there is a always a new bun to discover.
The gateway function of the sweet rolls also extends to the rest of the offering, like the very solid Zeit für Brot breakfast. The bakeries are a great place to start the day, either with a müsli or with a “Stulle”, the German sandwich where deli meats and cheese are squeezed in between two slices of Sourdough bread alongside greens. The Stulle in the school lunch box is what gets German kids through childhood and at Zeit für Brot they are made freshly every day, so get here early for a “Käsestulle” and a cup of excellent coffee made from Andraschko beans.
“…the classic cinnamon bun is really just is a gateway drug to heavier opioids such as Peanut Butter & Jam..”
To say that Zeit für Brot is Berlin’s best bakery chain would be true, yet an understatement. It is really one of the best bakeries full stop – a respectable achievement considering the scale of their production. Yes, you pay more for this bread, but it’s far from expensive. And there are certainly a few, other small-scale bakeries that technically produce better bread. But the unparalleled success of the project shows that dedication to quality and larger scale baking is possible without massive compromises in terms of quality. Zeit für Brot is a bakery for everyone, be it the tourist who’s heard tales about heavenly cinnamon buns or the Berliner who’s looking to buy some solid loafs of bread or a snack. It’s the benchmark all larger bakeries should strive towards.