Free Baker

Visit to a "proper" baker

Arnd Erbel is one of Germany's last "proper" bakers. We take a look inside his bakehouse.

As we visit Arnd Erbel and his staff in Dachsbach, a little village north-west of Nuremberg, the temperature feels positively tropical, the thermometer says 31 degrees. But it even gets a tad hotter as we walk into the bakehouse – into the domain of Arnd Erbel, one of Germany‘s last proper bakers.

About Arnd Erbel

He calls himself a “free baker” – which, for him, means something like being free to choose his own ingredients, being independent of baking additive producers and banks. Simply being free to bake good bread from flour and water.

The passion

He show´s us how a proper baguette is made. He‘s about to show us how a proper baguette is made, as he puts it. As he does so, he explains the liaison between farmer, miller and baker: the corn he uses only comes from farmers he knows. The miller of his choice grinds the light-coloured flour. The wholemeal flour for the dark breads he grinds himself in the bakehouse. On to the next step: he weighs off the dough which, with its air-pocketed exterior, looks like a giant piece of modelling clay. Never roll it but shape it from the sides so that it retains its tension, he explains. Then he places it on a folded linen cloth and scores the top with a razor blade. Now everything goes onto the baking sheet. He slides a couple of them into the oven for us so we can try them as soon as they are ready, which doesn‘t take long. A magic moment: the baguette comes out of the oven, it smells utterly divine. He fetches butter and well-matured cheese from a hard-cheese ripening expert he is friends with from the Allgäu region in Bavaria.

We experience what it means to enjoy simple fare of the very best quality. How good it is to see there are people who are free to do what really counts, and remain true to themselves.


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