The smell of freshly baked bread greets me as soon as i walk in the door. The counter of the small bakery in elfershausen is filled with all kinds of delicacies, from simple breads to crumbled cakes. Master baker udo winter is still standing in the bakery, kneading supplies for the sausages in the sleeping skirt. He routinely works the meat into the dough casing, adding a secret ingredient that should preferably not be mentioned in the report, he warns with a laugh.
With an apprenticeship, winter has been doing his job for 32 years now. He became a master baker in 1995, although he never intended to open his own bakery. At heribert roth’s bakery, he’s just a salaried employee "but the german army still paid for it back then, and it’s just an incredible amount of know-how that you pick up at the master school.", he explains.
How everything fits together
As with many trades, this gives the prospective bakers a solid foundation, nothing less, but also nothing more. "Since I still needed five years of professional experience as a journeyman to be allowed to become a master craftsman, I naturally had all the more experience. That allowed me to understand what i had learned much better than when i was an apprentice," he says, describes winter. Although he already had a very good instructor when he was an apprentice, he emphasizes that experience is just as important a teacher: "we need a broad knowledge of ingredients, how things fit together, or how things react at what temperature?" in addition, there is knowledge of the current, ever-changing hygiene regulations and many other things.
Winter’s enthusiasm and passion for his craft can be seen in his day-to-day work, despite the routinely executed work steps. In particular, he is still fascinated by the broad range of product development possibilities that require a great deal of creativity. "Sometimes the boss and i discuss an idea, sometimes we just do it and see what comes out in the end", describes winter laughing.
From idea to bestseller
Of course, not all ideas are always successful, but sometimes they unexpectedly turn out to be bestsellers. "Heribert really wanted to do something with leeks. I then thought, "gee, aniseed would go really well with this, the boss’s initial skepticism was calmed by the end product, and "the customers noticed that, too. So now there are taler, topped with leek, bacon, aniseed and sour cream", says winter.
There are few inhibitions for the two master bakers: "we are both very curious and like to try out a lot of things." but the bakery guild has also been affected by the ongoing trend away from handicraft to mass production for years.
Winter does not see this as a disparagement of the craft itself, but: "people are just comfortable. When I’m in the supermarket, I sometimes take something out of the plexiglass box." according to winter, this is not comparable in terms of quality, because as a craftsman he always tries to do his work to the best of his ability every day "but of course we also notice the drop in sales".
Few young bakers
On the junior side, things are not looking good either. Few young people are enthusiastic about crafts in general. One of the reasons may be the working hours. "During the week we start at three o’clock in the morning, on saturday we like to start at midnight. Party on friday is rarely possible", says winter. He is encouraged, however, by the fact that there are still young backers "who are prepared to really live it and make a great effort".
Despite everything, winter also plans to leave the baking trade in the near future. The small bakery on elfershauser hauptstrabe will close when its owner retires, and winter will not continue to run it. Working in a bakery is also not an option for the passionate craftsman: "then I would be supporting exactly the product branch with which I can really do little. I realize, however, when I do trial work for other, non-specialized companies, that baking is already my vocation." for the future, however, winter predicts that there will be fewer and fewer small bakeries with the assortment to which people are currently accustomed.
Due to the unquestionable quality advantage, they will have to position themselves differently: "I think there has to be a specialization like in breweries. If the customers know that they are buying something very exclusive, they will accept it."