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TRUE LOCALS
Chris Weittenhiller

von Chris Weittenhiller

December 06, 2019

TRUE LOCALS

Reither bread: tradition to bite into

When the alarm clock rings at five in the morning, I reluctantly crawl out of bed and yawn at the toothbrush. Actually, I'm a passionate late riser, but the day's work of traditional Tyrolean bakers begins long before the first dawn. Today, an experienced family business has invited me to learn some secrets of the age-old craft.

Traditional bakery Hueber

Heavy clouds of fog still hang over the Inn Valley, while in Reith near Seefeld the first rays of sunshine are already kissing the Alpine peaks. The morning air tastes icy cold, pregnant with the scent of fresh baked goods emanating from the old Reither bakery. Master baker Rudi Hueber knocks the flour dust from his apron before greeting me with a hearty handshake.

Baker from Reither Bread

With a broad grin, he introduces his colleagues, all young men in a suspiciously good mood. You get used to everything, even the early morning routine, the bakers laugh. A hard craft that rewards with very special moments, grins the master towards the sunrise. He leads the name and family business today in the third generation - so Rudi Hueber the third, so to speak. On May 1, 1928, grandfather Rudi Hueber pushed his first farmhouse bread into the wood-fired oven here - so in a few years, the traditional business will be a hundred years old. Back then, the small bakery also included a typical grocer's store. Today, the Hueber family is once again dedicated exclusively to the baking tradition: back to the roots, without any chemical compromises. Instead, craftsmanship with heart, honest and genuine, emphasizes the young baker. From the bakery smell nuts, fruits and sweet honey, because today Tyrolean tents are baked.

Fruit bread in a robe

The Zelten is a traditional fruit bread in a yeast dough coating - rich, delicious and long-lasting. A winter classic in the Alpine region, its origins can be found in medieval customs. To this day, the tradition of "Anklöpfeln" is still practiced in rural Tyrolean communities. An old fertility custom in which men masked as shepherds beg for alms with singing and poems (in dialect). They are given donations and the nutritious fruit bread in their robes. Around Christmas, the tents are then cut and distributed by the father of the house, the bakers explain their delicious baked goods. Meanwhile, before my eyes, all kinds of utensils are applied, fine yeast doughs and the mysterious filling of the tents. By the way, brine is used instead of salt for bread and dough, they tell me. An important detail, because the brine is unrefined and original, more complex in taste and also contains 84 essential minerals and trace elements. The enthusiasm of the bakers is contagious, I secretly take notes.

Craft with heart

Then everything goes very quickly, because with the professionals every move is perfect. The fine filling mass was already prepared the day before - from hand-picked nuts, pickled dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, honey and other delicious secrets. The sweet temptation is now portioned, patted into shape, brushed with water (holds the shell and filling together) and then whipped into fluffy soft yeast dough. In the Reither bakery of the Hueber family, instead of conveniences, there is only real handwork, reveals the master baker. The characteristic tents pattern is then but not individually stung, but applied with a curious small hand roller. Finally, the tents are decorated with fine almond slivers and candied cherries, and then they go into the oven. Only moments later, the old bakery is filled with the unmistakable aroma of sweet Christmas baking.

(If you would like to try the traditional festive dish yourself, you can find an old Tyrolean recipe here).

Seven sweet sins

There are a total of six Reither Brot branches in Tyrol, the last and most beautiful recently opened on the village square in Reith - the flagship store, so to speak. Here I meet mother and father Hueber, because the early day's work of the young bakers already ends at the noon hour. Rudi and Angelika greet me as warmly as the boys in the bakery, and it quickly becomes clear where their enthusiasm for the profession comes from. They lovingly guide me through tempting breads and baked goods, with homemade sourdoughs according to Grandpa Rudi's original recipes. Love without frippery, emphasizes the father, delivered daily to the sales branches warm from the oven. Baked namely fresh and exclusively here in Reith - quality from first hand, for three generations.Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

After a hearty baker's breakfast, mother Angelika then takes me once again into the bakery. As we all know, grandma bakes the best Christmas cookies," grins the grandmother as she sorts through boxes of cookies. Available from tomorrow in the branches in Reith, Seefeld and Scharnitz, only I am already allowed to try today. And once again I wish I had become a baker back then.

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