Long maturation times, no additives, premium ingredients – bread is allowed to be again as it has always been at its best in Michael Kress’s artisan bakery. After 30 years in his profession, the Weinheim-based baker attempted a new start. Now, he does not compromise anymore – not on the assortment, not on working hours either.  

If you want to try Michael Kress’s bread you don’t have to get up early, but you should be patient. From Tuesdays to Fridays, his bakery in the north of Weinheim only opens at eleven am. A short time later, a small queue has often already formed in front of the old factory building. To come in the afternoon, though, is not an option either. Officially, the bakery is open until 6 pm. But if everything is sold out before 4 pm (and on good days, this actually happens), Michael and his team of eight close the bakery doors early.  

His courage to take new directions was rewarded: Michael Kress in his baking room. 

“We have been received almost too well,” Michael says a tad embarrassed but visibly proud. He opened his “bread manufactory”, as he likes to call the bakery, in the northern part of the city of Weinheim in July 2023. Before that, the master baker had worked in the family business in the west of Weinheim. The bakery his great-grandfather had founded there in 1924 had been well established. The bakery closed its doors just two years before it celebrated 100 years of business – not an easy decision for Michael. But he wanted to take new directions. And it was not possible at the old location.

Concentrating on the essentials – you can get only seven to eight different types of bread at Michael’s artisan bakery every day.

When you enter the new bakery, you immediately understand why Michael does not only call it a manufactory but also a transparent bakery. Already at the door, you can watch the master baker through a glass pane at his work. “Yes, sometimes this can put some pressure on you,” he admits. “But we want to show our handicraft exactly as it is.” The customers can observe from the counter how the bread loaves first rise and then slowly turn from a golden yellow to coffee brown. The oven, just like almost the entire equipment in the baking room, is from France. “You can find 30,000 artisan bakeries there,” Michael explains. In Germany – in spite of its unique bread culture – there are only 10,000 left. This is why for businesses like his, the neighbouring country offers the best equipment.

Yet, it is by far not only the glass pane that distinguishes Michael’s bakery from others. A small product range with premium quality – this is key to his concept. Instead of 80 mediocre products a day, you can get only seven to eight types of bread at Michael’s bakery every day, plus varying sweet pastries and now and then something fancier like burger buns or focaccia. He significantly reduced the range of bread rolls, too. “The focus is clearly on bread.” For this range of products, however, he can assure the highest quality, the baker says. A baking plan on the homepage and in the shop reveals information about which products are available on what day. Time and again, something new is added, like the baguettes with miso paste or curry powder and cashews for instance, which Michael’s team created. Others in the same line of business can only dream of working hours like theirs. Their workday begins at six am, Michael usually starts at four – for a baker, even that is late. “This makes us quite proud,” he says.  

The focus is clearly on bread – but now and again you can also indulge your sweet tooth. 

In 2020, after 30 years in his profession, Michael discovered his handicraft anew at a training to become a bread sommelier. “This has opened my mind again.” At the National German Bakers Academy (Akademie des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks), which is also located in Weinheim, he learned how to really smell and taste. He discovered that bread is not simply tasty or has a nice appearance. But that it can display hints of caramel, lemon and liquorice, have an ivory-coloured grigne or crisply flambéed and pointy ends. How can you even describe a loaf of brown bread in a way that it does not sound like a dull necessity but rather like a sophisticated wine? Which cheese or drink goes best with which type of bread? And maybe the most important thing, he got to know other bakers who take new directions – successfully.

Late working hours and opening times – yet, the shelves are often completely empty in the evening. 

Michael exchanged information with them – especially with the bakery “Das Brot-Atelier” in Gießen, but also with “Die Brotpuristen” in Speyer who actually open their doors as late as 2.30 pm. And otherwise too, their concept is quite similar to what Michael does in Weinheim. Only what a good bread really needs is put into the big kneading machines: flour, sourdough, yeast “in macroscopic scale”, water, salt, and – depending on the kind of bread – spices, nuts, seeds or sometimes beer. The resulting bread loaves have a different taste each time – in the summer for instance milder than in winter because the sourdough produces more acetic acid in cool temperatures. “To produce the right taste poses a challenge every day,” Michael says. “But it is fun that it is not the same every day. And that we can actually apply the knowledge we have learned.”            

The bread dough matures for several days at Michael’s bakery.

His baking courses are usually fully booked months in advance. In them, Michael likes to pass on this knowledge to his customers. Questions like “how can you get as much water into the dough as possible?” are central points of discussion here. Or the advantages of wild rye or correct kneading techniques. And you can get a vivid impression on Michael’s enthusiasm for his profession. Seemingly without effort the soft dough jumps back and forth between his hands. Twists, becomes smooth again, and stays so fluffy in the process that you can almost taste the fine-pored texture already. “The dough has to dance,” he comments smiling impishly. He then gently lifts the ball of dough and slips it into a proofing basket. Flour whirls up. The amateur bakers are speechless. After five hours they return home with at least five loaves of bread.

The artisan bread manufacturer likes to pass on his knowledge – to kids, too.

At some point, Michael wants to offer baking courses for kids as well. He finished his training as an artisan bread manufacturer with a project called Kinderbrot (kids’ bread). The resulting baking book can be purchased in the shop. The new bakery, though, still requires all of his energy. Michael and his team work all the breads by hand. Different from large-scale industrial bakeries, where only a few hours at the most lie in between kneading and baking, the doughs at his bakery mature for several days. And in each product, there is at least a bit of sourdough – even in the cinnamon rolls. Thus, the bread loaves stay fresh and are very wholesome – even for people who are very sensitive to gluten. “And, of course, the aroma of our products is fantastic.”

His bread loaves are in demand. The bakery owner cannot always manage to secure one for himself.

Which bread he likes most is a question Michael cannot answer. As the fancy takes him, he on one day will pick the Hamburger Schwarzbrot (a rye wholemeal bread) and the next day the Dinkel-Ruchbrot (a spelt bread made of coarsely milled flour). Sometimes even the bakery owner cannot manage to secure a specimen for himself in time. His wife and his four children have now built up some reserves as they want to eat some bread every day, too. Do you want to know Michael’s pro tip? Put your bread into the freezer while it is still warm, even if it does not make much sense energetically. But the less water evaporates from the fresh bread, the longer it stays moist. And the greater the pleasure.



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