Brötchen are small, crusty rolls that are stocked in every bakery and supermarket across Germany and served for breakfast and at brunch spots. They are served plain or sprinkled with poppy, sesame or pumpkin seeds, and sometimes, nuts. Brötchen are often used to make bratwurst (the German version of a hotdog). They are called schrippe in Berlin, weck in and around Stuttgart, semmel in Bavaria (and other parts of Southern Germany) and bömmel in Hiddensee.
Pretzels (known regionally as brezels) have almost come to be recognized as an icon of Bavaria, though they are popular all over the country. They have a slightly hard, brown crust and a soft, chewy center. Some varieties of pretzels are sprinkled with salt or sesame seeds, or slathered with butter and the shape of the pretzel varies across regions. Innovative variations of the traditional pretzel include laugengebäck (small round pretzel rolls), käse-brezel (with a crispy cheese topping), laugenstangen (long bread sticks), nussbrezel (crispy and flaky, made of puff pastry), wiesnbrezn (a lighter colored, larger, softer pretzel made during Oktoberfest in Munich) and fastenbrezeln (very light colored and sprinkled with salt, made during Lent).
Vollkornbrot (whole grain bread) is a traditional bread that is a favorite with health-conscious eaters. There is actually a law in place that makes it mandatory for vollkornbrot being served anywhere in Germany to have a whole grain flour content of at least 90%. This dark brown bread sometimes comes sprinkled with poppy, sesame or pumpkin seeds.
Milchbrötchen is a favorite with kids and those who are not watching their carb or calorie intake. The softness and fluffiness of this white bread comes from the dash of milk added to the dough before it is baked. Richer varieties of milchbrötchen come with chocolate chips, nuts or raisins.
Known as a croissant in France and many other parts of the world, hörnchen (little horn) is a much-loved breakfast and snack bread. Hörnchens are often baked with a filling of chocolate, cream or butter. Many people enjoy adding a layer of butter, jam or chocolate spread to it as well.
This dark brown bread made of rye is perhaps the most famous of German breads and difficult to get in its original version outside of Germany. Pumpernickel is baked over a long period of time at low temperatures. Small slices of pumpernickel, topped with caviar or salmon, are often served as hors d’oeuvres in Germany.
Sonnenblumenbrot (sunflower seed bread), as the name suggests, is sprinkled with a generous dose of sunflower seeds. This bread is slightly sweet and best enjoyed with a layer of fruit jam.
Fünfkornbrot (five grain bread) is the healthiest bread in your bread basket. It is made of five kinds of grains, namely wheat, rye, barley, oats and maize.
Similar to fünfkornbrot, dreikornbrot is made of three varieties of grains, namely rye, oats and wheat. It is usually eaten with cheese and/or cold cuts at breakfast.
Katenbrot (barn bread) is a bread from the traditional farms of Northern Germany. It is a dark brown, coarsely textured, strong tasting bread that is best enjoyed with cheese and cold cuts.