German Bread Haus Bakes Bavarian Delights in Fort Lauderdale
The pink-and-red gingerbread-looking house on East Commercial Boulevard could have been plucked out of Epcot Center's German pavilion and dropped in the middle of Fort Lauderdale.
Sure Norma and Dieter Dauer sell apple and cherry strudel, poppy-seed cake, and crumb cake out of the pocket-sized house that Hansel and Gretel could call home. Yes, they've got an almost endless, always-changing selection of buttery cookies, including soft butter cookies filled with sweet raspberry jelly and bittersweet chocolate ones filled with sweetened shredded coconut.
However, the German Bread Haus' bread, to be cliché, is their bread and butter. They sell more than a dozen kinds of loaves, everything from an organic four-seed fruit-and-nut bread to a Bavarian farmer's rye.
Norma repeatedly emphasizes that they're whole grain and organic and that people don't know how to spot a healthy loaf.
"People are still not understanding whole grains enough," she argued. The way grains are processed today, milled using steel rollers, removes their skin, germ, fiber, and much of the nutrition.
That's why the two bought a stone mill that works similar to those used in ancient Egypt that leaves more of the good stuff on the grain. Despite the health benefits, even too much whole grain may not be a good thing.
"A bread with 100 percent whole grain would be like a little brick," Norma said, "so you have to have some sort of flour with the whole grain to make it palatable for most people's tastes."
Some of their breads are quite dense and chewy, almost like a fresh-baked biscotti. Yet what they lack in the stick-to-your-mouth texture department (à la Wonder Bread), they make up for in flavor.
The blackbread pumpernickel, which is available only in the store, was more brown than the deep black we're used to seeing in pumpernickels. There's the unmistakable flavor of rye and rye berries along with a hint of anise, providing a fleeting licorice flavor.
Dieter opened the bakery in 1986 after moving to Florida with his two children from Cologne, Germany. He and Norma, who's a Rhode Islander of Portuguese descent, met in 1995, when she walked into the bakery looking for a job.
"We were married five months later," she said.
Since then, the bulk of the bakery's business has been wholesale to a handful of supermarkets up and down I-95.
It started when "Wild Oats called asking for samples," she said. That supermarket was purchased by Whole Foods in early 2007. "Then Publix got wind of us, and they called. I didn't call anybody; I just showed up."
Today their bread can be found in Publix, Whole Foods, and Fresh Markets. Two drivers make deliveries to about ten of each store twice a week.
"We donate all our buyback breads to Crossroads Food Bank," she said, while reciting what seemed to be the bakery's mantra. "We want to get everyone one loaf of organic flour power help."
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to South Florida dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.