The European bakery market is a polyglot of pastries, bread and biscuits that varies by location and is often rooted in traditions ranging from centuries-old Lithuanian sourdough ryes and fruited Slovakian kolaches to Finnish crisps and Portuguese pão doce sweet bread. In fact, bakers don’t have to meander throughout Europe to experience that culinary variety. Just drive around Switzerland, which is almost a microcosm of the continent’s multiculturalism. It’s a country where the predominant language — and type of bread, for that matter — shifts from German to French to Italian, depending on where someone lives.
“We have regional differences from the southern part of Switzerland where bread is more like the ciabatta-type, yet in the northern part, it is a sourdough-type and also rich flour breads,” said Thomas Eisele, chief executive officer for food service, Valora Management, a Muttenz, Switzerland-based firm that owns Brezelbӓckerie Ditsch, a leading global supplier of traditional and German-style pretzels and other products.
“Even within Switzerland, there is not one type of bread that’s very dominant,” he added.
Mr. Eisele cautioned against classifying all European bread under such generic terms as Old World or European-style because they simply gloss over the diversity of baked foods in this vast market. In Germany alone there are more than 3,000 different varieties of bread and rolls.
“The regionality just gives the extra twist and attractiveness to the assortment,” Mr. Eisele told Baking & Snack for its August report. “That’s where you add the local flavor and local shape, and sometimes it’s only the shape of a bread that makes the customer feel at home and attracted to the products.”
In Europe, home is where Old World tradition lives.