German Native Brings ‘Taste of Home’ with Northport Bakery
Tuscaloosa residents can remember the old Edelweiss Café: the German bakery nestled in the line of bars like Rhythm & Brews and Wheelhouse Pub.
Owned by a German native, it closed down about two years ago, and since then no proper German bakery has taken its place. Both Alabamians and German natives loved and missed the taste, and wondered what could possibly take its place.
That's what Sabine Kircherberg-Staiger, founder of the newest German bake shop in Northport, felt. That's partially what led her to launch her own home bakery called Breadtimes.
Staiger is originally from Stuttgart, Germany, and moved to Geneva Switzerland in 1998 where she worked for Sun Microsystems as the event manager. From there, she moved to Zurich after she accepted a job at Microsoft's European headquarters. Through all of that, she always kept coming back to her roots through her baking.
"I love my German bread," she said. "There's nothing else like it, and I missed the taste so much."
She and her husband moved to Northport in 2012 when he took a job at the Mercedes plant. Raising a then-10-year-old proved difficult for Staiger, as she didn't have the time anymore to find a full-time job. However, she said that now that her child is grown up, she had a change in perspective and decided not to return to an office job.
Like a lot of others, she started baking more and more at the start of the pandemic one year ago, and what started as a semi-regular taste of home for her family turned into an intensive hobby that Staiger immediately fell in love with.
"I was tending to my vegetable garden, and I also started to bake," Staiger said. "I baked a lot... I was making so much that the bread piled up and got stale. I liked doing it a lot, so I thought maybe I could share it with others."
Staiger officially received her business license at the start of February. She started baking in a wooden frame, made by her husband from untreated beechwood, which got a unique taste and bread that was soft on the sides and crusty on top.
Now, her kitchen is laid out with two active sourdough starters, a rye starter and a wheat starter. What makes German bread special, Staiger said, is the variety of different grains, coarse and finely ground flours and all sorts of fermenting methods and seasonings.
She always has something new to try, as Germany is home to over 3,200 varieties of bread and over 1,200 different pastries. She also specializes in German pretzels, strudels and multigrain rolls.
Staiger told The Tuscaloosa Thread that this endeavor has already gotten a lot of attention.
"I thought I'd just do this as a hobby. I thought, 'Maybe I'll sell five pretzels a week,'" Staiger said. "Now, I'm so busy...I only have two arms and 24 hours, but I want to please everyone and make everyone happy. The highest goal for me is making something quality."
She walked through the long process of how she prepares her breads, start to finish. A typical bread would take her around two to three days to finish, with the first twelve hours dedicated to setting the starter so the bread is properly fresh. Something smaller like a pretzel or sweetbread might only take two hours.