Interview: June 14th, 2017
Strolling through the Herrenkellergasse in Ulm’s historic city centre you come across a spectacular shop sign saying:”Ulmer Zuckerbrot.” Being curious I arranged a meeting with Mrs Doris Zaiser who kindly agreed in spite of her intense work in the shop.
Mrs Zaiser, how is it that your bakery has such an unusual name?
Mrs Zaiser: Our customers gave us this name because they very much appreciated our bakery products and the high quality of our pastries. Previously this was the “Bäckerei Pfeffer”; since 1838 we – the family “Zaiser”- are the owners. We are not only the oldest bakery in town but also the only one which is still practising this trade. We are especially proud of our son Denis who intends to carry on with the bakery in the 7th generation.
Meanwhile there are bakery chains and supermarkets In Ulm which offer bakery products at low prices. How can you compete?
Mrs Zaiser: It succeeds because we are known for the high quality of our pastry and our specialties such as the “Münsterbrot” and the “Ulmer Zuckerbrot”.
Ulm has been a Free Imperial City and was situated at the crossroads of traditional trade routes .This certainly brought considerable prosperity.
Mrs Zaiser: That’s true, the town wanted to show its wealth. The “Zuckerbrot” was offered to high-ranking guests as delicacy. But there were rich people in town too, who could afford it. Only the very best ingredients are used. The “Zuckerbrot” consists of a yeast dough refined with rosewater, Malaga wine, anis and fennel. An additional rare ingredient was granulated sugar (normally people used syrup for sweetening). The” Zuckerbrot” was in the product range of each baker. It was part of the town just like Ulm’s Cathedral. In the course of time it became a popular trademark which was sent into many countries and even to royal courts.
Times changed. Ulm became Protestant. Surely the citizens’ attitude to life changed as well?
Mrs Zaiser: Yes, luxury and pomp were frowned upon. Whoever bought “Zuckerbrot” now protected it in a bag against curious eyes. Then it was “out”.At present sugar bread enjoys a renaissance. Many people must get used to the taste of aniseed again, but now we sell more than ever.
Mrs Zaiser, I thank you very much for your detailed and vivid information. It is good to hear how traditions can be preserved in our fast-moving time.