Johannesburg’s Best German Bakery

I feel that I’ve done Joburg’s German expats a disservice.

I’d known about the Black Forest Bakery for years. I’d bought their rye bread from the Melville Spar, where it is sometimes (but not always) for sale in the bakery section. (I’m not a huge fan of rye bread, to be honest, but I still buy the Black Forest rye from time to time because it’s so much better than that bland, packaged Sasko bread favored by mega-grocery chains like Spar.)

I’d even been into the Black Forest Bakery shop in Braamfontein — 102 Juta Street, about three blocks up from all the trendy bars and coffee shops — once or twice to buy bread. I knew that the bakery is German-owned and has been around for a couple of decades.

But I didn’t totally “get” the Black Forest Bakery until I went there last week, with a German.

Fiver at Black Forest BakeryMy German friend Fiver fills her shopping bag with German cakes from Black Forest Bakery. The sales lady behind the counter is South African but speaks German, because she’s worked at the bakery for many years and catered to countless German clients.

Fiver invited me to meet her for breakfast at Black Forest Bakery, which she found out about accidentally while browsing online. When I arrived Fiver was already waiting for me at one of the bakery’s two tiny tables, with a cup of coffee and a salty German brezel in front of her. (It had actually taken me a few minutes to find the place, even though I’ve been there before — the small storefront is easy to miss.)

German Pretzel at Black Forest BakeryFiver’s brezel (pretzel).

“This place is amazing!” Fiver exclaimed, before I even sat down. “It’s like I’m back in Germany.”

A German Bakery in Joburg

Although I have several German friends, I’ve never been to Germany before. So I guess I didn’t fully understand the German passion for cakes and bread.

“Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to find proper German cake?” Fiver asked me.

I didn’t have any idea. Until now.

The Black Forest Bakery counterThe Black Forest Bakery counter, packed with German treats.

German Easter bread at Black Forest BakeryGerman Easter bread for sale. The description sounds delicious. I’m not sure why I didn’t buy this.

Fiver pointed to her plate. “I can’t even find brezeln like this in England!” (Fiver and her husband divide their time between England and South Africa.)

I’ve been friends with Fiver for years and she is one of the happiest people I know. But I’m not sure I’d ever seen her this happy before. And I get it. Like every other immigrant in the world, I understand that food is one of the things that people tend to miss most about their home countries. I know how it feels to live overseas and suddenly happen upon a place that tastes like home. It’s a good feeling.

German pretzels at Black Forest BakeryBrezeln displayed in the traditional German way, on long wooden pegs.

I feel badly that I didn’t tip off Fiver sooner to the Black Forest Bakery. She’s been living in South Africa on and off for years and she could have been enjoying brezeln for breakfast all along. But maybe by publishing this blog post, I can tip off other Germans living in Joburg who are craving the taste of home. If you know any, please pass this along.

Mandelbretzel at Black Forest BakeryMy breakfast choice from Black Forest: a pretzel-shaped almond pastry called a mandelbretzel. It was sweet and decadent and delicious.

And even if you’re not German, give the Black Forest Bakery a try the next time you’re in Braamfontein. It’s a nice change of pace from the hipster coffee bloc down the street. Don’t get me wrong — I love hipster coffee. In fact, just after our visit to Black Forest I took Fiver to Father Coffee, which is still my favorite coffee shop in town. But Black Forest also serves decent coffee, and it was so nice to experience Braamfontein from a different perspective.

I recommend going early, because there are only two tables and they’re tiny.

Breakfast at Black Forest BakerySorry, I’d really made a mess of my breakfast by the time I got around to taking this photo.

By the way, while we were there we overheard the Black Forest owner chatting to some colleagues. They were speaking in German but I convinced Fiver to eavesdrop for me, and it sounds like there is a plan in the works to expand the bakery. So hopefully there will soon be more space to eat German cake on-site at the Black Forest Bakery.

Black Forest Bakery
102 Juta Street, Braamfontein
011-403-0065

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15 Comments

  • Reply Fiver Löcker March 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Great post Heather! Now I can never go back there because you told everyone I was eavesdropping… Just joking. Try and keep me away from German bread at your peril 🙂

    • Reply 2summers March 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      I take all the blame for the eavesdropping. I encouraged you to do it!

  • Reply Gail Wilson March 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Great post love their cakes. Next time you and Fiver want to venture somewhere – try Schwaben Butchery in Edenvale for great German products. Their ready made Eisbein is great for a takeaway supper and their baked cheesecake is to die for. Check their website http://www.schwaben.co.za

    • Reply 2summers March 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Sine commented immediately after you with the same recommendation!

  • Reply Sine March 8, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Aaaaaah – do you know I have a freezer full of just such brezeln in my garage? I found a German bakery here in Nashville, operated out of someone’s home, that imports them from Germany directly. Mmmmmh. Heated in a 350 oven for 8 minutes straight from the freezer, than lathered with chunks of butter. Right, Fiver?

    Seriously – when I saw your title, I thought 100% that you were going to talk about the Schwabenbutcher, which I’ve talked about here: http://www.joburgexpat.com/2011/10/der-schwabenbutcher-in-sudafrika.html. You might be forgiven to have missed it, as this post was my only one ever in German. Not sure how the Schwabenbutcher compares to Black Forest Bakery, but you have to go there, just for the name.

    And Heather – I too don’t like American rye bread, because they always put caraway seed in it. Why? No self-respecting German baker does that. The two don’t have to go together at all. Rye bread is so much better without it.

    • Reply 2summers March 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      So funny, you and my friend Gail commented at the same time and both mentioned the Schwaben Butcher. Must be a sign!

      I don’t think Fiver had any butter on her brezeln but that sounds amazing.

      • Reply Sine March 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        Gotta eat them with butter! Or do like my grandmother, a “Swabian” if there ever was one. She put butter and thick honey on them, and topped with sliced radishes to counterbalance the sweetness.

  • Reply autumnashbough March 8, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    German bakeries are the best! One of my favorite things about traveling all over Germany and Austria was the bread. And pastries. And cheese.

    I have a German friend whose parents come for a month at a time. My friend is super healthy, eating no sugar, etc. But I suggested she take them to the Torrance Bakery after they’d been here two weeks and were grumbling. They were like Fiver, all smiles afterward. (Though Torrance Bakery has far too much crappy lard and powdered sugar frosting and no brezeln, it does make a few more decadent European pastries, as well as the best black and white cookies ever.)

    • Reply 2summers March 8, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Geez, I really need to get to Germany one of these days.

  • Reply Fiver Löcker March 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    This might end up being your most popular post with your German audience, Heather. Want me to translate it for the SEO?

    • Reply 2summers March 8, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      Hahaha! It’s funny – a German blogger friend of mine has just created an English recipe for Mandelbretzel for one of my Instagram followers in Alaska. It’s a global phenomenon! ???

  • Reply Constanze March 9, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I would gladly help with the translation! :}

    Dear Heather, if you ever plan a trip to Germany: We eat the strangest but tasty stuff, not only bread! Will show you, if you travel to Berlin.

    • Reply 2summers March 9, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Thanks so much, Constanze. Berlin is very high on my travel list! I’ll let you know 🙂

  • Reply Constanze March 10, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Hi Heather,

    I took the liberty to translate your blogpost und pictures descriptions into German, paragraph by paragraph, so you can see what means what. If you want to publish your first German blogpost, just duplicate your text and pictures and copy the translated text into it. (And you can delete the comment afterwards.)

    Best wishes, today from Munich, Constanze

    ———-
    JOHANNESBURG’S BEST GERMAN BAKERY

    Die beste deutsche Bäckerei von Johannesburg
    ———-

    I feel that I’ve done Joburg’s German expats a disservice.

    Mich beschleicht das Gefühl, Joburgs deutschen Auswanderern einen schlechten Dienst erwiesen zu haben.

    I’d known about the Black Forest Bakery for years. I’d bought their rye bread from the Melville Spar, where it is sometimes (but not always) for sale in the bakery section. (I’m not a huge fan of rye bread, to be honest, but I still buy the Black Forest rye from time to time because it’s so much better than that bland, packaged Sasko bread favored by mega-grocery chains like Spar.)

    Ich wusste seit Jahren von der Black Forest Bakery („Schwarzwald-Bäckerei“). Ich hatte deren Roggenbrot im Spar in Melville gekauft, das (manchmal, aber nicht immer) in der Brotabteilung zu haben ist. (Ich bin kein großer Fan von Roggenbrot, um ehrlich zu sein, aber ich kaufe das Black-Forest-Roggenbrot ab und an, weil es einfach so viel besser ist als das fade abgepackte Sasko-Brot, das von den großen Ketten wie Spar bevorzugt wird.)

    I’d even been into the Black Forest Bakery shop in Braamfontein — 102 Juta Street, about three blocks up from all the trendy bars and coffee shops — once or twice to buy bread. I knew that the bakery is German-owned and has been around for a couple of decades.

    Ich war sogar ein- oder zweimal zum Brotkaufen in der Black Forest Bakery in Braamfontein, 102 Juta Street, ungefähr drei Häuserblocks entfernt von den schicken Cafés und Bars. Ich wusste auch, dass die Bäckerei einem Deutschen gehört und schon seit einigen Jahrzehnten besteht.

    But I didn’t totally “get” the Black Forest Bakery until I went there last week, with a German.

    Aber ich habe die Black Forest Bakery nicht recht verstanden, bis ich letzte Woche dort war – mit einer Deutschen.

    My German friend Fiver fills her shopping bag with German cakes from Black Forest Bakery. The sales lady behind the counter is South African but speaks German, because she’s worked at the bakery for many years and catered to countless German clients.

    Meine deutsche Freundin Fiver befüllt ihren Einkaufsbeutel mit den typisch deutschen Kuchen der Black Forest Bakery. Die Verkäuferin hinter der Theke ist Südafrikanerin, aber spricht Deutsch, weil sie seit vielen Jahren in der Bäckerei arbeitet und schon unzählige deutsche Kunden versorgt hat.

    Fiver invited me to meet her for breakfast at Black Forest Bakery, which she found out about accidentally while browsing online. When I arrived Fiver was already waiting for me at one of the bakery’s two tiny tables, with a cup of coffee and a salty German brezel in front of her. (It had actually taken me a few minutes to find the place, even though I’ve been there before — the small storefront is easy to miss.)

    Fiver lud mich ein, sie zum Frühstück in der Black Forest Bakery zu treffen, die sie zufällig beim Surfen im Netz entdeckt hatte. Als ich ankam, wartete Fiver schon auf mich an einem der beiden kleinen Tische in der Bäckerei, mit einer Tasse Kaffee und einer salzigen Brezel vor sich. (Obwohl ich früher schon dort war, hatte ich einige Minuten suchen müssen, die kleine Ladenfront ist leicht zu übersehen.)

    Fiver’s brezel (pretzel).

    Fivers Brezel (pretzel).

    “This place is amazing!” Fiver exclaimed, before I even sat down. “It’s like I’m back in Germany.”

    „Der Laden ist fantastisch!“, rief mir Fiver zu, noch bevor ich mich hinsetzen konnte. „Es ist, als ob ich zurück in Deutschland wär.“

    Although I have several German friends, I’ve never been to Germany before. So I guess I didn’t fully understand the German passion for cakes and bread.

    Obwohl ich einige deutsche Freunde habe, war ich bisher noch nie in Deutschland. Vermutlich verstehe ich daher die deutsche Leidenschaft für Brot und Kuchen nicht so ganz.

    “Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to find proper German cake?” Fiver asked me.

    „Hast Du eine Ahnung, wie schwer es ist, richtigen deutschen Kuchen zu finden?“, fragte mich Fiver.

    I didn’t have any idea. Until now.

    Ich hatte keine Ahnung. Bis jetzt.

    The Black Forest Bakery counter, packed with German treats.

    Die Theke der Black Forest Bakery, brechend voll mit deutschen Gaumenfreuden.

    German Easter bread for sale. The description sounds delicious. I’m not sure why I didn’t buy this.

    Dresdner Osterbrot steht zum Verkauf. Die Beschreibung hört sich verlockend an. Ich bin nicht sicher, warum ich es nicht gekauft habe.

    Fiver pointed to her plate. “I can’t even find brezeln like this in England!” (Fiver and her husband divide their time between England and South Africa.)

    Fiver deutet auf ihren Teller. „Solche Brezeln bekomme ich nicht mal in England!“ (Fiver und ihr Mann teilen ihre Zeit zwischen England und Südafrika auf.)

    I’ve been friends with Fiver for years and she is one of the happiest people I know. But I’m not sure I’d ever seen her this happy before. And I get it. Like every other immigrant in the world, I understand that food is one of the things that people tend to miss most about their home countries. I know how it feels to live overseas and suddenly happen upon a place that tastes like home. It’s a good feeling.

    Ich bin mit Fiver jahrelang befreundet, sie ist eine der glücklichsten Menschen, die ich kenne. Aber ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob ich sie jemals so froh gesehen habe. Und ich verstehe es. Wie allen anderen Auswanderern der Welt ist mir klar, dass typisches Essen eines der Dinge ist, die Menschen aus ihrer Heimat vermissen. Ich weiß ja, wie es sich anfühlt, im Ausland zu leben und plötzlich einen Ort zu entdecken, der sich wie zuhause anfühlt. Das ist ein gutes Gefühl.

    Brezeln displayed in the traditional German way, on long wooden pegs.

    Brezeln werden auf typisch deutsche Art an einer langen Holzstange präsentiert.

    I feel badly that I didn’t tip off Fiver sooner to the Black Forest Bakery. She’s been living in South Africa on and off for years and she could have been enjoying brezeln for breakfast all along. But maybe by publishing this blog post, I can tip off other Germans living in Joburg who are craving the taste of home. If you know any, please pass this along.

    Ich fühl mich ganz mies, dass ich Fiver nicht schon früher den Hinweis auf die Black Forest Bakery gegeben habe. Sie lebt mit Unterbrechungen schon seit Jahren in Südafrika, sie hätte die Brezeln zum Frühstück schon lange genießen können. Aber mit der Veröffentlichung dieses Blogposts kann ich vielleicht anderen Deutschen, die in Joburg leben und sich nach heimatlichem Geschmack sehnen, einen Hinweis geben. Wenn Du einen solchen kennst, sag ihm doch bitte Bescheid.

    My breakfast choice from Black Forest: a pretzel-shaped almond pastry called a mandelbretzel. It was sweet and decadent and delicious.

    Mein Frühstück der Wahl im Black Forest: eine Mandel-Brezel (mandelbretzel). Sie war süß und dekadent und köstlich.

    And even if you’re not German, give the Black Forest Bakery a try the next time you’re in Braamfontein. It’s a nice change of pace from the hipster coffee bloc down the street. Don’t get me wrong — I love hipster coffee. In fact, just after our visit to Black Forest I took Fiver to Father Coffee, which is still my favorite coffee shop in town. But Black Forest also serves decent coffee, and it was so nice to experience Braamfontein from a different perspective.

    Selbst wenn Du kein Deutscher bist, probier die Black Forest Bakery mal aus, wenn Du das nächste Mal in Braamfontein bist. Es ist eine willkommene Abwechslung von den Hipster-Cafés die Straße runter. Versteht mich nicht falsch – ich mag die Hipster-Cafés. Gleich nach dem Besuch von Black Forest nahm ich Fiver zu Father Coffee mit, noch immer mein Lieblingskaffeeladen in der Stadt. Aber im Black Forest gibt es auch ordentlichen Kaffee, und es war einfach angenehm, Braamfontein mal aus anderer Perspektive zu erleben.

    I recommend going early, because there are only two tables and they’re tiny.

    Ich empfehle, möglichst früh hinzugehen, weil es nur zwei Tische gibt, und sie sind klein.

    Sorry, I’d really made a mess of my breakfast by the time I got around to taking this photo.

    Verzeihung, ich hatte mein Frühstück schon angebissen als ich dazu kam, das Foto davon zu machen.

    By the way, while we were there we overheard the Black Forest owner chatting to some colleagues. They were speaking in German but I convinced Fiver to eavesdrop for me, and it sounds like there is a plan in the works to expand the bakery. So hopefully there will soon be more space to eat German cake on-site at the Black Forest Bakery.

    Übrigens, während wir im Black Forest saßen, hörten wir den Besitzer mit einigen Mitarbeitern reden. Sie sprachen auf Deutsch, aber ich konnte Fiver überreden, sie für mich zu belauschen, und es hörte sich so an, als gäbe es Pläne, die Bäckerei zu vergrößern. Also gibt es hoffentlich bald mehr Platz, um den deutschen Kuchen direkt in der Black Forest Bakery zu essen.

    Black Forest Bakery
    102 Juta Street, Braamfontein
    011-403-0065

    • Reply 2summers March 11, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Hi Constanze, wow, thank you so much for doing this! Amazing.

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