German baker Michael Bock holds one of his creations at
his specialty store. Feng Yongbin
German with 31 years' experience runs bakery in downtown Beijing
Filling display cases in the cozy South German Bakery along Lucky Street in the Liangmaqaio area of Beijing, the creations of master baker Michael Bock include 16 different German breads, more than 30 types of rolls and range of delectable cakes and pastries.
With more than 31 years of experience and officially certified as a German master baker, Bock learned the profession like generations before him have in old European tradition - by serving three years as an apprentice and then passing a test.
He then needed three to five years work experience and another year of study to qualify for the master baker's test, which in Germany permits him to then teach apprentices and open his own shop.
The native of Kassel came to Beijing and started working at the bakery 15 months ago.
He can create almost any shape out of bread - braided baskets, hearts, flowers, animals, and of course, the usual loaves.
He even filled request to create a Bible out of bread. For such special decorative pieces customers are advised to order at least three days in advance.
True to his status as a certified master, Bock also teaches students who want to learn the craft.
Courses cost 300 yuan per student with six to eight students needed for the three-hour class.
No stranger to fame, Bock and his bread creations were featured on Japanese television during his six-year stint working in Kanazawa.
Many of the techniques are time honored.
He explains that "for dark bread, you need sourdough and we make our own sourdough naturally," a process that takes 72 hours using a process of mixing rye flour with water and letting it sit at room temperature.
South German Bakery makes 30 kinds of cakes, including as Black Forest (290 yuan) and cheesecake (270 yuan) that need at least one day in advance to order.
Its Grandma's Apple Cake (20 yuan per piece) was delicious and big. With a sweet and crispy crust topped with powdered sugar, each piece contains a fourth of a whole apple.
The bakery prepares freshly made sandwiches (20 to 30 yuan), farmer salads (28 yuan) and to-go breakfast (muesli, yogurt and fresh fruit, 25 yuan) for busy people on the run.
The second floor of the bakery has a restaurant called Bodenseestub that serves traditional German food such as pork knuckle (98 yuan for 1 kg) and sausages (60 yuan).
The restaurant's chef Marx Kurt is from Bock's hometown of Kassel, where he owns his own restaurant named Komdienstadl.
He returns to Kassel for a week every month look after the restaurant as well as bring back some popular recipes and ideas.
The Beijing restaurant features rotating weekly specials and weekend breakfasts ranging from French (45 yuan) to luxury (105 yuan).
The luxury breakfast includes a mixed bread basket, smoked salmon, ham, salami, scrambled eggs, bacon and glass of orange juice.
The bakery's owner, who declined to be named, opened it to provide Germans and other Europeans a "home away from home".
It is open seven days a week from 7 am to 10 pm, and offers 20 percent discount on all bread after 7 pm.
The restaurant is open from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm.