Known throughout Germany as Mandelbrot, mandel bread is a traditional old world bread that is distinguished by a tough exterior that is paired with a wide range of ingredients to create a tasty treat. Popular in a number of cultures, mandel bread is similar to the hard bread Italian biscotti, and can be served in many of the same settings. The basic recipe for mandel bread can be made into a loaf that is sliced into sections, or prepared as small cookies.
The list of ingredients that can be used to enhance the flavor of mandel bread include such sweets as chocolate bits and dried fruits. Crushed nuts are also a popular addition to mandel bread, along with distilled extracts like vanilla, lemon, or butter rum. In a manner similar to biscotti, mandel bread can be prepared with added flavorings within the mixture, or as a topping or garnish on the exterior of the finished product.
Mandel bread is an excellent choice when a simple yet elegant dessert is desired for an evening meal. Thin sections of mandel bread are also often served as part of afternoon coffee or tea. Because mandel bread requires no additional sauces or dips in order to be enjoyed, the section of bread can be dipped into the coffee, or simply enjoyed as a side item. The hard texture of mandel bread allows the treat to absorb the liquid and still retain a crispy quality, which many people find desirable.
While mandel bread is usually made with bleached flour, there are several variations that are considered acceptable. Whole-wheat flour can provide an additional layer of flavor to the bread, while persons who wish to avoid wheat altogether may consider using rice flour instead. When preparing mandel bread for Jewish holidays, it is possible to substitute potato starch and matzo cake for the flour, and still produce a tasty bread with the correct texture.