It’s no secret that Germany is the home of edible Christmas anticipation. I grew up with baking tons of Christmas cookies, Lebkuchen and Stollen during advent season, just like everyone else in Germany. Back in kindergarden and school we had baking afternoons and cookie recipe swaps and for our family christmas gatherings everyone brought cookies that were all different. One of my aunts always makes the largest variety of cookies, more than 10 types at least and so that you can eat through all of them in one sitting she makes them tiny miniature versions. I especially like her Florentine buiscuits. My other aunt made the hardest cinnamon stars I have ever had in my life, they even top the ones than my mother made once and almost chipped my teeth. The general pattern in my family is that we all make a variety of classic christmas cookies like butter cookies or cinnamon stars and some experimental new ones each year like coconut oat crisps. Be it my mother, sister or aunts, we all have that in common. The other thing I noticed is that with all our experience and preferences the same exact cookie can taste totally different like for example coconut macaroons. Even though recipes are often passed on between all of us, the outcome is never the same.
A bright example of that is the Stollen, a German fruit bread that can be baked in advance and can be stored for weeks. Stollen has a long history in Germany, it goes back to the 15th century. Traditional Stollen is made with yeast, however my mother makes one with Quark/Curd that is more moist and doesn’t taste yeasty (which I don’t like too much). A few years back my mother passed me the copy of her Stollen recipe and I made it myself for the first time. But I couldn’t resist changing the recipe, like I do with almost any recipe I try out of books or the internet… Stollen contains dried fruit, such as raisins and currants, I even put cranberries once, and candied orange and lemon peel, which I find rather disgusting itself. So when I made my first Stollen I gladly let the peel out and added a core of marzipan to it. Over the years I have learned a lot, tried out a lot and brought my recipe to perfection*. I hope I can inspire you to try out yourself and enjoy a nice slice of Stollen underneath the christmas tree.
*Due to the current lack of oven I baked at my Sister’s and my Stollen was not baked through completely as you might see in the pictures. On top I forgot to add the baking powder, even though she asked me if we needed it… That’s what I get for not reading my own recipes carefully… Continue reading »
I managed to stay on track with my daily Bujo routine for exactly 66 days. It’s longer than I expected and shorter than I hoped for it to last. I know why this daily thing isn’t for me. I have adjusted my bujo to fit my schedule and I like the way I use it now much more. I really hoped the Bujo would help me with my writing motivation and to update my blog more often. Truth is I was looking for the answer literally in the wrong book. I suffered from a writer’s block, I have started on a few recipes, but for some reason I couldn’t publish them. Why? Because I didn’t get into the zone, I wasn’t happy with what I wrote and thought: „this isn’t me“! I started this blog to keep track of my baking endavours but also to share personal things with my readers, like why I like or made something, who I made it for or what it reminds me of. If readers just wanted a recipe they would rather check a database and not a blog. In my opinion blogs ARE personal. Not the journal kind of personal, but giving the reader a peak into the writer’s life. After reading a few blogs for a long time, I feel as if I know the writer and I can relate. This is what I want for my reader’s too. I don’t want this to be a soulless recipe database, I want this to be a living blog, reflecting my life and give you a peak into my life.
That is hard for me sometimes. In the past months I simply didn’t feel like sharing. Not that I had nothing to say, I simply did not want to. I tried to let it go, wait for it to come back to me, I forced myself and then even made a list post…! But nothing… And while I was looking for my voice to come back, it hit me: I should start with the people in my life. Because without the people around me, my life wouldn’t be as happy, rich, eventful and filled with laughter.
One of these people is Nadine. Along with some other bloggers we met at a fair last year and I liked her from the first second. She is a warm, welcoming, likable and energetic person. She is not only the girl with the complicated blogname (dipi..t..serenity), for some reason she and her style remind me of holidays. She is a go-getter, knows what she wants and is very creative. Nadine is someone to look up to, not just because she is tall 😉 I was honoured I had the chance to write a guest-post on her fantastic (German) Food- and Travelblog in June while she was on a roadtrip through Dixieland. The first 3 things that come to my mind when I think about Dixie are music, country and Mississippi mud pie. Perhaps because I am a chocoholic… And with all my fellow chocoholics out there I’d like to share this recipe.
It has been quiet here for the last weeks and it is easy to explain why: I lost my baking Mojo! Seriously, I couldn’t be bothered to bake at all! Unbelievable, right? The lack of motivation to write strikes quite regularly on me and over time I found ways to get myself back into a regular schedule quite easily, but I have never had a lack of baking lust ever. Even in stressful times I squeeze in a little baking to relax and release the pressure. But the last few weeks were different, never ever has baking itself put so much pressure on me. I felt guilty, washed out and demotivated at the same time and knew whatever I was going to bake, it wouldn’t meet my standards. So I chose to relax and hope that it’ll all come back to me soon. Last weekend I had promised to bring four cakes to a family birthday party, so no more excuses, I MUST bake ‚cause letting someone down is not an option for me. A Black Forest Cherry Cake, 24 Frankfurt Crown Cupcakes, a tray of Apple Streusel and a Strawberry Cake later my Mojo was finally back.
It’s good to know that you can still rely on your skills, no matter if you currently love what you do or not. It might be easier, but sometimes it is just hard work that will pay off in the end. My reward were the smiles on people’s faces and that’s all that matters to me in the end: Making people happy with baked goodies. That’s exactly why I love baking and then it all made sense again. Live has funny ways of teaching you lessons sometimes… Continue reading »
Food is like people, some are born to be models and some are just unphotogenic. I belong to the latter group, it’s hard to get a good picture of me and the same applies to anything with streusels (or crumbles as the Americans say). But Streusels are ubiquitous in German baking, if you ever entered a bakery in Germany you can tell and I want to share a recipe with you. It is not like we Germans put streusel on everything, but on almost everything. There is an overwhelming variety of sweet pastries available in German bakeries, often eaten for breakfast, second breakfast or around coffee time. And I’d guess that at least half of these sweet „Stückchen“ (pieces of pastry) come with streusels and different fillings like custard, curd, fruit or you-name-it.
Streusels are Grandma-style and down-to-earth, I guess that’s why everybody loves them. Even when the dough is too dry or compact, the crumbly cover makes up for it. When I was a kid I loved eating raw streusels and I often sneaked back into the kitchen just when the cake came out of the oven to burn my fingers & tongue while ’stealing‘ some steaming hot streusels from the sides of the cake.
My favorite streusel cake comes with a poppy seed filling, but during winter time I prefer apple streusel. Make sure you use apples that are not too juicy so your dough base does not get soaked. If you only have juicy apples at hand, sprinkle some bread crumbs on the dough before placing the apples. Continue reading »
I love boozy bakes! Don’t get me wrong I am no alcoholic, but even when I was a child the boozy cakes were the ones I loved the most. It was special when I was allowed to skim the foam of Dad’s beer glass or eat a piece of Black Forest Cherry Cake on a birthday, sometimes Mum even poured some advokaat over our shortly microwaved chocolate marshmallows for an extra treat. Whenever there was a bit of leftover red wine, my mother turned it into this delicious and moist cake. I now do this myself whenever we open a bottle we don’t like, so the taste of this cake varies with the wine you use, but it is always scrumtious and keeps fresh vor 3-4 days. My sister tweaked the recipe a little with more chocolate sprinkles (who could say no to more chocolate?!?) and I stole it from her so you can also start to save that wine from the drain! Continue reading »
I know, I promised German posts and I am very eager to start but there are some technical hurdles that I need to tackle first. I am on it, just you wait and see. But let’s talk cake! It was a friends 30th birthday and I offered to bring cake for her party. As I know she does not like Fondant at all and loves chocolate, I was looking for a pretty but not to posh design with chocolate, that fits a garden party with kids. I’ve seen this Kitkat cake many times before on blogs and Pinterest and thought it would make a brilliant fit. But just plain cake with decoration was not enough as a real birthday present. So I decided to lift it up a little with hiding a message in the cake. Also a thing that I have seen before, liked the idea a lot but never tried myself. I am always suspicious with trying new stuff for special occasions as I had bad luck with that in the past, so I decided to do a test cake. The test cake results were not as good as I hoped them to be but helped me figure what to do different on the real cake. I bought another set of cutters that was larger and therefore better visible in the cake slice (and to prevent floating numbers as happened in the test cake) and added more baking time for the large cake (as the test cake was slightly underdone in the center).
I must say, the hardest part was the wait. You can’t come to a party with an already cut cake, especially when it is the present. So I had to wait until the birthday girl cut the cake to find out if my plan worked out and the numbers remained in place. You can imagine how happy I was when the first 2 slices she pulled out were absolutely PERFECT with a clear number in the center. Well I jumped through the garden like a small kid on Christmas day on a sugar rush… All the guests were amazed by the filling and only 1 person guessed what kind of magic is needed to create the effect. The magic unveiled… Continue reading »
Those of you who follow my instagram know already that I paid my annual visit to the Apfelweinfestival (aka Cider Festival) in Frankfurt some weeks ago. I love applewine and thus the festival. It takes place in the center of Frankfurt city and always comes with the most hilarious stage acts that you can imagine and lots of different cider makers from around Frankfurt. We went during the day but that did not keep us from trying out various variations of cider and enjoying the stage highlights. On my way home, I was craving my Mum’s Applewine Cake so much that I had to make some. When I fiddled out the recipe lightning struck me. Funny how a hyphen can shatter your entire world. I always thought it was applewine (as in cider) and not apple-wine (just apples and real wine) cake for all my life. No I know better and transformed it into Apple Cider Cake.
Recently a friend of mine asked me if I could make some cake and cookies for her sons birthday. As it was a Knight-themed party and included a treasure hunt on the woods, it had to be sugar cookue coins and a castle-cake, easy to transport, suitable for kids and outdoors on a hot day. I started to look for inspirations and found a lot of cool looking stuff, but most of these cakes were neither transportable not suitable for kids. Plus I had to chose something I’d be able to do with a sore leg. After a lot of thinking it came down to the simplest solution: A square cake cut out as a 2D-castle. Zebra cake with sugar icing should do the trick.
This cake is rather simple to make but has a stunning zebra-stripe effect, that makes sassy and unique. It tastes so good, is very moist but solid enough to cut it into shape. I’ve been doing a lot of those zebra cakes in my baking life, it was actually the first cake that I ever made all on my own. It is my mothers swiss-army-knife cake, suitable for every shape or occasion you can imagine, from Easter lambs over giant car-shaped birthday cakes to cake reindeers. I associate darn good memories with this cake though I haven’t been making it very often since I moved out of my Mums house. It’s the star at every Kiddie Party and even amazes grown ups. But shhhhh don’t tell them it is this easy! Continue reading »
Confessions of a baking addict: I am am obsessed with bakeware. I have tons of baking tins in all kinds of shapes but keep using only a fraction of them. But how many do you need? Many books suggest to aquire a loaf tin, a 8″ round one, a 9″ square pan and a bakingt tray. In addition some also suggest a 8″ tarte tin with removable base.
I own all of them except for the 8″ round, along with a few muffin tins, a round and a square 26 cm spring form, various bigger and smaller tarte tins, tartelette circles, Spongebobs, 3-tier-cakes, eastereggs, Santa Clauses and a lot of other stuff. Not to mention the million cookie cutters I bought over time and all the other equipment that keeps piling up in my basement. And still I catch myself urging to buy those 8″ sandwich tins or other things when browsing TK Maxx or the local kitchen appliance store. I don’t allow myself to buy anything new unless I kick out something else, but apparently I need to declutter my utensils in the near future… Continue reading »