What is a friend? I have been reading through various definitions and they are all true, but in the end it’s up to you how you define friendship for yourself. A common belief about Germans is, that they don’t make friends very easily and if they do it lasts for a lifetime. I know a lot of people still being besties with their kindergarden or grad school friends, I for my part must say I haven’t seen those friends in years and that’s perfectly fine. I have never been one of the cool kids, I’ve hung out with different groups of friends and never belonged there for too long. Luckily the pace has slowed down, making new friends becomes harder when you grow up, and sometimes I envy those who have friends they grew up with and still nurture a friendship that roots deep.
I happen to have exactly 1 “old” friend, we met when we were both 16 and she was dating my older brother. Although it didn’t work out with them, it worked out with us. We’ve been friends for half our lives, even though we lost contact when she moved across the river to study in Mainz and finally found each other after some years on facebook… In the meantime she had travelled the world and was on to decide what to do with her life while I had my first job after I graduated. She studied abroad, made friends around the globe, actually is still friends with her grad school bestie and I envy her for all that.
Friends with friends from around the globe make every birthday party and BBQ a very international thing and that’s how I met one of her college friends from Sac State. Apart from the love for Sushi we three shared good conversations and even better laughs. In January 3 years ago we met in the secret capital of the world, Kleiningersheim, to have a blast of a weekend. One day after the anniversary of our fabulous hat-selfie we reunited at Chicago airport to invade the province of Iowa and show them how to have the time of their lives.
When we flew over, the only thing the American amiga asked for were pretzels and Spundekäs, a cheese-based dip. She lived in Germany for some time and her heart has the shape of a pretzel. Since the dip wouldn’t survive the long plane-trip and the pretzels wouldn’t last forever I figured it would be better to learn how to make pretzels myself and teach her. It is easy to bring something to satisfy a craving, but the more sustainable approach is to teach others how to make their own with what they have at hand. So this goes out to all the Americans that miss a good German pretzel and Spundekäs. Continue reading »
March 20th marks not only the beginning of Spring, it is also Macaron Day and I am honoured that today’s recipe is featured on my favourite blog and one & only fandom: Der Kuchenbäcker. The frequent readers may know that I already sang a hymn or two on him, all others are duly invited to check him out.
Macaron Day or Jour du Macaron was initiated 2005 by Pierre Hermé, the godfather of Macarons and Patissiers around the world sell Macarons on this day to fundraise for local charities. I like the concept but unfortunately there is no Patisserie around that takes part. Instead I want to bake some easter cookies again to donate them for a local group here in my town that meets every Sunday to help homeless and other people in need. It’s not just about supplying the people with food and warm beverages, it is also a communication plattform and a meeting point for people in need. None of the people organising it gets paid, everything they give out is donated and they organise via a facebook group. I have been there a few times, mostly to bring some clothes or cake, and stayed there for a while to watch and listen to the people. Most of them have been through a lot and it always reminds me of how small my own problems are. I am very thankful that those people have somewhere to go, normal people to talk to that don’t judge and give them back at least a bit of their dignity. It reminds me of how important it is to give back and to change the perspective on your own live from time to time.
Burger Macarons on Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen 2016
But let’s get back to Macarons, because that’s what you came here for, right? I intended to host a Macaron session at Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen because I think sharing ones knowledge is also a way of giving back. Even though I am not a master myself, a barcamp is a good plattfrom to share what I know and exchange with others. When preparing my session a bit I stumbled over a Macaron inspiration book I bought and wanted to bring to show how diversely decoration of Macarons can be. I don’t like the recipes in there but the decoration ideas are truly great. Thinking about last years cam in Reultingen to be very meaty and since I found my sister-in-meat in last years burger session, I felt I had to burger again. So I spontaneously decided to pack some sesame seeds and a packet of fresh mint I still had at home to pimp my Macarons to be Macaron burgers. Talking about my session at Foodbloggercamp, I still don’t feel good about the chaotic session I held. I really want to apologise to all attendees and thank you for your patience. I can do better than this, I hope you guys at least learned something and if you have any questions just drop me a line! Some special thanks go to Diana, for spontaneously co-hosting the session and sharing her experience, Jana & Isabel for jumping in to help me finish the Macarons, Natalie, for being super flexible and letting me block ‚her‘ kitchen throughout most of her Session and Gyöngyi for putting me back together after I was really upset about my chaotic session.
What I have learned about hosting a session on the barcamp:
It’s a barcamp, so expect the unexpected!
Plan more time! After Berlin I thought doing one recipe in 45 minutes with proper preparation would be a walk in the park. Well… it wasn’t!
Team up and ask for help! Taking care of hot sugar syrup while talking is a bit of a gamble. Even though I had a spontaneous co-host, I suck at delegating, the sugar syrup got too hot and lumped which resulted in a very hard meringue mass that comes out flaky and makes ugly Macarons.
Bring a handout! It’s not the recipe, it’s all the little tips and tricks you have to share from your experience that attendees want. 45 minutes pass so fast and it’s just one of 6-8 sessions a day, so a handout helps to remember what you have shared. It also is a good preparation for the host, cause it makes you think about what you want to share in your session.
Go easy on yourself! It isn’t just you in your kitchen at home all on your own, so don’t expect perfection. This is a tough one for me because I always strive for perfection, especially with Macarons. In my session I talked about how to make perfect Macarons every time and then I deliver lumpy and bumpy Macarons?! Though ugly the Macarons tasted superb, the flavour combination was amazing and the attendees learned a bit too (at least I hope).
My phone gave me a little blast from the past this morning: On this day last year I was in my favourite town, living the good life with a christmassy food tour with French Foodie in Dublin. I have explained my love to Dublin with a lot of words last year, so I spare you a rerun. I rather share some thoughts on the wonderful Instagram photo challenge Ketty initiated with you. I must say I don’t feel ready for christmas yet, but the #FFIDXMAS15 get’s me there. So many beautiful pictures and so many creative people and it’s only day 7. So thanks Ketty for being an inspiration and hosting this challenge. I am dying to see more pictures to inspire until Christmas.
As you might have seen already, todays Motto is „White“ and as December is particularly warm this year (Sunny 13°C today), I let it snow myself with some oats and coconut. I picked up the recipe from my little sister some years back and I love how these cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Continue reading »
After the manflu stroke back and got me out of order for more than a week, I am back on deck and can share some more basic cupcake magic with you. Everyone has a few go-to recipes, some basic stuff that can be used for all sorts of magics with only a few alterations. It’s all about flavours and presentation, mix and match your favourite cupcakes, spice them up with some fruit or flavour and top off with a frosting of your choice. If you’re feeling fancy, you can go all wild with decorations and if you’re not, just spread the frosting with a knife. Whatever you do, you are the boss and you can do anything you like! Continue reading »
In my 2015 Forecast I promised to give you more of dark chocolate, so now you get served. I really love the dark chocolate callets from Callebaut I bought in a wholesale market. Luckily I don’t get there too often, otherwise I’d probably have investend a large amount of money in that very dark, rich and handsome… chocolate! I fell for quality dark chocolate a few years back and believe me or not, it really makes a difference in taste even in a plain chocolate cake, not to mention ganache filling for macarons… So mark my words, an investment in good quality chocolate is always a reasonable investment.
Melt the chocolate and let it cool until lukewarm. In a mixing bowl cream the butter until paler in colour before sifting in the sugar and adding the vanilla extract. Beat for several minutes until well combined and smooth. Last add the melted chocolate and keep beating until the icing is creamy, thick and has a spreadable consistency.
Now I tell you a little secret: If you want to step it up a notch chocolate wise, you can core the cupcakes (with a cupcake corer, with the back of a decorating tip or simply with a teaspoon) and fill in some Nutella before you ice the cupcakes. Top off with chocolate sprinkles and intoduce as „death by chocolate“.
It’s not hard to be inspired these days with so many blogs, magazines and pins, so that I could spend more than a lifetime in the kitchen trying out new things. But cracking it down, my problem is the overflow of inspiration. I am an indecisive person, always have been and always will be. Whenever there are too many options and ideas, I am easily overjoyed what leads to being completely uninspired. That happens to me a lot lately, probably because my day-job has been rather demanding in different ways. But whenever in doubt, I can always rely on Martha Stewart. She is not only an icon, she is also an unfailing source of inspiration for me. For my birthday I got the Martha Stewart Cupcake book and my first try, S’mores Cupcakes, turned out awesome, even the homemade Marshmallow, which allegedly is difficult to do, was amazing. And the reaction to those cupcakes at my friend’s BBQ restored my faith in my baking. Though Martha is da Queen, I have 2 major problems with American recipes: The cups measures (here’s a nice piece on why one is fed up with stupid cups measures) and way too much sugar. That’s why I always convert the recipes and reduce the amount of sugar. Reducing the sugar needs to be balanced because it affects the consistency of the batter and as baking is pure chemistry it’s essential. However I think I have found a good balance and like to present you some nice bake for hot summer days: Keylime Whoopie pies! Whoopie pies are like cakes answer to Macarons, 2 halves of cake sandwiched with a decadent creamy filling. And as the pies only take 10 mins in the oven, they can also be made on warm days. Continue reading »
I am a summer kid, born in June and being in love with the season is in my DNA. I don’t like it particularly hot, so the beginning of summer is the best time of the year for me. It’s when you can get regional asparagus and strawberries on every corner around where I live and I can’t think of anything better. Strawberries have always been my favourite fruit and I could never ever overeat on them. Technically strawberries are not fruits. But they are high in fibre and contain a lot of antioxidants that presumably help against inflammation & cancer, and nonetheless they are simply delicious! When it comes to strawberry cake I prefer the simple option: sponge, generously topped with strawberries and a touch of glaze. I don’t turn down some fresh whipped cream on top, who could deny that?! But unlike pure strawberries I can’t eat all the same cake all the time. Sometimes I need a little twist, so I came up with the idea of a dark chocolate tarte to accompany my favourite fruits. I especially like the combination of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweet fruitiness of the berries, a combination to win a spot in my heart! Continue reading »
I usaly don’t make promises, but if I do, I keep them, no matter what. That sometimes ends in last minute shopping just minutes to midnight and endless hours in the kitchen to get things right, especially when foolproof recipes fail in the first attempt. But I like to be challenged because it is the only way to push your boundaries and to better your best. There are a few people in my live that seem to have a greater trust in me than I have myself. I have this one colleague, I like to refer to him as „the nag“, who keeps pushing me and seems to have an unlimited belief in my baking skills. He once told another colleague that I make fantastic Macarons even though I never made them before and he didn’t know. But he extrapolated from the given data (all the cakes and stuff that I brought to the office over the year) that I must be capable of making soft French Macarons, to me the Queen of baked goods, naturally. When someone you hardly know believes in you no matter what, you start to believe that the people close to you also might have a point apart from pampering you because they like you and finally, you start to believe in yourself. I’m blessed with a wonderful family and awesome friends who give me honest and mostly good feedback all the time, but still it is this nag who pushes me over the edge and makes me bake even braver. Continue reading »
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 »