Saturday, December 4, 2010


Looking for a birthday cake for my smart and pretty, but lactose intolerant stepdaughter, I leafed through my German and Austrian pastry baking books. Nearly every one of those gorgeous torte recipes listed whipping cream as main ingredient.

The solution to this problem? Here it comes: chocolate lover's dream and almost lactose free - Nougat Torte for a lactose challenged, chocolate loving, no teetotaler birthday girl!

CAKE (12 - 16 servings)
60 g/2.1 oz all-purpose flour
60 g/2.1 oz hazelnuts, ground
50 g/1.8 oz bread crumbs
1 heaping tsp. cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
60 g/2.1 oz butter, softened
20 g/0.7 oz sugar
70 g/2.5 oz almond paste, chopped or coarsely grated
7 egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
7 egg whites
70 g/2.5 oz sugar

250 g/8.8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
130 g/4.6 oz whipping cream (or pureed silken tofu)
250 g/8.8 oz Nutella
200 g/7 oz butter

60 g/2.1 oz water (1/4 cup)
3/4 tsp. brown sugar
45 g/1.6 oz rum

1 nougat bar (if you can't get the chocolate kind of nougat, use 1/2 bar semisweet chocolate)
50 g/1.8 oz almond slices, toasted

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Line bottom of 28 cm/11" springform pan with parchment paper, and grease.

Add flour, hazelnuts, bread crumbs, cocoa and cinnamon to bowl of food processor (or mini chopper), and pulse until nuts are sufficiently ground.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, 20 g sugar, almond paste, egg yolks and vanilla extract until creamy. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with 75 g sugar until stiff.

Fold first egg whites into butter mixture. Then fold in flour mixture. Transfer to prepared springform pan, smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Let completely cool on wire rack.

To make the nougat cream:
In a saucepan, cook cream until hot, remove from heat, and stir in chopped chocolate, until melted. Then stir in Nutella, until smooth (place back on switched-off, but still warm stove, if necessary). (If using silken tofu, melt chocolate first, then stir in tofu and Nutella).

Let mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer to mixer bowl, add butter, and beat until creamy.

To assemble:
Remove cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Cut horizontally in three layers. In a small bowl, mix ingredients for rum mixture. With potato peeler, shave nougat or chocolate bar into thin stripes.

Place bottom layer of cake on platter, and brush with rum mixture. Generously spread nougat cream over cake bottom. (The amount of nougat cream is enough for covering every cake layer generously. But don't forget to save some of it for the pastry bag!) Sprinkle with 2/3 of nougat or chocolate shavings.

Place second cake layer on top, brush with rum mixture, and cover with nougat cream. Place third layer on top. Brush with rum mixture, then spread nougat cream evenly over top and sides of cake. Fill rest of cream in pastry bag with large star tip, and garnish torte with nougat cream rosettes. Sprinkle top with rest of nougat or chocolate shavings. Then sprinkle toasted almond slices over top and sides.

Keep torte in a cool place. Keeps fresh at least for 3 days.

Adapted from Karl Neef: "Sonntagskuchen & Festtagstorten"

Friday, November 19, 2010


125 g all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
75 g butter
1 egg
30 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
25 g almond meal

750 g apples, mixed, (I used Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Macoun)
juice of 1 lemon
150 g butter, softened
75 g brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
20 ml Apfelkorn or Calvados
100 g all-purpose flour
250 ml whipping cream
25 g almond slivers

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. Butter a 1/4-sheet pan.

In mixer bowl, sieve together flour and baking powder. Add butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and almond meal. Knead at low speed until all comes together, then switch to medium speed and continue kneading until smooth. Wrap dough in foil and refrigerate for 30 min.

Roll out dough to size of sheet pan. Transfer to pan and press dough up around sides to shape a small rim. Prick with fork several times.

Bake 12 - 15 min. (After taking cake out, reduce heat to 350 F/180 C)

Peel (only green ones) and slice apples. Toss in lemon juice. Set aside. (Red apple skin looks nice when baked, the green turns brownish).

In mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, vanilla extract, egg, lemon zest, Apfelkorn (or Calvados) and flour, mixing well after each addition.

Whisk whipping cream until stiff. Fold into filling, and spread evenly over pre-baked crust. Top with apples and sprinkle with almonds.

Place in lower third of oven. Bake at 350 F/180 C for ca. 35 min. (if top browns too much, cover with aluminum foil).

Adapted from Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen".

A bag full of apples, a dreary day and German Apfelkuchen - Eine Tüte voller Äpfel, ein trüber Tag und Apfelkuchen

Last week we bought a bag full of assorted apples from a farmer. Not only the bag was huge, the size of some of the apples (Macoun) was gigantic, too. What to do with all these beautiful apples? A dreary day makes you think of comfort food, and there's that old saying: "Life is uncertain - eat the dessert first". I'm never one to resist the craving for dessert, anyway, and the oven was still warm from baking bread in the morning.

Among my cookbooks is one exclusively on apple cakes (Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen"). I made already a few of them, but wanted to try something new. Many of the cakes are baked on a sheet pan, the kind Americans call "bars" and Germans "Schnitten". I wanted it to be simple, with a lot of apples, some nuts and, preferably, some liquor in it.

Since I don't have to feed a big family I divided my chosen recipe by half, added more apples and, also, different kinds for a more complex taste. The original calls for Amaretto, but I didn't have any, and my husband doesn't care too much for it, either. Also, I liked the idea of an additional apple flavor, so I took the Apfelkorn I had in my cupboard (I'm sure Calvados would have been a great choice, too). I used brown sugar instead of white, and, also, reduced the overall amount of sugar - it's still sweet enough.

It turned out really nice, with a fresh, strong apple taste - and just a hint of booze:
Apple Cake with Almonds and Apfelkorn Cream.

Letzte Woche haben wir eine Tüte
mit verschiedenen Äpfel vom Bauern gekauft. Nicht nur die Tüte war riesig, auch die Grösse einiger der Äpfel (Macoun) war gewaltig. Wohin nun mit all diesen schönen Äpfeln? Ein trüber Tag wird durch leckeres Essen erträglicher, und ausserdem gibt es den alten Spruch: "Das Leben ist ungewiss - iss den Nachtisch zuerst!" Ich gehöre sowieso nicht zu den Leuten, die einem Dessert widerstehen können, und ausserdem war der Ofen noch warm vom Brotbacken am Morgen.

Eins meiner Kochbücher ist ausschliesslich Apfelkuchen gewidmet (Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen"). Ich hab schon ein paar davon gebacken, aber ich wollte etwas Neues ausprobieren. Viele der Kuchen sind Blechkuchen von der Art, die Amerikaner als "Bars"(= Riegel) und Deutsche als "Schnitten" bezeichnen. Ich wollte einen einfachen Kuchen, mit vielen Äpfeln, einigen Nüssen, und vorzugsweise auch etwas Alkohol.

Da ich keine grosse Familie ernähren muss, halbierte ich das Rezept meiner Wahl, nahm mehr Äpfel, und dazu unterschiedliche Sorten für einen komplexeren Geschmack. Im Original steht zwar Amaretto, aber ich hatte keinen da, und Richard mag ihn sowieso nicht besonders. Ausserdem gefiel mir die Idee von noch mehr Apfelaroma, daher nahm ich den Apfelkorn, den ich im Schrank hatte (Calvados wäre sicher auch eine gute Wahl gewesen). Ich benutzte braunen Zucker anstatt von weissem, und reduzierte den Gesamtzuckergehalt um Einiges - der Kuchen ist auch so noch süss genug.

Das Ergebnis war wirklich lecker, mit einem frischen, intensiven Apfelgeschmack - und einem Hauch von Schnaps: Apfelkuchen mit Mandeln und Apfelkorn-Creme!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Now and then I need some toasted bread. The supermarket varieties are, of course, off limits. A loaf that cowardly yields, without putting up any resistance to my probing finger, is not worthy of a Black Forrest ham or Fontina cheese topping. I want my toast to delicately soften a bit when I spread it with butter - not disintegrating into mash!

Even biting in a sandwich bread it's nice to find a little bit to chew on. A mix of flours and grains, like rolled oats, cornmeal and bran, also gives it a more complex flavor. And sesame seeds makes a topping that doesn't only look attractive, but, also,  adds a delicious crunchiness.

This is my take on Peter Reinhart's "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire" from The Bread Baker's Apprentice), with some alterations and, I hope, improvements - a very tasty, "un-squishy" bread that really deserves the goodies I put on top - even if it's not toasted.

MULTIGRAIN SANDWICH BREAD  (adapted from Peter Reinhart: The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

100 g/3.5 oz whole wheat flour
28 g/1 oz corn meal, coarse grind (Polenta)
28 g/1 oz bread flour
28 g/1 oz cooked brown rice
21 g/0.75 oz rolled oats
7 g/0.25 oz wheat or oat bran
4 g salt (1/2 tsp.)
113 g/4 oz buttermilk
28 g/1 oz water

227 g/8 oz bread flour
1 g instant yeast (1/4 tsp.)
142 g/5 oz water

Final Dough
all soaker and biga
28 g/1 oz bread flour
19 g/0.7 oz honey or brown sugar
7 g/0.25 oz salt
5 g/0.2 instant yeast

lightly beaten egg or egg white, for brushing
2 tsp. sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Stir together all soaker ingredients, until all flour is hydrated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature.

In mixer bowl, stir together all biga ingredients at low speed (or with hand), until a coarse ball forms (1-2 minutes). Knead at medium-low speed (or with hand) for 2 minutes. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 1 more minute.

Transfer biga to a lightly oiled bowl, and roll it around to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place into fridge (remove 2 hours before using, to warm up).

Mix all ingredients for final dough at low speed for 1-2 minutes, until a coarse ball forms (if mixing by hand, cut starter and biga into 12 smaller pieces for easier distribution). Switch to medium-low speed and knead 4 minutes, adjusting with a little more flour, if needed (dough should be very tacky). Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Resume kneading for 1 more minute (dough should be soft, supple and tacky, but not sticky). Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC, including a steam pan. Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter, pat into a square and roll up to shape a sandwich loaf. Place in lightly oiled loaf pan, seam side down. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and score lengthwise.

Mist loaf with oil, cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel, and proof for about 45 - 60 minutes at room temperature, or until it has grown to 1 1/2 times its original size, and a dimple, made with your finger, comes back a little bit, but stays visible (finger poke test).

Place bread in oven, pour 1 cup of boiling water into steam pan, and reduce heat to 350ºF/175ºC. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate loaf 180 degrees, and continue baking for about 20 minutes more. Bread should register at least 195ºF/90ºC in center, and be golden brown.

Remove pan (loaf should sound hollow when thumped on bottom), and let cool on wire rack.

Monday, November 1, 2010


225 g chocolate wafers (2 cups crumbs)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
99 g butter, melted (7 tbsp.)

680 g cream cheese (3 packages), at room temperature
235 g pumpkin purée (1 cup)
12 g all-purpose flour (2 tbsp.)
1 pinch salt
150 g sugar (3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp. ginger, ground
3 tbsp. Port
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C (rack in center of oven). Line sides of 9"/23 cm springform pan with parchment paper.

In food processor, pulse wafers until crushed to fine crumbs. Add brown sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to medium bowl, and stir in melted butter, until crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly.

Transfer mixture to springform pan and press evenly onto bottom (with flat bottomed measuring cup). Bake until crust is fragrant, 9 - 12 min. Let pan cool on rack. Lower oven temperature to 300 F/150 C.

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, pumpkin purée, flour, and a pinch of salt on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl and paddle as needed, until very smooth and fluffy, ca. 5 min. (Make sure cheese has no lumps). Add sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add cinnamon, ginger, Port and vanilla, and beat until blended, ca. 30 sec. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don't overbeat at this point or cheesecake will puff too much). Pour filling into cooled crust and smooth top.

Bake at 300 F/150 C until center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 - 65 min. Cake will be slightly puffed around edges, and center will still look moist. Cool completely on rack.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hrs. (Cake can be frozen for up to 1 month).

To freeze cake: put unmolded, cooled cake on baking sheet in freezer, uncovered, until top is cold and firm; then wrap in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of foil. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

Comment: This is another variation of the great cheesecake master recipe formula in "Fine Cooking".

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Every German butcher offers Fleischsalat (meat salad) for the same reason that supermarkets in Maine offer lobster bisque - to use their leftovers. Fleischsalat is made with ham or bologna, pickled gherkins (I don't like the very salty kind) and mayonnaise.

In Germany Fleischsalat is such a common cold cut that you won't find any recipes for it. I know what is in there, so I came up with my own version. You can use any kind of ham, cooked, smoked, roasted (or bologna) for it.

I like fresh herbs in my Fleischsalat

The mayonnaise should be of good quality, and you can add chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or dill, if you wish.

For a little bit of zing I like adding horseradish sauce. Seasoning with salt is not necessary, the ham is salty enough.

FLEISCHSALAT (4 - 6 servings)

227 g cooked ham, (8-oz package)
100 g pickled cucumbers (2 large pieces)
100 g mayonnaise, good quality
1 tbsp. horseradish sauce (optional)
1 tbsp. parsley, chives, or dill, chopped (optional)
black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Barrel pickles work well - they are not too salty

Cut ham and pickles into small cubes.

In a bowl, mix together cubed ham, pickles, mayonnaise, horseradish sauce and chopped herbs. Season with pepper to taste (adding extra salt is not necessary).

Serve on Feinbrot, Aroma Bread, Bauernbrötchen (or any other good bread).

Fleischsalat tastes good on Feinbrot

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rain and Pumpkin - Regen und Kürbis

It's raining cats and dogs, the first cold rainy days after a glorious spring and summer. Speaking of dogs - Buffy didn't even want to put a paw outside this morning! Now, of course, being near a 550 degrees hot oven means cozy comfort, not an ordeal, like a few weeks earlier.

Now pumpkins are everywhere, and remind me of my grandmother's wonderful Pomeranian Pickled Pumpkins. Every year she bought one of those giant pumpkins, and, during an afternoon of hard labor, cut it down, cooked it with vinegar and spices, and filled a long line of glasses with golden pumpkin pieces embedded in aromatic syrup. Every family member received his or her share, to be served with roasts and rice dishes.

I'm thinking of the perfect bread to celebrate the season. Last year I baked a whole spelt pumpkin bread that was quite good, but this year I wanted to make it even better - and nicer to look at.

Giant cookie cutters are a great way to score and decorate a bread. But its pattern shows best when the dough is not too dark. Therefore I lightened this year's pumpkin bread with some white flour. The result: a tasty and beautiful loaf celebrating autumn.

Draussen regnet's junge Hunde, der erste kalte und regnerische Tag nach einem glorreichen Frühling und Sommer. Da wir gerade von Hunden reden - Buffy wollte heute morgen nicht mal eine Pfote nach draussen setzen! Natürlich ist es jetzt sehr gemütlich, sich in der Nähe eines 260 Grad heissen Backofens aufzuhalten, nicht so eine Strapaze wie vor ein paar Wochen.

Überall sieht man Kürbisse, sie erinnern mich an Omis wunderbare eingelegte Pommersche Kürbisse. Jedes Jahr kaufte sie einen dieser Riesenkürbisse, zerteilte ihn in einem Nachmittag harter Arbeit, kochte ihn mit Essig und Gewürzen und füllte eine lange Reihe Gläser mit goldenen Kürbisstücken, eingelegt in würzigen Sirup. Jedes Familienmitglied erhielt seinen oder ihren Anteil, um ihn zu Braten oder Reisgerichten zu servieren.

Ich habe über ein perfektes Brot zur Feier der Jahreszeit nachgedacht. Letztes Jahr habe ich ein ziemlich gutes Weizenvollkorn-Kürbisbrot gebacken, aber dieses Jahr wollte ich es noch besser - und dekorativer - machen.

Riesenausstechformen eignen sich sehr gut, um Brot einzukerben und zu verzieren. Aber das Muster ist dann am besten erkennbar, wenn der Teig nicht zu dunkel ist. Deshalb habe ich das diesjährige Kürbisbrot mit etwas weissem Mehl aufgehellt. Das Ergebnis: ein leckeres und schönes Brot, um den Herbst zu feiern.

Monday, September 27, 2010


150 g all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat pastry flour (or also all-purpose flour)
100 g sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
150 g butter, cold, cut in small cubes
1 egg
50 g/1/4 cup almond slices or slivers
500 g prune plums

In the bowl of a mixer, stir together flour, sugar and cinnamon. Add butter cubes and egg. Mix with paddle attachment (or dough hook) until streusel form. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. Adjust rack to lower middle position.

Cut plums in halves and remove pits. Line bottom of 26 cm/10 inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Transfer half of the chilled streusel dough into pan, and press down to make the crust.

Distribute plum halves evenly over streusel bottom. Mix other half of streusel with almond slices and scatter evenly over the plums.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

There must be hundreds of Pflaumenkuchen recipes out there - this one is easy to make, and tastes best when slightly warm and served with vanilla ice cream.

September Birthday Cake - Geburtstagskuchen im September

There's no doubt about it - Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake) is my birthday cake. In the beginning of September the first prune plums show up on the market just in time for my birthday.

My birthday party was always arranged by my grandmother, my Omi, who invested all her love and imagination in coming up with games and other entertainment for me and my friends. She definitely was my role model on how to make a child's birthday party a huge success!

"Hide-and-Seek" (in the dark), "Choose-the-Right-Candy", "Say-Whom-You-Love" and "Unwrap-the-Chocolate" (with fork and knife!) were some of the games that raised excitement and noise levels to heights that called for quiet intervals of soap bubble blowing, or story telling, to calm down all the boisterous little guests.

Of course my grandmother also baked my birthday cake, a large sheet brimming full of prune plums resting on a bed of sweet yeast dough, generously sprinkled with almonds and cinnamon sugar. I loved that cake, and could eat a lot of it (though not quite as much as on those memorable occasions when my cousin Thomas and I would compete at gobbling up Omi's famous yeast dumplings!).

Nowadays, if I do not have to entertain a horde of hungry cake monsters, I bake a smaller plum cake version, either with a short or a streusel crust, in a springform pan. They taste as good as the large yeasted cake - especially with Gifford's award winning vanilla ice cream...

Es gibt keinen Zweifel - mein Geburtstagskuchen ist Pflaumenkuchen. Anfang September tauchen die ersten Zwetschen auf dem Markt auf, gerade rechtzeitig zu meinem Geburtstag.

Meine Kindergeburtstage wurden immer von meiner Omi ausgerichtet, die all ihre Liebe und Fantasie einsetzte, um sich Spiele und andere Unterhaltung fuer mich und meine Freunde einfallen zu lassen. Sie war definitiv mein Vorbild dafuer, wie man einen Kindergeburtstag zum Riesenerfolg werden laesst!

"Mops im Dunklen", "Bonbontipp", "Sage, wen liebst du?" und "Schokoladen-Auspacken" (mit Messer und Gabel!) waren einige der Spiele, die Spannung und Laermpegel auf Hoehen trieben, die ruhige Intervalle mit Seifenblasen oder Geschichtenerzaehlen erforderten, um all die kleinen, laermenden Gaeste wieder zu beruhigen.

Natuerlich backte meine Omi auch meinen Geburtstagskuchen, ein grosses Blech voll Pflaumen auf einem Bett von suessem Hefeteig, grosszuegig mit Mandelblaettchen und Zimtzucker bestreut. Ich liebte diesen Kuchen, und konnte eine Menge davon essen (obwohl nicht ganz so viel wie bei den denkwuerdigen Gelegenheiten, wenn mein Cousin Thomas und ich uns um die Wette mit Omis beruehmten Hefekloessen vollstopften!).

Heutzutage, wenn ich nicht gerade eine Horde hungriger Kuchenmonster zu fuettern habe, backe ich eine kleinere Pflaumenkuchenversion, entweder mit Muerbeteig- oder mit Streuselboden, in einer Springform. Sie schmecken ebenso gut wie der grosse Hefekuchen - ganz besonders mit Giffords preisgekroentem Vanilleeis...

Monday, September 20, 2010


Onion or Leek Tart - here the leek version

It's this time of the year again - the garden is full of red leaves, the cats stay more indoors, and the temperatures are finally falling.

Time for the perfect savory fall pastry: Zwiebelkuchen from Alsace, a wonderful companion for young (or old) wine, that we like serving to guests.

A Spanish onion (or two leeks).....
..... plus ham and cheese for the filling

It's fast and easy to make, with frozen puff pastry for the crust, a large Spanish sweet onion (or a couple of leeks) and any aromatic hard cheese you have at hand. Don't go skinny on the cream, you want a smooth and satiny filling.

(6 servings)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 large Spanish onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
60 g cooked ham or speck, cubed
2 eggs, separated
100 g/1 1/2 cups grated Emmental, aged Gouda or Asiago cheese
125 ml/1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
black pepper, to taste (freshly ground)

Place frozen puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface and allow to thaw for about 30 minutes, until you can easily unfold it.

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Adjust rack to second lowest position.

Store-bought puff pastry makes an easy crust

Roll out puff pastry until it fits 11"/28 cm springform or tart pan. Place puff pastry in pan, taking care not to stretch it, then trim the edges.

Mix onions (or leek) with ham and cheese

In a large bowl, mix together sliced onions (or leeks), cubed ham, egg yolks and grated cheese. Add cream and mix to combine. Season to taste with pepper (adding salt is not necessary - ham and cheese provide enough salt).

Fold whipped egg whites into filling

Whisk egg whites until stiff. Fold them gently into onion mixture. Pour filling in springform pan and smooth surface with spatula.

Onion Tart - ready for the oven!

Bake onion tart for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the crust is done, and the top is golden brown.

Serve warm.

For the unlikely case that you have leftovers: store them in the refrigerator and re-heat slices before serving.

My friend Andrea from Hamburg gave me this recipe.

Sunset over Hulls Cove, Mount Desert Island, Maine

Post updated 12/27/2015

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Time for Onion Tarte - Zeit fuer Zwiebelkuchen

Fall is the time of the year when Alsatians and wine loving Germans think: "Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tarte)! The mellow sweet onion pastry is the perfect companion to new wine.

If you travel in fall through the wine growing areas left and right of the Rhine, you will find inns, restaurants and many vinyards offering sparkling new wine (Federweisser), often served together with freshly baked Zwiebelkuchen.

But beware - Onion Tarte is an aider and abetter of that seemingly feathery light youngster, helping it go down so smoothly, that you are tempted to drink it like lemonade! When you wake up the next morning you realize why Federweisser is also called: "Sauser" (Buzzer) - there's something buzzing in your stomach and your head is spinning...

Herbst ist die Jahreszeit, in der Elsaesser und weinliebende Deutsche: "Zwiebelkuchen" denken. Das mild suessliche Zwiebelgebaeck ist der perfekte Begleiter fuer jungen Wein.

Wenn man im Herbst durch die Weinbaugebiete rechts und links des Rheins reist, findet man Gasthaeuser, Restaurants und viele Weingueter, die sprudelnden jungen Wein anbieten, der oft zusammen mit frischgebackenem Zwiebelkuchen serviert wird.

Aber Vorsicht - Zwiebelkuchen ist der Kumpan des scheinbar so federleichtem Juenglings, er hilft, ihn so glatt hinuntergleiten zu lassen, dass man in Versuchung geraet, ihn wie Limonade zu trinken! Wenn man dann am naechsten Morgen aufwacht, wird einem klar, warum Federweisser auch "Sauser" genannt wird - irgendetwas saust im Magen herum und der Kopf dreht sich...

The photo shows an equally tasty Onion Tarte variation: Leek Tarte. - Das Foto zeigt eine ebenso leckere Zwiebelkuchenvariation - Porreetorte.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

One of my most beloved bread baking books is written by Richard Ploner, a master baker from South Tyrol ("Brot aus Südtirol"). Unfortunately neither this nor any of the other good German bread baking books have been translated into English, yet.

American artisan bakers who want to bake German, Austrian or East European breads all have to rely on the same few recipes in American baking books, recipe collections and websites. (Since I first wrote about this, a few German bread baking bloggers, like Brotdoc and Bernd's Bakery, started putting bilingual posts in their blogs, too.)

To bring some fresh flour into all this "inbreading", I'll post a favorite Tyrolean recipe: Kürbiskernbrot.

Toasted pumpkin seeds

These pretty, tasty little breads are studded with toasted pumpkin seeds and a mix of flours. If you can get hold of it, use pumpkin seed oil to make them more authentic. But other vegetable oil works, too.

The soft wheat flour Italian Tipo 00 (or pastry flour) is necessary to give it the right consistency, so don't swap it for AP.


Whole rye, spelt and pumpkin seeds make these little breads a real treat!

PUMPKIN SEED MINI BREADS  (adapted from Richard Ploner's "Brot aus Südtirol")

340 g/12 oz milk, at 95ºF/35ºC
6 g/0.2 oz instant yeast
50 g/1.8 oz whole rye flour
300 g/10.6 oz whole spelt flour
150 g/5.3 oz Italian Tipo 00 soft wheat flour (or pastry flour*)
10 g/0.4 oz salt
5 g sugar (1 tsp.)
30 g/1 oz pumpkin seed oil (or other vegetable oil)
150 g/5.3 oz pumpkin seeds, toasted
water, for adjustments
1 egg, slightly beaten, for egg wash

*) Do not substitute with all-purpose flour - the crumb will become too chewy!)

The dough is studded with toasted pumpkin seeds

Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add to all other dough ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix for 1 - 2 minutes by hand or with mixer at low speed, until all flour is hydrated and ingredients come together. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

The dough will be somewhat sticky, but a stiff from the pumpkin seeds

Knead dough for 2 minutes at medium-low speed, adjusting with a bit of water as needed, dough should be smoother but still sticky. Continue kneading for another 4 minutes. Dough should be still somewhat sticky. Prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled (or wet) work surface. Lightly oil (or moisten) your hands.
Pat and stretch dough into a rough square

Pat and stretch dough into a rough square, then fold it from top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter. Repeat stretching and folding in thirds from left and right.

Folded into a neat package

Place dough ball, sides tucked under, seam side down into prepared bowl. Cover, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat those stretches and folds 3 times, at 10 minute intervals (total time 40 min.) Dough will become smoother, but, with all those seeds, be also a bit stiff.

After the last fold, cover bowl, and immediately place into refrigerator for overnight fermentation.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 410ºF/210ºC, including steam pan.

Fold edges to the center to shape a roll

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Shape these into rounds or rolls, and place them, seam side down, on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash.

Using scissors, make 8 incisions around rim of each bread (see photo). Then, with a small round cookie cutter, press down in the middle to create the flower shape (the breads will spread and flatten a bit). Spray lightly with oil, cover, and proof for 30 - 45 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size (finger poke test.)

Risen and ready to be baked

Place breads in oven, steaming with 1 cup hot water (optional), and bake for 12 minutes. Remove steam pan, rotate baking sheet 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 13 minutes, until breads are a deep golden brown, and register at least 200ºF/93ºC (instant thermometer.)

Let breads cool on wire rack.

Pumpkin Seed Mini Breads are as cute as they are tasty

 Updated 12/27/15

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blood & Potatoes - Blut & Kartoffeln

There are happy days in my kitchen and there are less happy ones. Today was definitely one of the latter! For testing a NYBakers' recipe I decided to use the mandolin my husband bought a while ago. Usually I take the box grater. But having to grate a lot of potatoes I didn't listen to my better instincts, put the mandolin together and started with the first potato.

The tool to hold it wouldn't let me chop off more than two thirds and I didn't want to end up with one third of the potatoes wasted. So I took the potato in my hand and - nearly chopped off the tip of my finger. Hands, as most valuable human tools, are well supplied with blood, and my index finger was living proof of it. I yelled for my husband and sucked at my poor finger to keep it from dripping all over the place while he was looking for the Band-Aid (fortunately we have an emergency supply in a kitchen drawer).

When I was bandaged, Richard took over with some uplifting comments about certain clumsy people who don't know how to work with something as simple as a mandolin. And OUCH - there was another victim of the nasty thing, this time with a neatly delivered double cut. Our kitchen sink looked like a butcher's bowl when I finished wrapping Band-Aids around my husband's thumb.

Mixing the potato shreds that had nearly cost the lives of two innocent people with the other ingredients, I started wondering whether there was something wrong with the recipe. How should a mixture rise with so little flour and so much vegetable mass in it? And, of course, it didn't. It sat there, in its baking pan, and did nothing but slowly oozing more onion and potato juice, so that it got wetter and wetter.

With deep misgivings I put it into the oven. It came out looking nice, crisp and brown on top. But the mass under the crust was a disappointment, cooked potatoes without any special taste but a lot of salt. It had to go to the dogs!

The sacrifice of two perfectly healthy fingertips on the altar of culinary experiment had been in vain....

Es gibt gute Tage in meiner Küche und schlechte. Gestern war definitiv einer der letzteren! Für ein Testrezept der NYBakers beschloss ich, die Mandoline zu benutzen, die mein Mann vor einiger Zeit gekauft hatte. Normalerweise nehme ich die Reibe. Aber da ich eine Menge Kartoffeln zu reiben hatte, folgte ich nicht meinen gesunden Instinkt, sondern baute die Mandoline zusammen und griff nach der erste Kartoffel.

Der Haltegriff machte es unmöglich, mehr als 2/3 der Kartoffel zu verarbeiten, und ich wollte nicht mit einem Drittel Abfall dasitzen. Daher nahm ich die Kartoffel in die Hand und - säbelte beinahe meine Fingerspitze ab. Hände, als wertvollstes menschliches Werkzeug, sind sehr gut durchblutet, und mein Zeigefinger lieferte den Beweis dafür. Ich schrie nach meinem Mann und saugte an meinem armen Finger, damit er nicht die ganze Küche vollblutete, während Richard nach Pflastern suchte (glücklicherweise haben wir einen Notvorrat in einer Küchenschublade).

Als ich verarztet war, übernahm Richard die Sache mit ein paar aufbauenden Bemerkungen über gewisse tollpatschige Leute, die nicht wissen, wie man mit etwas so simplen wie einer Mandoline umgeht. Und AUTSCH - schon gab es ein weiteres Opfer des gemeinen Dings, diesmal mit einem sauberen Doppelschnitt. Unser Küchenwaschbecken sah aus wie eine Schlachterschüssel, als ich schliesslich damit fertig war, den Daumen meines Mannes zu verpflastern.

Als ich die Kartoffelspäne, die beinahe zwei Unschuldige das Leben gekostet hatten, mit den übrigen Zutaten zusammenrührte, fing ich mich an zu fragen, ob etwas mit dem Rezept nicht stimmen könnte. Wie sollte eine Mischung aus so wenig Mehl und soviel feuchter Gemüsemasse aufgehen? Und natürlich tat sie das auch nicht. Sie sass einfach in ihrer Backform, sonderte mehr und mehr Kartoffel- und Zwiebelsaft ab und wurde dabei nasser und nasser.

Mit grossen Vorbehalten stellte ich die Form in den Ofen. Als der Auflauf fertig war, sah er ganz gut aus, oben braun und kross. Aber die Masse unter der Kruste war eine Enttäuschung, gekochte Kartoffeln ohne speziellen Geschmack, nur reichlich salzig. Sie konnte nur "vor die Hunde gehen"!

Das Opfer zweier völlig gesunder Fingersptzen auf dem Altar kulinarischer Experimente war umsonst gewesen...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Little Kitchen of Horrors or Tentacles Takeover - Die kleine Horrorkueche oder Der Angriff der Tentakeln

On Tuesday a horror scenario unfolded in my Bar Harbor kitchen. Preparing my breads for Wednesday's sale I made the fatal decision to give my doughs the stretch-and-fold treatment instead of just leaving them to the mixer. I had no idea what dark forces I unleashed!

Mixing together the elegantly pale Pain de Campagne and it's darker cousin "Feinbrot" I naively believed they would respond with eager gratitude to my gentle manipulations. Instead these devious doughs used the chance to take over my kitchen, soon as they escaped from under the kneading hook.

Whereas meek, humble pita dough obviously enjoyed stretch & fold, firming up nicely, the two sourdoughs - probably led on by their wild yeasts - started spreading over the countertop, growing sticky tentacles that affixed themselves to everything in reach.

Soon as one tentacle was scraped loose and folded over, the dough krakens grew others; instead of having their sides tucked under to shape a neat ball, they refused to be contained, fighting - and sticking - every inch of the way! In the meantime, my unsuspecting husband watched TV upstairs, not knowing that down in the kitchen his wife was struggling for her sanity!

In the end I manged to overcome the rebellious sours, in spite of their tricky resistance. Covered with traces of their treacherousness I forced them into containers and locked them up in the fridge. But for my baking the next morning I feared the worst: a sticky refusal to get into shape, resulting in unfettered amoebic spread and violent gas outbursts in the oven, making it impossible to sell them, just to spite me!

The next morning, with great misgivings, I freed the perpetrators from their cells. Still showing minor signs of mutinous sticking but, to my astonishment, mostly calmed down they allowed me to shape them, did not go overboard in the brotformen and, at unmolding onto the baking sheet, did not try to battle for space. Instead of bursting explosively they opened obediently at their scoring cuts. And they did not turn into gaseous balloons, either.

When I took the breads later to the store, Kathryn, the owner complimented me on how nice my breads looked - little did she know...

Am Dienstag entfaltete sich ein Horror-Szenario in meiner Bar Harbor Kueche. Bei der Vorbereitung meiner Brote fuer den Mittwochsverkauf traf ich die verhaengnisvolle Entscheidung, meinen Teigen die Dehn-und-Falt-Behandlung angedeihen zu lassen, anstatt sie einfach nur der Kuechenmaschine zu ueberlassen. Ich hatte ja keine Ahnung, welche dunklen Maechte ich dadurch heraufbeschwor!

Als ich den vornehm blassen Teig des Pain de Campagne und seines dunkleren Cousins Feinbrot zusammenruehrte, nahm ich naiverweise an, sie wuerden mir meine sanfte Behandlung bereitwillig danken. Anstatt dessen nutzten diese hinterhaeltigen Teige die Gelegenheit aus, die Kueche zu ueberrollen, sobald sie dem Knethaken entkamen.

Waehrend der brave, bescheidene Pitateig das Dehnen & Falten offenkundig genoss und huebsch elastisch wurde, fingen die beiden Sauerteige an - moeglicherweise angestachelt von ihren Wildhefen - sich auf der Arbeitsplatte auszubreiten. Dabei wuchsen ihnen klebrige Tentakeln, die sich an alles hafteten, was in Reichweite war.

Sobald ein Fangarm losgeschabt und uebergefaltet war, wuchsen den Teigkraken neue. Anstelle sich mit untergefalteten Raendern zu einem ordentlichen Ball formen zu lassen, verweigerten sie jegliche Beschraenkung, sie kaempften - und klebten - um jeden Zentimeter! Derweilen sass mein ahnungsloser Ehemann oben vorm Fernseher, ohne zu wissen, dass seine Frau unten in der Kueche um ihren Verstand kaempfte!

Schliesslich gelang es mir, die rebellischen Sauer zu ueberwaeltigen, trotz ihres listenreichen Widerstands. Bedeckt mit Spuren ihres Verrats zwang ich sie in Behaelter und sperrte sie in den Kuehlschrank. Aber fuer mein Backen am naechsten Morgen befuerchtete ich das Schlimmste: eine klebrige Weigerung, Form anzunehmen, sich dadurch im Ofen ungehindert amoebenhaft auszubreiten und mit heftigen Gaseruptionen zu reagieren. Alles, nur um sich unverkaeuflich zu machen und mich zu aergern!

Am naechsten Morgen liess ich die Uebeltaeter mit grossen Bedenken aus ihren Zellen frei. Trotz geringer Zeichen aufmuepfiger Klebrigkeit, aber doch ueberwiegend ruhig, erlaubten sie mir, sie zu formen. Sie uferten weder ueber die Raender der Brotkoerbe aus, noch versuchten sie, aus der Form genommen, auf dem Backblech herumzudraengeln. Anstelle explosiver Ausbrueche oeffneten sie sich artig in den Einschnitten und verwandelten sich auch nicht in Gasballons.

Als ich die Brote spaeter in den Laden brachte, machte mir Kathryn, die Besitzerin, ein Kompliment, wie nett sie aussaehen - sie hatte ja keine Ahnung...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


170 g whole wheat flour
57 g rye flour
7 g flaxseeds
4 g salt
170 g water

all soaker
142 g water, more for adjustment
6 g instant yeast
227 g bread flour
57 g whole wheat flour
56 g sesame seeds
56 g sunflower seeds, toasted
56 g pumpkin seeds, toasted
5 g salt
19 g honey
egg wash
6 g sesame seeds, for topping


In the morning, prepare soaker.

In the evening, dissolve instant yeast in lukewarm water. Add to soaker and all other ingredients for final dough. Mix on low speed for 2 min, until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 min.

Knead 2 min. on medium-low speed, adjust with water, if necessary (dough should be very supple and slightly sticky). Continue kneading for 4 min. more, switching to medium-high speed for last 20 sec. Dough should be still slightly sticky.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and stretch and fold 4 times, with 10 min rest after each folding (total time 40 min.). After last folding, place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.


Remove dough from refrigerator and either de-chill for 2 hrs. before shaping, or shape into batard when still cold. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame.

Score de-chilled dough at once; and cold dough after 1 1/2 hrs. (when turning on oven). Mist bread with spray oil, cover and let rise to 1 1/2 times its original size (45 - 60 min for de-chilled dough, 2 - 3 hrs for cold dough).

Preheat oven to 425 F, including steam pan. Bake bread 20 min. at 375 F (steaming with 1 cup hot water), rotate 180 degrees and continue baking for another 27 - 30 min. (internal temperature should be at least 200 F).

Cool on a wire rack.

Adapted from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads".

German Many Seed Bread - Deutsches Mehrkornbrot

Peter Reinhart's "German Many Seed Bread" with its abundance of pumpkin-, sunflower-, flax- and sesame seeds is the right loaf for "granolas", but will also satisfy people whose daily footwear doesn't start with a "B" and ends with "ck".
The original version of this recipe from "Whole Grain Breads" is too sweet for my taste (German breads usually are not sweet, except dark ryes and enriched challah-like breads). I also found that a little less yeast does the trick, too, so I cut down on both honey and instant yeast.
This week I tried artisan bakers' dernier cri, the stretch-and-fold technique - also fondly called S&F - instead of the pre-ferment in the original recipe. It worked like a charm, and the breads turned out great.

Peter Reinhart's "Deutsches Mehrkornbrot" mit seiner Fuelle an Kuerbis- und Sonnenblumenkernen, Leinsamen und Sesam ist genau das Richtige fuer "Mueslis", sollte aber auch Leute zufriedenstellen, deren alltaegliche Fussbekleidung nicht mit einem "B" anfaengt und mit "ck" aufhoert.
Die Originalversion dieses Rezepts aus "Whole Grain Breads" ist fuer meinen Geschmack zu suess (deutsches Brot ist ja ueblicherweise nicht suess, mit Ausnahme von dunklem Roggenbrot und Stuten). Ich hab ausserdem festgestellt, dass etwas weniger Hefe den Teig genauso gut aufgehen laesst und daher sowohl den Honig als auch die Instanthefemenge reduziert.
Diese Woche hab ich Kunstbaeckers letzten Schrei ausprobiert, die Dehn- und Falttechnik anstelle des Vorteigs aus dem Originalrezept. Es hat hervorragend geklappt, und die Brote sind sehr gut geworden.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Nimm das Limoncello Cheesecake Rezept mit folgenden Aenderungen:

Fuer den Tortenboden:
Nimm Vollkorn-Leibniz (oder aehnliche Kekse)

Fuer die Fuellung:
Anstatt Saurer Sahne: nimm 300 g Himbeeren, puerriert
erhoehe die Zuckermenge auf 200 g
lass die Zitronenschale weg
anstelle von Limoncello: nimm Creme de Cassis


Take Limoncello Cheesecake recipe with following changes:

For the crust:
Use Graham crackers

For the filling:
Instead of sour cream: use 300 g raspberry puree
instead of 150 g sugar, use 200 g sugar
leave off lemon zest
instead of Limoncello, use Creme de Cassis

Monday, July 12, 2010

Liquors and Sneakers - Sprituosen und Turnschuhe

I always have a great variety of liquors in my house. There are some beers I like to drink, some wines I keep mostly for dinner parties (Richard being one of those unlucky individuals who get headaches from even small amounts of alcohol), and numerous bottles of liqueurs, sherry, brandy, vodka etc. to add the little je ne sais quoi to our more sophisticated culinary efforts.
While I was still living in Grosshansdorf there was a mysterious connection between alcohol levels in those bottles and the pile of well-worn juvenile sneakers in our mudroom. The larger the odorous pile of EEE sizes, the more noticeable the evaporation of whiskey & Co.
Moving to Maine seems to have ended this mysterious phenomenon, though a temporary re-occurrance happened once in Bangor. After a long scientific evaluation process I finally came up with the following thesis:
Some teens must have psychic abilities to make liquors disappear from closed bottles!

Ich habe immer eine Menge verschiedenster Spirituosen im Haus. Einige Biere, die ich gern trinke, Wein hauptsaechlich fuer Essen mit Gaesten (Richard ist ja einer dieser Ungluecklichen, die von der kleinsten Menge Alkohol Kopfschmerzen kriegen), und zahlreiche Flaschen mit Likoeren, Sherry, Brandy, Wodka usw., die unseren anspruchsvolleren kulinarischen Bemuehungen das gewisse Je ne sais quoi verleihen.
Als ich noch in Grosshansdorf lebte, bestand eine mysterioese Verbindung zwischen dem Alkoholspiegel dieser Flaschen und dem Haufen abgetragener jugendlicher Turnschuhe im Windfang. Je hoeher der anruechige Haufen 45-iger Groessen, desto deutlicher die Verfluechtigung von Whisky & Co.
Der Umzug nach Maine scheint diesem geheimnisvollen Phaenomen ein Ende gesetzt zu haben, obwohl es in Bangor nochmal zu einem Rezidiv kam. Nach langer, wissenschaftlicher Begutachtung kam ich schliesslich zu folgender Hypothese:
Einige Teens muessen ueber mediale Faehigkeiten verfuegen, da sie Alkohol aus geschlossenen Flaschen verschwinden lassen koennen!

Monday, July 5, 2010


227 g Braune Kuchen (Pfefferkuchen oder andere Kekse)
13 g/1 EL Zucker
100 g Butter, geschmolzen


680 g Philadelphia, zimmerwarm (3 Pck.)
173 g Saure Sahne, zimmerwarm
15 g/2 EL Weizenmehl Typ 405
1 Prise Salz
150 g Zucker
1 EL Vanille-Extrakt oder 1 Pck. Vanillezucker
2 EL abgeriebene Zitronenschale (2 Zitronen)
3 EL Limoncello Zitronenliqueur
4 gr. Eier, zimmerwarm

Ofen auf 190 C vorheizen. Kekse in Blitzhacker oder Mixbecher zu feinen Kruemeln mahlen. Rand einer 23 cm Springform mit einem Streifen Backpapier auslegen.
Kekskruemel und Zucker in einer mittelgrossen Schuessel miteinander verruehren, geschmolzene Butter untermischen, bis alles gut durchfeuchtet ist. Mischung in Springform verteilen und gleichmaessig auf Boden und Seiten (5 cm oder so hoch wie moeglich) andruecken. Etwa 9 - 12 Min. lang backen bis Boden leicht dunkler geworden ist. Auf einem Kuchengitter abkuehlen lassen. Ofentemperatur auf 150 C reduzieren.

Mit Handruehrgeraet (oder Kuechenmaschine) Frischkaese, Saure Sahne, Mehl und Salz auf mittlerer Stufe in etwa 5 Min. sehr glatt und schaumig ruehren. Zucker hinzufuegen und weiterschlagen, bis alles gut vermischt und glatt ist.
Vanille-Extrakt (oder Vanillezucker), Zitronenschale und Limoncello hineingeben und ca. 30 Sek. lang unterruehren. Eier einzeln nacheinander hinzufuegen, jeweils nur so lange unterruehren, bis sie sich gerade eben mit der Creme verbunden haben (nach Zufuegen der Eier nicht zu lange mixen!) Fuellung auf abgekuehlten Tortenboden fuellen und glatt streichen.

Kuchen in Ofenmitte bei 150 Grad 55 - 65 min. lang backen, bis die Mitte beim Antippen elastisch wie Wackelpudding reagiert. Kuchenraender werden etwas aufgeblaeht sein, und die Mitte noch feucht aussehen. Kuchen noch 10 Min. lang im ausgeschalteten Ofen lassen, dabei die Tuer einen Spalt oeffnen. Dann auf Kuchengitter vollkommen auskuehlen lassen. Mit Alufolie abdecken and mindestens fuer 8 Std. in den Kuehlschrank stellen.

Kuchen haelt sich bis zu 1 Monat lang im Tiefkuehlfach. Zum Einfrieren abgekuehlten Kuchen (ohne Form) unabgedeckt auf einer Platte ins Tiefkuehlfach stellen, bis die Oberflaeche kalt und fest geworden ist. Dann in 2 Lagen Plastik- und 1 Lage Alufolie einwickeln. Zum Auftauen ueber Nacht in den Kuehlschrank stellen.

Dies Rezept habe ich nach einem "Fine Cooking" Cheesecake-Grundrezept abgewandelt


227 g/8 oz Gingersnap cookies (or other cookies)
13 g/1 tbsp. sugar
100 g/7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

680 g/24 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (3 packages)
173 g/3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
15 g/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
150 g/3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon zest, grated (2 lemons)
3 tbsp. Limoncello liqueur
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C (rack in center of oven). Pulse cookies in food processor until crushed to fine crumbs. Line sides of 23 cm/9" springform pan with parchment paper strip.
In a medium bowl, stir cookie crumbs and sugar, add melted butter and mix until crumbs are evenly moist. Transfer mixture to springform pan and press evenly onto bottom and up the sides of pan (5 cm/2" or as high as possible). Bake until crust is slightly darkened, 9 - 12 min. Let cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F/150 C.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sour cream, flour and salt on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl and paddle as needed, until very smooth and fluffy, ca. 5 min. Add sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.
Add vanilla, lemon zest and Limoncello and beat until blended, ca. 30 sec. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended (don't overmix after eggs are added!) Pour filling into cooled crust and smooth the top.

Bake cake at 300 F/150 C until center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 - 65 min. Cake will be slightly puffed around edges, and center still look moist. Let cake for 10 min. in turned-off oven (with door slightly ajar). Then remove from oven and let cool completely on a rack. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hrs.

Cake can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze place unmolded, cooled, cake on baking sheet in freezer, uncovered, until top is cold and firm. Then wrap in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of foil. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

I adapted this recipe from a "Fine Cooking" cheese cake master recipe

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What To Do With Leftover Cookies - Was kann man mit Keksresten anfangen?

In Germany there's no such thing as a cookie crumb crust. German cheesecake fillings traditionally rest on short crusts, and stale cookies are either eaten by undiscerning kids and dogs, or - illegally - fed to (equally undiscerning) ducks.
Some years ago, trying out a Martha Stewart coconut bar recipe (I wish I could find that somewhere) I was introduced to the best possible use for cookie leftovers. What an ingenious idea, turning bone-hard or uncrisp cookies into a delicious cake or pie crust. Just with the help of melted butter and a little sugar. And easy, too - the crust for Dummies!

In Deutschland gibt es keinen Kekskruemel-Tortenboden. Deutsche Kaesekuchenfuellungen ruhen traditionsgemaess auf Muerbeteig, und altbackene Kekse werden entweder von wenig waehlerischen Kindern und Hunden vertilgt, oder - verbotenerweise - an (ebenso wenig waehlerische) Enten verfuettert.
Als ich vor ein paar Jahren ein Martha Stewart Kokosriegel-Rezept ausprobierte (ich wuenschte, ich koennte das wiederfinden) lernte ich die bestmoegliche Keksreste-Verwertung kennen.
Was fuer eine geniale Idee, beinharte oder unkrosse Kekse in einen leckeren Torten- oder Pieboden zu verwandeln. Nur mit Hilfe von geschmolzener Butter und ein bisschen Zucker. Und dabei ganz einfach - der Kuchenboden fuer Dummies!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

When I baked Danish Tebirkes for the first time, I revisited my childhood. For many years my grandmother, aunt, two younger cousins and I would spend our summer holidays in Denmark. Every morning before breakfast, my cousin Thomas or I would bike to the little grocery store to pick up our order of freshly baked rolls.

The one (and only) time little Stefan was sent to the Købmand, he cunningly disqualified himself by leaving a Hänsel-and-Gretel trail of lost groceries on his way home - Thomas and I had to go back and retrieve them.

Summer vacations with my Omi, and my cousins  in Blaavand, Denmark
Though I liked crusty Rundstykker, the regular rolls, my favorites were buttery Tebirkes, croissant-like rolls sprinkled with poppy seeds.

Those, of course, were more expensive than Rundstykker, so we didn't get them very often.

Then one day my uncle Alfried came visiting. The next morning he drove to the grocery store to pick up the rolls.

When he came home with the bags, I was the only one up, everybody else was still getting ready upstairs. I laid the table and emptied the contents of the bags in a basket.

And there I saw a Tebirke in all its poppy seed glory. Figuring it got in between the other rolls by mistake, I thought nobody would miss it. After I had eaten it, I saw another one - and since they tasted so good and nobody would know, I ate it, too.

Strangely, I found a third Tebirke in the bag. Why stop now, it wouldn't make sense to leave this lonely roll among its common Rundstykker cousins...

When everybody sat around the breakfast table, my uncle looked at the basket, turning the rolls over - and over - "Where are my poppy seed rolls? I bought three of them, and I don't see them in here! Does anybody know where they are?"

Tebirkes resemble croissants with their buttery, flaky crumb

TEBIRKES - DANISH POPPY SEED ROLLS (adapted from Petra Holzapfel)
(14 - 16 )

540 g bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
10 g salt
12 g/1 tbsp. sugar
8 g/ 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
240 ml/1 cup milk, cold
120 ml/1/2 cup water, cool (65ºF/18ºC)
1 egg
113 g/1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

113 g/1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
5 g bread flour (or all purpose flour)

1 egg white, mixed with 1 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

In mixer bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast to combine.

Pour in milk and water, then add egg and melted butter. Mix on lowest speed (paddle attachment) for 1 minute, then on medium-high for 10 -15 seconds more.

Turn dough out onto a floured workspace, gather to a ball (with floured hands), and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Mist with spray oil, cover and refrigerate overnight.

(The butter layer is very thin, it can't be rolled out to form a brick, it has to be spread over the dough) For the butter layer, place butter pieces in a mixer bowl, add 5 g flour and mix with paddle attachment on lowest speed to break down butter into smaller pieces, until mixture is no longer lumpy. Increase speed to medium-high and continue mixing until mixture is smooth.

Roll out dough on a floured work surface to a 40 x 40 cm (16 x 16 inch) square. Using a spatula spread creamed butter over half of the square as evenly as possible, leaving a 1-cm/1/4-inch rim on three sides.*

Fold unbuttered half of dough over buttered half and press down to make it stick. Then fold dough over once again from the long side. (The result should be a ca. 50 cm x 10 cm (20" x 4") log.

Preheat oven to 400ºF/205ºC. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Cut dough block across the middle in halves. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cut each dough half in 7 - 8 triangles (I found a sharp chef's knife worked better than my bench scraper - the dough is sticky).

Transfer triangles to prepared sheet pans. Mist with spray oil, cover and let rise at room temperature for 30 - 40 minutes, until they have grown to nearly double their original size.

Bake rolls for 15 - 20 minutes (I used convection mode, rotating the sheet pans 180 degrees after 9 minutes, and continued baking for another 9 minutes), until Tebirkes are are a rich golden brown.

Cool Tebirkes on a wire rack.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Nobody in Germany thinks of baking regular, plain white rolls at home. You get them freshly baked everywhere, in bakeries, supermarkets, and even in gas stations.

Every German region has them, called "Rundstück" in Hamburg, "Schrippe" in Berlin, "Semmel" in Munich, or simply "Brötchen" (= little bread).

The typical Brötchen has a crackly crisp crust and a fluffy, soft, easy to pull out crumb. It has nothing in common with its soft, sweet and chewy US cousin, the dinner roll. And American Kaiser Rolls are just Kaisersemmel wannabes, they share only the pretty star cut with their Bavarian or Austrian ancestors.

Brötchen crumb should be soft, fluffy, and easy to pull out

One of the greatest woes of German expats is the total lack of this everyday staple in the US.

No Brötchen to be found anywhere - perhaps bad imitations, but never the real thing.

And worse: no cookbook would even list a recipe!

In those days I had no clue about the differences between European and American flours.

I only knew they were categorized in a different way, European flours by their ash content (meaning what is left if you burn it) and American ones by their protein level.

One day we were shopping at our favorite Italian grocery, Micucci, in Portland. I saw Italian flour Tipo 00 on their shelves, and bought it, more out of curiosity then anything else. I remembered it listed as an ingredient in one of my most favorite bread baking books from a bakery in South Tyrol, Italy.
Different toppings to choose from

In Ploner's "Brot aus Südtirol" I had finally found a recipe for Brötchen. I tried them several times, just assuming "Tipo 00" would be the same as all-purpose flour.

Frustratingly, every time the rolls turned out lean and chewy, more reminiscent of French bread.

But when I used the Italian flour, I finally nailed it: my rolls had the soft, fluffy, "pull-out" crumb typical for Brötchen.

Wikipedia told me why: US wheat has much more protein compared with European wheat.

Protein rich flour develops a strong gluten structure, so that the crumb is airy and chewy. Soft, low protein flours, like German Typ 405, or Italian Tipo 00, have much less gluten and bake into breads with a denser, fluffier crumb.

For an American/European flour "translation", click here.

I like a crunchy seed topping (as shown in the photos), but you can also give your rolls or a simple shiny, crackly glaze, so that they look like Rundstücke.

WEIZENBRÖTCHEN    (adapted from Richard Ploner: "Brot aus Südtirol")
 (12 rolls):

500 g/17.6 oz Italian Tipo 00 or pastry flour
8 g/0.3 oz instant yeast
4 g/1 tsp. sugar
270 g/9.1 oz water, lukewarm
40 g/1.4 oz olive oil
10 g/0.4 oz salt

Seed Topping
1 egg, slightly beaten, for brushing
sesame, poppy or sunflower seeds, for topping


Shiny, Crackly Glaze
 2 g cornstarch, boiled in
100 g water, and cooled to room temperature 

In the evening, stir yeast into lukewarm water until dissolved. Mix all ingredients for 1 minute at lowest speed (mixer or wooden spoon). Let dough sit for 5 minutes.

Knead on medium-low speed (or with hands) for 2 minutes. Dough should be supple and still a little bit sticky (adjust with water if needed). Continue kneading for 4 more minutes, increasing speed to medium-high for last 30 sec. Dough should be very tacky, bordering on sticky.

Fold the dough like a business letter in thirds

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. With wet or oiled hands, stretch and fold dough like a business envelope in thirds, then turn it around 90 degrees, and fold from short sides the same way.

Gather dough ball, sides tucked underneath, and place it in lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat these stretches and folds 3 more times, every 10 minutes (40 min. total time)*.

Place dough in oiled bowl or container with lid (I divide it at this point in halves, and use 1-qt plastic containers). Roll dough around to coat all over with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or lid, and place in the fridge overnight.

*This technique is described in detail in Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day".

The dough is full of gas bubbles and has doubled

DAY 2:
Remove dough from refrigerator 3 hours before baking, to de-chill and double their original size. Prepare egg wash and three bowls with sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds for topping. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape dough into 12 little rolls.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, and shape them into rolls. Brush each with egg wash, then dip in seeds. If you prefer a shiny, crackly crust, skip egg wash (apply cornstarch glaze after proofing.)

Place dough balls seam side down on baking sheet. Let rolls rise ca 2 - 2 1/4 hours, or until grown 2 times their original size (remember to preheat oven after 1 3/4 hours.)

Ready for the oven

Preheat oven to 428º F/220º C, including steam pan.

Brush proofed rolls with cornstarch glaze (if using). Place rolls in oven, pouring 1 cup boiling water in steam pan.

Bake for 9 minutes, then re-brush with cornstarch glaze (if using), rotate baking sheet 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 9 - 10 minutes, or until golden brown (internal temperature at least 200º F/92º C).

Leave rolls in switched off oven for 10 minutes more (leave door a crack open), before taking them out to cool on a rack.

BreadStorm users (also the free version) can download the formula:

Freerk of BreadLab made a very nice video clip of how to make these rolls - view it at YouTube.

And check out Joanna's Brötchen post at Zeb Bakes, one of my favorite blogs with great breads and lovely photos. 

Ian, from Mookie Loves Bread made the rolls with fruit yeast water and a toasted onion, black sesame, Asiago cheese and flaxseed topping.