Saturday, July 27, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Preparing a favorite summer dessert, St. Colomba Cream, for the first time in Maine, I didn't quite know what to use instead of the Sahnequark (cream quark) the recipe requires.

Well, it has cream in it, I mused, and so has mascarpone. And that's what I took.

But instead of creating a smooth, velvety dessert, I ended up with a dense and uber-rich vanilla cream. With 30% more fat than it should have had, the saintly Irish gooseberry dessert weighed down our stomach like a stone.

Moving from Europe to the US, I had to adjust to several new, or somewhat different, dairy products.

I was, also, amazed at all the low, or no-fat choices in the dairy aisle. (Not to mention my confusion about no-fat yogurt consumption on one hand, and obesity rate on the other).

Some products seemed to be just the same as their German namesakes. But were they, really?

Schmand /Sauerrahm is soured cream
German "saure Sahne" means "sour cream", but is it like US sour cream? (No, it's not!) And "Sauerrahm" or "Schmand"? Again, they are "soured cream" - but no sour cream!

And the American equivalent to quark?

The difference between Austrian "Schlagobers" and German "Schlagsahne"? The translation for both is "whipping cream"! (But Schlagobers has more fat.)

Fortunately, finding the right American substitute for most of these European milk products is not as crucial as it is for flour types.

The difference is often the fat content. But in many cases you can exchange a full fat into low-fat dairy to make a leaner version of a recipe, and vice versa.

But it is always good to know what you are doing, if you try to find a workable substitute for Schlagsahne, sour cream & Co.

Cream cheese:very popular in Europe, too

Some American cheeses, like cottage cheese and cream cheese, made their way overseas, same as some milk products of European origin are available in the US (like ricotta, mascarpone and crème fraîche.)

German Käsekuchen is less denser and lighter than its US cousin
Quark, a classic ingredient in German and Jewish immigrants' pastries, was replaced by cheaper cream cheese, and, sadly, never managed a comeback.

Though there are a few creameries in the US that produce it, you will find quark very rarely in supermarkets, and it is ridiculously expensive.

To make Käsekuchen, the traditional German cheesecake, without quark, I had to develop my own version.

These are commonly used dairy products in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the US, with their fat content.

SWEET DAIRY PRODUCTS   (available in:)

Germany/Austria/Switzerland                  US                                                    Fat Content (%)
Fettarme Milch                                          Low-fat Milk                                                     1 - 2

Vollmilch                                                    Whole Milk                                                       3.5

     -                                                            Half and Half                                                10.5 - 18
     -                                                            Light Cream                                                     18 - 30
Schlagsahne                                           Whipping Cream                                                 30 - 36  Schlagobers                                             Heavy Cream                                                36 or more
Creme double                                                    -                                                                   40
Süssrahm-Butter                                 Sweet Cream Butter                                               80 - 82

SOURED DAIRY PRODUCTS  (available in:)

Germany/Austria/Switzerland                US                                                     Fat Content (%)
Buttermilch                                              Buttermilk                                                          0 - 2
Magermilchjoghurt                              Low-fat Yogurt                                                         2
Dickmilch                                                       -                                                                    3.5
Kefir                                                            Kefir                                                                 3.5
Joghurt                                                    Plain Yogurt                                                     3.5 - 4
Frischkäse Leicht                             Light Cream Cheese                                                    7
     -                                                     Light Sour Cream                                                 7.2 - 8
Magerquark                                         (Low-fat Quark)                                                      10
Hüttenkäse                                           Cottage Cheese                                                       10
Saure Sahne                                                   -                                                                     10
Griechischer Joghurt                             Greek Yogurt                                                         10
Sahnejoghurt                                                  -                                                              10 or more
Schichtkäse                             (Layered Quark from Bavaria)                                      10 or more
     -                                                        Sour Cream                                                       12  - 16
Ricotta                                                     Ricotta                                                                13
Quark/Topfen                                          (Quark)                                                               20
Schmand/Sauerrahm                                      -                                                                20 - 29
Crème fraîche                                     Crème fraîche                                                      30 - 40
Frischkäse                                           Cream Cheese                                                         34
Sahnequark                                                  -                                                                      40
Mascarpone                                         Mascarpone                                                    70 or more
Sauerrahm-Butter                           Sour Cream Butter                                                  80 - 82

This list is certainly not complete. It might have errors, for those I apologize. But it is the best information I could find.

European supermarkets offer less low-fat versions of dairy products than American stores (you will not find a low fat ricotta or mascarpone), but, instead, more higher fat cream options (Sahnejoghurt, Sahnequark), and I didn't include any no-fat products in my list - no fat is no fat!

Some American dairy products differ only slightly from their European counterparts, like butter - US: 80% fat, European: 82% - these two percent are only relevant for pastries with laminated dough, like croissants.

Croissants are easier to make with European butter

Some differ slightly in their taste: yogurt and buttermilk in Europe are a bit more acidic than in the US.

But you can safely exchange dairy products with a similar consistency, acidity, and a fat content that's not too far apart.


If there is an American equivalent listed in the same row, use it: (like Buttermilch = buttermilk, etc.)

For Schlagsahne and Schlagobers: use whipping cream or heavy cream. For a leaner version: light cream or half-and-half (only, if it doesn't need to be whipped.)

For Crème double: use heavy cream, or 50% heavy cream/50% mascarpone

For Dickmilch: use kefir or yogurt (low-fat or regular.)

For Saure Sahne: use Greek yogurt or sour cream (light or regular.)

For Sahnejoghurt: use Greek yogurt (full fat) or sour cream.

For Schmand/Sauerrahm: use sour cream or crème fraîche.

Quark, often labeled Speisequark, is hard to find in the US

With quark (often marketed as "Speisequark") it is a bit of a challenge. Like Greek yogurt it has been strained of most of its whey.
  • Magerquark (10%): use full fat Greek yogurt instead
  • Quark (20%): for pastry, use cream cheese. For creamy desserts, use full fat Greek yogurt, or a cream cheese/sour cream mixture*)
  • Sahnequark (40%) : use a mixture of cream cheese and crème fraiche or sour cream. Or blend half mascarpone/ half cottage cheese in a blender.
*) I do not find ricotta a good substitute, compared with tangy quark it is too bland, and its consistency too gritty.

Irish St. Colomba Cream, made with gooseberries and quark


  1. Thank you for this- as it works both ways, I suppose... and I often find inspiration in american recipes- now I know about half& half....
    Have you tried to make quark by youself? I can look something up, if you're interested.
    Have a nice sunday!
    Ninive from Germany

    1. Bakers without Borders! It is so nice that you can find so many different recipes and can communicate with people from all over the world that share your passion.
      Yes, I made a kind of quark from buttermilk, it's not bad, but rather mild. I have a recipe for the real thing, with rennet etc. maybe I'll try that one day.
      Liebe Grüsse,

    2. I want to try out using natural rennet from fig trees that i have in abundance nearby .... i was reading about it and sound like it might work. Thank you for this article! Though for some reason i still find myself a little perplexed as to what just Sahne is. I made a creamy soup (milk and flour, no cream) and he who is also German referred to it as Sahne.... apart from the noun meaning of sahne... i.e . Cream... does it also just mean creamy?

      nice to read another bakers blog... i have just started mine :) let me know what you think!

    3. Hi, Annabawiyya, the term "Sahne" in general means just cream, without any specification, whether sweet or sour, liquid or whipped. "Sahne-Sauce" would be a creamy sauce, usually containing cream, any kind. But if it is thick and smooth you can call it "sahnig", even though it has only milk in it.
      Good luck with the natural rennet, interesting, I never heard about it. And please, let me know how it works out.
      Thanks for visiting!

  2. Karin, thanks for this info! I know you from The Fresh Loaf site, and as a fellow baker with an interest in European breads, I appreciate your blog. Best wishes, Windischgirl

    1. Paula, thank you, and thanks for visiting.
      Yes, I remember your name from TFL, a great source for bread bakers.
      Happy Baking,

  3. Hey Karin,
    I did the opposite and moved from Maine to Germany and I have been struggling for the life of me to find an adequate equivalent of American sour cream. I didn't find it in the end, but your blog was very helpful navigating the differences of dairy products. Thanks for doing what you do!
    LG, Louise

  4. Numpang lewat yah min...

    Hanya di OPPO POKER

    Bonus New Member....
    Deposit 15.000 - 49.999 = Bonus nya 10.000
    Deposit 50.000 - 99.999 = Bonus nya 15.000
    Deposit 100.000 Ke atas = Bonus nya 20.000

  5. Cảm ơn bài viết của bạn, mời bạn xem các thông tin bài viết sau: Xem men răng có quan trọng ?