Tag Archives: Baking

You May Have Your Cake, But You Can’t Always Eat It

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YOU MAY HAVE YOUR CAKE, BUT YOU CAN’T ALWAYS EAT IT

Dear Readers,

I know it’s been a while.  Unfortunately, it’s been way too long, and I do feel bad.  I missed writing and taking the time to be creative.  But, as all of us know, life happens.  My life has been extremely busy these past couple months.  I am not complaining as I love being busy, I just deeply regret that I didn’t have time to sit down, be inspired, and write.

The thing is I probably could have produced somewhat of an article each week- but it would have felt more as a chore than something that I truly enjoy. Busting out an article because you have to instead of because you want to produces (obviously) different results.  But I am finally able to slowly get back into the swing of things.

As I have mentioned in one of my last pieces, I started working with dogs, and I love it!  Being with animals is such a stress reliever, and I met so many wonderful people through it as well.  But besides this opportunity, I also started working as a coordinator for a baker.  One of my friends was doing the job before, but since she started a full time job she was unable to continue the work and recommended me.

The position sounded really great as I was able to work remotely, so it perfectly fit in with my schedule.   But, as this happens a lot in life as well, things came different at some point than discussed.  In theory, my duties consisted of handling e-mail customer inquiries, a fun and easy task.  Of course, it took me a little in the beginning until I got the hang of it, but I eventually was able to spend less than one hour a day working from my computer.

Things started to change about a couple weeks into my job.  I knew that my friend handled some of the pastry and cake deliveries in the past as she was living less than five minutes away from the bakery.  I, on the other hand, live about an hour away from Redondo Beach, where the shop is located.  So I became a little skeptical when my boss started asking me to do deliveries as well.

I might not have minded it that much if it wouldn’t have been on a weekend, but to ask me to come out two days in a row to deliver cakes just didn’t sound too appealing to me, especially since one of the locations included Compton, which I thankfully turned down.  As a compromise though and since I didn’t want to seem entitled, I agreed to accomplish the delivery of an ice cake to Marina Del Rey.

The whole way from Redondo Beach to its final destination I felt like I was on my way to Siberia.  Since it was an ice cake, I had to put the air conditioning in my car on full blast. Even though I ended up with a cold I am happy to report that the cake made it to the party without any harm.

From that day on, my boss figured she could sign me up for more deliveries.  Without even asking me, she concluded that I was in charge of spending one precious Saturday in April driving up to the Malibu Canyons to deliver a wedding cake.  If that didn’t already sound bad enough, let me tell you that the notorious cake was only supposed to be used for photography purposes and not to be eaten.  Anyways, since my boss was supposed to go out of town that weekend, she told me that I have to do this delivery.

I wasn’t very happy, to say the least, especially since it was my friend’s birthday and I would be missing half of the celebrations.  But what was I supposed to do when my boss tells me to do it, even though deliveries were not part of my job description in the first place?  I know, I know, I sound like a whiner and unappreciative.  Well, you might feel me a little more after I tell you the whole tale of that one fateful day.

It was a warm and sunny Saturday morning.  I had come to terms with the fact that I was about to drive the 160 miles round trip to deliver a simple twelve piece cake into the middle of nowhere while my boss was basking in the Palm Springs sun.

To my surprise though, she was still working on the masterpiece when I arrived at the bakery in Redondo Beach.  She told me that she had to cancel her girls’ trip since she still had a couple orders to finish.  I instantly felt bad and selfish, and I swore to myself to bury any feelings of irritation about my interrupted weekend plans.

We ended up sharing some bonding conversation while she was finishing up the wedding cake.  Looking at the clock, I got a little nervous considering that the cake was supposed to arrive in Malibu at 11 a.m. and it was already past nine.  Luckily though, she was almost done.

Since I am a pretty clumsy person, I didn’t decline her offer to securely transport the cake to my car.  She put it in a carton box and carried it over to my passenger seat, where she positioned it in a way to make it easy for me to pick it up and switch it onto the cake board once I arrived at the destination.

We then exchanged our goodbyes, not knowing what unanticipated turn the whole day would take.  But more to that story next time.

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.


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Weihnachtsbäckerei – Part 5: Butterplätzchen

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Butterplätzchen – Butter Cookies

A classic in German Christmas baking is the Butterplätzchen (butter cookie). It’s a favorite for baking with children. They love using cookie cutters in all kinds of shapes to make these most classic Christmas cookie of all and decorate them later. The difference between American and German Christmas butter cookies might not only be the recipe but also the size. Usually the German variation is thinner and much smaller in size than its US counterpart.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 250 g – flour
  • 200g – butter
  • 100g – Baker’s sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp – rum
  • grated skin of one lemon

Ingredients for the decoration:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • for decorating: chocolate sprinkles, colored sugar sprinkles or pearls, smarties , coarse sugar, etc.

Prepare a shortcrust pastry ( Knetteig) by sifting the flour on a board, adding the sugar and the butter cut in little flakes on top. Make a little depression in the middle of the heap of the flour mixture and add the egg yolk, rum and grated lemon.

Blend the ingredients by first chopping them with a large knife, then kneading them to a smooth dough with your hands.

Form a big round ball out of the dough, wrap it in parchment paper and let it rest for about 30 min in the refrigerator.

Dust your work surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to about 3mm weihnachtsbackereibutterkekspixabaythin. Cut out different forms with your cookie cutters. Place the various cookie shapes on a lined baking sheet, and bake them for about 356-392 Fahrenheit in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes. They should look golden brown.

Before you start decorating your cookies, place the cookies on a cooling rack. Then whisk the egg yolk used for decorating with the 1 tbsp milk and brush the cookies with a thin layer. Decorate them with chocolate sprinkles, colored sugar pearls or coarse sugar.

…and you are ready to enjoy one of the most traditional German Christmas Cookies!

Happy Forth Sunday of Advent!

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Let us know your favorite German Christmas Cookie Recipe and send it to CaliforniaGermans(at)gmail.com !

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com


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Weihnachtsbäckerei – Part 4: Coconut Macaroons -Two different ways

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Coconut Macaroons – Kokosmakronen

Coconut macaroons are an absolute must for any holiday cookie baker. At least that’s what I was told by a very dear American friend, who has lived for years in Germany. When she saw my recent Friday posts on German Christmas Cookie baking, Weihnachtsbäckerei, she insisted that I had to include this old time favorite!

So here we go with her two recipes ! Yes, two recipes: One is with whole eggs and the other one is made only with egg whites. A great recipe, if you have excess egg whites left from your previous cookie baking, which you want to use.

Coconut Macaroons Recipe made with Whole Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 125g Butter
  • 375g Sugar
  • 1 package Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar or 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 Egg yolks
  • 50g flour
  • 375g shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites

Beat the butter into a foamy mixture slowly adding half of the 375g sugar, as well as the Vanilla sugar and the 4 egg yolks. After having mixed well add the rest of the sugar. Then gradually add the 50g of flour to the batter together with the 375g shredded coconut.

In a separate bowl beat the 4 egg whites until you get a firm and stiff consistency, then carefully fold it into the coconut mixture.

With 2 teaspoons take out some of the batter, form little heaps of dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 420-430 Fahrenheit and bake the cookies for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Makes a batch of deliciously golden looking coconut macaroons!

Quick Coconut Macaroons Recipe made with Egg Whites only

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 250g sugar
  • 350g shredded coconut
  • A few drops orange peel aroma by Dr. Oetker or McCormick
  • 150 g hacked pistachios for decorating

Beat the egg whites to a firm, stiff consistency gradually adding the sugar while you keep beating the mixture until it takes on a glossy consistency and has stiff peaks. Fold the shredded coconut together with the orange aroma carefully under the batter.

Form little heaps of dough, put a few hacked pistachios on top and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the coconut macaroons in a preheated oven (320 Fahrenheit) for about 10-15 minutes.

Makes beautifully white coconut macaroons with a green pistachio top!

Enjoy!

Let us know your favorite German Christmas Cookie Recipe and send it to CaliforniaGermans(at)gmail.com !

Image: Pixabay.com

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Weihnachtsbäckerei – Part 3: Chocolate Wasp Nests

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Chocolate Wasp Nests – Wespennester

Today we are adding a chocolate macaroon with slivered almonds and a touch of cloves to our Weihnachstbäckerei. A very light but intensely flavored Christmas cookie satisfying your chocolate cravings. Thank you Christine R. from San Diego!

Ingredients for 60 pieces:

250g slivered almonds

2 tbsp sugar

250g bittersweet chocolate

4 egg whites

250g sugar

1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Spread the slivered almonds on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the 2 tbsp sugar. Bake them in the oven at 392F degrees for about 15 minutes to let them get golden brown.
  2. In the meantime melt the bittersweet chocolate over a hot-water bath
  3. Let both chocolate and almonds cool down.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff. Carefully add the sugar and the ground cloves while continuing to beat the egg whites.
  5. Continue to mix the mixture with the electric mixer (on a lower level) for about another 10 minutes until the mixture takes on a glossy and thick appearance. Slowly add and fold into the mixture the slivered almonds and the melted chocolate.
  6. With 2 teaspoons make little heaps of dough and put them on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies on the lowest rack in the preheated oven (302 F ) for about 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Let us know your favorite German Christmas Cookie Recipe and send it to CaliforniaGermans(at)gmail.com !


Image: CaliforniaGermans.com

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German Christmas Cookie Challenge – Weihnachtsplätzchen

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Weihnachtsbäckerei

The holiday season is officially upon us. Next week is Thanksgiving and on Saturday, November 27, is already the First Sunday of Advent and we light our first candle on our advent wreath!

But, hold on…! We need some tasty German Christmas Cookies to complete our German ‘Vorweihnachtszeit’ (pre-Christmas) traditions.

So we thought of having a German Christmas Cookie Challenge!! …Are you in?

Send us your authentic and most loved German Christmas Cookie recipe and be featured here on our website!

Do you have a special recipe that makes you remember those cozy candlelight evenings with family and friends back in Germany? We need it!

Help us bring the comfort and warmth of the beautiful ‘Adventszeit’ (Advent Season) to all the CaliforniaGermans expats here in California! There is nothing like the scent of freshly baked cookies bringing Christmas spirit into our homes.

Send in your favorite German Christmas Cookie recipe to californiagermans(AT)gmail.com 

Every Friday until December 23, the night before German Christmas, we will feature a cookie recipe that is special to a CaliforniaGermans at “Weihnachtsbäckerei” on our website.

To start off the official Christmas Baking Season, here is a Christmas favorite of my family: Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Crescents), a recipe passed down from my grandmother.

Vanillakipferl – Vanilla Crescents

Ingredients:

250 g flour (add a pinch of baking powder)

vanillekipferl-1824345__340125 g sugar

3 egg yolks

200 g unsalted butter

125 g almond flour

50 g hazelnut flour

Bourbon Vanilla Extract

  1. Combine all the ingredients to a dough by hand not the mixer. We call it ‘Knetteig’. Start out with the flour to which you add the almond flour, hazelnut flour and the sugar. Then add the butter (should be at room temperature and cut into little thin pieces) and then add the egg yolks and some Bourbon Vanilla extract. You can start mixing it all with a fork but once the dough gets heavier it’s easiest to just get in with your hands to work a nice smooth dough.
  2. Put the dough to ‘rest’ into the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes cut a chunk off the main dough to make a long 1 inch role which you then cut into 2 inch pieces. (Repeat that step for the whole dough) Take each 2 inch piece and roll it into a crescent with the ends thinning out towards the end. Place your crescents on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350-390 °F
  4. Then turn the still warm Vanillekipferl in Vanilla Sugar , and your first German Christmas cookie is ready to eat!

Happy Holidays!


Image: Pixabay.com

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