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Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Hardcover – Illustrated, October 18, 2016
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— Dorie Greenspan, author of Dorie’s Cookies and the New York Times best-selling Baking Chez Moi
“I’ve waited a long time for another book by Luisa Weiss. In demystifying German baking she has done all cooks a great service. An inspiring and delicious labour of love.”
— Diana Henry, The Daily Telegraph
"Even if you don’t have the stamina for homemade apple strudel or Black Forest cake, this Berlin-born food blogger will win you over with her sandy almond sugar cookies."
— The New York Times
“Luisa Weiss takes classic German recipes and transforms them into extraordinarily modern takes. This is a book that even a novice can be inspired by.”
— Mindy Segal, author of Cookie Love
“I value few things more than classic recipes that honor tradition, are presented with heart, and are so well tested that you know you can trust them. This impressive volume by the wonderful Luisa Weiss is filled with these sorts of recipes. I can almost taste the apricot jam and smell the almond paste just by reading Classic German Baking.”
— Julia Turshen, author of Small Victories
“From stunning layered cakes to fruit-forward tarts and spiced holiday cookies, Luisa Weiss opens up the world of German baking to bakers around the world. My dream is to be in her kitchen, stretching strudel, twisting pretzels and layering chocolate tortes alongside her. Classic German Baking takes me right there.”
— David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen
"This overdue guide is a happy marriage of European craft and American sensibilities."
—Bonnie S. Benwick, The Washington Post
"As an expat American, Weiss has a sense of discovery that permeates her book, giving a sense of wonder and appreciation to the sometimes complicated recipes. It’s just the right sensibility, and it makes for a cookbook that’s not only useful and instructive but charming."
— Amy Scattergood, The Los Angeles Times
"Berlin-born food writer Weiss (My Berlin Kitchen) collects masterpieces of time-tested recipes to create this traditional classic that, like her lebkuchen (old-fashioned German gingerbread), is bound to stand the test of time and taste. [...] Collected from various places and people—whether it’s a cookbook or from her German assistant—this cookbook presents a beautiful piece of German tradition."
— Publishers Weekly
"In Classic German Baking, author and former cookbook editor Luisa Weiss surpassed those expectations with an engaging, precise, and pitch-perfect collection of more than 100 recipes that deserve to be better known in the U.S."
— Lisa Rojany, NY Journal of Books
About the Author
- Item Weight : 2.51 pounds
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1607748250
- Product dimensions : 8.3 x 1.09 x 10.3 inches
- Publisher : Ten Speed Press; Illustrated edition (October 18, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #53,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Many of the recipes use European high-fat butter and quark. In Germany where the author lives you can buy those in every supermarket and cheap. European high-fat butter is not easy to find in the US. Plus it is expensive. For quark, luckily there is now Greek yogurt everywhere in the US and reasonably priced and it works great as a substitute for quark. The author does not mention this. She leaves you the choice of buying quark at $10 a pound (if you can find it) or gives you a long and involved process making buttermilk in the oven for 8 to 12 hours plus 2 to 5 hours draining.
If you already envy the author because she can just go out and buy German butter and quark cheaply in a supermarket around the corner you might want to move to German when she writes that red currants canes grow like weeds in Germany. That is simply not true.
The other issue is yeast. The recipes with yeast tell you to use only a small amount of yeast which is generally OK, I prefer less yeast too but then you absolutely need a longer rise usually overnight. But the book does not say that. For example, the Roasted squash bread Kuerbisbrot I made ask for 1 teaspoon instant yeast for 4 cups/500g flour and then the author gives you the option to let it rise for two hours, OR overnight in the fridge. After 2 hours it barely rose so I let it sit overnight in the fridge and it was alright the next day. If I had taken the two-hour option, I’d have an orange frisbee, flat and dense. Looking at some of the other recipes with yeast they seemed to have the same problem. And Weiss says ¾ ounce or 20g fresh yeast equals 1 teaspoon. But in fact both in America and in Germany 20g fresh yeast equals 7g or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (exactly the amount in one package).
About the selection of recipes, there is Sachertorte in the book and some other Austrian and Swiss recipes but no Kaesesahnetorte and no Frankfurter Kranz which I grew up with and are German classics.
I made the Cocoa-meringue alphabet cookies Russisch Brot which I always buy and bring home when I visit Germany. I was excited to finally have a recipe. I paid very close attention to the baking time but the letters came out rock hard, completely inedible. I don’t know what is added to Russisch Brot from the supermarket to make it light and crisp but whatever it is, that secret ingredient is missing from the recipe. Maybe it is just one of those things that you cannot get right making it at home.
I also tried her almond paste recipe which I usually make with confectioner sugar. The recipe uses regular sugar and to process it until powdery, an extra step I do not understand but for the heck of if tried it anyway. I processed the sugar until dust clouds were coming out of my food processor but it was still grainy, not smooth like when I use confectioner sugar. Also, adding 2 teaspoons almond extract for 1½ cups almonds would have been totally overpowering. I used 1 teaspoon and it was more than enough for my taste. The Almond crescents I made with the almond paste turned out fine.
I also made the Candied orange sandwich cookies Gefuellte Orangentaler which are nothing like Taler cookies in Germany which look like large coins, shortbread like cookies that are shaped into a log, refrigerated, cut in slices and baked then sometimes glued together as sandwich cookies with chocolate or jam. The ones from the book are not anywhere near that, they are glutenfree chewwy macaroons tasty but a totally different kind of animal.
And as other reviewers have also commented I also don’t understand why there are so few recipe photos but so many photos of the skyline of modern Berlin and street scenes in a cookbook about classic German baking. The text with the photo of a package of pearl sugar (which I have never been able to find in America) talks about vanilla sugar. That is confusing.
I might try a few more recipes but for now the book goes to the basement and does not get prime time space on the small bookshelf in my kitchen. I don’t think the book lives up to its claim of the very best recipes of German baking so I cannot give this book more than two stars. And it won’t be on my Christmas gift list for my relatives.
Small amount of yeast needs longer rise. Against my better judgment, I followed the directions and it did not turn out. The Butterkuchen was flat and frankly....greasy. (Yes my yeast was fresh) NOT WORTH THE CALORIES.
Example: doesn't say on what speed to mix the dough or how long. It says "a few minutes" which when kneading a yeast dough could have a vast amount of time variance.
The plum cake from America's Test Kitchen (not a yeast dough though) is far superior to the plum cake in here.
Not sure I will try any more recipes even though I DO have access to Europe butter and quark.
I have wasted time and money.
The cookbook relies on fairly old fashioned baking techniques: beaten egg whites; yeast; and simple ingredients. These aren't foolproof, and will depend a lot on the temperature of your kitchen, the size of your eggs, the age of your yeast, and so forth. As other reviewers have noted, following this cookbook to the letter may lead to disappointing results. I wouldn't hold this against Luisa, since these classic techniques rely on the baker using their eyes and noses to make the recipe come out right. In fact, one of the reasons why I love this cookbook is that it reminds me of baking from my great grandmother's recipes. If she had been German, I imagine her recipe box would have been much like this book.
I would say that if you don't feel confident judging when egg whites are at stiff peaks or when something is fully kneaded or risen, then I wouldn't really recommend this cookbook. If you do, then you will find no end of beautiful, simple recipes that you can really adapt and make your own.
My two procedural comments are 1. that when the book says that something keeps for a day, it really does only keep for a day. I don't feed an army of Germans tea, so a 9x13 pan of yeasted cake is way too much for me. However, the recipes scale down easily.
2. The recipes rely on pantry staples that substitute easily, particularly the recipes that call for fruits and jams. We made kugelhopf with chopped apricots and candied citron, linzertorte with marmalade and with pineapple jam, etc. I also generally add more fruit/jam than called for, because as an American I like the excess.
Top reviews from other countries
The actual book though doesn't quite deliver. You'll have to use a great deal of knowledge and common sense to fill the gaps left with poor descriptions, extensive suggested bake times and on some occasions recipes which are just wrong.
I love the idea of the items I've made, but found that with the poppyseed roll the dough is less than half the amount needed, the likes of the marble cake bake time is about 20 minutes too long, etc etc.
Overall there is insufficient description of the method and how the final product is to look; the recipes really need thoroughly checked, description and volumes reviewed and additional pictures.
Only buy this as a base; you will need to review and adapt the recipes yourself on a one by one basis.