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Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Hardcover – October 18, 2016
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“If you’re fascinated by German baking, by the recipes for kuchen, cakes, tortes, cookies, and yeasted sweets passed down through generations, then you’ll be as joyful as I am that Luisa Weiss has given us this beautifully written and photographed book. Here, at last, is our portal to learning more about the long tradition of German baking, which has influenced bakers around the world, and to recreating such wonders at home. Classic German Baking is a sweet adventure.”
— 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
LUISA WEISS is a Berlin-born, American-Italian food writer who grew up eating warm Streuselschnecken on her way to school and believes dark winter days are best enjoyed whilst sharing Lebkuchen and Zimtsterne with family and friends. Luisa is the creator of the blog The Wednesday Chef and author of the lauded memoir, My Berlin Kitchen. Her work has been featured on Design*Sponge and National Public Radio and in Food&Wine, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Harper’s Bazaar Germany, among many others. She lives in Berlin with her husband and son.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.