Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera

Sauce Carrettiera, is in short, a miracle sauce. Contrary to popular beliefs about spaghetti sauce, this sauce takes almost no time to simmer and is ready to go by the time your pasta has finished cooking. It is quick, and spicy, and satisfying- the perfect meal for college students doing some late night studying or for parents who need a quick bite before dropping the kids off at soccer practice. In fact, it is the go-to meal for university students in Italy- it’s pretty inexpensive too!

 

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This sauce’s miraculous powers come from two key ingredients: the fresh Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes.

 

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The marriage of these two ingredients is celebrated so perfectly in this dish that I cannot imagine eating Carrettiera sauce without the cheese. It would be like peanut butter with no jelly; an ice cream sundae with no whipped cream. The heat of the red pepper is both mellowed and complemented by the Parmesan; it helps bring out the ‘umami’ flavor of the cheese.

 

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So, next time you’re in a hurry, or just don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking, try Carrettierra. The heat and immediate satisfaction will have your feeling as macho and spicy-hot as the muscular cart-pullers this sauce was named after- (Carrettiera originates from the Italian word for ‘cart-pullers’ and refers to the large, muscular, ‘macho’ men who spent all day doing this hard work and who came home to eat this spicy sauce for dinner).

 

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Spaghetti alla Carrettiera

From: Chrissy Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 26-28 oz strained peeled tomatoes (like the Pomi brand) or canned, peeled tomatoes that have been blended until smooth (either with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender)
  • ¼ cup good olive oil (it is okay to use good olive oil here because the sauce never goes beyond a mild simmer)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes- to taste (1/2 tea-1 tea)
  • 1 pound spaghetti or thin spaghetti
  • 4-5 oz chunk of Parmeggiano Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:

  1. Put the water onto boil and while boiling simmer the garlic together with the red pepper flakes in a small sauce pot over medium-low to low heat.
  2. Simmer the garlic and pepper flakes for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (you want the garlic to cook for a few minutes, until it “releases its scent” and is no longer bitter).
  3. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. You don’t want to over-do the salt because the Parmesan is naturally salty, you will want a lot of Parmesan on your pasta! Let sauce continue to gently simmer until the pasta is done.
  4. Throw the pasta in when the water boils and when the pasta is done, the sauce is done! Drain the pasta, mix together, and serve with a ton of fresh Parmesan cheese.

German Apple Pancakes

These apple pancakes are my favorite Sunday morning breakfast. They look beautiful and have a sort of special occasion air about them. The flavor of the apples and walnuts really shine through and juxtapose the texture of the egg batter that surrounds them.

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They are delightfully different from everyday pancakes and perfect for a pampered Spring morning. So, thanks to Uncle Steve (who first taught me how to make them!)  I have the perfect breakfast in bed meal for my mom on Mother’s day. Pair them with a cappuccino, vase of fresh flowers and a hug to let mom know how much you love her.

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German Apple Pancakes

From: Chrissy Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples (pick firm, sweet apples that are a little tart like Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Gala and Empire)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • ½ tea cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ tea kosher or sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  1. First, prepare the apple filling. Peel and dice the apples and place in a small pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ tea cinnamon. Sautee on medium heat for about 10 minutes (the apples will begin to soften and will develop a sort of cinnamon/sugar syrup)
  2. While the apples are softening, sift together the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and milk into the flour mixture, being careful not to over mix (a few lumps are okay).
  4. When the apples are done stir in the walnuts and take off the heat.
  5. Grease two 9 inch cake spans (spring-form pans are ideal) by putting one tablespoon of butter in each pan and placing the pans in the oven for a few minutes until the butter melts. Swirl the butter around so it covers the entire bottom of the pan and goes up the sides of the pan too.
  6. Pour the flour and egg batter into the pan. Spoon on the apples and walnuts so they are evenly dispersed.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes at 425°until the edges start to become golden brown and curl up. The eggs will fluff and rise in the process.
  8. Now, this part is a bit tricky. If you used the spring-form pans, release the spring and with a spatula transfer the pancakes to a place. If you used a normal pan, trace the edges of the pancake with a knife before transferring it to a plate.
  9. Top with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Law, Leaves and Baklava

Every semester I promise myself that this is the semester I’m going to take it easy and every semester I don’t do that even a little. This semester, for example, I was supposed to accomodate 35 work hours a week by taking easy classes, but that was before I showed up to day 1 of the most amazing and demanding classes I’ve ever taken in my life. The unexpected final addition to the schedule was a positively life changing class on Shari’a, Islamic law. I decided to indulge my inner nerd, and last night I ended up making baklava at 1:30 in the morning.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

While it might be ever so totally true that this wasn’t even kind of a class assignment, we WERE assigned a mock divorce court last week (complete with costumes and props) as an in-class exercise and – what do you know? –the mock plaintiff just so happened to own a baklava company! Unfortunately we were representing her mock husband and bringing in baklava for the other side was too time consuming to be justified. But I didn’t have homework last night and so for class tomorrow I will be setting the mood in style.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Besides, baklava is secretly a perfect fall food. With walnuts, honey, cinnamon and thin sheets of phyllo that could easily represent falling leaves, you could not possibly get more seasonally appropriate. I can’t lie, phyllo is a pain in everyone’s butt to work with, but I can promise the results will be well worth it. I may or may have nibbled on a store bought substitute while I waited for this to be ready and I can assure you, there’s truly nothing like homemade.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Do you have any unexpected fall recipes? Or stories of classwork-turned-recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

The Better Way to Eat French Toast

Francesca just had surgery yesterday and while it was a pretty low-key procedure, she was supposed to be out of commission for about a week. We had grand plans to lift her spirits and nurse her back to health, so it was a bit unsettling to find her running around the house this morning and having her drag *me* out of bed this morning. She appears to be the healthiest person in the house right now. That said, we had already promised her a special breakfast this morning so even though she’s doing a terrible job proving she deserves it, we’re committed to french toast and bacon, at least for brunch (oh how we suffer).

 

Look at her... so sick...

 

Right before my birthday this past spring, I spent a beautiful weekend in Dingle, Ireland also pretending I needed to get well. I was thoroughly fake-stressed, and wanted a weekend of complete relaxation to welcome my 22nd year in style so, when the impending time came, I’d be ready to face the real world head-on. I spent the weekend biking, listening to traditional Irish music, and chatting with strangers in cozy pubs, but a large portion of the credit for the weekend’s “healing” powers goes to the Goat Street Café’s French Toast with Brie and Maple syrup. I swear that no combination of flavors has ever sung so beautifully and harmoniously together – they resonate through your heart like music from a particularly good traditional music session, and with similarly strong healing powers (as long as you don’t have an actual illness). You would never think to put these musicians together, but boy can they play. So to celebrate the art of pretending to get well, we’re putting an East Coast spin with Challah French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – and we’re adding a trad playlist to play while you eat. Whether you’re recovering from the Tired Tuesdays or post-sleep hunger, I assure you this is just the cure you need.

 

French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – The best french toast I've ever had (on The Road Home)

 

And we want to know – what makes you feel better when you’re pretending to be sick? Or do you have any fun spins on traditional breakfast foods? We want to hear all about it!

 

An Italian Sugar Rush

The last article I posted was all about forgetting about time. It was about leaving that sauce on the stove until it was good and ready. This post, however, is the complete opposite. Making torrone is one of the rare moments where I can be seen moving quickly, almost rushing. It’s such a rare event, that my family doesn’t know what to do with me. They laugh as I buzz around the kitchen, impatient while the sugar is melting and having a mild-panic attack as the hot candy hardens while I cut it, little stands of sugar freezing mid-air.

 
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This kind of torrone is not the typical variety that most people are accustomed to. It is not the white, nougaty candy that comes packaged in a pretty box. For years, I didn’t even know that type existed. All I knew was the dark, honey- colored, almond candy topped with “dottie sprinkles” that my great Aunt Mary made every year for Christmas. Maybe, like me, Aunt Mary got a kick out of the hustle and ‘danger’ of making torrone and that is how it became a family tradition that hasn’t been skipped in what I can imagine is well over 50 years. Torrone di mandorle e miele (as it is formally known) is a sweet adventure in what toasted almonds, honey, and sugar can be capable of doing. An adventure in how three ingredients can transform into cheerful, little bites of holiday bliss and memory.

 
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Almond and Honey Torrone

From: Christina Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups toasted, slivered almonds
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 orange
  • Dottie sprinkles (rainbow non-pareils)
  • Greased (buttered) glass/marble/pyrex cutting board (a non-wooden surface that can withstand high temperatures without breaking)
  • A wooden or metal mold

Directions:

  1. Before you begin, make sure that everything is ready to go. Grease your cutting surface and candy mold, get out the dottie sprinkles and orange, and pour your glass of drinking wine (optional). In French, gathering all of your cooking materials and ingredients before you actually start cooking is known as having your “mise en place”. Most of us don’t cook at home with everything carefully thought out and prepared ahead of time, but for torrone, having your mise en place is essential.
  2. Now, put the two cups of sugar in a medium to large sized pot over medium-low heat. Be sure to stir the sugar even at this beginning stage. Keep stirring until the sugar is melted. This might take a little while. First, the sugar will start to clump together. Then, it will darken in color and melt.
  3. When all of the sugar is melted and there aren’t any clumps, add the honey. The honey will make the sugar bubble and fizz a little- this is normal.
  4. Next, take the sugar and honey off the heat and quickly stir in the almonds. This will be a bit messy, but that’s okay. This is also the point where mild chaos might ensue because you need to work quickly from here on out!
  5. Pour the mixture into the greased candy mold. Being VERY careful, use the orange (which acts like a greased spatula) and roll it over the mixture to flatten it out. The candy will be super, super, hot.
  6. Once the mixture is flattened, liberally shake on the sprinkles. Use the orange once again to push the sprinkles into the candy.
  7. Continue to work quickly and carefully and begin to cut the candy into little squares. This must be done with haste because as you will find out, the candy is fast to harden and might even freeze in little strands in mid-air. Also be sure to eat a few pieces while the torrone is still kind of hot. You’ll regret it if you don’t!
  8. Once all the candy is cut and cooled, store in an air-tight container. Torrone lasts for a good three or four weeks so you can enjoy it during the entire holiday season!
  9. Note: cleaning the pot that you melted the sugar in will look impossible and menacing. I promise it isn’t. Just fill the pot back up the water and heat on the stove. The hard sugar and almonds will melt off into the water.

Hubeners Butter-S’s

In Germany it’s an old and absolutely loved tradition to bake Christmas biscuits. There are million different kinds of biscuits. And we love to make them. With friends, with family, with children, … There are families, who bake 10, 15 or 20 different kinds. And every little biscuit gets some chocolate on top of it, or jam or any other decoration. Weihnachtsbäckerei…. That means „Christmas bakery“, but it means so much more: a warm kitchen, the smell of Christmas, children with flour in their faces, a Mum preparing the dough, .. I’m sure, you get the idea.

 

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My uncle, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, … were bakers. Their name was „Hubener“ and they had a little bakery in a little village. Every year they made Christmas biscuits to sell them (I loved those days, because we children always got a little piece of dough to make our very own biscuits). For generations they made the same ones: Hubeners Butter-S. Today I want to share this old family-recipe with you.

 

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Hubeners Butter-S – German Christmas Biscuits

From: Sophia Hermann

Ingredients:

  • 250 g butter 
  • 250 g sugar 
  • 500 g flour 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 pinch of baking powder

Directions:

  1. Mix those ingredients till you get a nice dough. 
  2. Then you need something to form the biscuits. We usually use a masticator or a mincer or how ever you might call it. It helps you to get pieces of a line, which you form in a S-shape. That’s just important for the name, but doesn’t really matter. 
  3. Then put them in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 10 minutes. 
  4. When they are cooled down, dip them in melted dark chocolate. To melt the chocolate, I have one advice: put the chocolate in a bowl and the bowl in hot water. Then it’ll work out fine. 
  5. Enjoy the German „Weihnachtsbäckerei“ and let me know, if you like my family’s butter-S. Merry Christmas!

Italian Genovese Sauce: Time to Get Cozy

“Sometimes, the best meal requires you to forget that time exists”

–Elizabeth Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

                                                                                                       

Cooking is all about time. When to throw in the pasta, when to take out the casserole, how to make a dinner for a family of six in forty-five minutes. But what happens when there is no limit on time? When you have all day to make a meal, as if time doesn’t exist.
Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

For Neapolitans and their immigrant descendants, what happens is Genoaise. Or, for those not familiar with Neapolitan dialect, sauce Genovese. Genovese is a mysterious sauce, steeped in time and history. No one can agree on the origins of a dish named after Genoa but created in Naples. Perhaps it’s the mystery of the dish that makes it so alluring. For me, it’s the magic of leaving onions, pork, and stock to simmer and discovering three hours later that something new and comforting has taken its place.

 

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

There are dozens of variations of Genovese sauce (mine clearly being the best!) but all Neapolitans agree on one thing: that Genovese sauce is not meant for Spring and Summer. It is not a dish that you serve to friends at a picnic or for a buffet. Genoaise is Fall and Winter. Fall for when you need a dish to slow you down and bring the colors of the leaves outside your window to life. Winter for when you need a warm, long hug after a day of snow shoveling and driving on half-plowed roads. Genovese nudges you to discover coziness and revel in it as if nothing else existed.

 

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

So, I will leave you to try this sauce for yourself, with a reminder to take things slow every once in a while and let the simplicity of fresh pasta, grated cheese, and cooked down onions heal you.

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

Genovese Sauce

From: Christina Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/8” thin (about 6 small – medium sized onions)
  • 4 – 4.5 cups of beef stock or broth (enough to cover the meat and onions)
  • Splash of tomato sauce (1/8 cup) – Optional
  • Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • 1 pound fresh pasta (fettuccine)

Directions:

  1. Sear the meat (you can use either beef or pork, but I’m partial to pork because it tenderizes so beautifully with this sauce). Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium sized sauce pot and jack the heat up to medium high. While the oil is warming, salt and pepper the meat. Then, when the oil is shimmering, like seeing heat in the desert, add the meat. This should make a loud noise, but that’s good- it’s the noise of juices being sealed into the meat. Remember to rotate the meat around to get all the sides nicely browned. The goal is to brown the meat, not fully cook it.
  2. When the meat is seared, add ¼ cup of the beef stock to scrape up all the bits of meat and ‘brown stuff’ from the bottom of the pan. This brown stuff is ‘fond’, the meat drippings that will melt into your sauce and make it go from good to great.
  3. Add the garlic. Let it cook for just a minute so it releases its scent.
  4. Add the onions and rest of the beef stock (so that the onions and meat are just covered with stock). Throw in a dash of tomato sauce too if you have it and simmer away! Let the sauce simmer for as many hours as you have to give, stirring it every now and again. If the stock evaporates and sinks way below the onion level add some more. Don’t forget to season and remember that the stock may already be salty.
  5. When the onions and meat are beyond tender, it’s time to puree the sauce (at least two to three hours later). Take the meat out and set aside. Then, with either an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender, puree the onions and broth together.
  6. Mix sauce with the fresh pasta and serve with the cut meat on the side. Sprinkle liberally with Pecorino Romano. Sigh with happiness.

Cozy Spuds for Chilly Days

One of the best things in life is when you get to try brand new dish or ingredient you didn’t even know existed. I was driving Gabrielle back to school for the fall semester (actually it was our second trip the week after labor day because Gabrielle can never fit all of her stuff in the Honda Odyssey in one trip!) and we decided to have a leisurely lunch in New York before saying goodbye. We set very simple but specific parameters for the meal. The restaurant had to be cozy and unpretentious. We didn’t care if it was famous at all, but it had to serve real food. So Gabrielle put our conditions into the magical search known as Google and out popped Petit Abeille. This tiny restaurant seats only about 20 people and it was a bit gritty and cramped, but the aroma of onions and fried things from the open kitchen made us feel like we were in our own kitchen. It smelled like home cooking, a rarity I’m afraid for most restaurants.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

There were many great things on the menu, including lot of offerings featuring real Belgian waffles, including one with fried chicken, which we naturally ordered.

 

Fried Chicken to Accompany Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

There were the usual omelet brunch yummies as well, but our eyes were especially drawn to the chalkboard, which explained a food we had never even kind of heard of.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

We ordered a second fried chicken with stoemp and it was heaven. I love fried chicken sometimes more than life, but I practically ignored my chicken and just inhaled the potatoes. What a brilliant idea and a damn nearly perfect fall food. You have potatoes, cream, butter, and root vegetables all working together to create a cozy rich feeling in your mouth and tummy. And the potatoes were properly salted too! Go Petit Abeille!

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

Stoemp is a richer version of a similar dish from the Netherlands called Stamppot, which also consists of mashed potatoes, other vegetables (especially root ones), cream, butter bacon, onions or shallots, herbs and spices. You can use any combination of dairy fat, onions/shallots and vegetables you like, but I decided to use two vegetables – kale and spinach – that I don’t really love because I figured all the cream and butter and bacon would more than offset bitter or “good for you” taste from the vegetables.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

I couldn’t wait to get home to work on my own version of stoemp, which was good the first time around, but needed more butter, bacon and cream. What doesn’t, really? Here’s my final version, with an added bonus. Most people don’t know this, but there is actually a science to making mashed potatoes. This recipe shows you how to make proper mashed spuds. Russet, Idaho and Yukon make the best mash because they are not waxy and are less likely to lump together. Here, we use russets because I think they yield the tastiest and smoothest mashed potato. You should also dry mash your potatoes first and coat them with some fat (usually butter) before adding milk and cream. It keeps the potatoes from getting gluey and weird as long as you don’t over mash and can live with some lumps.

 

 

Stoemp – Road Home Style

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 strips bacon (local, if possible)
  • 1 large onion or two medium onions coarsely chopped
  • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale*
  • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium size saucepan and add the bacon. Cook until crisp over medium heat.
  2. Remove bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.
  3. Crumble the bacon with your fingers when cool, and set aside.
  4. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.
  5. Add the onions to the bacon fat and cook until they are brown and have caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  6. Add the kale and spinach to the onions and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
  8. Place the potatoes in salted cold water* and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potato.
  9. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for two minutes over a low flame.
  10. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
  11. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
  12. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
  13. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.
  14. Mix in the bacon, vegetable mixture, salt and pepper until combined well.
  15. Stoemp is best served fresh, but may be made several hours ahead of time.

* You may also add any other root vegetable or greens you like.

    ** Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. You can always add more salt to the dish once it is assembled, but potatoes like everything else tastes MUCH better when properly cooked with salt during the process instead of after the fact.

      Baking with Oma: Apfelkuchen

      I probably shouldn’t, but I’m just going to say it. I am not a baker. I can fake it, but it isn’t my thing. Okay, I said it. I feel better.

       

      My mom, known as Oma to the girls, came over this week to start teaching us her time honored yeast cakes, tarts, and strudels. We’ve been meaning to pick her brain for a few years and I kid her all the time when I say we need to get these recipes on paper before she gets too old. I can say this because my mom at 78 is totally youthful and awesome, and has all her marbles. Lucky girl.

       

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      Gabrielle has been dying to learn Oma’s chocolate yeast cake, an absolute must every Easter and Christmas morning at our house. She labored for several hours and of course it was perfect. Gabrielle, you might guess, loves to bake. She was smiling from ear to ear with when her creation came out of the oven. [Edit from Gabrielle – it was, in fact, perfect. Read post here!] I decided to make another venerable favorite – a German cake made with tart dough, but baked in a rectangular form. The dough recipe was in German so that meant translating the directions and measurements, which Oma faithfully did. We were doubling a basic recipe and adding new ingredients that have been added over the years. I unfortunately did the conversions from grams. Big mistake. It seemed like it was going well until I took the dough out of the fridge after the compulsory “resting” phase, and tried to roll it out. It seemed very moist, which it was because I forget to double the flour! You can’t do that baking. If a savory recipe calls for 4 cloves of garlic and you only add two, oh well. If you don’t double the flour in a cake, it’s a disaster. Lesson learned, new bakers, you can’t really add 2 more cups of flour after the “resting” phase.

       

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      And that is why I like to cook so much more. I can make mistakes and no one will know. In fact, mistakes often make dishes better, but more on that another day. My mother refused to give up on the dough. We DO NOT waste ingredients, she said. So she worked her magic and somehow added the missing flour to the finished dough. I don’t know how she did it, but the cake was very good and it didn’t get all weird and gluten-y, which is supposed to happen when you overwork dough. So here is the Correct recipe and the final product, a delicious cake, with almost perfect texture (firm but a bit crumbly) and the just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar. Mutti, you’re a genius.

       
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      Below you’ll find my mothers perfect recipe, free from my silly mistakes! Let us know if you decide to make it! And do you have any time honored family traditions? Tell us about them below!

       

       

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      Oma’s German Apple Cake

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 cups (250 grams) flour
      • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250) grams unsalted butter
      • 6 tablespoons sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 eggs lightly whisked
      • Pinch salt
      • 4 Granny Smith apples cored and peeled
      • Scant ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
      • 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

      Directions:

      1. Place the butter in the freezer for a least one hour before.
      2. Cut the butter in one-inch slices.
      3. Place flour in a large bowl. Add butter and sugar.
      4. Using a pastry blender or food processor, blend until mixture is crumbly and much of the dough is in pea size pieces.
      5. Add the vanilla, eggs and a pinch of salt. Mix until just well blended.
      6. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a ball. Flatten the ball to create a disc and wrap them each in wax paper or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
      7. Slice the apples 1/8 inch thick, preferably using a mandolin so all the pieces are the same size. Set aside.
      8. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out both halves to fit a 13 X 9 pan, preferably with a one-inch rim.
      9. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly on the bottom of the pan.
      10. Add the apples, being sure to evenly distribute them on the bottom of the pan.
      11. Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples.
      12. Take the second rolled out dough and carefully place it on top of the apples. Tuck in the dough on all the sides so an even crust will form.
      13. Bake for 30 minutes, or until brown. Let cool in pan and cut into squares.
      14. Serve with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

      Baking with Oma: Takes the Cake

      I know everyone always says their grandmother is the best baker, but mine really is. Really. I think I might actually have a case here because my Oma’s baking isn’t even similar to anybody else’s. Her recipes all come from some undetermined german-hungarian-romanian-austrian place. They’re never too sweet and they always contain a twist ingredient that makes the other ones come alive. The only problem was that up until recently she had a monopoly on her recipes because silly Oma is from the “old country” and Europeans have magical skills and don’t need recipes. But we’ve realized recently that she’s no longer 35 (or 75) and while she shows zero signs of going senile… you never know, and this is not a risk worth taking. So yesterday we had her over for our first Baking with Oma session, where she wrote down the steps as best as she could and we translated them into recipes we (and you) could actually follow.

       

      Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

       

      We started with two recipes, or Oma cautioned that we would be up until 3am. Mom made an apple tart which went… um… I’ll let her tell you the story. But I made Oma’s So Superbly Perfect We Can Only Have It Twice A Year Because Otherwise We’d Eat It Three Meals A Day And Get Superbly Fat Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake. Which is superbly perfect, no lie. We only get it on Christmas and Easter and it’s more or less the highlight of both holidays. It’s fluffy yet dense, and not at all too sweet – which is why we can get away with eating it for breakfast even though it’s totally cake. It peels apart in flaky, chocolatey layers and shimmers with subtle underlying notes of anise. And mine came out! I think I just got lucky but I’m still bragging like I got skills because I’m really excited and I’m super proud. I urge you to make it for yourself – it’s an amazing flavor, and not one you’ve ever had before. The only thing about it is it’s neither quick nor particularly easy – I would recommend having some experience with yeast before you try this one out (I think they  made it challenging so we wouldn’t make it too often). But I promise it will be worth all your time and effort – there’s no doubt it will rock your world.

       

      Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

       

      Do you have any special recipes handed down through the generations in your family? Let us know in the comments below!

       

      Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

      German Chocolate Chip Yeast Cake

      From: Oma (Edith Lang), recorded by Gabrielle Siegel

      Ingredients:

      • 4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
      • 2/3 cup sugar (you can add 2-3 tbsp more if you like it a little sweeter)
      • 3/4 cup milk
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1 1/2 sticks butter
      • 2 eggs
      • 5 egg yolks
      • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
      • 1 packet yeast (I think active dry, but I actually need to get back to you on that)
      • 1/2 tsp anise seed
      • 1 package of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (or same amount of whatever kind you want)
      • Stand Mixer
      • Bundt Pan

      Directions:

      1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour with all of the sugar, yeast and salt.
      2. Place the butter and milk together in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is just melted. The temperature should be about 130° F, or lukewarm to the touch, but if it’s not, heat or cool accordingly.
      3. Add this to the bowl with the flour, and mix on low with the paddle attachment until just blended.
      4. Add the eggs, yolks, vanilla and anise to the mixing bowl, and blend with a paddle attachment on speed 4 for about 10 minutes, and then on speed 6 for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, until a soft dough has formed.
      5. Take off the paddle attachment and replace with a dough hook, and add 1 1/2 cups more flour. Blend on speed 2, until flour is incorporated, and a stiff dough has formed, about 5 minutes. Feel dough – it should be moist, but not too sticky, workable, but not too dry. If you need to, add up to 1/2 a cup more flour, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. 
      6. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, and kneed vigorously for 2-3 minutes, to make sure the texture is correct.
      7. Place the dough in a large oiled or buttered bowl, and place in a warm, moist area to rise, until doubled in size. Be patient – this could take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For best results, cover the bowl in a moist tea towel.
      8. When the dough has risen, punch it down, and turn it out onto a floured surface.
      9. Using a piece of string, measure about how big around your bundt pan is. Roll out the dough to about that width, and as long as it takes to make it about 1/3-inch thick.
      10. Evenly distribute the chocolate chips over the dough, and tightly roll up the dough.
      11. Butter the bundt pan, and place the dough inside, and set it to rise in the same warm place, covered with a moist towel, until doubled in size. Heat the oven to 350° F while you’re doing this.
      12. If desired, brush the top of the dough with an egg-wash made of a beaten egg with about a tablespoon of water (does not need to be precise at all) and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, until cake is a deep brown, and not too squishy when you poke it (not scientific I know, but it’s the best litmus test Oma could give me).
      13. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan and turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cool. Eat immediately, or cover very tightly until you’re ready. Try to eat it within 1-2 days, though if you cover it tightly it will keep a little longer. It’s a really good excuse to have people for tea.
      14. Enjoy the heck out of this cake – eat it for breakfast, etc. You worked hard for this, so make it worth it!