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!

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!

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!