Certain foods are inevitably linked with Christmas time in Germany. The first Advent weekend is due on the 30th of November this year (2013) so that I decided to make a German Xmas sweets dictionary for whom who are interested in this stuff so here you are some nice stories of them:
The Dresdner Stollen
This famous fruitcake- though not exactly what English-speakers associate with “fruitcake” — is closely associated with the Christmas holiday because it was originally produced as food to be eaten during the Advent fast. The first Christstollen, named such because it was meant to resemble a swaddled baby Jesus, appeared in Naumburg (Saale) in 1329. Stollen has been sold at the Dresden Christmas market since the 15th century. It took several decades before the bland, baked oat, flour, and water mixture was transformed into the light, hearty loaf we know today. Butter, raisins, and lemon zest are mixed into a yeast dough and the baked Stollen is dusted with powdered sugar. Variations include the addition of marzipan, poppy seeds, dairy products or various nuts. Each year the city of Dresden puts on a Stollen Festival to celebrate the food that takes its name from the Saxon city. In imitation of the gigantic Stollen baked in the city in 1730 on the occasion of Augustus the Strong’s grand festival of baroque proportions, each year the bakers of Dresden produce a 3000 to 4000 kg stollen. It is cut into half-pound sections and served to the festival visitors.
Glühwein – Hot mulled wine
Literally, “glow wine”, this hot, mulled wine is a favorite beverage at the Christmas markets. It is often served in commemorative mugs that you can optionally purchase as a souvenir of your visit to the market. Europeans have been drinking mulled wine since the 5th century. The beverage consists of red wine and spices heated to just below boiling point before drinking. The Swedish variety, called Glögg, also includes raisins and almonds. At the markets, vendors will offer optional additions to the mulled wine, such as a shot of rum, amaretto, or elderberry cordial. Glühwein is perfect drink for those dark, cold December days. It warms the body and the spirit and sets the perfect holiday mood.
Gingerbread, also called Pfefferkuchen (pepper cake) due to the pungent, oriental spices it uses – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, coriander, and anise — is baked without the use of yeast and is sweetened with honey. Lebkuchen has existed in German-speaking regions since at least the turn of the 14th century. Because its production required the use of ingredients that had to be imported, the first Lebkuchen was baked in cities that were centers of trade. One of these was Nuremburg. In the mid-1600s, the city instituted strict regulations governing the production of the confection. Until the advent of industrialization, Lebkuchen was made by hand. Even today, many bakeries hand-create these specialties.The recipes used have been passed down from generation to generation. Main ingredients include honey, flour, sugar, eggs, nuts, candied citrus fruit, marzipan, and a variety of spices. Modern-day variations may include almonds or other nuts, orange or lemon zest, or a chocolate covering. Lebkuchen also takes the form of the edible Hexenhaus (witch’s house), also known as Hansel and Gretel’s house after the famed Grimm’s fairy tale of the same name.
While not a German invention, marzipan has become inextricably linked with Christmastime in Germany. This sweet treat made from almonds and sugar first came to Europe from the Middle East during the 14th century as a delicacy served at the table of the nobility. Mass production eventually allowed for greater distribution. Laws govern the kinds and proportion of ingredients allowed in authentic marzipan. It must contain two parts almonds to one part sugar, and rosewater is the only flavoring ingredient that may be added. Once made, the marzipan may be molded into numerous forms, which are then often iced or decorated or dipped in chocolate. Apart from the common loaf-shaped Marzipanbrot and the spherical Marzipankartoffeln, it can be found in every form imaginable – from fruits, vegetables, and animals to hearts, stars, buildings, and figurines. The most famous of German marzipan hails from the city of Lübeck, particularly from the producers Niederegger and Carsten’s.
These represent a variety of delicate Christmas cookies: rolled dough cookies such as Springerle, hand-formed cookies such as Vanillekipferl, or piped cookies known as Spritzgebäck. The ever ubiquitous Christmas Spekulatius, a kind of spicy pastry dough cookies, is made using cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Spekulatius is available in many forms and flavors, including almond, butter, and chocolate varieties. These are often baked during the Advent season or store bought. Other types of Christmas cookies include: Dominosteine (layered gingerbread, jam, and marzipan enclosed in a chocolate shell), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), and Pfeffernüsse (spicy gingerbread cookies).
Believe me this is a perfect side dish for a gloomy November day! I prepared last week (first time) and my family asked to do it again and again! I baked the potato in the oven with only 2 tablespoon olive oil. You can sprinkle some balsamic vinegar over sweet potatoes if you wish! But I made some Greek joghurt dip and I think they were just meant to each other! I mean the potato and the dip!
Ingredients: 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
- oil spray, or 1-2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
- 2 tsp curry powder (or cinnamon, for sweet fries)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I omitted for sweet fries)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tbs caraway seeds
- 1/2 tbs garam massala
1. Preheat oven to 400F/200 C and grease a baking sheet. Cut the potatoes into the wanted shapes (thick or thin), then soak them in water for around 45 minutes. This is the important step to make them crispy!
2. Drain and pat dry. Toss the fries with the oil or oil spray in a large bowl. Add all other spices/ingredients and mix them well. Spread the fries on the baking sheet.
3. Bake potato for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through. For even crispier potatoe fries, feel free to leave them in longer or broil for the last 1-2 minutes.
Actually I cooked them on parchment paper, which absorbed some of the moisture!
For the dip: 1 non fat Greek joghurt, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 spoon of fine-velvety mayonnaise, salt and pepper
The Vinessio is a wine and delicatesse fair, which has already been organized the 8th times this year in Starnberg (Near Münich, Germany at lake Starnberg). The exhibitors of this international wine industry related event will gain an ideal platform to have a face to face interaction and communication with the participants like wine lovers and enthusiasts, wine makers wine producers and wine tasters as well as leading experts related to wine industry.
By participating in this show, these industry professionals can share their knowledge and experience with each other and can discuss about the current scenario associated with wine industry. Vinessio will make the wine lovers and enthusiasts familiar with various kinds of wines, spirits, sparkling wine, champagne, and Delicatessen such as oils & vinegars, saussages, hams, bacons and cheeses, coffee and roasting products.
When I was there, around 2pm I was a bit disappointed in the poor turnout!
This weekend we are already for Advent. That fact reminded me of a distinguished German red wine cake what I’d made couple of years ago for a party. This typical German cake is worth to make since it tastes really beautiful and the most important thing is, it is easy to make!
Ingredients: 250 g butter, 250 g sugar, 4 eggs, 1 vanilla essence, 250 g flour, 1 package back powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tbs of cacao powder, 250 gr chocolate flakes, 1/8 ml red wine (milk or rum)
for the icing: fondant chocolate
Preheat oven for 175 grades. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Then fold in the flour, add cocoa, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
Mix every ingredients well then when the batter is smooth, pour over red wine, add chocolate and nuts (optional) and mix everything together again.
Pour batter mixture into a battered kugelhopf or loaf tin and bake at 175 grades for 70-80 minutes.
Remove cake from the oven. Let it cool slightly before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cool with cream or cover with the chocolate fondant icing..
40 ml water
150 gr sugar
400 gr almond
300 gr choco fondant
to decorate: with powdered sugar
1. Draw into a parchment paper 6-8 or more different sized hexagram stars. These will be our plan-samples.
2. Melt the sugar in 40 ml water. When the sugar is dissolved, add the almonds and caramelize them until its colour changes into golden brown. Get down and put aside.
3. Melt the chocolate in the microvawe or in a bowl under boiling water.
4. Pour over melted chocolate to almond mixture and ellaborate.
5. Spoon the choco-almond cream into the hexagram samples. Let it stiffen for an hour or so in cold place. When the chocolate stars are solid, place the different sized layers on each other with some melted chocolate.
6. Sprinkle the trees with a help of a strainer with powdered sugar and our beautiful Xmas trees are ready.
Today we celebrated St Martin’s day since our village was named by St Martin (Martinsried, München Germany). The participated families build some lanterns for the run-up to November 11 well in advance. We gathered in the forest of Martinsried at 4 p.m. Then the lantern procession (Martinsumzüge or Laternenumzüge) started off. Our major hired an actor impersonating the Saint, he (actually was she) was dressed up as a Roman soldier riding on a horse.
It was amazing to see the happy faces of the children from one of our local school and kindergarten. At the end of the procession in the front of the university building we lit a large bonfire to sing songs dedicated to St. Martin, and then we ate some sweet pastries and drunk mulled wine (Glühwein).
By the way many German restaurants celebrated St. Martin’s Day as well with a festive meal where roasted goose or duck (Martinsgans) was traditionally served as the main course.