Notes from Germany, on bread and potatoes

In my quest to bake authentic German breads, I picked up the following baking products during a recent trip to Germany:
German baking
From left to right: whole grain rye sourdough, tart glaze, rye flour

The flour and sourdough were purchased in order to try some recipes from a book purchased on a previous Germany trip:
Brot

Sauerteig or sourdough can be found in wet or dry form at any grocery in Germany.

Tortenguss or tart glaze comes in a clear or red color. I didn’t bother putting a glaze on the last fresh fruit tart I made, but got this to have in my pantry just in case.

You might have noticed that the bag of flour is labeled “Type 1150”. Germany has different types of flour that are determined by their ash content. I have already done some reading into this and will compile my research into another post.

Easy access to fresh yeast (hefe), fresh/dry sourdough, instant tart glaze and other specialty baking ingredients is a testament to Germany’s baking culture. However, just as many Koreans rarely make their own kimchi anymore (although there is a market for kimchi refridgerators), many Germans don’t bake since they have easy access to high quality and a wide variety of breads.

 

Germany might not be known for its culinary prowess, but they do know their potatoes. So I picked up this booklet (? not quite a book and not really a magazine):

Kartoffel Küche

According to the European Cultivated Potato Database, Germany has 944 registered varieties. The only other country that comes even close to Germany is the Netherlands with 646.

German potatoes are labeled and sold in three different categories:
Festkochend – green tag – waxy potato = excellent for gratins, fried potato dishes
Vorwiegend Festkochend – red tag – all-purpose potato = good for frying, boiling, and good in salads
Mehlig Kochend – blue tag, floury potatoes = mash and fluffy roast potatoes

Recipes are sorted by festkochend and mehlig kochend. Also included are recipes specifically for purple potatoes, bamberger-hörnchen and other uncommon varieties. The last section is devoted to recipes for those of similar culinary qualities to potatoes, but are not related to them: sweet potatoes and topinambur or sunchokes (Jewish artichoke). I had seen sunchokes at the market before, but never knew what it was or what to do with it. I’m looking forward to trying it at some point, especially now that it’s about to be in season.

 

Resources
http://germanfood.about.com/od/potatoesandnoodles/a/potatotypes.htm
http://www.toytowngermany.com/lofi/index.php/t155573.html

Smörgåstårta – A savory sandwich cake

Smörgåstårta: Sandwich Cake

This weekend we were invited to a party by a Swedish friend to celebrate the completion of their kitchen renovation and house expansion. Another friend named the party SMÖRGÅS BÖRGÅS. Ok, it’s not really a word and a odd interpretation of the actual Swedish word “smörgåsbord”; the equivalent of Häagen-Dazs, another made-up word with randomly placed accents.

It was the perfect opportunity to make a smörgåstårta! Continue reading

Oops, I did it again.

So much for my resolution not to add to my fabric stash.

In Atlanta, I had a little time so I stopped by Intown Quilters. They are having an anniversary special – a free fat quarter with a $12 purchase. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the Michael Miller Wee Wander collection from which I really want a few fabrics with a couple projects in mind. However, I was really drawn to this Cotton + Steel Basics fabric with a metallic detail finish, so I picked up a 1/2 yard of one color along with two fat quarters of a couple other colors.

Cotton   Steel Basics

In addition, I got a 1/2 yard of this Snow White fabric from Kawaii from Hawaii. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and fairy tales and this Asian Snow White is particularly fun.

Snow White, Kawaii from Hawaii

A hand-cut chenille blanket: Tips from a newbie

Inspired by a heirloom cut chenille baby blanket tutorial posted by Aesthetic Nest, I decided to finally try my hand at making a “quilt” for some friends of mine who recently had a baby. Making a quilt, has been on my to-do list for many years now and although not a quilt in the true sense with any piecework involved, it still qualifies as a quilt by having layers of fabric sewn together. What appealed to me is the tactile texture of the hand cut chenille and style that seems to really follow the vintage aesthetic of the gift recipients.

Continue reading