Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, From Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen
Ten Speed Press, 2016
From Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen, or so it says on the cover. In fact, Classic German Baking covers everything from cakes and cookies to rolls and bread, strudels, of course, plus savoury bakes, yeasted cakes, and holiday favourites.
Born in Berlin to Italian and American parents, Luisa Weiss moved to the US as a child and returned to Berlin as an adult, where she started the blog The Wednesday Chef (among other food-related writing projects such as the book My Berlin Kitchen). Always fascinated with German baking, she created Classic German Baking with the intention of making these traditional recipes accessible to cooks not blessed with a German Mutti or Oma to teach the proper techniques.
In the introduction Weiss outlines how the recipes have been rigorously tested, including her process for ensuring correct measurements, since baking is so science-based and German, Austrian, and Swiss recipes can be complicated enough to require exact precision.
And what recipes they are! Often spread over three or four pages, most include an introduction (Weiss often offers wordy but interesting introductions to each, with tips and advice, but also some personal anecdotes), and then a couple of pages of instructions. Not every recipe includes a photo (by Aubrie Pick) which is a bit disappointing, as it helps readers to know what their end product should look like, but Weiss has included photos for every recipe on her blog.
Additional photos of Berlin are interspersed throughout the book, emphasizing the author’s love for her chosen city and culture.
Can I honestly tell you that Weiss offers a great Pflaumenstrudel recipe? I’m no expert at German Baking (I’ve never been able to master strudel, which is why I need this book), but it is certainly obvious that she has carefully researched and tested each dish.
Usability: the text size is fairly small in order to be able to include a lot of information on each page, but it’s all one font on a white background (hurrah!) and the steps are clear and easy to follow. (Of course, read it all first, which should be a given for any recipe, but one should approach German baking like it’s a Bake-Off technical challenge and there’s a possibility of some crazy twist at the end.) As mentioned earlier, Weiss has gone to great lengths to ensure the Imperial measurements match the metric, so her recipes should work for everyone.
Whether you’re craving Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Brezeln (soft pretzels), or Sacher Torte (chocolate cake), Weiss has a taste of Germany for every palate.