Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Backe Backe Plaetzchen - another baking instalment

I think by now all my clothes are smelling of biscuits. Cubling now asks every evening to do Backe Backe Kuchen (the German version of Pat a Cake, did I ever ponder on the strange similarities of German and English children's songs and rhymes?), so there will be even more.

At the weekend we invited friends over for a waffle brunch and we also indulged in Christmas biscuit baking episode 3. So, today, you'll get two recipes for the price of one blog post.

Waffles are, methinks, a Belgian speciality, but hailing not far from the Belgian border, to me, the smell of waffles, the taste of fresh waffles coming out of the waffle iron (maker), with hot cherries and whipped cream, is the taste of home. They are ideal for making when you have people over, because there is a certain effort involved which is hardly worthwhile for just your average nuclear family. Waffles are to be shared, they go well with children getting off chairs to play, and their parents to chat between waffles. For an image of waffles, look at Slugs in the Refrigerator's post on the Edinburgh German Christmas market - they look just the ticket!

Ingredients (for 4-6 adults and 2 toddlers):
375 gr soft butter
75 gr sugar
5 tablespoon runny honey
1 satchet of vanilla sugar (or vanilla essence)
6 eggs
750 gr plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
550ml milk

with a whisk or hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add sugar, honey, vanilla sugar and eggs and beat until fluffy. Alternately add flour with baking powder and milk - you want the dough to be creamy and without bits. The dough should be runny and expand of its own accord in the waffle maker. Adjust consistency by either adding more milk or more flour.

Preheat the waffle iron/maker. I use a medium to low setting - it's up to your preference, the higher the setting the quicker they bake. For a low setting, you may get carried away chatting without burning the kitchen. With a cooking brush, apply a bit of oil to the iron (top and bottom) so that the waffles don't stick. Put a half ladle of dough into each waffle compartment and close. Check regularly and take them out when they are golden brown. They don't take long! Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Eat with hot morello cherries (can be bought at Lidl - being a German chain they tend to stock typically German food) topped with whipped cream. Alternatively: ice cream or yoghurt.

Now for the the next Christmas biscuit recipe. Today it's a "plain" shaped biscuit recipe. There's nothing plain about it, they are simple to make that's true, but oh so delicious. And they have endless options for the more creatively inclined amongst you. I wanted to make lots, to give as presents as well as stock up our own Christmas indulgence, so my recipe is for rather a lot of biscuits. Feel free to halve amounts if it's just for your own family. If you, like Amanda at Kitschy Coo, struggle with toddlers wanting to help you (or not for that matter), I usually let Cubling help with mixing things together and do the rest after her bedtime. The dough needs to rest, which is exactly the amount of time needed for bedtime routine.

400gr soft butter (preferably unsalted)
180gr sugar
2 satchets of vanilla sugar (if you don't have those, you can just use vanilla essence)
2 eggs
400 gr plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

put flour with baking powder, sugar, vanilla sugar and eggs into a bowl. Add chunks of butter and flake them to crumbly consistency. Then knead briefly into a dough, make into a ball, cover the ball of dough in the bowl and put into the fridge for about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Grease a baking tray (or two) or line with baking paper. Put some flower on your work surface and take about one sixth of the dough and roll out to approximately 3mm thickness with a rolling pin. Cut out shapes, place them on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown (in my fan assisted oven, the larger shapes were done after 8 mins).

Now, for simple shaped biscuits, just let them cool a bit and put them into an airtight container. However, you can decorate them with icing sugar. You can also make sandwhich biscuits, such as a big circle and a smaller on top, and jam in the middle. You can dunk them into molten chocolate. Anything goes, there are no limits to your imagination!

I found the baking, especially the second half on my own, very therapeutic, calming, with a lovely rhythm to it. Considering how many tasty biscuits I have, it didn't really take that long to make them. Plus they are so much tastier than anything you can buy in the supermarket.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'm surprised that there should be a lot of analogous rhymes - German and English share common routes as languages and the same input of Latin. Underlying pre-Christian thinking isn't too dissimilar either. Interesting to think about, though.



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