I know what you are thinking:
“Lien, you are on Erasmus in Germany! When are you finally going to write about the German cuisine?”
Well, your patience has been put to the test, but your waiting will be rewarded! Especially for you this article contains two recipes instead of one 😉 and I have some more good news for the sweet tooth amogst you:
Today I am baking German winter cookies with my wonderful buddy: Vanessa!
I must say, the people who organize the Erasmus buddy pairs have done a great job in matching me to Vanessa. She is an amazingly caring person, who made me feel welcome in Essen even before I arrived. She’s funny, sweet, enthusiastic and a wonderfully talented painter.
Born in Germany to Chinese parents, she identifies strongly with both cultures.
Interesting to see how two cultures can be so divergent and yet they can learn so much from each other. For instance, one of the most important values in chinese culture is respect: respect to older people, respect to strangers… For exemple, when people don’t know each other very well or have just met, they tend to keep a certain distance in order to show each other respect. Keeping your distance has a fairly negative connotation in western culture, but in my opinion it is a use we have forgotten to appreciate. Keeping a certain distance gives the other person space. It allows us to get to know each other more slowly and not to judge too quickly.
On the picture above: Vanessa with her mothers’ cooking chopsticks, one of the two unmissable tools in the Asian kitchen! (The other being a quite impressive, large chopping knife)
By the way, how do you like my house slippers? 😉
Vanessa is currently studying French and arts at the university of Essen to become a teacher. She can speak German, Mandarin Chinese, French, English and is also recently starting to learn Spanish!
She likes to teach me German expressions. Some are particularly funny! Thanks to Vanessa I know now that I was ‘built close to water’…
Yes, indeed. I was built close to water. Ich bin nahe am Wasser gebaut. This means that I am a sensitive person, who cries quickly when something sad or moving happens.
Or do you ever hear people having a conversation and you ‘only understand trainstation‘?
Well, Germans do. Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof is an expression used when you cannot understand anything of what is being said.
Or – to stay in the food metaphor – did you know that in Germany something can be ‘stewing in the gossip kitchen’? I don’t think this expression needs an explanation, the image speaks for itself 😉 Da brodelt die Gerüchteküche…
But we are busy in a different kind of kitchen today: We are baking two kinds of Weihnachtsgebäck (christmas pastries) : plätzchen and Zimtsterne.
The two of us are not very experienced bakers and on top of that I cannot eat gluten or milk, so we have to change some of the basic ingredients…
Be prepared 😉
As soon as we start baking, Vanessa puts on some christmas music and we don’t stop listening till we are finsihed! It’s all about the atmosphere 🙂
What you need for the Plätzchen:
- 100 gr. Buckwheatmeal and 50 gr. oatmeal (or you can use 150 gr. of plain white flour)
- 1 egg
- 100 gr. coconut oil (or butter)
- 30 gr. sugar and 30 gr. agave nectar (or 60 gr. sugar)
- vanilla sugar (about 10 gr.)
- lemon zeste
Mix all the ingredients togehter in a large mixing bowl. Let the dough rest in the fridge for about an hour. When you take it aout of the fridge, spread out your dough and flatten until approximately 0,5 centimeter. Use your favourite cookie moulds to shape the Plätzchen!
Bake them in a preheated oven of 200°c for 10-12 minutes.
The cookies turned out to be a little bit dry, so I suggest you use a little more of the coconut oil.
For the Zimtsterne:
- 250 gr. ground almonds
- 150 gr. powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites
for the frosting:
- 70 gr. of powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
Whip the egg whites with the powdered sugar, then carefully add the ground almonds and the cinnamon. Spread the dough on a flat surface and roll it until it’s about a cenitmeter thick. Use star moulds to shap the cookies. And then you get these beautiful little stars!!!
Well, that didn’t go according to plan…
Be sure to add enough ground almonds! Just add some more of it when you see the dough is too soft, otherwise you’ll end up with these little monsters… hihi 🙂