The Perfect Egg

Germans are egg connoiseurs. I once heard a hilarious Toastmasters speech about how Germans have all sorts of gadgets in the market with one goal in mind: To engineer the perfect breakfast egg.

While foreigners scratch their heads about what is the big deal about boiled eggs, for Germans it is a matter of national interest every Sunday. Egg piercers, egg guillotines, egg cookers, egg timers…and the list goes on.

eggThe German idea of the perfect boiled egg is neither hard-boiled nor soft-boiled. It is somewhere in between. It should be a gelatinous mass, deep yellow. It can be molten at the center. It is a mortal sin to serve hard-boiled eggs with light yellow yolks. Serving such eggs does not speak well of your establishment, according to the Germans.

 

So how do you go about cooking the perfect egg? You could read a thousand recipes online, and truly, every single person has their own style of boiling eggs. My mother-in-law’s technique involves piercing an egg at the bottom part, where the air pocket is located, and placing it in a pot of water in a rolling boil for precisely 2.31 minutes, then putting the egg under cold running water for 30 seconds.

My technique is much more simple. First, I always take refrigerated, medium-sized eggs (it says so on the carton, so we don’t have any argument what constitutes a medium-sized egg). I pierce them at the bottom part to prevent them from cracking in the heat. I fill a small pot with enough cold water from the tap to cover the eggs. I place the eggs in the pot, pot on the hob, turn the heat up to 9 (The maximum allowable heat!), then wait until the water comes to a rolling boil (meaning seriously big bubbles, not tiny soda bubbles).

When the water comes to a rolling boil, I turn the heat off and let the eggs sit in there for three minutes. Comes in handy when preparing breakfast. Then I take the eggs out of the pan and into the egg cups. If using L or XL, I lengthen the time to four minutes then place them under cold running water for 30 seconds to stop the eggs from cooking.

I was so glad to see that the technique I developed to be validated by Slate. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thought about this. I mean, it is common sense not to place eggs in boiling water, and scalding yourself in the process.

Germans normally eat this with salt, or if you have it, supermarket caviar. It may seem luxurious to people outside of Europe, but caviar is widely available here. Beluga caviar, on the other hand…

Thüringer Bratwurst

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But it’s reaaallly good.

This blog sometimes documents my efforts to re-create Philippine/American cuisine in a foreign country.

I also sometimes think about what if I were back in the Philippines? What German dishes would I try to re-create? My answers to that question are a) Rotkraut, or stewed red cabbage, b) Klose, or potato dumplings, c) Braten, or pot roast, and the only one I haven’t made from scratch is d) Thüringer Bratwurst.

brat3Thüringer Bratwurst (although the literal translation is fried sausage, Bratwurst is actually grilled over hot coals) is a way of life in Thuringia. It is a geographically-protected product, so any bratwurst made outside of Thuringia would be Thuringian-style. It is normally eaten in a bun, smothered with tart mustard. Ketchup is fine, but purists will wrinkle their noses at the sight.

Thuringians literally eat that stuff up, especially in the summer, when everybody and their mom goes on a picnic outdoors. I estimate I eat one or two a week between May and September.

brat1There is a museum dedicated to the Bratwurst, and today we braved the cold (-4°C in the sun!) to go to the annual Thuringian Bratwurst festival. It is a hokey, small-town festival not unlike the fairs in the US, with the “Bratwurst King and Queen” opening the ceremonies. My friend Tanya was there as a chef with the “Friends of the Thüringer Bratwurst Club,” and she committed sacrilege by not putting casing over the Bratwurst, and adding plums soaked in Thuringian Aromatique bitter and bacon. Only a foreigner would be adventurous enough to toy with tradition, and it was surprisingly good! The sweet plum contrasted nicely with the salty bacon and smoke-flavored Bratwurst.

If there is one thing that is a must-eat here in Thuringia, it would be the Bratwurst.

Food Fight! Mont d’ Or vs. Ofenkäse

Allemande versus Frankrreich!

Now, you didn’t think that I bought bread from Backstube just for any old reason, did you?

Ever since Marketmanila turned me on to David Lebovitz, I’ve been following his blog to get ideas on what other foods that I have to try before leaving this earth.

A trip to the Swiss-French border last week, concentrated around Geneva, gave me an excuse to try out Mont d’ Or, an unpasturized raw milk cheese made near that area. David made a blog post about Mont d’ Or that piqued my curiosity. I was getting ready to hunt down fromageries in France for it, but all I needed to do was go down to the next Migros supermarket, which had the last seven boxes of this cheese in one of its refrigerated shelves. It was a bit pricey, € 6,99 for a wooden carton (I made sure the box was stapled and the cheese au lait cru, David, in case you are reading this. But that is wishful thinking).

Then I thought, why not try it side by side with German Ofenkäse? This is also basically fondue in a box. So off to the supermarket to get a wooden carton of Ofenkäse from Allgäu, and beat it to a friend’s house to share the goodies, eat a cheese dinner and make the comparison.

wine

Next to the Migros in Neydens in France is a wine store, and I was quite relieved that the young proprietor spoke English. I asked for a wine that went with the cheese, and recommended this bottle from Switzerland, since I am partial to sweet and fruity wines. Fendant only cost me € 11 a bottle, which is quite cheap for Swiss wine. I opened this bottle of wine and drank it with my friend while we prepared the cheese the same way, the way David described on his blog post.

After thinly slicing two cloves of garlic, and inserting a total of one clove in each cheese into slits cut into the top of both , I splashed a generous amount (half a cup) of wine into both cheeses. The Mont d’ Or was then wrapped in aluminum foil with the top exposed, while the Ofenkäse was left to bake as it was.

At the halfway mark (15 minutes), I took the Ofenkäse out of the oven and sliced the top to expose the cheese inside, according to package instructions. At thirty minutes we took both the cheeses out and I made several photographs.

cheese2

As one could see, the Ofenkäse on the right looked like melted cheese on pizza. The Mont d’ Or on the left looked untouched.

Then we set sliced bread and the cheeses onto the table and had it with a salad of carrots and apples with creme fraiche dressing and cornichons. The French would gasp in horror, I know. But I made sure to eat all of the sour foods at the end and wash each bite of cheese with water so as to not spoil my taste buds.

It kind of felt wrong to have such a decadent dinner on a Friday. I was supposed to abstain from meat because of Lent, but it doesn’t make sense to abstain from meat when these cheeses were just so fatty.

cheese3Mont d’ Or is delightfully French. My first bite smelled and tasted like a smelly armpit. It was fatty, gooey,  and funky. It left a fatty deposit on my palate and my lips, as if I ate a bowlful of Nilagang baka, a very fatty Filipino beef stew. However, I would like to also add my discovery that Mont d’ Or is not my favorite cheese, as I am more partial to pungent goat cheeses.  Not that Mont d’ Or is not good. Au contraire.

After sampling Ofenkäse then Mont d’ Or, in that sequence, my friend announced her regrets for not eating more of the Ofenkäse because “how can anybody go back to eating that stuff?”

At this point I had almost forgotten the German cheese and ate it. Yuck! It tasted like nothing! It seemed different to me in every bite. Where there was harmony in the fat and garlic taste of the Mont d’ Or, there was only dissonance in Ofenkäse. It tasted in turns like air, then strongly of garlic, then like processed cheese food, a factory-like, completely manufactured flavor.

I’m sorry to say that when it comes to cheeses, the French just K.O’d the Germans.

 

“Solange die Fahne Weht”–Backstube Erfurt

Fresh, artisanal bread is one of the best things to eat in the morning. No matter if it’s Filipino pan de sal or German bread rolls, nothing beats the simplicity of melting butter on warm baked goods.

When I could, I try to patronize Backstube. It is a bakery that I discovered last summer, near the playground I took  my son to behind the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt. Germans hate the fluffy, airy pan Americano style, and are proud of their bread–coarse on the outside, dense yet pliable on the inside. These things are heavy. You could actually take these loaves to demonstrations and throw them at policemen. Maybe they’ll thank you for it.

They use organic flour from the region, and do not use preservatives on their bread. I am not a strict granola mom, but I am a big fan of buying local. The loaves are pricy, 3 euros for a 500g loaf, and 40 cents for a roll.  They would cost half of that at another bakery, but I am more than happy to spend that money on a quality product. they have rye bread, wheat bread, and a mixture of both flours, known here as Mischbrot. Not a lot to offer, but they are really good at what they do. They also have Spanish wheat bread, since one of the owners is Spanish.

They are part of the growing food culture here in Thüringia, and I am very happy to be part of that!

They don’t really have regular hours. But if you see the flag up, you know they’re there!

Backstube Erfurt

Kreuzgasse 2, 99084 Erfurt

Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm.

Das Ist Keine Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte/Not A Black Forest Cake

As a kid, I always saved up money so I could buy a slice of “Black Forest Cake” from our school canteen. Sure, the “cherry” was red glace icing, and there weren’t any cherries between the cake layers, but still. Chocolate! One of the things I said to myself when I started baking was, I needed to learn how to make this!

Six years in Germany, and I still haven’t eaten “real” Black Forest Cake. Don’t you know it is a regionally protected brand? The Kirchwasser doesn’t come from Swaben, the cake wasn’t made in Baden-Wüttemburg, so technically, this Black Forest Cake…isn’t. So call this an imitation Black Forest Cake.

I would like to thank Sofi from Chefkoch.de for sharing her wonderful recipe. It is quite easy to make, but the execution is tricky. I have made this cake in the most rudimentary of conditions in the Philippines, using my homemade cherry jam as a filling (thank you balikbayan boxes!) in a turbo broiler! My tip: refrigerate the eggs, since the whites turn to stiff peaks much quicker than ones in room temperature.

For the cake itself, you would need:

140 g baking chocolate (55% cocoa solids), 75 g (a little less than 1/3 c) butter, 6 eggs, refrigerated, 180 g sugar, 100 g all-purpose flour, 50 g cornstarch, 2 tsp. baking powder.

For the layers and icing:

2 650 g jars of preserved sour cherries, (makes 700-800 g cherries when drained), 500 ml  cherry juice from the preserves, 4 level Tbsp. cornstarch, 800 ml whipping cream, 3 Tbsp. (or 3 packets, if you prefer it sweeter) of vanilla sugar. This can be replaced by sugar mixed with vanilla extract or vanillin in Manila. 100 ml Kirchwasser, (optional if making cake for children) 17 cocktail or candied cherries, and 100 grams of chocolate shavings. While it can be bought ready-made in Germany and the US, this is not the case in the Philippines. It is easy enough to make using either a potato peeler or melting, then scraping the chocolate off a flat pan. Please use European chocolate with at least 50 % chocolate solids, like Lindt or Ritter Sport. I was most disappointed by the quality of baking chocolate in the Philippines. If making this with cherry jam, about 600 ml cherry jam will do.

How to : the cake

bf2In a double boiler (bain-Marie), melt the chocolate and the butter together over very warm (not boiling!) water. When melted, set aside to cool a little. Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with the sugar with an electric mixer until lemony-yellow and foamy, then mix in the choco-butter mixture. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Sift the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch over the egg whites, then fold gently. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg whites and continue folding until the mixture is well incorporated.

Line the bottom of an 8-9 inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Cut up a sheet of paper, put over the bottom, put the barrel over it, tighten to seal, then cut the excess paper around the springform). Bake in a 175° C preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. When this is done, allow to fully cool before removing the ring. The cake is dry, as it needs to be.

Meanwhile, you can make the cherry filling. If you are using cherry jam, lucky you, no need to do these next steps.

Drain the preserved cherries, setting aside 500 ml (2 cups) of the juice. Take about half a cup of this juice, and mix with the cornstarch and sugar. Boil the rest of the juice in a saucepan, then add the juice slurry in it. Mix in the cherries, and add half (50 ml) of the Kirchwasser.

Ok here it comes. How to thinly slice across a cake . if you don’t have a cake leveler, you would need a) a bread knife, and b) sewing thread long enough to go around the cake (around 30 inches/ 70 cm)

bf3With a serrated bread knife, cut a groove around the cake about a centimeter and a half (half an inch) from the top.

bf4 Place the sewing thread into the groove you cut. Make an x with both ends of the string. with a see-sawing motion, pull the threads to and fro until the threads cut into the cake. do this until the top separates from the rest of your cake. Set this cake top aside, and repeat this

bf5process with the second half of the cake, cutting it in half, ending up with three different pieces of cake. Never mind the crumbs and pieces falling off: this can be repaired later with icing. If using Kirchwasser, sprinkle it over the cakes.

Whip 500 ml whipping cream, adding 2 Tbsp. Vanilla sugar in the middle of the whipping process. You know that it is whipped if you can turn the bowl upside-down and the cream doesn’t slip out. Do not overbeat unless you want to accidentally churn butter.

The next step is better done on cardboard cake lining. Place this lining on a cake butler tray if this cake is meant to be transported.

Place the ring of the springform pan on the cake board, then put the top part of the cake, baked side up, at the bottom. The ring acts as a mold for the cake.Spread half of the cherry mixture or jam over the cake. Then spread half of the whipped cream over it. Repeat the process with the middle portion of the cut cake. Then place the whole thing in the fridge overnight for the cherry mixture to set. If using cherry jam, you can skip this process.

bf6The next morning, place the bottom part of the cake, cut side down and the smooth side up, on the cake. Remove the ring. Whip the rest of the cream, half-filling a pastry bag capped with the largest star-shaped tip you have for the garnish, and use the rest to cover the entire cake with it with a spatula.

Now, covering the cake  sides with chocolate shavings takes some practice. Using a small cup or a small, stiff plastic bag, splay the sides of the cake with the chocolate shavings with a flick of the wrist. Remember how a priest douses churchgoers with holy water? Like that. Then sprinkle the top. This gets messy, so a pastry brush is very helpful to clean up the mess.

Pipe the rest of the cream on top of the cake, one very large dot at a time. then place the cherries on top.

I make this cake once or twice a year. It really is worth the effort!

Bratkartoffel

Another quick and easy dish that I prepare when on a rush is Bratkartoffel, or fried potatoes. Germans eat potatoes like Filipinos do rice, so it is unsurprising that like Filipinos, they always cook a little extra potato to make leftovers for Bratkartoffel, like when we do fried rice for breakfast. The great thing about it is that one can use almost whatever ingredient is in the fridge. So if I don’t have German bacon or Speck, one could take normal cooked ham or even yikes, Spam!

While it is ideal to use cold leftover potatoes, one can also take raw peeled potatoes when there isn’t enough potatoes to go around.

To feed at least four people, you would need seven peeled and cooked medium to large  potatoes. These potatoes need to be cubed into bite-sized chunks. If there aren’t enough leftover potatoes, peel and slice thinly at least three more potatoes a an eighth of a centimeter thick, basically as if you’re making mojos. Finely dice an onion, a clove of garlic. Cube a slab of bacon or slice ham in squares. Take a spring onion or a tablespoon of chives and slice it crosswise into half a centimeter disks. This will be used for garnishing.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. If using bacon or diced spam, fry them to a crisp. If using raw potato, add this after frying the bacon. Remember that potatoes absorbs  flavors and they need to be seasoned constantly. Always season the potatoes after adding an ingredient.

Fry the raw potatoes until translucent. Add the cooked potatoes, mixing them every so often and fry until they turn golden brown. Then add the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until the onions turn translucent. Meanwhile, beat an egg in a bowl and add salt and pepper to it. Turn off the heat and add the scrambled egg, letting the heat of the potatoes cook the egg. While the eggs are still runny, add the chives or spring onions onto the egg.

This is very heavy on the stomach. Serve and enjoy!

Schweinebraten/German Roast

Schweinebraten or German pot roast is a staple of German cuisine. It is usually made with the neck/shoulder part of a pig, or the hip part of a cow (Keule) or sometimes the upper part of the cow’s belly (called Lende or Filet). I’ve never made roast beef(Rinderbraten in German)  before, but I’ve made pork Braten often enough. It is usually eaten on Sunday in Thuringia, paired with boiled salted potatoes or potato dumplings (called Klöße in German). Common sidings are salted boiled Cauliflower or stewed red cabbage.

If the skin and the underlying fat is included in the cut, it is made into something called Krustenbraten, where the skin is made into a crispy crust (well, kind of. I still haven’t perfected it!)

This is the first dish my mother-in-law made for me in Germany, and I’ve watched her over the years make this. This has become one of my favorite dishes.

fleisch

The secret to good Braten is good Fleisch. This will be cooking for two hours, meaning the pork has to be well marbled with fat, so you don’t end up with dry meat. Avoid pork pumped up with water, unless you want to injure yourself with the oil splatter (I know what I’m talking about!). The pork needs to be at room temperature, preferably fresh from the butcher. You need one or one and a half kilos of meat. That’s enough to feed four to six people!

Another thing that you need for Braten is Süppengrün. The great thing about living in Germany is that you can buy a pre-bundled pack of soup greens, or veggies for making stock.

SuppengrünA packet of soup greens consists of a slice of celery root, a short leek stalk, three carrots, a sprig of parsley, and sometimes a parsnip. You will need everything in this pack except for the parsley and the parsnip.

Aside from that, you need two tablespoons of mustard–preferably dijon–and at least one and a half tablespoons of salt and pepper (cracked pepper if you have it), five cloves of garlic and a large onion. The recipe I use is based on Luxemburg/German celebrity chef Lea Linster’s Schweinebraten, but done the way my mother-in-law does it.

First, you chop three carrots and one leek stalk in half centimeter rings, and roughly dice the onion and celery root, and peel and halve the garlic cloves.

Take the pork, and score criss-crosses the top or if you’re making Krustenbraten, the skin.  Rub and massage the salt and pepper into every nook and cranny of that pork, then rub that meat with mustard, If using herbs, rosemary is a wonderful addition. Then rub it again with more salt and pepper. You are not oversalting this, since only the outer part will get the seasoning.

Heat about four to five tablespoons of oil in a deep and heavy-bottomed pot. Place the meat in the pot and brown at all sides (see picture above). This takes about fifteen minutes, or 3-4 minutes each side.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat three tablespoons of (preferably olive) oil and sauté the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic until it becomes glassy. Season with salt and pepper upon adding each vegetable. I use an electric stove, so I turn off the heat and add the leeks last, since they burn way too easily.

When the pork is brown and ready, take it out of the pot and onto a plate. Here comes the dangerous part. Lower the heat to the lowest possible flame. Fill a cup until half full of water, splash it into the pot and cover it immediately. This is to release the brown residue at the bottom of the pot from the salt and mustard. This will form the base of your sauce.

When the pot stops steaming like crazy, return the meat into the pot, and add the veggies on top of it. This needs to be in there at least two hours. Despite what other websites say regarding 50 minutes=1 kg meat, two hours always gave me falling off the fork results. Turn the meat at the halfway point. Then take it out of the pot after two hours.

If you are making Krustenbraten, grill the pork, skin side up, 180°C in a pre-heated oven. I brush the top with butter, but some recipes call for just saltwater, or even beer, to make the top crispy. Maybe there’s something to that, and will try that next time I make Krustenbraten.

While the meat is in the oven, mash the veggies with a potato masher or puree it with a handmixer in the pot. This will become your sauce. This veggie sauce is so thick I sometimes add a cup of water slowly into the sauce until it reaches a creamy consistency. Slice the meat into porkchop slices, and serve with the potatoes and sidings.

This Schweinebraten recipe is definitely a work in progress, so the way I make it now may differ how I will make it in the future. Meanwhile, enjoy your Braten!

Rinderroulade

We had Rinderroulade, Mashed potatoes, and fried breaded parsnips for Christmas dinner. Parsnips are a revelation! Who knew they tasted so good?

Rinderroulade is rolled beef pot roast, and is a classic German dish. Roulade is made from very thin beef filet, from the cow’s hip. It is not marbled, with very little fat, so it is always made with bacon. It is traditionally filled with pickle slices and minced onions.

You would need: Roulade filets, a packet of bacon (American bacon or German speck), one medium-sized onion, one pickle (if using), mustard, roulade needles or kitchen string. Clarified butter or vegetable oil, a cup (240 ml) sour cream, salt and pepper, a splash or red wine (optional), 3-4 pimiento corns  and 2 bay leaves.

roulade2

I normally buy a pack of roulade, which normally contains three slices. I pound them until tender, and sprinkle salt and pepper on the surface, then spread mustard over it. Place two slices of bacon over the beef. In Germany, most people buy Speck, thick slabs of bacon. They then chop it into half inch bacon bits and spread it over the beef. I minced one medium sliced onion. I didn’t put pickles in mine, btw. If using, chop one pickle into three or four slices lengthwise.

roulade3

roulade4After you’ve laid everything out, roll the beef, pickle slice, bacon and onion, and tie it up in a neat bundle or secure it with rouladen pins, which are available in Germany. I prefer using kitchen string.

 

roulade1In a shallow pot, fry the rolls in hot clarified butter or vegetable oil in medium high heat until it is dark brown all around. this takes about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pot onto a plate. if you notice, a brown stain has developed at the bottom of your pot. Pour the cup of sour cream into the pot, and mix with a wire whisk to remove clumps. Add the bay leaf and pimiento corns, and re-place the rolls into the pot. Turn the heat to very low and cook for 1.5 hours. Turn the rolls at the halfway mark (45 minutes).

This is normally eaten with potatoes or potato dumplings, and the sour cream gravy means that the sauce isn’t all that heavy on the stomach.

On that note, I’ll be blogging light, since I’ll be on vacation until Jan. 8. See you then!

Christmas Baking Frenzy

xmas cookies

1- Lengua de Gato, 2-Chocolate Chip, 3- Chocolate Crinkles, 4-Really Chocolate Chip, 5- Vanille Kipferl, 6&7-Black and White Cookies

 

The first advent week means a massive spike in the electricity consumption of German households. No, not because of Christmas lights that can be seen from the moon (although my neighbor is an exception), but because German women, like their mothers before them, go into a cookie baking frenzy. They fill tiny plastic bags with cookies, wrap it up in nice ribbon and trade them with each other, like kids do with trading cards. A completely pointless and cute tradition, something that is repeated in summer, but with jam jars.

I really enjoy baking Christmas cookies every year. Due to time constraints, (my kid), I haven’t been able to get to it until the last week of advent. But better late than never! It took me five evenings to bake the cookies, baking one kind of cookie at a time. This year’s cookies are a mix of Filipino/Hispanic, German, and American cookies, a reflection of my life so far. I could never really get the cookies to the tiny, bite-sized Plätzchen that the Germans trade with each other, since calculating how much the cookies spread had never been my specialty, though I got really close this year!

Lengua de Gato, or Cat’s Tongue cookies, are European in origin. They are however beloved in the Philippines, where I had my first taste of these thin butter cookies. I am pleased with this year’s batch. They look very good, but I would definitely work more on it to get the consistency I like. I’ll keep you posted when I come up with my definitive version!

This year’s Chocolate Chip and Totally Chocolate Chip cookies have also a Philippine component to it, as I used Philippine Muscovado sugar instead of soft brown sugar. A gift of walnuts from this fall meant that these were filled with walnuts instead of the traditional pecans.

Chocolate crinkles are traditionally American, but are also very popular in the Philippines. Even the corner bakery where you get your pan de sal have these now, although most of them are baked rock hard. I am very happy with how the crinkles turned out this year! They are very airy and chewy, just how they are supposed to be.

Vanille Kipferl are traditional German Christmas butter cookies made with flour and ground hazelnut or peanut, powdered with confectioner’s and vanilla sugar.

Black and white cookies are also German butter cookies. The dark parts are colored with cocoa, and are usually baked in different patterns. This year my chessboard pattern didn”t really work, and turned into spotted cow flecks. Not bad!

I’ve filled four tins full of cookies. If you send me postage I can send you some, or better yet, bake your own!

 

 

Vanilla Sugar or Vanilla Extract?

So, we’ve been beset by Christmas cookie baking season. I’m also late in the game, and I plan to change that this weekend.

I grew up in the Philippines using Vanillin, which is artificial vanilla extract. It is quite ironic, since we could grow vanilla in the Philippines. I used it to bake cookies, to flavor drinks.

In Germany, I was able to get my hands on the real thing, at Xenos, of all places. Xenos is a Dutch-owned chain that sells cheap, classy looking Chinese crap (excuse my French, but products aren’t really great), and some exotic food items.

However, Germany is not vanilla extract land. Over here, they use vanilla sugar. in fact, vanilla extract is hard to find in stores in Germany. Over here, vanilla sugar reigns!

Ever since I found a super recipe for making my own vanilla extract, I’ve never looked back. Reformhaus in Germany doesn’t tempt me anymore with its overpriced vanilla extract. A vial of good vanilla beans with 2 pieces in it can set you back 5 euros, way cheaper than 7 euros for 100 ml of vanilla extract. This is literally the never ending vanilla extract. It will last you for years. So when I bake American, I use vanilla extract.

But since I developed full-blown baking fever in Germany, I also have a lot of German recipes that use vanilla sugar. I think this is a great option for people who can’t eat/drink anything with alcohol in it.  I don’t understand why so many people buy vanilla sugar in those 50 g packets, when making your own is so much more cheaper! Many people make their own vanilla sugar by throwing in two vanilla beans in an airtight container full of sugar, but I prefer Jaime Oliver’s recipe.

In Jaime’s book The Naked Chef, he recommends blitzing 4 vanilla beans in a food processor, scraping the black gunk from the sides, and adding 1 kg of white sugar. Blitz it again and sieve. Blitz what remains in the sieve again in the food processor until you get a brown-grayish mass.

Since I have the option of using both, I normally use vanilla extract AND vanilla sugar in my  recipes. wasteful, yes but worth it. 🙂