Classic German Baking – Luisa Weiss

Luisa Weiss’ Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen is baking greatness. Laura’s first title, My Berlin Kitchen, is a wonderful read containing over forty recipes. I was so pleased to learn she had this baking title in the works. Luisa’s blog, The Wednesday Chef, is indexed for our members.

Her new book contains over 120 classic recipes from cookies, cakes, breads and more. Cookie recipes include Butterkekse, Mandelhörnchen (chocolate dipped almond crescents), and Eisenbahnschnitten (almond cream jam bars). Cakes include the Gedeckter Apfelkuchen (Glazed Apple Cake) shared below, a Marillenfleck (Austrian Apricot Sheet Cake) and the Bienenstich (Honey-Almond Caramel Cake). The Black Forest Torte (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), Sachertorte, Quark Strudels and Quark Cheesecakes are also shared. In the breads and buns section, Caraway-Cheese Rye Rolls, Soft Pretzels, and glorious Cinnamon-Sugar Buns are covered. Savory favorites can be found as well such as a Savory Green Onion and Bacon Cake. A valueable recipe collection of the basics gives us recipes for ingredients that we require to make some of these desserts. Quark (Sour Fresh Cheese), Almond Paste, Lebkuchen Spice Mix and several others are outlined.

This book is so stunning that my only regret is that more photos aren’t included. There are photographs and those are beautiful (four to six a chapter) but it would be nice to have more. Luisa’s instructions are detailed and approachable so photographs aren’t necessary for each recipe but we are so tempted by the stunning photos included that I, for one, want more!

This book will fulfill every baker’s want and need for German baking.  Be sure to enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of Classic German Baking. In the meantime, thanks to the author and Ten Speed Publishing we are happy to share two German bakes to try now.

Glazed Apple Cake

Gedeckter Apfelkuchen (covered apple cake) is one of the cakes you’re sure to find in almost every single bakery across Germany. To make it, you line a springform pan with a sweet short pastry, fill the crust with a chunky cooked apple filling studded with raisins and flavored with cinnamon and lemon, and then use the same crust dough to make a lid for the cake. Isometimes wonder if it isn’t the precursor to America’s apple pie, though in this cake, even after baking, the pastry remains soft and cakey thanks to the moist, cooked apple filling and a lemon glaze that is brushed on the top crust after baking.

Gedeckter Apfelkuchenfrom industrial bakeries tends to be unbearably sweet. In fact, I always thought I didn’t much care for it until I tried making it at home, and now I’m smitten. I like to use apples that have a good balance of sweetness and acidity for the filling and I leave them unsweetened, which gives a nicely tart contrast to the sweet, glazed crust.

2 1⁄3 cups, scooped and leveled, plus 1 tablespoon/300g all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup/150g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
10 1⁄2 tablespoons/150g unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, softened
1 egg, at room temperature
6 large apples (2 pounds 10 ounces/1.2kg)
Juice of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 cup/75g raisins
1⁄4 cup/60ml plus 2 teaspoons water
3⁄4 cup/75g confectioners’ sugar

Mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, work the butter into the flour until it’s no longer visible. Add the egg and knead until the dough is smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut them into slices 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch/3 to 6mm thick and put the slices in a large pot. Add the juice of 1 lemon along with the cinnamon, raisins, and the 1⁄4 cup/60ml of water. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook the apples for 15 to 20 minutes, or until silky and relatively broken down. The apples should not turn completely to mush but still retain some shape. Take the pot off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line the bottom of a 9-inch/23cm springform pan with parchment paper. Take two-thirds of the dough and pat it evenly into the springform pan, forming a 1-inch-/2.5cm-high rim at the edges. Refrigerate the remaining dough. Prick the dough in the pan evenly all over with a fork. Line the dough with a sheet of aluminum foil and fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is starting to firm up but is not yet browning. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil and pie weights; maintain the oven temperature.

Scrape the apple mixture evenly into the par-baked shell and smooth the top. The apple filling should precisely fill the crust. Roll out the remaining one-third of the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap until just slightly larger than the circumference of the pan. Trim the edges of the circle and then gently transfer the circle to the top of the cake, laying it over the apple filling. Tuck in the top crust and cut off any excess. Cut 3 small slits in the top of the dough. Put the pan back in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and slightly puffed.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the glaze. Sieve the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the 2 teaspoons of water until smooth. Brush the glaze over the still-hot cake and then let the cake cool completely before serving. The cake will keep at room temperature, covered lightly with plastic wrap, for 2 to 3 days.

Braided Almond-Cream Wreath

If Schlesische Mohnrolle(page 99) is my favorite thing to buy at Hutzelmann, our favorite bakery in Berlin, then Kranzkuchen is my husband’s. Max has a soft spot for Kranzkuchen, an almond-paste and rum-raisin- stuffed sweet wreath. He has tried many Kranzkuchenin his life, but he says that absolutely none come close to Hutzelmann’s version, sold in thick slabs all year long. It is glorious: sticky and rich, winey with rum and almond paste, chewy, and flaky all at once.

I tried many times to re-create their Kranz (which means “wreath”) at home and never quite got it right, but in the process I developed this recipe, which is pretty darn good. Forming the wreath requires a bit of moxie because once you roll up the almond-cream-filled dough and slice it lengthwise, you have to wrap the 2 strands around each other without allowing the filling to leak too much. After baking, when the Kranzkuchen is golden brown and shiny from the apricot glaze and topped with a drizzled glaze, it’s as beautiful as it is delicious. I suggest you bake this when you have a lot of people to feed – it’s best the day it is made.


3 1⁄4 cups, scooped and leveled, minus 1 tablespoon/ 400g all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 1⁄2 teaspoons instant yeast
1⁄3 cup/70g granulated sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon/190ml whole milk
1 egg
8 tablespoons/115g unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, at room temperature


2⁄3 cup/100g raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1 pound/455g almond paste
1⁄4 cup/50g granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
3 1⁄2 tablespoons/50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄4 teaspoon salt


1⁄2 cup/150g smooth apricot jam
13 tablespoons/100g confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons water

To make the dough: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Then add the milk and egg and stir briefly. Add the butter and knead the dough briefly by hand in the bowl. Scrape it out onto a lightly floured work surface and continue to knead it for several minutes. You may need to add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons of flour, but resist the urge to add more; the dough should be quite soft and rich. You won’t be able to knead it as long as other yeast doughs, but try to get it to a point where it’s no longer too sticky and can be formed into a ball.

Place the ball back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour to rise.

To make the filling: Place the raisins in a small bowl and add the rum and lemon juice. Set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the almond paste, sugar, egg white, 1 tablespoon of milk, butter, and salt; knead together by hand until well combined. Knead in the raisins and their macerating liquid. The mixture should be creamy but will still hold its shape when spread. If necessary, mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk. Set aside.

When the proofing hour is up, gently tug the dough onto a work surface. Roll out the dough to a 13 by 16-inch/33 by 40cm rectangle. You can pull the edges out to form neat corners.

Scrape the filling onto the dough and, using a bench scraper, spread the mixture out evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch/2.5cm border on one of the long sides. Starting from the other long side, roll up the dough. Using a sharp bench scraper, cut the roll of dough in half lengthwise, leaving about 1 inch/2.5cm at one end still attached. Working quickly, twist the 2 strands around each other all the way down the length of the roll. Then form the wrapped dough strands into a circle. Next, slice through the end that you left attached and tuck the end pieces at both ends underneath each other to make a neat closure.

Transfer the wreath to the prepared pan (you may need someone to help you do this) and bake for 45 minutes at the second-lowest rack position, rotating halfway through. When finished, the loaf will be golden brown all over and should sound slightly hollow when tapped. It will still be quite soft.

To make the glaze: Just before the end of the baking time, heat the apricot jam over medium-high heat until loose and bubbling. When the wreath emerges from the oven, immediately brush it all over with the hot jam. Place the pan on a rack to cool.

When the wreath has almost fully cooled, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the water. Whisk until smooth and lump-free. You want a thick but pourable glaze. Add more sugar or a drop more water as needed. Drizzle the glaze back and forth over the entire wreath. Wait 1 hour for the glaze to set and the cake to cool completely and then slice and serve. The cake is best eaten the day it is made, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2 additional days.

Reprinted with permission from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Aubrie Pick




Post a comment


  • AlexH  on  October 24, 2016

    Looking forward to holiday baking, especially stollen!

  • rchesser  on  October 25, 2016

    First thing I'd bake is the Marillenfleck, thanks for another great review!

  • lhudson  on  October 26, 2016

    I would like to learn to make soft pretzels.

  • Dmartin997  on  October 26, 2016

    I would like to make a/Donauwelle

  • melmaren  on  October 27, 2016

    Definitely soft pretzels, but also Bienenstich and Black Forest cake 🙂

  • cocecitycook  on  November 27, 2016

    The almond cream wreath sounds delicious

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