Poppy-Seed-Pull-Apart-Bread |

When I was a kid I loved plasticine and fimo. I would build all kinds of things from modelling clay and for about two weeks I even had a very small fimo brooch kid business. (I sold the brooches for 50 pfennig a piece to my aunts.) I still like modelling stuff and so does my daughter. We build a lot of modelling clay animals. Baking with yeast dough is probably my way of finding a more grown up way to handle my plasticine addictions. I love the soft and smooth texture and all the different ways you can knead and cut it.

These pull-apart breads have been out there for quite a while. My version is inspired by Celine, who I test recipes for. She made a wonderful pull-apart bread for one of her new books. I love the technique used for this kind of bread, it’s similar to making cinnamon buns, but instead of rolling the dough up, you just cut it into stripes and stack it. Because there’s so much filling the baked bread is very moist and soft, and with its cinnamon and sugar filling, it’s the perfect comfort food. Well, not quite. Poppy seeds are a much-loved filling for Eastern- and Central-European pastries and who could argue with that? I have to admit that even though I do love a cinnamon roll once in a while, I would always prefer a poppy seed roll. And that’s why I put them in a filling for this delicious bread, too.

poppy seed pull-apart bread |


Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Bread (makes one 22 cm or 9-inch loaf)

For the dough:
270 ml ( 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) soy milk
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
420 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
70 g (1/2 cup) poppy seeds, ground
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place soy milk in a small pot and add coconut oil. Heat gently until the oil has melted. Do not bring to a boil. Let cool until luke warm. Whisk in sugar.

In a large bowl mix flour, yeast, and salt. Add liquid ingredients and knead the dough until smooth, for about 5 minutes. It will probably still be sticky, but that’s okay. A stickier dough with more moisture will result in a fluffier loaf.

Let the dough rise in a warm place, until doubled in size, about an hour. (At this time of the year I put it into the oven and just leave the light on.)

Meanwhile prepare the filling:
Combine poppy seeds and sugar Add hot water and oil. Stir well until everything is combined. Stir in flour and starch.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured working surface. Your dough should now be smooth and soft, if you feel it is still to sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Roll the dough into a rectangle, 52 cm long and 26 cm wide. (20 x 10 inches) Place the wide side in front of you and spread the filling onto the dough, leaving a small 1 cm (0.5 inch) margin on all sides. Cut the dough into 8 26 cm (10 inch) long strips. Place four strips on top of each other and repeat with the remaining four strips so that you have two long stacked dough strips. Cut each stack into four rectangles.

Grease a 22 cm bread pan (9-inch loaf pan) with oil or line with parchment paper. Place the dough stacks in the pan. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise again for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 25 more minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or let cool completely. The bread tastes best the day it’s made.

Kaffeedampf |

marble bundt cake |

It’s been a week full of changes. Because of a birthday. Our daughter turned three and this means she had to switch daycare. The last two years we’ve been taking her to a child minder who looked after her and 4 other kids her age for 8 to 9 hours a day. It was a comfortable situation for us and for F. Our child minder is a wonderful person and we knew F had a great time with her. She became a very confident, open, and cheerful person and learned to do many things by herself. I knew she was taken seriously, given the attention she needed, and looked after constantly.

Now she’s a kindergarten kid, which means she has to share 2 kindergarten teachers with about 30 other kids. It’s been a shocking situation, but not for her. F is quite open to change and can deal with almost any situation. It’s really funny how children sometimes are much more grown up than adults (their parents) and can handle new situations better than them. The kindergarten has a 4 week settling down policy for the new kids, which means that we are not supposed to drop them off and leave. We go with your child for the first days to see how it goes and leave when the kid is ready. Which can take up to 4 weeks, if the parents are in the position to spent that much time there, of course. In our case F was way more ready than we. On the third day she was running around in the garden and it looked like she had completely forgotten about me. I asked the teacher if I should just leave for an hour and she said yes. So I said good-bye to F waiting for some protest. Only a little “do you really have to?” or “will you come back?” But nothing.  I left and returned after an hour. At that point F was still in the garden. I couldn’t even see her. I asked the teacher if everything had gone well and of course everything was fine. The teacher sent me away for another 45 minutes. In that time F was taken to lunch. When she finally left the lunch room I was sitting there waiting to take her home for the day. She told me all the things she had done by herself that day: she had helped herself with the food and she had eaten a lot, she had cleaned her table, and she had used the big slide in the garden all by herself. And usually she doesn’t even use a small slide all by herself.

I always thought that it’s important for children to have their own life. I know I am an important person to her, but I don’t want to be the only person being able care for her. I sometimes have to force myself to let go, I don’t always have to be in control. In my opinion this a good thing for every member of this family. When F was younger it meant I had some freedom despite having a very small baby. I didn’t have to be with her 24/7 to feed her, soothe her, or get her to sleep. Her father was as important to her as me and he could do all these things as well as me. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be and still it wasn’t easy to let go. Because from the moment I became pregnant everybody was hammering the idea into me that I, the mother, was responsible for my child and that nobody else cold take care of her as well as me. While this may be a great notion for some women, the way they want it to be, it’s just very scary for others. It’s often a burden, it’s way too much responsibility. It’s unnecessary and I think it’s not even true.

Still one of the hardest parts of parenting for me is learning to let go. I always feel the urge to be in control, to watch over everything and to protect my daughter. Being next to my daughter just watching can be very tough. She has to learn how to eats peanuts without choking, using her balance bike right next to the main street and not getting herself into an accident, or using her scissors without cutting her finger off. I have to learn to have confidence and trust in her. I have to smile while I feel like I am fainting. I have to walk away and realise that she doesn’t need you 24/7. She does well on her own. I have to let her live her own life at least for parts of the day, she has to make her own experiences so she can tell me about them and feel good about herself. And even though I have practiced this from the moment my daughter was born, even though I think it’s exactly the way it should be, the way I can raise a confident and independent child, I still haven’t accomplished it. So it’s not just her learning a lot of new things at kindergarten. It’s me too.

Okay, after this long and waxy post let’s finally get to the cake, which was F’s birthday cake. It’s a simple marble cake with a white and dark chocolate glaze. It’s moist but still firm, which is a really awesome cake feature if you give it to little kids. Well, probably it doesn’t matter what cake recipe you choose as long as you cover it in chocolate.

Please not that this cake may be a bit tricky to remove from the pan. Make sure to grease the bundt pan well and dust it with flour after greasing. After baking let it cool for one hour and then loosen the edges with a small knife.


Marble Bundt Cake

For the cake:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons hot water
seeds from one vanilla bean
180 ml (3/4 cup) oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
400 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (3/4 cup) plain soy milk
4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons soy milk

For the glaze:
100 g (3.5 oz) white non-dairy chocolate
50 g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate

Grease a 23-cm (9-inch) bundt pan with coconut oil and dust it with all-purpose flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Mix flax seeds and hot water and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat well for 1 minute. Add flax and soy yoghurt and beat again until everything is combined.
Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour milk on top and beat until the batter is smooth but not longer than a minute.
Pour half of the batter in a second bowl and add cocoa powder and soy milk.
Pour half of the cocoa batter into the bundt pan. Add half of the vanilla batter. Repeat. Run a fork through the batter to create a marbled pattern.
Bake for 60 t0 65 minutes until the cake is done. Stick a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
Let cool for 60 minutes. Use a small knife (preferably a very flexible plastic knife) to loosen the edges, especially around the tube in the centre. Turn the pan around and let the cake slide on a cookie rack to cool completely.

Melt the white and dark chocolate separately.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the bundt cake, then pour the dark chocolate on top. Serve the cake once the chocolate has set completely. (I let my cake sit over night.)

gefüllte Buchteln |

gefüllte Buchteln |

It’s the time of the year when it’s still summer and already autumn.  If you cross the river Elbe in the morning steam rises slowly from the water. A layer of fog covers the hills but you know it’s gone in 30 minutes when the sun breaks through. The early morning and afternoon light is amazing, the sun sparkles through the trees and casts long shadows. Everything shimmers in a golden tone. But not every day is like this. Sometimes it rains for 24 hours and all you wanna do is stay in bed with a hot cup of tea. Or you start baking to warm you up and comfort you. Yeast baked goods are perfect for this. Sweet, warm, and soft rolls that you can definitely eat in bed if you don’t mind the crumbs.

Buchteln are of Eastern European and Southern German origin, they are a kind of dumpling or baked doughnut. There are stuffed and unstuffed varieties, but I like the stuffed kind most. I usually fill them with sea blackthorn jam, with is probably quite a Northern German thing to do. Sea blackthorn berries are bright orange in colour and very tart, they often grow along the coast but I have seen some here in Dresden, too. Sea buckthorn jam has a very unique texture and taste. It’s usually smooth, silky, and runny and it has a slightly tart flavour with a hint of honey, conifers, and resin. If you can get your hands on it you should try it, but any kind of jam will work here as well. In fact, I split the buchteln because I couldn’t decide what filling to use. I filled five with sea buckthorn jam, five with blackberry jam, and five with speculoos spread.

gefüllte Buchteln |


Buchteln (makes 15)

For the buchteln:
270 ml (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) soy milk
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
55 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil
420g (3 1/2 cups) flour
20g fresh yeast or 2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 /2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1 teaspoon of your favourite jam, nut butter, or even cookie spread per buchtel
(15 teaspoons in total)

Combine soy milk, sugar, and coconut oil in a small pot. Warm gently over low heat until the oil has melted. Let cool until luke warm.

Add the flour to a large bowl. Make a well and add the yeast (even if it’s instant). Pour the liquid mixture into the well and let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt and knead the dough well. It’s enough to knead this dough for 2-3 minutes. It should still be sticky and the gluten will continue to develop while you let it rest and rise. So don’t worry about it being sticky. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 18 x 28 cm square pan (7 x 11 inch) with parchment paper.

Knead the dough for one minute. By now it should be smooth and not stick to your hands anymore. If it still does, add a little bit of flour. Divide the dough into 15 equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball. Place under a kitchen towel, so they won’t dry out. Take one ball and shape it into a flat circle large enough to hold one teaspoon of filling.

Buchteln |

Fold over and pinch the edges, then carefully shape into a ball again. Place in the prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Cover with a damp kitchen towel again and let rise for another 30 minutes. bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with more sea buckthorn jam or vanilla sauce.

This entry was submitted to Yeastspotting.

Classic German Desserts

We are already in the third week of the Vegan Month of Food and yes, I skipped the first two days of this week. I guess I needed a little cake sabbatical. Plus, sometimes life just gets in your way and a day is much too short when you have to divide it between work, spending time with your family, and other things. But enough with the lame excuses already, today I am back, armed with flour, sugar, fat, and more sugar. I hope you will enjoy the following treats as today’s recipe and the next ones are all childhood favourites of mine. And they are all coworker tested, too.

Mandelhoernchen - a German childhood favourite

All of these childhood favourites were and are still available at the bakery right next to my parents house in Northern Germany. On Sunday afternoons my father would often go there and buy cakes or pastries so we could eat them for coffee, as that sweet afternoon snack was called.  One of my favourite pastries were these Mandelhörnchen (almond crescends). They are made from marzipan, topped with sliced almonds, and dipped in dark chocolate. If you bite into them they are chewy, but then the marzipan melts in your mouth right away. And then you taste the crispy roasted almonds and the bittersweet chocolate. I love all those contrasts in one baked good. The recipe is from a cookbook called Koch- und Backhits der 60er. I adapted and veganised it.

Note to those who are gluten-free: This recipe calls for 50 g of regular flour. It’s used for binding, but this might work without it. I haven’t tried, but maybe adding more starch or something like glutinous rice flour might give you the same results as regular wheat flour.





Mandelhörnchen (yields 17)

200 g (7 oz) marzipan
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
75 ml (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) soy milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
50 g (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) flour
100 g (3.5 oz) sliced almonds

150 g (5.3 oz) chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the marzipan into small cubes and place in a bowl. Add sugar and soy milk. Mash with a spoon until the mixture is smooth. (You can also use a hand held mixer or blender for this step.) Add starch, baking powder, and flour. Use a hand held mixer to beat into a smooth paste. Fill into a a pastry bag with a large, whide mouthed tip attached. Pipe on a baking sheet in the form of crescents. Your crescents will look like bent sausages at this point, but they should spread and flatten out while baking. So make sure not to place them to close together! Sprinkle with almonds and carefully press some of the almonds into the crescents. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about ten minutes. Transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and dip the crescents into the marzipan. Place on a sheet of parchment paper to dry.