seitan is my motor



September 2015



Grand Budapest Hotel & Courtesan au Chocolat

sloppy courtesan au chocolate | Vegan Month of Food 2015

Since this blog is about food, I rarely get to talk about other things I like. But today’s Vegan MoFo promt is the perfect occasion to change that. I like books and films a lot and I like it even more when films are about books and writers. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film about writers. Sort of. It’s also a  film about the author Stefan Zweig, whose works have inspired Anderson’s movie. (Also sort of. If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it, it’s hard to describe. I promise it’s going to be fun!) In addition the director credits several old films, like Grand Hotel. Grand Hotel by the way is based on the fabulous Novel Menschen im Hotel (Grand Hotel) by Vicky Baum. There are other novels that could act as the model for this movie, like Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth

I have read Zweig’s The World of Yesterday but not the other works Anderson mentions. When I first saw Grand Budapest Hotel I was absolutely amazed by the fictional world Anderson had created. In the movie everything was torn apart and put back together in a way I have never seen before. The setting is a hotel in the fictional Central European country Zubrowka. The town around this hotel has similarities to Eastern European spa towns. Most of the the material was shot in Görlitz though, a small and beautifully renovated town right at the Polish border. It’s not far from Dresden where I live and it has become a popular US-movie location. Dresden also plays a little part in the Grand Budapest Hotel, I recognised a couple of streets and museum halls. In one of the most fascinating scenes in the movie a couple of characters chase each other through such a hall. Then they leave though a door and we find them back in Görlitz or somewhere else, but definitely not behind the museum in Dresden. Admittedly, this movie is not a documentary. And Anderson makes no secret of the fact that “the places [he] had envisioned just didn’t really exist anywhere“. He says he’s interested in the invention, he’s not trying to be realistic. He definitely has accomplished that. I recognised many buildings but couldn’t follow the characters’ paths because they were invented. I recognised the time period Anderson was covering but his interpretation was completely different both from the fictional and non-fictional works I have read about this period before. As I said, he put everything together again in a completely new way, even the tiniest details. The German location names used are funny and absurd and the spelling of many things is only superficially German (or French). I don’t know that much about Wes Anderson but his socialisation outside of Europe seems visible in all these details. (Or maybe he did it on purpose.)

For example, there’s a bakery in this movie called Mendl’s. In German this would be Mendl or Mendls Bäckerei. No apostrophe, I would say. At least not back at that time. Then again I might be wrong. I am siding with Konrad Duden here, who published Germany’s most influential dictionary. Thomas Mann on the other hand used apostrophes with genitive cases. So we’re probably lucky he wrote great novels instead of designing and printiong bakery signs. Anyway, Mendl’s supplies everyone with a pastry called courtesan au chocolate, which is again a mix of English and French words. Those courtesans au chocolate are a colourful and elaborate version of the French pastry Religieuse. For the movie this version was invented in a bakery in Görlitz and the recipe is online. The funny thing is that they used a dairy shop in Dresden, Pfunds Molkerei,  as setting for the pastry shop. I’ve only been there once in my pre-vegan days, not to buy cheese, just because it’s an outstanding location and a tourist magnet. I only lasted ten seconds though because it was smelly as hell in there. So I cannot really imagine it turned into a bakery, even if it’s only for a few scenes. Those poor actors. Beautiful pastries smelling like aged cheese. Whatever, let’s finally get to today’s topic: “Make something inspired by a book or film.” I did not only veganise the original recipe, I changed the whole thing. Because  my recipe is how I has imagined the courtesans before learning about the recipe. It’s my version of the story!

Note: For the food colouring I tried to go with natural dyes, but I think artificial ones would have been better. My colours came with a taste and I didn’t like both the matcha and the blueberry plus soda versions that much. So if you have access to artificial vegan food dyes, I recommend to use them.

P.S.  We’re on the last day of our vacation and I am writing this recipe on the road. The recipe plugin isn’t working that great on our tablet. Sorry if the ingredient list looks a bit confusing. I’ll fix that as soon as we’re home.

Grand Budapest Hotel & Courtesan au Chocolat


For the doughnuts
240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
120 ml (1/2 cup) soy milk
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1 pinch salt
1.5 to 2 litres of oil, suitable for frying
For the ganache
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
60 ml (1/4 cup) soy milk
160 g chopped dark chocolate
For the glaze
150 g (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, divided
vegan red food colouring (I used 1 teaspoon. Adjust according to your package directions.)
1-3 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2-3 teaspoons lime juice
2-3 teaspoons blueberry juice (from cooked blueberries)
1 pinch baking soda
For the icing
55 g (1/2 cup) refined coconut oil or shortening, softened
50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. To make the doughnuts, combine flour and yeast in a bowl.
  2. Add milk, sugar, oil, and salt to a small pan and heat until luke warm.
  3. Add to the flour mixture and knead for about 7-10 minutes, or until your dough is firm and doesn't stick.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough into 4 equally sized pieces and use differently sized cookie cutters to cut each piece into 3 differently sized disks. Note: This is what I did. It's easier just to roll each piece of dough into 3 differently sized balls.
  6. Use leftovers to make 4 additional small balls, about the size of a grape.
  7. Let the disks or balls rest (covered) until doubled in size.
  8. Heat the oil in a pot. If you choose a smaller pot, you'll need less oil. Just make sure that the doughnuts will be able to float and not stick to either the bottom of the pot or to each other. Use a candy thermometer. The oil should be around 160°C to 175°C, and definitly not hotter than 180°C.
  9. Fry the doughnuts for 1 or 2 minutes, or until crispy and browned.
  10. Transfer to some pieces of kitchen paper towels to drain off excess oil.
  11. To prepare the ganache, mix sugar and cornstarch and set aside.
  12. Place soy milk and chopped chocolate in a small pot.
  13. Heat carefully until the chocolate has melted. Make sure the chocolate doesn't burn and stir.
  14. Remove from heat and add sugar mixture. Whisk until silky.
  15. To fill the doughnuts, use a pastry bag with a long and small pastry tip. Use the tip to poke a hole into the big and medium sized doughnuts and then pipe some of the ganache into them. This takes a little experience but after a couple of doughnuts you should get the hang of it.
  16. To make the red glaze combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with red food colouring and 1-3 teaspoons of water, depending on the amount of food colouring you used. The glaze should be silky and not too runny.
  17. Dip the small doughnuts into the glaze and let them dry on a cookie rack.
  18. To make the green glaze, combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with matcha powder and lemon juice.
  19. Dip the medium sized doughnuts into the glaze and let dry.
  20. To make the purple glaze, combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with baking soda and blueberry juice.
  21. Dip the large doughnuts into the glaze and let dry. The glaze will change its colour after a while and turn purple/blue purple.
  22. Dip the grape sized dough balls into leftover ganache and let dry.
  23. To make the frosting, place coconut oil and powdered sugar in a small food processor. Whip until smooth, add vanilla and whip again.
  24. To assemble, piple some frosting onto the large doughnuts and top with a medium sized one.
  25. Top the medium sized doughnuts with frosting and add a small one.
  26. Place the grape sized dough ball on top.
  27. Now try to eat this!




sloppy Courtesan-au-Chocolat




September 2015



Dicker Schmidt, Dresden {Restaurant Review}

Restaurant Review: Dicker Schmidt Dresden | Vegan Month of Food 2015


Restaurant Review: Dicker Schmidt Dresden |  Vegan Month of Food 2015

I am not sticking to today’s Mofo theme, which is called, “re-create a restaurant meal”. Instead I want to write about a meal I ate at a restaurant and want to recommend the restaurant! I cannot or do not want to recreate the meal I am going to talk about. Because I am just glad I can step out of my flat, walk a few steps, get this made for me, enjoy it and just walk away without doing any dishes. The restaurant meal I want to share with you today is a veganised version of the very popular German fast food called döner. (Döner is in fact Turkish. But the German version is different from the Turkish.)

I never had a non-vegan döner in my life and tried my first vegan version a couple of years back at Vöner in Berlin. I admit that like some other things I just tried it to spite those who tell vegans not to eat fake meats. Let me tell you nay sayers, you are missing out. Vegan döner is usually made with seitan that comes on a rotating spit just like the meat version would. It’s cut off in thin slices and served with flatbread, vegetables, onions, and tzatziki sauce. The combination of soft, fresh flatbread, tangy sauce and chewy, well seasoned seitan is very, very hard to resist once you’ve tried it. I was always sad that we didn’t have something like this in Dresden. Thankfully this changed last year when a couple of life savers decided to open a new vegan restaurant in our neighbourhood. It’s called Dicker Schmidt (Fat Schmidt). Their tagline is “hausgemachte vegane Esskultur”, meaning homemade vegan food (or more precise: eating) culture. I always found both this title and the headline absolutely brilliant. In a time where veganism first and foremost seems to be all about healthy aka “clean” eating, weight loss, and complying with today’s stereotypical beauty standards (healthy, young, and lean) it’s refreshing to see such a concept. At Dicker Schmidt vegan food culture is also equated with fake meats, processed foods, and fats – lot’s of things that are not considered a part of so called healthy vegan diets anymore. These things take the center stage and are perfected with homemade marinades and fresh vegetables.

Restaurant Review: Dicker Schmidt Dresden |  Vegan Month of Food 2015

They don’t call their signature dish döner, they call it Dicker Schmidt. If you don’t like seitan, they have a soy based alternative or you can  get a fake meat free version with roasted vegetables, too. Another pretty asesome thing about this restaurant is their shop counter. Here you can choose from lots of different plant based meats, cold cuts, and spreads to take home. They have vegan liverwurst, salami, egg salad, Hackepeter (the original version is made from raw minced pork), etc. I’ve seen people roll their eyes and make comments like: “Why do vegans eat this fake crap? They should suck it up and eat real meat instead!” or “I gave up meat. I don’t want to replace it!” To which I reply that if you’ve always been a liverwurst person and told everyone you could never live without liverwurst, here’s your chance to go vegan. Foods like these do mimic the flavour of meat products, true. And why not? The only thing you signed up for as a vegan is living without animal products. It’s not about sacrifice. You don’t have to give up your favourite flavours. And you don’t have to feel bad or weird for eating something that looks like meat. It still is not and eating it doesn’t make you a less fantastic person. If vegan versions of processed foods make you happy and enjoy veganism then please go for it! Many of them have their own qualities and in the end it’s just food. Probably tasty. So why not?

Dicker Schmidt, Rudolf-Leonhard-Straße 32, 01097 Dresden, all days 12 am to 8 pm.