German Baking Disasters (and How to Avoid Them)

When in Germany, use German recipes. Or come prepared.

The Nuances of Baking Powder

Until moving to Germany, I never imagined a world where baking powder wasn't...baking powder. Armed with my American recipe book, I went to the market in Berlin to buy baking powder for a cake. There I found little individual Kool-Aid sized packages of Backpulver. But imagine my surprise when I found out (and was validated by many other confused expats on online message boards) that Backpulver is actually a more subtle, less strong version of the kind Americans use. Germans use single-acting baking powder, and Americans (and the British) use double-acting baking powder. It's a chemistry difference, one that will make a cake rise, or sink. One that will produce a beautiful, fully-formed cake, or one that will lead to a baking disaster.

This was the first of many differences that I encountered. Later, I found out about these other ingredient problems--and their hacks:

Of course, you could also just bring home all the goodies after a visit to the U.S.!

Kaffee und Kuchen

The tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen, opens a new window, or "coffee and cake," is an important one in Germany and I wholeheartedly embrace it! It's all about meeting in the late afternoon or early evening and having a chat over a nice cheesecake or apple strudel and an espresso drink. It can happen at home, or at one of Germany's many extraordinarily cozy cafes, opens a new window.

Want to recreate it, here in the States? There are several lovely German baking books available, and the recipes are tailored to include all the brown sugar, baking powder, and vanilla extract that are so conveniently located in your local grocery store.

Classic German Baking

Das Cookbook

My Berlin Kitchen

Cooking the German Way

Black Forest Cuisine

Do you have a favorite German recipe? Please share the details in the comments!