Ich bin ein Berliner… or something like that!

Have you ever tried a “German doughnut”, a Berliner, a Krapfen or a Fastnachtsküchle? No? Oh, dear. You missed out big time, I’m afraid.

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Today is what we call “Rosenmontag“, Carnival Monday, the highlight of German carnival, the day of raving carnival parades, crazy costumes and one endless party. To be honest, I hate it. The disguises, the craziness, the drunk people out on the streets, the roadside breath tests every few kilometres… but there is one thing I really apreciate this time of the year – the Berliner.

It’s made of a sweet yeast dough, fried in hot oil and has a jam- or creme- (vanilla, Baileys, eggnogg, Nutella, whatever flavour you could possibly imagine) filled centre. It’s covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar and taking your first bite feels like an epiphany. I spent the better half of today making Berliner and a similar type of doughnuts (made with baking powder instead of yeast) called “Quarkbällchen”.

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If you want to try to make your own Berliner and Quarkbällchen and get a taste of German carnival, here are the recipes for you.

Quarkbällchen (super-easy, perfect for beginners!)
– makes about 20 –

In a mixer with paddle attachement mix for 3-5 minutes

250 g plain flour
80 g sugar
2 g salt
12 g baking powder
300 g quark
13 g cooking oil
100 g butter (liquid)
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Let sit for about 30-45 minutes. Heat about 2 l of cooking oil (or deep-frying fat) in a pot (or use a deep fryer), use an ice-cream scoop to drop portions of dough into the hot oil and deep-fry at 180°C for 5-10 minutes until golden brown (make sure to turn them around from time to time). Use a slotted spoon to take the Quarkbällchen out and roll them in either white sugar or a mix of white sugar and cinnamon powder. Enjoy.

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Berliner (a bit trickier, but if you follow the instructions, it shouldn’t be too complicated)
– makes about 17 –

Using a mixer with dough hook, mix

250 g flour
250 g milk
21 g yeast

After 3-5 minutes add

300 g flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
75 g butter (liquid)
40 g sugar
1 pinch of salt

Knead for about 10 minutes on low speed and another 4-5 minutes on high speed. Let the dough prove for about 30 minutes in a warm place (kitchen counter, for instance). Cut pieces of 50-60 g each and roll them either on the counter or in your hands to form little balls. Let them sit on the counter (or on a baking tray, covered with a teatowel) until their twice their original size (this might take a while, be patient!).IMG_8351.JPG

Then put them upside down into the cooking oil (again at 180°C), cover the pot with a lid and let them cook for 3 minutes (placing the lid on top of the pot is very important as it keeps the steam inside the pot and enhances the volume of your Berliner). Use a slotted spoon to turn them upside down and let them cook for another 3 minutes. Take out and dip them in a mix of white sugar and cinnamon. (By the way, the white stripe around the middle is characteristic for this type of baked good and it’s a sign of high quality and the right method of cooking!)

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You can fill them with anything you like, using a thin nozzle on your pastry bag and your favourite marmalade, jam or pudding. I used vanilla pudding mixed with eggnogg but this also works with Baileys or any other liquor you like. Some people also cut them open like you would a bun, and spread Nutella on one half before putting the two halves back together. Get creative! Once you have them filled, dust them with powdered sugar and impress your guests (or your family or simply yourself) with traditional German Berliner/Krapfen. Enjoy!

P.S.: No, Kennedy wasn’t talking about these delicious things when he famously said “Ich bin ein Berliner!“. He really meant “I am a person from Berlin”, not “I am a German carnival doughnut”. Famous words…

Oreo Cupcakes reloaded

You know, I’m a sucker for Oreos. And cupcakes. And Oreo cupcakes, naturally. But I’ve made Oreo cupcakes before, so this time I thought I’d bring the experience to a new level. Oreo cupcakes reloaded, basically.

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The result is a white vanilla-flavoured cake with crunchy classic Oreo bits in it, topped with a dark chocolate ganache and finished off with white Oreos. Heavenly, I say.

Since I’m such a generous person, I thought I’d share the love – here is how I made these delicious treats:

White Oreo Cupcakes Supreme

130 g flour
130 g super-fine white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
40 g butter

Mix the dry ingredients and the butter in a free-standing mixer with paddle attachement. Add:

60 ml milk

and continue beating on low speed for a few more seconds. In a seperate bowl, mix

70 ml milk
1 egg
~ 5 g vanilla essence

Pour this mix into the flour/sugar mix and beat on low speed until you get a smooth consistency. Make sure not to over-beat! Fill the mixture into a prepared cupcake/muffin tin (you can use paper cases, if you like). Cut

8 classic Oreos

in quarters, sprinkle on top of your cupcakes and bake at 165°C for about 20-25 minutes.

For the topping, I used the same ganache recipe like last time (200 g cream, 125 g dark chocolate 70%). For more detailed directions, please have a look here. Use a pastry bag with a star-nozzle to decorate the cupcakes and stick White chocolate Oreo halves on top of each cupcake. Serve, make your guests (and yourself) smile and enjoy!

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The smell of winter | WEEKEND WIND UP #69

The past few weeks have been literally horrible – but this morning I woke up to a miracle.

It was 4 am, I had to go to work on a day when most people stay in bed (or in their pyjamas anyway) and I am still recovering from a nasty cold. And then I looked out the window and there it was, my very own personal miracle.

The world was covered in white, glittery, silver shining ice crystals: snow.

If you’ve been following this little blog of mine for a while you have probably realised that I’ve been crazy about snow since I came back from New Zealand (where I had like six summers in a row, but that’s a different story). P1080661.JPG

You probably sit right at your desk now, thinking: “Oh no, here she goes again. The neverending love story of Sabrina and the snow.” Same story every year, I know. But I’m not sorry and I’m not going to apologise. I love winter and I love snow and, seeing how something as dull as the weather can actually turn the world into a place that seems quiter and more peaceful all of sudden, makes me happy.

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Meanwhile, with some Christmas songs playing in the background, I’m trying a new recipe. Roast apple cookies. Imagine the smell of cinnamon, clove, baked apples and caramelised brown sugar. And now put that into a cookie. Winter awesomeness, I say.

Cut 2 apples in mini-cubes and roast with a little butter in a pan (~2 min.). Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and cinnamon. In a seperate pan, melt 100 g butter and 150 g brown sugar. Beat 1 egg and add to the butter-sugar-mix. Add 150 g flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and clove. Finally, add the apples, then use a little spoon and drop spoonfuls of dough onto a prepared baking tray (greased or lined). Bake at 170-180°C for 12 minutes. Enjoy! 

First taste of Winter

Today marks the end of summer time in Germany as we adjust our watches to winter time.

But today also is the day of the first snow of the season (as well as the day when my car got it’s winter tyres, that is funny coincidence, though) and you probably know by now that if there is one thing (other than coffee and cakes) that excites me it is snow.

I love how you can smell the first snow in the crisp autumn air and I love the surprise when you wake up in the mornings and realise the outside world is all white and covered in pretty snow flakes. It probably has to do with childhood expectations because as a child I spent all winter waiting for the magic to happen. So many times I was disappointed when I ran to my bedroom window just to find there was no snow at all but rain instead. But those days when it did happen – when Jack Frost sent the prettiest of all snow flakes right down to where I was waiting – will stay in my memory forever.

I am ready so ready for winter and with all the snow glory outside, it felt like a good day to steep oranges in alcohol to make Christmas liquor.

I used the zest of 2 untreated oranges, cinnamon powder, anis, nutmeg, coriander, cardamum (10g each), 3 g ginger powder and 5 cloves. I put it all in a bottling jar and added 0,7l vodka, then mixed it well. (It now looks pretty weird, like, very brown because of all of the powdered herbs.)

In 4 weeks time, I will bring 100ml water with 250g sugar to the boil and add the sugar solution to the mixture of herbs and vodka.

Then it will have to sit in the kitchen for another 3 weeks until I can strain it through a sieve and fill it in bottles – and it will be right on time for  Christmas!

What are you looking forward to this season?

End of the summer

Woah, time flies. This year has gone by pretty quickly, don’t you think?

12 months ago I just started out as a pastry chef – my second career after being a journalist for a little while. At that time I was a little desperate, I guess… wondering whether what I was doing was the right thing.

Turns out it was.

One year later, I am an aspiring pastry chef, lover of cakes and life, and pretty happy with who I am.

A lot has happened during summer – that much that I actually didn’t find the time (and the motivation, I have to admit) to blog about it. My life was a roller coaster ride.

I lost touch with some of my friends – and even with family at one time, I reconciled with my arch-enemy, I became auntie of a cute little baby boy (of whose existence I didn’t know for more than a week into his life), I made new friends and met old friends I haven’t seen in years and I made a fabulous Grace Kelly-themed cake.

It would probably bore the heck out of you if I explain each and every aspect of each and every story to you but let me give you a brief look on what has happened in the past weeks. (Oh, and allow me to brag a little about the cake… it’s awesome. And made out of styrophone because it’s a show piece for a competition at iba
World Market for Baking
in Munich. But it’s awesome, even when made of styrophone.) 

Also, I have been in the news more often than I have been reporting news. So I guess that makes it official: I’m not practising as a journo anymore. (For the moment, that is. I still believe that one day I might go back to journalism.) The local paper did an interview with me about my job and another time they did a story on ice-cream production.

But the biggest scoop is my continuing holiday drama.

Remember in July when I desperately wanted to go on holiday and my best friend stood me up and in the end I went without anybody else, all by myself?

Well, listen to this: shortly after my trip to Greece I talked to one of my mates about his holiday and he said he didn’t know where to go and he didn’t really want to go alone. So I jokingly said I’d go with him if my boss would give me a week off. Well, during summer I totally forgot about the conversation I had but three weeks ago when I saw my mate again, he asked me whether I’d go on holiday with him. Coincidentally, my boss allowed me to go, too, and so we went to see the travel agent the other day and then spontaneously booked a trip to Turkey, starting next Tuesday.

Now I’m pretty much broke but so happy. I’m going on holiday. And I won’t be alone this time. The freaky part is: I’m going with a mate I hardly know. I mean, we usually only spend time with each other when the whole clique does something together, like going to a party or something. So I’ve got no clue what his interests are or how he usually spends his days… but that’s the exciting part about it too!

Perfect end of summer, isn’t it!?

Mini-Marshmallow Cupcakes

Today I spent most of the day baking (as usual).

First, I made pizza (from scratch, of course!), then a plum cake and a plaited yeast bun (because I had some yeast dough left from the plum cake) and then some blueberry muffins (because I had some blueberries left, too).

Last week I had also made some brownies and some marshmallow cupcakes so now we have plenty to eat…

And because I realised it’s been a loooooooong time since I last shared a recipe with you (and a loooooooong time since I last posted – CampNaNoWriMo takes it’s toll!), here’s how to make super-yummy very cute mini-marshmallow cupcakes:

120 g flour
100 g sugar (+ some vanilla sugar, optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
120 ml milk
1 egg
12 mini-marshmallows

For decoration:

12 mini-marshmallows, white + some extra for decoration

buttercream frosting (equal parts of unsalted butter, beaten at high speed for several minutes until fluffy and white, and vanilla pudding, slowly added to the butter – I suggest to use 50-80g of each)
30 g cocoa powder

To make the cupcakes, put the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment) and beat slowly. Add butter and continue beating until you reach a sandy consistency.
Add milk and egg and beat until everything is well-combined. Fill in 12 paper cases and drop 1 mini-marshmallow into each case. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 175°C.

Divide your buttercream frosting in two halves. Add cocoa powder to one half and whisk until well-combined. Fill vanilla frosting and cocoa frosting in two seperate pastry bags. Beginning with the vanilla frosting, pipe a circle on each cupcake, leaving a little room for one mini-marshmallow to take place.

Pipe cocoa frosting on top of the marshmallow. Cut remaining marshmallows in tiny pieces and sprinkle on top.

Enjoy!

Don’t miss: Rhubarb Water

Let me give you an insider tipp. Very in fashion this summer: rhubarb water.

Last year it was elderflower syrup, this year people go all crazy about rhubarb water.

It’s super-yummy and if you haven’t tried it… shame!

I used some rhubarb syrup I bought at the farmer’s market on the weekend, filled it up with some tap water and added two ice cubes.

And yes, I used my Captain & Cola glass. You gotta drink with style, right!?

P.S.: If you can’t find rhubarb syrup at your local farmer’s market have a look at Carol’s blog here – she put together an awesome recipe (you need to hurry, though, it’s already a bit late for rhubarb…)  

P.P.S.: Both, elderflower syrup as well as rhubarb syrup make for great cocktails! Use your imagination (I’m always tempted to say “Use your illusion” because I love pop-cultural references and playing with words, but then I always keep thinking it might be a bit weird for you to read whatever goes through my ming. On the bright side – this is what you came here for, right? Yeah… anyway… no blog post on coffeerocketfairytale without a little bit of rambling… Love y’all! ^^) 

Cake troubles and Math mysteries

To start off with a little warning for you guys: I’m brimming over with self-confidence today so if you feel like I appear a little more self-assured than usual… (you know, if I say things like: “Oh my goodness, I would totally win the EURO if one player could enter the contest without the other ten dudes…” – I hereby apologize in advance).

I’m flying today. FLYING.

Wanna know why? – Oh boy, it’s complicated.

My week is super-busy, especially since my parents drove up to the Baltic Sea for holidays. And you know what kind of weird stuff happens when my parents go away, right? 

Nana jumps at each and every opportunity as soon as my parents are out of town – so this time she asked me to make a cake.

Well, since I’m working at a bakery that shouldn’t be too big of a deal, right!?

Or so I thought… because Grandma insists on a lot of things. Let’s recall the conversation I had with her when she called me in the morning of my only day off in two weeks time:

Nana: “I need a pea cake. But my arm is still hurt from back when I had it broken. Would you mind making a pea cake for me?”
Me: “Is it for the musical society’s charity concert? That’s no problem, Grandma, I can make a cake for you.”
Nana: “Yes, but it has to be a pea cake.”
Me: “You said so. I’ll make a pea cake for you and bring it over on Sunday morning.”
Nana: “Yes, but you ought to make it on Saturday or Friday even. It tastes better if it can sit overnight.”
Me: “Nana, I’ve got school and work every day and the weekend is going to be super-busy, but I’ll see when I can squeeze it in. You’re going to have your cake on Sunday morning.”
Nana: “But it has to be a pea cake. I already bought some peas, the ones I always used.”
Me: “Nana, I’ve got some at home already, I’ve got all the ingredients here. Don’t worry about it.”
Nana: “What diameter is your cake pan?”
Me: “Gosh, I don’t know. I have five or four different ones. I suppose the smallest would be 20cm and the largest probably 28 or 30cm.”
Nana: “Yeah, but you know I always used my own tin. And that was larger. About 32.”
Me: “Nana, I don’t think 2cm matter that much. It only means that the cake might end up being slightly taller, but it’s no significant difference.”

No kidding, the conversation went on like this for twenty-frickin-minutes.  It’s the graveyard story all over again, I swear.

So anyway, apart from the “normal business”, Nana adds a significant amount of stress to my life – and so does culinary school.

This week we had what my boss called “the big test” and what is formally known as “the layer cake project”: 12 hours to make a 30x40cm filled layer cake (and a second smaller one for our teacher to try) including a topper and decoration to go with the topic “I have a vision”.

We worked in pairs and my class and work mate Lisa and I decided to make a chocolate sponge cake with raspberry and passionfruit cream filling in two layers, covered with blue Massa Bianca (Ticino).

For the topper we made a sugar mould and cast a world map on which we drew little routes in different colours, showing which way our future may lead us one day.

We made little figurines and miniature symbols like houses, wedding rings, cakes and signs to put onto the map.

Right from the beginning everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong indeed: the sponge cake was burnt on the outside and raw on the inside, the marzipan figurines didn’t stick together, the cream fillings were either too liquid or had gelatine blobs, the sugar had air bubbles…

But we continued to work hard and eliminated our mistakes and in the end we were pretty pleased with how our cake(s) had turned out:

I bet you can guess why I am so super-happy… yes! That’s right, we got an 1,0 for that one and achieved the best grade in class. Yay!

On another note, we were supposed to write a Maths exam today (and I suck at Maths, I really do, I find it very difficult to understand and work very hard to achieve grades I’m okay with).

But because last night Germany played Netherlands (and won! Time for another YAY!) and the entire class was oh-so-tired today the exam was postponed.

We got the questions though (and will get new ones when we write the actual test next week), so that we could test ourselves. Turns out, I was the only one who knew what to do with each and every text problem AND GOT ALL THE ANSWERS RIGHT!!!

Sometimes I’m too awesome for this world.

Boys Night Out | WEEKEND WIN UP #65

Pizza. Beer. Soccer.

I’m having a typical boys night out tonight.

Except… I’m not going out. And… I’m not a boy. Actually, there aren’t any boys involved at all. Truth be told, there is nobody involved except myself. And the 22 men on telly, chasing a leather ball (28, if you count the referees and coaches, too).

Yes, the European championship UEFA EURO is on again and tonight is Germany’s first match against Portugal.

Portugal was actually one of the first teams I ever cheered for… that was when I was a teenager and hardly interested in watching ANY kind of sports on telly – I rather enjoyed watching Mediterranean types – Luís Figo, as a matter of fact – in tight shorts running up and down a nicely mowed lawn.

So yeah… that was the story of how I discovered soccer…

Luís Figo remains my one and only soccer-crush ever but since he’s no playing for Portugal anymore, I will concentrate solely on the match. 🙂

May Be | A May WRAP UP & WEEKEND WIND-UP #64

May is rather exhausting.

I have mentioned this before, but I really would love to have my brain magically connected to my blog because so many times over the past few days and even weeks I found myself thinking about all the things I wanted to blog about.

Although I always had written these blog posts in my mind already, I never got around to actually sit down at the keyboard and write.

And because I know that you guys like my wrap-up posts, here’s another round up on what else happened in May:

1. I made a pretty cake and chocolate ornaments (at culinary school):

2. I missed out on seeing Bruce Springsteen again. Couldn’t get a ticket to his sold-out show and despite me knowing that it was sold-out for the last six months, I was still pretty buggered came the day of the gig. (And now I have even more reasons to be buggered: He played 30-odd songs that night, a total of 3 hours and 21 minutes and eight encores. And I missed it. BUGGER!)

3. Luigi and I did some serious house cleaning.

When we cleared out a wardrobe full of documents, we found this amazing card you can see in the top left corner. It was made by my fellow students back when I studied in New Zealand and I had totally forgotten about it. So when I held it in my hands the other day, it brought back the loveliest memories and tears to my eyes.

4. I celebrated “another year of Sabrina” with family and friends and had a lovely coffee table set up to showcase the collection of confections I’ve made for this occassion:

 Plenty of other things have happened in May, as you can see in the image at the very top (in no particular order):

I got a haircut and bought new clothes to match the new colour, I taught myself how to make lemon curd (and lemon curd strawberry tartelettes), I watched ‘Pirates of the Carribean 1-3’ once again, I found lovely miniature cakes called Gugl in the mail, I attempted to make Hummingbird Bakery-style cookies, I started a new amigurumi project, I created a new version of a coconut layer cake for my birthday, I ate a fabulous ice cream cake with strawberries at a nice restaurant, I got lost on a mini-road trip….

And what have you been up to?