Thursday, December 8, 2011


Okay, I will admit I was a bit disappointed about the Christmas baking class. I had very high expectations. Also, I realized earlier today that the instructor is the same Bäckermeister who I took a few baking classes with two summers ago. So I was really excited. But when we got there, he had a pile of ingredients, and a bunch of recipes out on the table, and was basically like, "Have at it. Pick a recipe and make it." Which we could do at home, in our own kitchen. While drinking wine, and reading a book while the cookies bake. So, not so cool. 
Zimtsterne, not ours.

This one woman, obviously upset, said first quietly, then louder, "Wait, we aren't making Stollen? Because I could bake Christmas cookies at home..." (Reading our minds...) So the baker decided to change plans and add Stollen to the list. This woman ran to the supermarket across the street to get some yeast. Elisabeth and I were also excited to make Lebkuchen, but I guess the dough needs to refrigerate overnight, so that wasn't an option either. Sad. So I chose Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) from the recipes on the table, another German classic, picture to the left (how they are supposed to look).

Turns out Zimtsterne are really hard. First we beat 5 egg whites and added 450 g powdered sugar (a lot). It makes a cement-like paste, then we added 500 g ground almonds, 2 T spices, and 2 T kirsch. It makes a sticky mess, which you refrigerate until you can roll it out. It was ooey and gooey and some of the nicer, humorous people were laughing at our ugly cookies. But they were mostly sympathetic, saying that they had tried them before at home and they're really difficult. And afterwards, they said they were the best tasting, even though they weren't the prettiest. Elisabeth learned to say hässlich aber lecker, ugly but delicious.

In Elisabeth's words, the baking class was like a cookie exchange except you have to wait for all the other (11 total) people to bake their cookies in two ovens, instead of just gathering at a party and trading. But, if you had a cookie exchange with your friends, would you get to spend four hours with older German ladies named Helga, Irmtraud and Dagmar? Or watch a master baker rolling out Marzipan? 
Eisenbahnschienen, from

Best moment of the night: one woman comes over to Elisabeth and says a mouthful of something Elisabeth doesn't understand. Elisabeth says, "Sorry, ich kann kein Deutsch."  And the woman looks at her and gestures as if pressing down on a hand mixer and says "BZZZZZZZ!" Elisabeth pointed her towards the cupboard containing the mixers. haha! Communication success!

And we did come home with quite a few cookies, a bit of Stollen, gingerbread cake, and some brownie-like thing (pictured above). Elisabeth's favorite was Eisenbahnschienen (railroad tracks), a sugar cookie with marzipan and jam cut like railroad ties. I liked the Bobbes, a sugar cookie with marzipan and apricot jam inside, with a pressed almond on top. The white cookies with powdered sugar are called Schneeflöckchen, snow flakes, and then you have our little Zimtsterne. 

So we will have to make Lebkuchen at home. 

Some more pictures of classic German cookies, from, which has really pretty cookies!

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