Tag Archives: German Cooking

Der Kuchen…


This story, recipe, and photos was first published at ChefTalk.com. To view it there please click here

Der Kuchen 

It’s 8:15 on a chilly November morning and I’m standing in a large empty kitchen stirring flour, yeast, and water in a small bowl and feeling a little stressed. I’m also thinking of my mother. She, of course, is not the reason I am feeling stressed; it’s because of the busy day ahead of me. Though my mother has been gone for many years the thought of her still comforts me. The recipe that I’m making—kuchen, or German coffee cake—is hers, and this is the reason I think of her at this moment.
Whenever I make this recipe I also cannot help but think of Christmastime; this is the traditional time to eat this pastry, at least it was and still is in our family. And when I think of the Christmases of my youth I remember them through rose colored almost Rockwellian glasses. We were poor, that’s for sure (not that I realized it then), but there was always plenty of food on the table…especially homemade baked goods.
My mother was of German decent and grew up on Buffalo’s East Side. She took pride in her baking skills, and even though she had a houseful of kids and worked full time she still managed to bake mountains of cookies and trays of kuchenfor the holidays. Kuchen (pronounced kooken) is the German word for cake, and is more closely related to coffee cake than traditional cake or flaky pastry. I’m sure there are as many variations as there are those who make them. This is about the one I grew up with.
What’s distinctive about kuchen, or at least this kuchen recipe—opposed to some of the other coffee cakes—is that it’s made with yeast-leavened dough rather than a chemically-leavened batter. And though the dough is rolled flat, filled, and rolled into a log or crescent, it’s not a strudel because strudel utilizes a buttery unleavened flaky dough that more close resembles phyllo.
The recipe that I make is one that my mother learned from her mother who learned it from her mother and so on. And while I suppose one could say that I learned the recipe through osmosis—absorbing it at my very core while I played in the kitchen as my mother kneaded the dough and the sweet smell of yeast wafted in the air—but that’s not how it happened. Years ago I inherited a small notebook that was hand-penned by my grandmother, my mother’s mother. There are only a dozen or so recipes in the slim volume and one of them is for “foundation dough,” which is the basic sweet yeast dough that is used for not only kuchen but also the delectable German doughnuts fastnachts kuekles, which are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday just before Lent.
I can still picture the brown terracotta bowls resting on the radiator with towels shrouding the pillow-like dough. I was told not to touch the bowl or leave the kitchen door open too long, lest it become drafty and the dough fall. It was such a mystery, seeming almost magical, how the dough would grow. I can only speculate that this recipe—and being in the kitchen as a child while my mother made it—is in fact the basis for my fascination of yeast-leavened doughs.
I tweaked my grandmother’s original recipe for foundation dough. The most obvious changes are accurate measurements, meaning rather than a pinch of this or a handful of that I added measured ingredients. I also replaced the shortening in the original recipe with butter. But another less overt change was in the method in which it’s made. Rather than using the traditional straight dough method for this—which of course has yielded a delicious kuchen for generations—I incorporated a pre-fermet, or mixing together a portion of the flour with the liquid and yeast and allowing it to ferment prior to mixing the dough. This, in my opinion, offers a dough that is both more supple to knead and also one with a bit more flavor. And I also generally mix the dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook, I can still picture my mother kneading the dough on our flour-covered kitchen table.
So this morning after mixing together the pre-ferment, and after the rest of the kitchen staff had arrived, it bubbled away for an hour or so as our day began. Then as the day bustled along I mixed and kneaded the pre-ferment into a dough and it silently rose through the busy lunch hour. Then, a bit later, after rolling the dough flat I filled and shaped it, and then—after letting it rest a bit—baked the kuchen. After it cooled some, I drizzled it with a simple sugar icing. Then I sliced it and offered it to the staff in the calm of the afternoon that follows a busy lunch.
It is said that the sense of smell and taste are the two most powerful memory senses. And on this day—while standing in the midst of a bustling commercial kitchen lined with stainless steel—when I bit in I was still just that little kid in my mother’s tiny home kitchen in a public housing project with steamed up windows…and I was full of anticipation because I knew that Christmas was just around the corner.

Cherry, Raisin, and Walnut Kuchen

Yield: 3 kuchen 

For the dough: 
1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt 

For the filling: 

melted unsalted butter
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
maraschino cherries, rinsed and chopped
dark raisins
chopped walnuts 

Topping: 

1 egg mixed with a little milk
poppy seeds
powdered sugar
milk

To make the dough, combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. 

Preheat an oven to 350F. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large ovals about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with cherries, raisis, and walnuts.
Roll into logs then shape into crescents. Transfer to baking sheets lined with oiled parchment. Brush the with the egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Make small slices about every two inches.
 Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer pulls out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes. Mix powdered sugar with just enough milk to make an icing the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle over the kuchen and let dry for 15 minutes before slicing. 

Nearly Night (Fastnacht Kuecheles…recipe and lore)

For the first time since starting this blog some six or seven years ago (or is it eight?) I am re-posting a post in its entirety (which was originally posted two years ago). I post this recipe (my late mother’s recipe) every year but often too late…as these delectable doughnuts are traditionally made the day before Lent. I’ll make them on Shrove Tuesday but by the time I post the recipe it is too late if you want to stay within tradition. Nonetheless, they are delicious any time of the year, and I feel this post is still relevant, so here it is…

This is a recipe that I post every year just before Lent. I usually post it on Shrove Tuesday–the traditional day these doughnuts are eaten–but thought I’d post it a day earlier in the event anyone would like to make them (and I hope you do). I was lucky enough to be brought up with food traditions on both sides of my family. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was Lebanese-American on my father’s side, well my mother’s side of the family is of German-French ancestry. The recipe below I received from one of my sisters, who learned it from our mother, who learned it from our grandmother, and so on.. The name of these doughnuts in German is fastnacht kuecheles and they are very similar to the French or New Orleans biegnet. They are traditionally eaten the day before Lent as a (now mostly symbolic) act of using up all the rich, luxurious, and fatty foods before spending the next 40 days in introspection (living lean). The names of the day may change from one tradition to another but they all basically mean the same thing. The English name is Shrove Tuesday…shrove is the past tense of shrive, loosely meaning to offer confession or penance. In French, Mardi Gras translates literally as Fat Tuesday…the last of the “fatty stuff” for 40 days. And Carnival, translates loosely as “farewell to meat,” or “farewell to flesh,” meaning goodbye to meat and/or carnal pleasures for a while. What I find interesting is something new I learned about the German version of these doughnuts, not so much the recipe itself but its etymology. I have been fascinated with languages my entire life but know almost nothing (fast nichts) about German. Anyhow, I always thought that the word for these doughnuts–fastnachts–meant fast night, or the night before the fast…Lent. And this still may be true. But when I did some electronic translating and broke the phrase into two words–fast nacht--I’ve come to see that it translates literally as almost night, likely making reference to the somber darkness that shrouds the next 40 days of the Christian Calendar. Unrelated but still related to this recipe, the word kuecheles, is likely a variation of küchle, meaning fritter. Anyhow, these are very simple to make and super-delicious. The one thing that’s not shown in the photos but is included in the recipes (and is the best part) is that they are tossed in powdered sugar while still warm. And I can still hear my mother’s voice from when I was a boy and tossing the kuecheles with eager anticipation (just as I do today)…”Joey,” she would yell while standing in front of her frying pan, “You’re getting sugar everywhere.” And I likely was.

Fastnacht Kuecheles

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup water (room temperature)

1 cup milk (room temperature)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons yeast

6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3 large eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

powdered sugar

Combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large circles about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the dough into diamonds 2-4 inches wide. Cover the diamonds with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes. Preheat a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Carefully fry the fastnachts in batches, cooking them for a couple minutes on each side until they are puffed and golden-brown; drain on absorbent paper. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss a few at a time in a paper bag with confectionery sugar.

Urban Simplicity

Nearly Night (Fastnacht Kuecheles…recipe and lore)

For the first time since starting this blog some six or seven years ago (or is it eight?) I am re-posting a post in its entirety (which was originally posted two years ago). I post this recipe (my late mother’s recipe) every year but often too late…as these delectable doughnuts are traditionally made the day before Lent. I’ll make them on Shrove Tuesday but by the time I post the recipe it is too late if you want to stay within tradition. Nonetheless, they are delicious any time of the year, and I feel this post is still relevant, so here it is…

This is a recipe that I post every year just before Lent. I usually post it on Shrove Tuesday–the traditional day these doughnuts are eaten–but thought I’d post it a day earlier in the event anyone would like to make them (and I hope you do). I was lucky enough to be brought up with food traditions on both sides of my family. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was Lebanese-American on my father’s side, well my mother’s side of the family is of German-French ancestry. The recipe below I received from one of my sisters, who learned it from our mother, who learned it from our grandmother, and so on.. The name of these doughnuts in German is fastnacht kuecheles and they are very similar to the French or New Orleans biegnet. They are traditionally eaten the day before Lent as a (now mostly symbolic) act of using up all the rich, luxurious, and fatty foods before spending the next 40 days in introspection (living lean). The names of the day may change from one tradition to another but they all basically mean the same thing. The English name is Shrove Tuesday…shrove is the past tense of shrive, loosely meaning to offer confession or penance. In French, Mardi Gras translates literally as Fat Tuesday…the last of the “fatty stuff” for 40 days. And Carnival, translates loosely as “farewell to meat,” or “farewell to flesh,” meaning goodbye to meat and/or carnal pleasures for a while. What I find interesting is something new I learned about the German version of these doughnuts, not so much the recipe itself but its etymology. I have been fascinated with languages my entire life but know almost nothing (fast nichts) about German. Anyhow, I always thought that the word for these doughnuts–fastnachts–meant fast night, or the night before the fast…Lent. And this still may be true. But when I did some electronic translating and broke the phrase into two words–fast nacht--I’ve come to see that it translates literally as almost night, likely making reference to the somber darkness that shrouds the next 40 days of the Christian Calendar. Unrelated but still related to this recipe, the word kuecheles, is likely a variation of küchle, meaning fritter. Anyhow, these are very simple to make and super-delicious. The one thing that’s not shown in the photos but is included in the recipes (and is the best part) is that they are tossed in powdered sugar while still warm. And I can still hear my mother’s voice from when I was a boy and tossing the kuecheles with eager anticipation (just as I do today)…”Joey,” she would yell while standing in front of her frying pan, “You’re getting sugar everywhere.” And I likely was.

Fastnacht Kuecheles
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

Combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large circles about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the dough into diamonds 2-4 inches wide. Cover the diamonds with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes. Preheat a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Carefully fry the fastnachts in batches, cooking them for a couple minutes on each side until they are puffed and golden-brown; drain on absorbent paper. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss a few at a time in a paper bag with confectionery sugar.

Urban Simplicity

Two delicious but unrelated recipes…

At some point I’m pretty sure I’ve posted both of these recipes in the past, but not in quite some time. Anyhow, I had to make these yesterday at work for two separate events and thought I’d re-post them. What’s interesting, I thought, is that while neither of these recipes are remotely related to one another both can be served hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

 

Carrot Soup with Ginger, Curry and Yogurt
Makes about 2 quarts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoon honey or sugar
1-1/2 pounds peeled, diced carrots
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the curry and honey; sauté 2 minutes. Add the carrots, stock (or water) and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to a simmer; skim any impurities that may rise to the surface. Cook the soup for approximately 45 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor and purée until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and warm it, but do not boil (boiling it may curdle the yogurt).

German-Style Warm Potato Salad
Makes about 10-12 servings
5 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
10 Slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place the peeled and sliced potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Set the pot over high heat and boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until cooked but not falling apart. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the diced bacon and vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and it begins to brown, then add the onion and cook another few minutes until the onion is cooked but not browned. Stir in the water and sugar; stir and scrape the sides of the pan to remove any bacon flavor that may have adhered there. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Gently stir the bacon dressing into the potatoes while both are still warm. Allow the salad to rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the salad to a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Kartoffelsalat mit Speck (German Potato Salad with Bacon)


Ok, so a couple of things. Firstly, while I love and am fascinated by languages in general, I do not speak German…sometimes I can barely speak English. But thanks to Google Translate I can list this recipe in it’s mother tongue. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that while my heritage is half Lebanese, it is also half German. This recipe is based on my mother’s and one that I grew up with; we simply called it potato salad. I’ve always enjoyed it, and for some reason have some of my fondest memories of eating it (at room temperature…egad!) at Crystal Beach as a youth. Anyhow, it is very easy to make, and super delicious. It is best eaten warm but just as good at room temperature (and there’s something truly satisfying about eating leftovers straight from the fridge while the fat is congealed). This may not be the healthiest recipe, but it sure is tasty…and hey, everything in moderation, right? At least that’s what I try to tell myself.

German-Style Warm Potato Salad
Makes 10-12 servings

5 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
10 Slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place the peeled and sliced potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Set the pot over high heat and boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until cooked but not falling apart. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the diced bacon and vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and it begins to brown, then add the onion and cook another few minutes until the onion is cooked but not browned. Stir in the water and sugar; stir and scrape the sides of the pan to remove any bacon flavor that may have adhered there. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Gently stir the bacon dressing into the potatoes while both are still warm. Allow the salad to rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the salad to a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Urban Simplicity.

Das Kuchen (rezept und fotos)…

Like many Americans, ancestrally speaking I am a mixed breed. My dad’s family is Lebanese—straight from the “Old Country”—hence the Lebanese-inspired recipes on this blog. My mom’s family is German (with maybe a bit of French, too…my grandfather’s family was Alsatian); they’ve been in this country since about 1830 the best that I can tell. And this—I believe—is where I inherited my love of baking; from my mom’s good baking.

When I think of Thanksgiving and Christmastime as a child my mind’s eye sees these memories through rose colored glasses…it looks sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting. We were poor, that’s for sure (not that I realized it then), but there was always plenty of food…especially homemade baked goods.

My mother—like many Buffalonians of German decent—grew up on Buffalo’s east side. She took pride in her baking skills, and even though she had a houseful of kids and worked full time she still managed to bake mountains of cookies and trays of kuchen for the holidays. Kuchen (pronounced kooken) is the German word for cake, and is more closely related to coffee cake than they are traditional cake or flaky pastry. I’m sure there are as many variations as there are those who make them. But this is about the one I grew up with.

I made kuchen at work the other day, and whenever I make it—and especially when I eat it—memories come flooding back. I made them in straight logs so they were easy to slice, but those that my mom made were always in a ring shape.

What’s distinctly unique about kuchen to many other coffee cakes is that it’s made with yeast-leavened dough rather than a chemically-leavened batter (quick bread). And though the dough is rolled flat, filled, and rolled into a log or crescent, it’s not a strudel because strudel utilizes a buttery unleavened flaky dough that more close resembles phyllo.

I can still picture the brown terracotta bowls resting on the radiator with a towel shrouding the pillow-like dough. I was told not to touch the bowl or leave the kitchen door open too long, lest it become drafty and the dough fall. It was such a mystery, seeming almost magical, how the dough would grow. It may be then that my fascination with yeast dough was first planted.

My mother learned to make the dough from her mother, who likely learned it from her mother, and so on. The handwritten recipe that was given one of my sisters and then to me was simply titled “foundation dough,” because it’s a basic one that can be used for a number of other things including the famous German doughnut, fastnachts (click here for the recipe), which are eaten on Shrove Tuesday just before Lent. Fillings for kuchen are left up to the baker and can encompass a wide variety of sweet ingredients (fresh or dried fruits, nuts, chocolate) just as long as the dough is first layered with melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The kuchen in the photos was made with dried dates, but my favorite is the one listed in the recipe below…cherry and walnut. Yum!

Cherry and Walnut Kuchen
Yield: 3 kuchen

For the dough:

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

melted unsalted butter
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
maraschino cherries, rinsed and chopped
chopped walnuts

Topping:

1 egg mixed with a little milk
poppy seeds
powdered sugar
milk

To make the dough, combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Preheat an oven to 350F. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large ovals about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with cherries and walnuts. Roll into logs then shape into crescents. Transfer to baking sheets lined with oiled parchment. Brush the with the egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Make small slices about every two inches. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer pulls out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes. Mix powdered sugar with just enough milk to make an icing the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle over the kuchen and let dry for 15 minutes before slicing.

Nearly Night (Fastnacht Kuecheles…recipe and lore)

This is a recipe that I post every year just before Lent. I usually post it on Shrove Tuesday–the traditional day these doughnuts are eaten–but thought I’d post it a day earlier in the event anyone would like to make them (and I hope you do). I was lucky enough to be brought up with food traditions on both sides of my family. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was Lebanese-American on my father’s side, well my mother’s side of the family is of German-French ancestry. The recipe below I received from one of my sisters, who learned it from our mother, who learned it from our grandmother, and so on.. The name of these doughnuts in German is fastnacht kuecheles and they are very similar to the French or New Orleans biegnet. They are traditionally eaten the day before Lent as a (now mostly symbolic) act of using up all the rich, luxurious, and fatty foods before spending the next 40 days in introspection (living lean). The names of the day may change from one tradition to another but they all basically mean the same thing. The English name is Shrove Tuesday…shrove is the past tense of shrive, loosely meaning to offer confession or penance. In French, Mardi Gras translates literally as Fat Tuesday…the last of the “fatty stuff” for 40 days. And Carnival, translates loosely as “farewell to meat,” or “farewell to flesh,” meaning goodbye to meat and/or carnal pleasures for a while. What I find interesting is something new I learned about the German version of these doughnuts, not so much the recipe itself but its etymology. I have been fascinated with languages my entire life but know almost nothing (fast nichts) about German. Anyhow, I always thought that the word for these doughnuts–fastnachts–meant fast night, or the night before the fast…Lent. And this still may be true. But when I did some electronic translating and broke the phrase into two words–fast nacht--I’ve come to see that it translates literally as almost night, likely making reference to the somber darkness that shrouds the next 40 days of the Christian Calendar. Unrelated but still related to this recipe, the word kuecheles, is likely a variation of küchle, meaning fritter. Anyhow, these are very simple to make and super-delicious. The one thing that’s not shown in the photos but is included in the recipes (and is the best part) is that they are tossed in powdered sugar while still warm. And I can still hear my mother’s voice from when I was a boy and tossing the kuecheles with eager anticipation (just as I do today)…”Joey,” she would yell while standing in front of her frying pan, “You’re getting sugar everywhere.” And I likely was.

Fastnacht Kuecheles
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

Combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large circles about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the dough into diamonds 2-4 inches wide. Cover the diamonds with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes. Preheat a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Carefully fry the fastnachts in batches, cooking them for a couple minutes on each side until they are puffed and golden-brown; drain on absorbent paper. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss a few at a time in a paper bag with confectionery sugar.

Urban Simplicity

The Miracle of Controlled Spoilage (or, the art of live foods)

Fermentation. That, of course, is what the title of this post is referring to. Every culture has their versions, and things you may not think of as fermented are in fact just that…beer, bread, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, wine, and of course all sorts of  vegetable pickles. My favorite is kim-chi, or Korean style sauerkraut. Fermented products are very healthy and easy to make…the most difficult thing, I think, is the wait; they can’t be rushed. The recipe for the above pictured kim-chi is listed below, and if you’d like to see it being made, click here. To read more about the history and health benefits of these incredible foods–with plenty of recipes–click here. And if you are interested a book on all things fermented, I recommend this book.
Kim Chi
(Korean-Style Sauerkraut) 

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into two-inch pieces
1 small daikon, grated
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece ginger, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili paste
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a container that is wide enough to fit a few small plates inside it. Press the cabbage down and weight it with plates. Cover the container and leave at room temperature. After a day it should release enough liquid that it is submerged, if not, add a little salted water. After about 2 days small bubbles will appear, after about a week or so it will smell and taste distinctively sour. Taste it as often as you like and when the flavor is to your liking transfer the container to the refrigerator to slow its fermentation.