One gift I got for my birthday but forgot to mention in my previous post was this awesome Dr Oetker German cookbook, sent to me by my host parents in Deutschland. Vielen Dank! "Backen Macht Freude" means "baking makes fun", and is full of wonderful traditional German cake recipes - marble cake, sunken apple cake, Bienenstich (!!!!!), Black Forest Cake and much, much more.
The recipes are divided into 13 chapters, depending on the type of Teig (dough) used or the type of Gebäck (sweet/pastry/cookie) the finished product is. For example, chapters include Rührteig (basic creamed-butter dough), Hefeteig (yeasted dough), Biskuitteig (sponge cakes, often made into fancy layered tortes), Fettgebäck (deep-fried) etc.
My first proper recipe was a Haselnusskranz - hazelnut ring. It is made up of a buttery Knetteig (kneaded dough), filled with chopped hazelnuts. Oh, lecker! Now, even though Knetteig means "kneaded dough", this doesn't include bread (obviously that would be a Hefeteig). It's more like a basic shortbread.
One of the tips in the book is not to use too much flour when kneading, so the dough doesn't dry out. Instead, if it gets too sticky, they suggest chilling the dough in the fridge.
The filling is made of hazelnut meal, egg, sugar, and water... (you're supposed to add bitter almond aroma, but I had none, only fake almond essence... and I hate almond essence). I bought fresh hazelnuts and ground the whole lot up in my new blender.
Spreading it out. This made me feel like I was working at St. Cinnamon (American equivalent - Cinnabon).
Rolling up the dough...
Crudely formed into a ring. I used a piece of excess dough to rougly patch it up.
You glaze the kranz with condensed milk and cut slices "in a star shape" before baking. I was a bit hesitant and just scored the dough, not making very deep cuts, so they didn't really leave much of an impression once baked. Oops.
Hehe, I don't think it's supposed to have a massive crack in it, but let's just chalk that up to my inexperience with Knetteigs.
Ooh, pretty! I'm glad I left the skins on the hazelnuts, as it made the swirl a bit darker, contrasting better against the dough.
We loved it! About half that ring was eaten in the 30 minutes after the Kranz came out of the oven, which is when it was at its gentle best. I loved the subtle nutty taste, and the fact that it wasn't overly sweet. Store-bought cakes tend to be a little too sweet for my taste. Having said that, the condensed-milk glaze was frikkin' fantastic! Not only did it make the Kranz shiny and pretty, but it tasted damn good too. Way better than an egg-wash glaze. Sigh... I *heart* condensed milk. I found myself eating the insides first so I could save the caramelly crust for last.