Monday, November 28, 2011

Turning cookies into Kekse

Last week I decided to do some baking. And what better to bake, than my favorite American cookies: Snickerdoodles!
Baking with American recipes in Germany is always an adventure for me. There are many hurdles to clear when translating a recipe before those American cookies become German Kekse (you guessed it, that's German for cookie)

First, you have to make sure you know the correct, specific translation for every ingredient. This part is pretty easy for most things like flour and sugar, but sometimes you really have to dig around to figure out exactly what you need. If I have a particularly tough ingredient to figure out, my favorite source is wikipedia. Type in the ingredient in English wiki then, when you get to the article, change the language to German on left hand toolbar. And if you're feeling extra thorough, take that wiki post and plug it into google images, so you can know what some German brands for that product look like when scanning the aisles at the store. 

Also, in regards to ingredients, it's important to double check that all your ingredients are available in Germany before you commit. One very normal American ingredient I always have trouble finding is baking soda. Luckily there are many cheats for not using baking soda - tripling the required amount and using that in baking powder (which is readily available in Germany) is my general solution. Somethings, however, you really just can't find. 
Finally, you have to convert all your measurements. For liquids this is really easy - plug it into a convertor from cups to liters. For most other ingredients this can get a little tricky though. See, the American system tends to measure things in volume (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, etc.), but the European system is measured in weight (e.g. grams). To deal with this problem, I use one of two methods - I just eyeball it or I google the conversion. Google is a magical tool that knows everything. Don't be afraid to use it! When I bake in Germany, it usually goes something like "oh, that looks like a good amount. Wait, maybe I need a little more. Yeah, that should do it. Oh no doesn't taste good, let's add a little more of this" and so on until it looks, tastes and feels like I want it to. 

So now that you know how to bake an American recipe with German resources, here is the Snickerdoodle recipe, and I'll even include all my ingredient/amount translations for you! 

1/2 Cup Margarine (1 stick) - soft
  • I used a little less than 3/4 of a 250g tub of Margarine
1/2 Cup Shortening
  • Pflanzenfett. This is usually served in hard blocks in Germany, but this last time I happened to find a tub of soft Pflanzenfett, and it made a noticeable difference! I used maybe about 1/3 of a 500g tub. 
1-1/2 Cup Sugar
  • about 200g of Zucker 
2 Eggs
  • .... I'll let you figure that one out yourself
2-3/4 Cups Flour
  • I think I used almost 350g of Weizenmehl
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar  (MUST HAVE!)
  • Sad news, this is NOT easy to find in Germany. I brought my own private stock from the US. However, after much intense googling, we found out that IF you can find it, it is called "Weinstein backpulver." Also, my sources say you're most likely to find it at Bio stores. For teaspoon measurements, I use an actual teaspoon. 
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Since I can't find baking soda in Germany, I use Baking powder and increase the amount. So that becomes one 15g packet of Backpulver
Cinnamon Sugar (heavy on the Cinnamon)
Heat oven to 400ºF (205ºC) Mix together until creamy - margarine, shortening, sugar & eggs
Add Cream of Tartar and Baking Soda, continue to mix.  Add flour and mix. In a separate bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar. Roll dough into balls and cover in cinnamon sugar.  Place on cookie sheet, spacing apart
evenly.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes. 


Erica from UGA said...

I clicked over from Facebook because the photo showed up on my newsfeed and I was thinking of baking snickerdoodles recently and was foiled by the cream of tartar. : ) Baking soda = Natron. The main brand is Kaiser's, and it is in a dark gren box. Any good grocery store should carry it, and DM does as well. The catch is that usually it's by the cleaning supplies and not with the baking stuff!

emily g. said...

ah fantastic! Thanks for the tip :D

Bekah said...

oh hooray, someone already shared the Kaisers Natron trick with you - it definitely took me at least a year to figure that one out. Another helpful baking tip (since you didn't ask!) is that sometimes you can find brown sugar (the real kind...aka the american version) in asian food stores. this is actually true of many hard to find ingredients...go figure.

you are obviously a much more committed baker than i am - mostly i see a recipe that has cream of tartar in it, decide that its too complicated, give up and buy a bar of milka chocolate instead. this makes you my hero!

Kate said...

I was going to suggest Natron too! My German roommates helped me out with that one.
And great tip for brown sugar, Bekah! That's been my greatest downfall in baking here. :)

emily g. said...

a good call bekah, with the brown sugar! I have an Asia supermarkt between my apt and my haltestelle, which was previously only used for the occasional pick up of Ramen :-p

Also, I'm glad I'm in on the big Natron secret now too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...