Tag Archives: Germany

Harvard Square Oktoberfest 2011 @ Grendel’s Den

8 Oct

Many of you know that Joe and I honeymooned in Germany. In fact, while we were in Munich, we stayed very very close to the Oktoberfest grounds on the Theresienwiese. When it’s not being used as a large gathering for drinking copious amounts of beer and eating lots of pretzels, usually there is a carnival going on or some kind of huge flea market.

Every year, Harvard Sq celebrates Oktoberfest with a huge party, complete with parade and music in the form of Honk Fest.

We had a front row seat of all the parade festivities because during every Oktoberfest, we always get lunch at Grendel’s. They are one of the only restaurants that serve actual German Oktoberfest beers. Which makes me a very happy girl.

Unfortunately they don’t sell full liters but Joe and I both had a half liter of Paulaner Oktoberfest. Paulaner isn’t actually my favorite of the big six Munich beers (the other five being Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, Franziskaner, and my favorite and totally hard to find on draft in the US, Augustiner), but the Oktoberfest brew was still very very good.

We always start off with the pretzels and whole grain mustard. I prefer the pretzels here over the ones they have at Jacob Wirth’s, they are perfectly doughy with a good exterior.

Also served with the pretzels is Obatzda, which is a popular German cheese concoction composed of Camembert, butter, and other spices. It is a very pungent dish, so it’s something not to be taken lightly.

I went with the traditional bratwurst sandwich served with whole grain mustard and sauerkraut. The brat was grilled perfectly and the sauerkraut was pickled just the way I like it. It was served with some boring chips, so I filled myself up with the pretzels instead.

Joe went with the schweinebraten, which is pork with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. This was definitely Americanized, as the entire dish seemed to be braised in the same pot. It still tasted good, but was definitely NOT 100% German.

It’s Oktoberfest, right? Which means that we must have a second beer. I went with the Weihenstephaner Festbier, which was definitely more carbonated than the Paulaner. It did have a very crisp flavor, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as…

The Kostritzer Schwartzbier, which is a black lager. I had this lovely brew in Munich and it was one of my favorites of the entire trip. It has a really smooth taste, and if you don’t like aftertaste with your beer, you will DEFINITELY like this one.

And now I’m craving beer. Must remedy that.

I’m really pleased at how much larger and better Harvard Square Oktoberfest has become. It still has a long way to go (PLEASE sell more ACTUAL German beers and not just Harpoon and Sam Adams? Not that I have a problem with that…) but we definitely enjoy making our annual pilgrimage.

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Daring Baker’s: Stollen

27 Dec

When I found out that this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge was Stollen, well, my heart just seized with joy. I’m pretty sure my husband was more excited though. Hubby and I love all things German (We went to Germany for our honeymoon!) and I was really excited to try my hand at some traditional German Christmas bread.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I made this Stollen for Christmas at my parent’s house. We were all so excited to try it as it made the kitchen smell AMAZING. There were so many different recipes to chose from, I felt slightly overwhelmed at trying to find the perfect recipe. I ended up combining two different recipes, one from Life’s A Feast and the other from Sugar Crafter. I was really happy with how the Stollen came out and will definitely be making this one again!

Stollen: German Christmas Bread

Recipe adapted from here and here.

  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choosing (I used candied orange peel, golden raisins and dried cherries)
  • 2/3 cup rum
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water

To make the sponge, warm the milk to about 100 degrees and whisk in the flour (1/4 cup) and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, or until it looks really spongy.

Combine the fruit and the rum into a bowl and stick it in the fridge until you are ready to put everything else together. I suggest doing this first before even making the sponge.

For the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in the egg, butter, sponge, and enough water to form a soft but not sticky ball (this should take about 2 minutes). Once the dough comes together, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Drain some of the rum from the dried fruit and then add the fruit/rum to the dough mixture. Transfer dough to a floured surface and kneed for approx. 6 minutes until the sough feels soft and is no longer sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl. Roll it around so that the entire ball is covered. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and leave out at room temperature for 2 hours.

Once the dough has rested, scrape it out onto a floured work surface, punch it down and roll out into a large rectangle of about 16 x 24 inches (mine was a tad smaller). Sprinkle the dough generously with cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg all the way to the edges. Starting with a long side, roll the dough up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder to the sheet pan. Pull the two ends around together, forming the dough cylinder into a ring and join the ends together, and pinch with your fingers to make it stick. Using clean kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Once sliced, gently pull the sections out from each other so they will stay separated once risen and baked. Either spray the wreath lightly with spray oil or tap gently with a vegetable oil soaked paper towel. Cover lightly yet completely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake the Stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate 180 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Brush the top with melted butter and then sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Let stand for 1 minute, then sprinkle with a second layer. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

I’m happy to say that this was a big hit with my family! Everyone really enjoyed it and I really can’t wait to make it again!

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