I love food from all over the world, but German is particularly special to me. My first memories surrounding food take place in Germany and I tend to fall back on these dishes for comfort. I always get excited when a new cookbook featuring German cuisine comes out. Das Cookbook: German Cooking . . . California Style, written by Hans Röckenwagner, highlights German dishes with a California twist. You will find some German and Austrian staples such as Spätzle, Mohr im Hemd, Glühwein, Pretzels, holiday cookies, and Hefezopf, along with the more California-style Quinoa Benedict, various salads and sandwiches, Avocado Fries, and Korean Flank Steak with Daikon Kimchee. I will also be featuring his recipe for Buchteln (Austrian Pull-Apart Rolls) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Prospect Park Books in exchange for my review. All comments and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Hans Röckenwagner was born in southern Germany and trained as a chef in the Black Forest and Switzerland before moving to the United States at the age of 22. He is now based in Los Angeles/New York and is currently the owner of Röckenwagner Café & Bakery in Los Angeles, California.
Update: Since updating this post, I have moved to Los Angeles and got to visit Röckenwagner Café & Bakery in person! I especially love the Pretzel Croissant Sandwich and pastries.
The chapters are divided based on course: Our Daily Brot (Bread), Guten Morgen (Good Morning), Mittagessen Hour (Lunch), Stammtisch (Get-Togethers), Sprechen Sie Supper? (Do You Speak Supper), Das Fest (The Party), Das Dessert, and Pantry.
Röckenwagner’s baking skills shine in this book, particularly in the bread and holiday sections. The pages in Das Fest will be well worn as the holidays draw near. There is also a detailed guide on how to make traditional pretzels. In the pantry chapter, you will find a guide to common ingredients, flours, and basic cooking techniques along with recipes for various stocks, condiments, and sauces.
The photography, by Staci Valentine, is particularly beautiful. You will only find food photos here. Many of the recipes include photos of the finished product, often full page and there are step-by-step photos for the pretzels. Measurements are listed in US Customary. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, serving size, tips, and ingredient help. Titles are written in English or German.
If you already have a basic knowledge of German cuisine, but are looking to broaden your horizons a bit with a German twist then Das Cookbook might be right up your alley. Most of the recipes aren’t necessarily difficult, but do take a bit of time and planning. The average American cook will have no issues finding most of the items needed for the recipes. Some of the less common ingredients include Persian cucumbers, Black Forest ham, tahini, daikon, Korean chili powder, and baker’s ammonia.
Buchteln (Austrian Pull-Apart Rolls)
Buchteln are Austrian pull-apart rolls stuffed with various fillings. I went with the traditional apricot filling, but other jams, chocolate, or poppyseed paste can also be used. Röckenwagner noted that they were even filled with lottery tickets in the 1800s. If you want to go completely traditional, you can serve these rolls as a dessert with a vanilla cream sauce.
The Buchteln can also be prepared the night before and refrigerated until ready to bake the next morning. Allow them to sit at room temperature for an hour before baking.
The rich dough is sticky at first, but it becomes smooth with rising and stretching. Work as quickly as possible, without becoming sloppy, when shaping and filling the rolls to keep them from continuing to rise too long. The Buchteln were most delicious (and definitely on the addictive side) warm from the oven. They are best within a day of baking and don’t dust with powdered sugar until immediately before serving.
I also made Jägerschnitzel with Spätzle, Blackened Tomato Sandwich, Homemade Quark with Berries and Honey, and Short Rib Goulash.
Jägerschnitzel is one of Chad’s favorite German dishes, so it was immediately requested when he saw it in the cookbook. “Hunter’s schnitzel” is made by pounding a pork chop thin and smothering it in a mushroom cream sauce. Röckenwagner has elevated this dish to the next level by wrapping each pork chop with thin slices of speck. I served the Jägerschnitzel with Classic Spätzle. There is also a section on the various ways to create Spätzle, plus a recipe for tossing the noodles with mushrooms, herbs, and spring vegetables (the photo on the cover).
These pan-fried ripened red tomatoes are quite delicious transformed into a Blackened Tomato Sandwich. Slices of ripened, but still firm, tomatoes are seasoned in a light breading, then pan-fried on a hot skillet and assembled on a sandwich with avocado slices, lettuce, and a Chipotle Aioli. The Chipotle Aioli can be made a couple of days in advance for a quick lunch.
Quark (translates to curds in German) is a fresh creamed cheese with a texture similar to Greek yogurt. It is a great breakfast item that low in sodium, lower in fat than cream cheese, but high in protein and other nutrients. When I lived in Florida, it wasn’t available in any supermarkets like it is here in the D.C. area. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make my own. It is actually quite easy, especially if you have made yogurt. Röckenwagner’s homemade version will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, making it a quick breakfast option.
I have a freezer filled with a quarter of a cow and recently unearthed the short rib section. I used some to make the Short Rib Goulash. This takes a couple of days to make (it needs to refrigerate overnight to deepen the flavor), but is definitely worth it in the end. I served the Gulasch with egg noodles, but Spätzle would also work well.
Looking for more Austrian and German Recipes? Try Kasnocken (Austrian Dumplings with Cheese and Onions), Milchnudeln (German Milk Noodles), and Nusskämme (German Hazelnut Combs).
Buchteln (Austrian Pull-Apart Rolls) Recipe
Excerpt from Das Cookbook
Buchteln (Austrian Pull-Apart Rolls)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active-dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk lukewarm
- 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter room temperature, plus more for bowl and pan
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup thick raspberry, plum, cherry, apricot, or other jam
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar sifted
- In a small bowl, stir together yeast and warm milk (it should not be hot). Set aside for 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix on medium-low until well combined, about 1 minute. Add eggs, egg yolks, and salt, mix well, then add milk and yeast. Reduce speed to low, add 1 cup flour, and mix again. Gradually add remaining 3 1/4 cups flour and mix until well combined, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of bowl and paddle as needed.
- Replace paddle with hook attachment. Reduce speed to low and knead until dough is soft, about 5 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Butter your hands and a large bowl and transfer dough to bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.
- Butter your hands again, reach into bowl, and fold both side of dough upwards toward the middle. Repeat with opposite sides, as if wrapping a package. Flip dough upside down, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes. Dough should have more than doubled and be smooth enough to handle.
- Butter a 9x13" glass baking dish and preheat oven to 350˚F (if allowing to rise overnight, do not preheat oven). Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Use your hands to gently shape dough into a 12x12 inch square. With a pizza cutter or knife, cut dough into 4 equal sections vertically, then 6 equal sections horizontally to make 24 squares.
- Slightly stretch out 1 square of dough with your fingers. Working quickly to keep dough from over-rising, place about 1 teaspoon jam in middle. Use your fingers to fold up edges and pinch them together, like a dumpling, to seal in filling. Place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough, placing each round side by side.
- Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and pour over rolls. Set aside to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Alternatively, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- If buchteln are refrigerated, remove and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking. Remove plastic wrap and bake until sweet rolls are puffy and light golden brown on the top, 24 to 28 minutes (they may take a few minutes longer if refrigerated), roating pan front to back halfway through. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.