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My 5 Favorite German Cakes and Pies

My 5 Favorite German Cakes & Pies, from left, Donauwelle, Mandarinenkuchen, Bienenstich, Gedeckter Apfelkuchen and Pflaumenkuchen

Our local grocery store in Florida sells “German Chocolate Cake” and when I moved to the United States years ago, a coworker told me to try it. You should have seen my face after the first bite. I expected rich layers of chocolate and what I got was a mouthful of chocolate cake with a pecan-coconut filling. Coconut in a German cake!? We do not have a tropical climate with coconuts growing on our trees. Obviously, this was the first and last time I ever bought this cake.

I want to introduce you to my favorite German cakes and pies. Since this is my personal list, the most-well known Black Forest Cake did not make the cut. It is a good cake, no doubt, but the 5 cakes and pies below beat the Black Forest Cake easily, at least in my opinion.

Donauwelle
The Donauwelle cake is named after the German river Danube, which originates near the Black Forest. Welle means wave and is very fitting, since the marbled cake does have wavy patterns. Embedded in the marbled cake are tart cherries, topped by buttercream and a chocolate frosting, that also has a wave structure to it. The tart cherries in the Donauwelle go great with the chocolate frosting and I love it when the cake is chilled and the buttercream is cold and refreshing.

Mandarinenkuchen
Another refreshing cake is the tangerine cake, made with a short pastry bottom, topped with a curd cheese mixture and garnished with tangerines. Besides the curd cheese mixture, I have also had this cake with a sour cream and also a cream cheese filling. No matter which way, this cake will melt in your mouth and the sweet tangerines go great with the tart cream filling.

Bienenstich
Literally translated this cake is called bee sting cake and it is filled with delicious vanilla cream, finished with an almond & honey layer on top. While absolutely yummy, it can be a bit intimidating to eat this cake on a first date, because the cream filling will ooze out of all sides, when you try to cut through the crispy top layer.

Gedeckter Apfelkuchen
This is an apple cake variation with a classic shortcrust top layer, translated to covered apple cake and, to me, most reminiscent to the classic American apple pie. The German version has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity from the apples, certainly much less sweet than its American counterpart.

Pflaumenkuchen
The last one in this list and I saved the best for last. This plum cake is my absolute favorite and widely available July through October during plum season. The yeast dough hold the plums in place, all you have to do is top it with some fresh whipped cream and it is heaven on a plate.

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My Five Favorite German Sausages

Whenever I travel to Germany and have the chance to eat German sausages, I take that chance. Sausages have a long tradition and today about 1,500 sausage varieties are produced in Germany. The German newspaper Die Zeit posted a great picture several years ago, showing an abundance of regional sausage varieties. Quite overwhelming, but I am here to help and guide you to the best German sausages, at least the ones I enjoy the most.

Bockwurst Photo by: Flickr User pure man meat

#1. Bockwurst
The Bockwurst originated in Berlin, but is known all over Germany nowadays. The inventors were the Berlin innkeeper Robert Scholtz and his butcher, Benjamin Löwenthal. Back in 1889, Robert Scholz served bock beer (stronger, malty taste beer) together with a coarse crackling sausage, consisting only of veal and beef. The pairing with the bock beer gave the Bockwurst its name. Today, you can find Bockwurst at many pubs, served with mustard and a bread roll (pictured above). Also, it is served warm, either out of a pot with hot water or heated in a microwave. I prefer the water method, just make sure not to boil them, otherwise they will crack.

Frankfurter Würstchen Photo by: Jessica Spengler Flickr User wordridden

#2. Frankfurter Würstchen
Frankfurter sausages, often abbreviated to simply Frankfurter, can only be produced by butcher shops in the greater Frankfurt area and has an actual trademark dispute dating back to 1929. A butcher in Berlin, who made and sold “Frankfurter Würstchen”, was sued by 13 butchers in Frankfurt and lost the lawsuit. If you are in the Frankfurt area, these sausages are a must. Very mild, go great with ketchup or mustard and most comparable to an American “hot dog” sausage. By the way: their close twin brother, the Wiener Würstchen, is made with pork and beef, while Frankfurters are made exclusively from pork.

#3. Frankfurter Rindswurst
And while we talk about my former homeland, we have to talk about the Frankfurter Rindswurst, also. This sausage was and still is produced by the well-known butcher shop of Gref-Völsing in Frankfurt.


Dieses Foto von Gref-Völsings Rindswurst wurde von TripAdvisor zur Verfügung gestellt

The shop of Karl Gref and his wife Wilhelmine Völsing first opened on January 18, 1894. Back then, in order to win over jewish customers, Gref-Völsing offered 100% beef (German word is Rind) sausages, which corresponds with the Jewish food laws and can be eaten as kosher. The Frankfurter Rindswurst is usually heated in a pot with hot water, or occasionally grilled. My favorite way to eat them is cut up in thick lentil soup, the way my grandmother used to prepare them.

Weisswurst Photo by Flickr User cyclonebill

#4. Weisswurst
The name Weisswurst translates to white sausage and is most common in the Bavarian state capital Munich, but also in other parts of Bavaria. According to legend, the Weisswurst was created by the innkeeper Joseph Moser on February 22, 1857, when he wanted to produce veal sausages, but realized that he ran out of veal casings. Since his guests had already ordered the first sausages, he quickly filled the veal meat into thicker swine casing. Instead of roasting them, he heated them in hot water, fearing that the casings would burst when roasted. The guests loved the new preparation method, especially since the Weisswurst had to be made fresh every morning, due to the lack of refrigerators or freezers. And even though we have all the cooling and preservation methods known to mankind today, the Weisswurst is traditionally still eaten before the clock strikes noon. Old habits die hard. Try yours with a pretzel, sweet mustard and a beer.

Bratwurst Photo by Flickr User cyclonebill

#5. Bratwurst
The bratwurst is the most iconic and well known German sausage, often sold as “brats” in the United States. You will find the Bratwurst sold during German summer festivals, as well as on Christmas markets in the wintertime. The name Bratwurst derives from the German word Brät, which translates to finely chopped meat with the main ingredient being pork. Traditionally Bratwurst is grilled over a wood fire or electric grills, giving it nice marks on the outside and making it the perfect to-go food in a bread roll or with some curry ketchup on top. This would also be my favorite kind of Bratwurst, called Currywurst. We already wrote about it here.

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Photo Credits
Shared Through https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
#1: Bockwurst Photo by: Flickr User pure man meat
#2: Frankfurter Würstchen Photo by: Jessica Spengler Flickr User wordridden
#3: Frankfurter Rindswurst from Gref-Völsing in Frankfurt Photo via Trip Advisor

#4: Weisswurst & #5 Bratwurst Photos by Flickr User cyclonebill

The Sweet You Have To Try in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Beautiful, tempting, delicious Schneeballen...another reason to love Rothenburg, Germany!

No trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is complete without a Schneeballen. This dessert is slightly bigger than a baseball and traditionally covered with confectioner's sugar. If you put enough sugar on, it looks like a snowball - hence the name Schneeballen. Tastes much better than a snowball though.. The Schneeballen have been tempting die-hard sugar fans for over 300 years in several parts of Bavaria. The origin story of the Schneeballen is unknown, but we do know they were originally baked for special occasions only, such as weddings or baptisms. Today you can buy Schneeballen all year round, many of them pre-packaged in gift boxes in Rothenburg, ready for you to share them with your loved ones. While Schneeballen are best eaten fresh, we were told that they have a shelf-life of about 8 weeks at room temperature.

How to Make a Schneeballen

The Schneeballen gets its wavy-ball-like shape from strips of shortcrust pastry that is alternately folded over a stick. Next, a quick 4-minute dunk in the fryer, then cover with a topping of your choice, not limited to confectioner's sugar. We spotted them dusted in cinnamon, chocolate or coconut flakes, and even filled with lemon or hazelnut cream at different stores all over Rothenburg. For those of you who would like to create a Schneeballen at home, here is a recipe, courtesy of Bavaria Tourismus.

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Not Just Any Chocolate Egg

not just ANY chocolate egg: Kinder Surprise Eggs

One of the favorite gifts of a German grandparent to their grandchild has to be Kinder Eggs, also known in the english-speaking parts of the world as Kinder Surprise, or Kinder Überraschung in Germany. Kids love to break apart (and eat a bit of) the chocolate egg to reveal a surprise toy hidden in a yellow plastic container. The toy variety can be a puzzle, a toy car, a Disney figurine, or a character of the Happy Hippos, who were THE hottest Kinder eggs toy in the 1990’s. My sister and I would stand in the supermarket, shaking egg after egg until we had one that did not rattle too much. Less rattle means less small pieces. We did not want to build a puzzle, we wanted a solid Happy Hippo figurine to play with!

Technically Italian

While the word Kinder means children in German, this candy was not invented in Germany. Kinder Surprise originated in 1974 in Italy as Kinder Sorpresa, produced by the Ferrero company. If the name Ferrero does not ring a bell, they are better known for their amazing hazelnut spread Nutella, or their breath mint Tic Tac here in the United States.

Why Are Kinder Eggs Illegal to Import to the USA?

Kinder Surprise eggs are legal to buy and enjoy in Germany and Europe, however, they are deemed illegal in the United States. Why is that? We have to look back all the way to 1938 when the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted. It contains a passage stating that a “confectionery product with a non-nutritive object, partially or totally embedded within it cannot be sold within the United States, unless the FDA issues a regulation that the non-nutritive object has functional value”. This means that all candies embedded with “non-nutritive objects,” such as toys, are illegal in the United States. The main reason is that the toy inside could potentially present a choking hazard for kids.

Here's What You Should Bring Home Instead

So, the one thing you should not bring home from your German vacation is Kinder Surprise. Get caught with one of those candy eggs and you may face a fine up to $2,500 per egg. In 2010 alone, 25,000 Kinder Surprise eggs were seized in 1,700 incidents. Instead, grab the Kinder Happy Hippo Candy, which is one of our absolute favorites and fills our luggage on every trip back from Germany. Due to the popularity of the Happy Hippo figurines, Kinder created a candy around the characters. These are Denise's absolute favorite! But, even the cashier probably could figure that out.

Happy Hippos! My favorite German sweet!

Bonus Resources

Read Are you willing to give up your rights to your Kinder Egg?

Read $2,500 Fine for a 2 euro chocolate?

See an impressive Happy Hippo Kinder Egg Toy Collection

Watch a commercial for a Kinder Surprise, to see how they're marketed


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If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive a free Germany Packing list for signing up, and you'll receive each week's newest posts every Friday. Thank you for reading!



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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler