Germans celebrate the Christmas season with their beautiful Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) and fun and historical traditions. But Christmas in Germany also means lots delicious seasonal baking that can be found at Bakeries and Christmas Markets. While there are endless snacking possibilities in Germany at Christmastime, today I’ll be sharing my 3 favourite must-try Christmas treats!
Perhaps it stems from working as a baker out of high school until the time I came to Germany, but I really do have a sweet tooth. I was pregnant when I first arrived here back in March, so I felt I could get away with trying all of the bakery snacks without anyone noticing! And I tried a lot! Now, I try to rationalize treating myself since I’m out walking a lot with the little one. I really should cut back, but perhaps once I’ve tried it all. And Christmastime proves that there are still so many delicious things to try!
My first experience with Lebkuchen was actually in January 2013, during my first trip to Germany with my husband (then-boyfriend). It was love at first bite, which is a quality you can also apply to the other treats mentioned below! In North America, Lebkuchen would translate Gingerbread, but it differs from the cookie recipe used to make a Gingerbread House or Men. German Lebkuchen is usually soft, since the word Kuchen means cake. It’s quite heavily spiced with traditional Christmas spices and the chocolate-covered variety are quite popular.
The harder Lebkuchen that I know as Gingerbread can be found at Christmas Markets and Oktoberfest in heart form. They are decorated with icing but are sold more for decoration rather than eating.
If you’re in Canada and you want to try Lebkuchen, we were able to find the same variety as in the photos at London Durgs. They sell a good selection of German sweets at Christmastime, but they do sell out quickly!
I’m always baffled at the lengths people will go through to create something delicious, and Baumkuchen is no exception! Baumkuchen, which literally translates to ‘Tree Cake’, is cake baked in layers, traditionally over an open flame on a spit. After it has baked and cooled, the cake gets covered in chocolate. Once cut open, the tender, flavourful cake reveals its layers which resemble tree rings.
My first experience with Baumkuchen was a grocery store variety, but we visited a family-run bakery in the town of Kevelaer a couples of weeks ago and they were selling their home-made version. While the €11 price was insane, once we tried it, it was worth it! Did I mention we bought 2…! Don’t worry, it was savoured!
If you’re curious to see what goes into making Baumkuchen, this video here is really good. Starting at roughly the 2 minute mark you can see the bakers standing by an open flame, pouring the batter onto the spit. There are a lot of things I would love to know how to make as a baker, but traditional, flame-baked Baumkuchen would be too hot of a job for me! Thankfully, there are ways to make it at home. Using the grill setting on your oven, the layers can be baked, one on top of the other, creating the same effect when it’s cut into. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe that looks really good. He may not be German, but it’s worth a shot if you’re willing!
I still remember the day; my husband was coming home from our local Bauernmarkt (Farm Market) and he brought home these little, tender nuggets. The best way to describe them would be to compare them to a sour cream donut hole (but better, of course!). Or, if you’re Canadian like me: a Timbit. It’s best to find them freshly fried, like they do at the Bauernmarkt or a Weihnachtsmarkt, but some Bäckereien (Bakeries) sell a similar product. They may not be made to order like at a Market, but they’re still really delicious!
The name Quarkbällchen literally translates to ‘Little Quark Balls’. Quark is a similar product to cream cheese. It’s quite rich with a tangy flavour. But if you ask my husband, it is NOT cream cheese and there is no comparison! While in Canada, we found Quark sold in a few different stores, but it was always so expensive! Here in Germany, diary products are quite cheap. The cheapest litre of milk in the grocery store here is roughly €1, sometimes less!
Since Quarkbällchen probably isn’t something you’ll be cooking up at home, you’ll just have to add it to your Bucket List of things to try next time you’re in Germany!
I hope today’s post didn’t make you too hungry! Let me know in the comments what your favourite treat is that you only have at Christmas!
Since next week will be a busy time, I’m hoping to have a couple of posts up the next couple Saturdays, so stay tuned! And let me know what you want to read about in the new year! I had a comment asking about Motherhood in Germany, but I’m finding it difficult knowing what to write about, since Motherhood is new for me and I have nothing to compare it to. If you have any specific questions, it would help me out a lot!