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You will be able to find many similar food items as in the U.S., but there are some differences. It can be challenging to try to use U.S. recipes in Germany! You can be creative with substitutions in some cases but you may prefer to bring some essential things from the U.S.
Here are some cooking tips and hints:
- Confectioners sugar is different in the U.S. (where it contains corn starch) and Germany (where it is simply powdered sugar, no corn starch). Add some corn starch (1 tsp per cup of confectioners sugar) to recipes only if you suspect that the confectioners sugar is also supposed to help with leavening or thickening (e.g., Lemon Squares, Pecan Squares, cake fillings). You may need to experiment with adding more corn starch to thicken appropriately. Don't forget: you have to cook out the cornstarch taste by baking (in a cake) or boiling (in a sauce).
- It will also help lighten your cakes if you add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch in per cup of flour in your American recipes.
- Baking soda and baking powder are available but like so many things, the packaging is different. For example, both products come in little envelopes. Look for Hausnatron or Baknatron for baking soda and Bakpulver for baking powder.
- If a recipe calls for 1 cup self-rising flour, substitute 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- There are different types of flour so make sure you buy what you need. Regular white flour is will be marked with a #405.
- Brown sugar in Germany is simply raw sugar made from beets. It's granular, dry, cannot be packed down like U.S. brown sugar, and will generally not produce the same results. It can be used in recipes but tends to make cookies grainy. You can substitute white granular sugar plus molasses (1-2 TBS molasses / cup of table sugar). If you do not have molasses you can also use Zuckerrüben Sirup as a molasses substitute. It tastes similar but not exactly the same.
- Chocolate chips are available but they are smaller and can't really be used to replace Nestles tollhouse brand in a recipe. You can chop the Blockschokolade (a semi-sweet baking chocolate) into pieces for chocolate chunk cookies, or use Halbbitter chocolate bars (such as Milka), or bring Nestle chips with you if you prefer.
- For graham cracker crumbs, crush anise cookies, lady fingers, or other dry cookies; reduce sugar if making a crust
- Instead of canned pumpkin, make your own by baking halved pumpkins and running the baked pulp through a food mill; add spices
- Refried beans are easy to make yourself with canned of kidney beans, added to some fried onions, garlic and spices (cumin, chili powder) if you want to pep them up a bit. Add some water or some of the reserved cooking water.
- Instead of non-stick cooking spray (now available at Kaufland!) buy a refillable pump-spray bottle.
- If a recipe calls for using wax-paper, you can often use German Bakpapier (parchment paper).
- Vanilla extract is hard to find but a similar product is sometimes available in small bottles at Real. Germans normally use something called Vanillin Zucker which are packets of sugar with the vanilla bean paste mixed in - substitute 1-1 for vanilla extract. Alternatively, vanilla beans themselves are readily available and add an excellent flavor.
- Oatmeal here is not as the same as Quaker Oats. Rolled oats here Haferflocken comes in two varieties. The flakes are either smaller or more robust, and neither are rolled like Quaker Oats, so the flavor, texture, cooking method, and results in recipes will be different from what you're used to.
- Many grocery stores have a whole foods section where you can find small packages of grains and cereals, nuts and dried fruit. These brands offer excellent quality oats, cornmeal, and other organic produce.
- Pecans are available but very expensive and not always easy to find pre-shelled. In some recipes you can substitute other nuts (hazelnuts or walnuts); you may want to bring pecans with you from the U.S. for your famous pecan pie recipe!
- German recipes use weight measures (grams) instead of volume measures (fluid ounces, cups) for recipes. Once you get used to this, you'll probably never want to go back to the hassle of using those measuring cups!! Some weight measures for (U.S.) volume measures for common cooking ingredients include:
Here are some other general baking tips*:
- No baking powder? For every 1 teaspoon needed, use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt).
- No buttermilk? Use plain yogurt, thinned sour cream or crÜme frÖiche
instead. Or add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup milk and
let stand 5 minutes.
- No whole milk? For every 1 cup needed, use 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup water, and reduce sugar in recipe slightly. Or use 1 cup skim milk plus
1 tablespoon cream or melted butter.
- No whipping cream? Use whipped dessert topping, well-chilled evaporated
milk that's been whipped, 1 cup non-fat dry milk powder whipped with 1 cup
ice water, or 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt plus 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
plus 2 tablespoons honey all mixed together.
- No dry bread crumbs? Just get some bread, tear it up into small chunks,
saute in a skillet with a little butter until browned.
- No dried cranberries? Substitute an equal amount of raisins, currents, or dried cherries.
- No dry mustard? For every teaspoon needed, use 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.
- No cornstarch? For every tablespoon needed, use 1 tablespoon arrowroot or 1 tablespoon potato flour or potato starch or 2 1/2 tablespoons flour.
- No eggs? If you need them for baking, substitute 1/4 cup applesauce for 1 egg.
- No cake flour? For 1 cup of cake flour, sift together 7/8 cup all-purpose
flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
- No pastry flour? For every 1 cup needed, use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons
- No whole wheat flour? For every 1 cup needed, use 2 tablespoons wheat germ
mixed with all-purpose flour to make 1 cup.
- No honey? For every 1 cup needed, use 1 cup molasses or 1 cup light or dark
corn syrup or 1 cup maple syrup or 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup
liquid (use liquid called for in recipe).
- No confectioners' sugar? For every 1 cup needed, use 7/8 cup granulated
sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch and whirl in blender for a few seconds.
- No granulated sugar? For every 1 cup needed, use 3/4 cup confectioners'
sugar or 3/4 cup honey.
- No brown sugar? For every 1 cup needed, use 1 cup granulated sugar combined
with 2 tablespoons light or dark molasses.
- No pumpkin pie spice? For every teaspoon needed, use 1/2 teaspoon ground
cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and allspice plus 1/8
teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- No sesame seeds? Use an equal amount of finely chopped almonds or pumpkin
- No parchment paper? Use brown paper or waxed paper (not over high heat), or just grease and flour the pan.
- No kitchen twine to truss the turkey? Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss.
* From ``Lucky substitution cards
Published Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News
(with permission)'', which cited ``Kitchen Solutions'' (Bristol Publishing Enterprises, $24.95); ``Food
FAQS, Frequently Asked Questions'' (FAQS Press, $12.95) by Linda Resnik and
Dee Brock; and ``Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion'' (Time Life Books, $24.95).
The equivalences below are from Rose Levy Beranbaum's ``The Cake Bible'' William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1988:
- For 1 cup sifted cake flour: Substitute 3/4 cup sifted bleached all
purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- For 1 cup light brown sugar: Substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup unsulfured light molasses
- For 1 cup dark brown sugar: Substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup unsulfured light molasses
And finally, here are some useful equivalences for converting recipes from U.S. volume to German weights - or vice versa:
- If spooned into the measuring cup, flour weighs 4.45 ounces (125 grams) per cup. If scooped into the measuring cup it weighs 5 ounces (140 grams) per cup. Dipping the cup and scooping packs the flour into the
cup.(Most professional bakers, if not using a scale to weigh ingredients,
fluff all-purpose flour with a fork and spoon it into the measuring cup
before leveling the top with the back of a knife. Most home bakers dip the
cup in the flour and scoop, then level. If your baked goods are a bit dry or
heavy, it may be that you are using the scooping method and adding more
flour to the recipe than the author intended.
- 1 cup granulated sugar = 7 ounces (200 grams)
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar = 4 ounces (115 grams) if spooned into a measuring cup
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar = approximately 7.5 ounces (215 grams)
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar = about 8.5 ounces (240 grams)
- 1 stick butter = 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons = 4 ounces (113 grams)
For other tips and substitutions, go to:
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