Bread in Hamburg – The Franzbrötchen

One of the interesting things I find about different parts of Germany are their wonderful bakeries that have a wide selection of breads including the famously heavy, rich and fully flavoured dark German bread.

In Hamburg, one of the common breakfast bread/pastries on offer is the Franzbrötchen (translated as French bread). You’ll normally come across a wide variety of them and there’s even a place in the main train station (Hauptbahnhohf) that is called Franz and Friends that sells the widest selection of Franzbrötchen I ever saw – maybe twelve different types.

The most classic variation on offer it the plain Franzbrötchen which is definitely a nod to the classic croissant cross bred with a swedish cinammon scroll. The bread is light, and sweet although slightly more dense and breadlike than you’ll find with a flaky pastry based croissant. The classic one is roleld up on as a scroll, and brushed with a sugar and cinammon mixture that works well as a morning breakfast treat.

Other classic variations you’ll find are the streusel-franzbrötchen (a franzbrötchen topped with a crunchy biscuit mixture).


This last Tuesday gone was Shrove Tuesday or sometimes called Pancake Tuesday. We sort of cheated on the day – instead of making them, we simply went to The Delaunay for breakfast where they have some great pancakes at reasonable prices.

I’m a big fan of the American style fluffy cakes. German Pfannkuchen is quite often just as fluffy – often used in a regional food called Kaiserschmarrn. I like French crepes less as a pancake. Crepes are good – just not what I feel pancakes should be.

I realise I haven’t posted a pancake recipe on here, so to make amends. Ingredients for 2 people for a hearty breakfast:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pancakes baking


  • Take three bowls. Mix the dry ingredients in one of them.
  • Separate the eggs into the other two bowls. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add a bit of the sugar and keep beating until it’s stiff. This extra step ensures the pancakes remain light and fluffy.
  • Combine the rest of the wet ingredients with the egg yolks. Beat, and then gently fold into the dry. Fold the beaten egg whites in until just combined. You don’t want to overbeat the batter as this develops gluten and moves the pancake away from being a cake to more of a bread/dough consistency.
  • Melt some butter in a pan, pour batter on. Cook until bubbles appear, and then flip
  • Serve how you like. I prefer it the Canadian stack way – crispy bacon and maple syrup.

Pancakes cooking

Pancakes are certainly a good treat. They are definitely not your everyday food but they are good in so many different ways. Try putting nutella on as a topping. Lemon juice, with some dusting of sugar works very well as well. Blueberries, greek yogurt and honey add another dimension.

Canadian Stack


What’s more Australian than a Meat Pie

Spurred on by cooking Australian things, I thought I’d give a go at making a good meat pie. All with proper sauce. I looked around for a few recipes and came away with an inspired combination.


  • 500g lean mince
  • 50g tomato paste
  • 1 brown onion, brunoise
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 cup stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  • Shortcrust and puff pastry

This is a pretty easy recipe, but requires a bit of planning as you want the filling to cool before putting them into pastry cases. Brown the onions and then add the beef, cooking until no more red appears. Add the tomato paste and cook until you can’t smell the tomato-rawness anymore. Add the sauces and the stock, mixing with the corn flour and water to help thicken. Let the mixture cook.

Roll the pastry out (or do what I did and cut them into smaller lots into a lined muffin tray for “mini” meat pies. Fill each case with the mixture and then top with the puff pastry. Brush with egg-wash (egg with milk, or just plain egg, or plain milk) to give the pies a bit of shine.

Bake in a 180 degree celcius oven until brown (approximately 15-20 minutes). Rest and enjoy with some tomato sauce.

Aussie Lamingtons

One of the pleasures I have when I am not commuting is the joy of making something in the kitchen. There’s nothing like producing a wonderful meal, or trying some new recipe and the result is a tangible, tasty dish that is so different to software.

This weekend I found some time to whip up a batch of lamingtons. They were destined for our “Pot Luck Lunch” tomorrow where everyone is going to bring something “native” from their home country.

I had planned on making Pavlova, but then my colleague from New Zealand said they’re apparently a kiwi-dish, and she had already planned to make it. Oh well.

The difficult thing about making Lamingtons is that it’s a bit labourious to make. I had planned on taking the shortcut and buying a prepared sponge cake, but imagine my surprise (and joint disappointment about more work ahead) when I found that none of the supermarkets near me sold plain old sponge cake. Yes, you could get a plain madeira cake, or a “Jamaican” fruit cake, or any of the final prepared “birthday” cakes all covered in icing and cream. Nope to the plain old sponge cake. Oh well.

I used the following recipe for the sponge cake after looking around and deciding I didn’t want a particularly eggy-tasty sponge cake.


  • 2 eggs
  • 125g butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Making it was pretty straight forward. Cream the butter and sugar, and slowly add the eggs one by one. Mix in the vanilla and fold in the first cup of flour before folding in the second cup of flour and milk. Pour into a sponge cake (I used a long tray) and bake in a pre-heated 180oC oven until cooked through. If you’re using a square tin, it’s supposed to be 30 minutes, but I used a thinner tray so it took less than 20 in a fan forced oven.

The next part to Lamingtons are preparing the icing and the coconut. I used this recipe, but have to admit it turned out a little bit too rich.


  • 500g icing sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate (60% or 70%)
  • 15g butter
  • 1/2 cup milk

This was pretty easy. Basically mix it all together on a bain-marie (i.e. bowl over boiling water) until it all melts. I found this icing much too thick, so I ended up watering it down with a lot more milk.

Now came the terribly messy part.

First, I cut the sponge in half and then spread some strawberry jam between each item. My first few attempts to coat them turned out to be rather disastrous with cake crumbs, chocolate and coconut everywhere. A bit of searching on the internet and people recommended putting the cake in the freezer. Apparently leaving the cake overnight would have also helped make it easier to deal with. Five or ten minutes into the freezer and the pieces were much easier to handle.

Using two forks, I dipped the sponge sandwiches into the chocolate sauce. I held them up letting the excessive drip off, before dunking them into a bowl of desiccated coconut. Using two spoons to press the coconut into the icing, I found that was a bit cleaner than using my hands (as recommended by many recipes). I let them dry out a bit on a rack before putting them into an airtight container for storage.

Messy, enjoyable but probably not something I’d try all the time.

Tartine San Francisco

Tartine is a well known institution in San Francisco where you need to queue and you need to come early. It’s well known for being a great bakery and with only a number of tables inside, you need to queue and watch like a hawk to get one on a first come first serve basis.

Just like the good citizens of the city, we queued just like everyone else. Things seemed to be move pretty fast although I’d recommend they had pictures of what they sold as well as their names so you got an idea about what you wanted before you got to ordering. Once at the counter where you can see into their case of decadent cakes and baked goods, the pressure is on for you to hurry up and order by the big number of people behind you.

I tried one of their morning buns in the hope for trying to get some cinnamon roll goodness before leaving. Although not filled with cinnamon sugar delights, their bun lightly coated with caster sugar also came with pleasant hints of orange infusions. The bun instead made of reasonably good bread and not pastry.

On the other hand, I looked at all the croissants. The one below is an almond croissant and the pattern seemed to be the same across the entire range. Impressively large, but way over cooked. Almost no croissant appeared unharmed by their overzealous baking and the result, bitter aftertaste in the pastry. The pastry was indeed very flaky and buttery, but devastated that a “good” bakery can’t quite perfect the honest croissant.

Here’s one before the eating.

Tartine definitely has its fans. Is it worth lining up for? Maybe if you were buying quite a lot. And then again, be prepared to pay a premium for all their goods. I’m sure you cold probably find better elsewhere in the city but for a whole bunch of people this is probably an easy option.

Name: Tartine Bakery and Cafe
Found at: 600 Guerrero Street San Francisco, CA 94110, United States